Research Groups in the ISU Physics Department

Want to take part in even more physics projects, like the trebuchet or solar car? Then visit our Get Involved page!

Our department specializes in offering cutting-edge research experiences to our physics majors. We have a dynamic group of researchers exploring a wide variety of exciting phenomena from basic quantum physics to applied materials science to space and astrophysics. Peruse the links below to discover some of the amazing things our student researchers are doing.


Intense Laser Physics Theory Unit

Professors Rainer Grobe and Qichang Su

Research on the interaction of laser light with matter.

nano-optics image

Nano-optics Laboratory

Professor Uttam Manna

Research on light-matter interactions at the nanoscale.


Center for Research and Instruction in Space Physics

Professors Daniel Holland and Richard Martin

Computational research in space physics and nonlinear dynamics.

water wheel

Chaotic Waterwheel

Professor George Rutherford

Experimental investigation of a simple, mechanical, chaotic system.

marx Lab

Experimental Solid State Physics Lab

Professor David Marx and Namrata Tripathi, Postdoc

Experimental investigation of photovoltaics, thermoelectrics, nanotechnology, and similar materials.

Relativistic Quantum Mechanics

Relativistic Quantum Mechanics

Professor Neil Christensen

From sub-atomic particles to astrophysics, research in relativistic quantum mechanics, or quantum field theory, expands our knowledge of matter and interactions.

Atomic Collisions

Few-Body Atomic Collisions

Professor Allison Harris

Dr. Allison Harris studies atomic collisions using state-of-the-art theoretical and computational methods. She specializes in four-body scattering problems, such as simultaneous excitation-ionization and charge transfer collisions.

Physics Education Research

Physics Education Research

Professor Rebecca Rosenblatt

Physics Education Research questions: What is the nature of student understanding (or misunderstanding) of a particular physics topic? How to measure student understanding? How does understanding evolve with time? What role do general cognitive mechanisms play?

Non-Linear Dynamics

Non-Linear Dynamics

Professor Epaminondas Rosa, Jr.

Many systems in nature behave nonlinearly and can appear chaotic and, at times, unpredictable. Dr. Rosa is interested in the synchronization of complex systems, with a special interest in neurons.