Contact Us:

Dr. Erik Aver
Professor and Chair

Office: Herak 312B
Phone:(509) 313-5979
Fax:(509) 313-5718

Gonzaga University
Physics Department
AD Box 51
502 E. Boone Ave.
Spokane, WA 99258-0051

Physics Faculty with Active Undergraduate Research Programs

The faculty members of the Department of Physics conduct research in a wide range of disciplines. Many of their research projects are specifically designed for the heavy involvement of students. The following faculty regularly offer summer research internships for students, and details regarding the student application process can be found on the GU Undergraduate Research website.

Dr. Erik Aver - Primordial Helium Abundance
My research is on the Primordial Helium Abundance. The focus is on determining the amount of helium produced in the very early universe (3 minutes after the Big Bang) by analyzing the spectral emissions of dwarf galaxies. In addition to an introduction to Astrophysics and Cosmology, the research involves widely applicable skills such as computer programming, statistical analysis, and model evaluation. Beyond an eagerness to learn, no prior experience in any of those areas is required.

Dr. Adam Fritsch - Nuclear Reactions
My work involves measuring and analyzing nuclear reactions, particularly in exotic nuclei that exhibit α-cluster structure. Such clustering described the organization of nuclei, which has an important impact on nucleosynthesis, or the creation of nuclei, found inside of stars. Experiments I participate in are conducted with a particle detector called the Active-Target Time-Projection-Chamber. Reactions are measured as a function of energy and angle, which gives information on the internal structure of nuclei by allowing the reconstruction of the reaction. Student projects may involve the collection and analysis of experimental data, simulations of nuclear reactions, and comparisons of data to existing theoretical models of nuclear structure. Website:

Dr. Matthew Geske - Cosmic Rays
I study comic rays, which are high-energy charged particles originating from outside the solar system. Cosmic rays come from a variety of sources, with the highest energy ones being accelerated in supernova remnants. I primarily deal with detector design, building instruments to detect and measure the energy of these charged particles. Cosmic ray studies are an important window into the workings of stars and the local Galaxy. Detection is primarily accomplished with large area ground based detectors, or with smaller detectors hoisted on large balloons or satellites. In the past I have worked on balloon-borne experiments, and am looking into developing a new instrument for a future balloon flight.

Dr. Nicole Moore - Optical Tweezer
My research is centered around interactions of highly focused laser beams with small (micron-sized) spherical objects. This work has both computational and experimental components. Among the first experimental projects to be undertaken are the construction of a simple optical tweezer, which is a device that catches and hold small objects with the forces exerted on it by the light of a highly focused laser and the modification of that tweezer to take measurements of the light scattered off the small object caught in it.

Student Research Presentations

Listed below are two great resources which describe opportunities for students to secure funding to present their GU summer physics research finding at various regional and national conferences:
(1) Gonzaga Center for Undergraduate Research & Creative Inquiry (CURCI)
(2) American Physics Society Student Funding Opportunities

In recent years, GU physics research students have presented at national and regional conferences including the Murdock College Science Research Conference, the Spokane Intercollegiate Research Council, the Conferences for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP), National Conferences on Undergraduate Research (NCUR), and the American Physical Society's Division of Nuclear Physics Fall Meeting in the following cities across North America:

Cheney, Washington
Vancouver, Washington
Vancouver, British Columbia
Corvallis, Oregon
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania