Undergraduate research

An emphasis on undergraduate research opportunities is a distinguishing feature of Mount Allison. Undergraduate students play integral roles in research at Mount Allison, and typically 10 to 15 students are employed each summer on physics research projects.

Interested in participating in undergraduate research during the summer? You should directly contact faculty members in the Department who work in research areas of interest to you, and to inquire about positions available.

Priority is given to students between their third and fourth year of study, although positions may be available to other students. Students with a GPA of 3.5 and above can apply for university (NSERC-funded or other) summer research awards. Sometimes faculty members are able to fund summer research opportunities for students who do not win awards through faculty research grants.

Summer 2024 applications are now Closed.

Find out more about faculty research interests

Dr. Mohammad Ahmady — theoretical particle physics

We investigate the properties of fundamental particles, which are the building blocks of the universe, to see how they are produced in high energy accelerators and find out more about their various decay modes.  We also try to look for indications of unknown forces of nature which may reveal themselves only at very high energies.

» Research presentation (pdf)

Dr. David Fleming — medical physics

We use x-ray fluorescence techniques to study the concentration of heavy metals, such as lead and arsenic, in the human body. Another recent focus has involved the detection of zinc in human tissue. This has important environmental and medical applications.

» Research presentation (pdf)

Dr. David Hornidge — experimental subatomic physics

In collaboration with the Mainz Microtron in Germany, Mount Allison students and faculty collaborate in experiments aimed at understanding at the most fundamental level the nature and interactions of subatomic particles. Click here to go to the Mainz Microtron web site. Funding provided by NSERC and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Science Foundation).

» Research presentation (pdf)

Dr. Catherine Lovekin —  stellar astrophysics

We study the evolution of massive stars, particularly taking into account the effects of rotation.  In particular, we use asterosiesmology to probe the interior structure of stars many times more massive than the Sun.  These stars are large enough to die as supernovae, and make an important contribution to the structure and evolution of galaxies.

» Research presentation (pdf)

Dr. Ralf Bruening — materials science

We use x-ray scattering techniques and theoretical models to carry out research on structure changes in glasses and other industrially important glasses.  This allows us to study fundamental questions such as how the atoms are arranged. Precise thermal measurements complement the x-ray scattering results.

» Research presentation (pdf)

Becoming a teaching assistant

We offer excellent opportunities for student leadership development, including teaching assistant positions (we hire about 25 students per year). Students who have performed well in at least two different teaching assistant positions, have completed at least one workshop on teaching, and who have taught a topic in a whole class setting (about 20 minutes in length) will receive a Teaching Assistant Certificate upon graduation.  

Contact Cathy Pettipas for more information about applying to be a teaching assistant, or what is involved in being a teaching assistant.

All Winter 2024 positions are filled and Fall jobs will be posted in July.

Application Form Winter 2024


Teaching Assistant Certificate Program 

This certificate is awarded to physics teaching assistants who complete these four key criteria.

  1. Training course: Attending at least one physics teaching assistant training talk.
  2. Employment/practice: Successful completion of two or more terms of employment as a Mount Allison physics teaching assistant (excludes marker only and setup only positions).
  3. Presentation: Design and teach a short university in-class lecture of 15 to 20 minutes in consultation with faculty. This may be requested specifically for the certificate or as part of a Physics internship but can not be for course credit. (Teaching materials must be provided to faculty for approval 24 hours in advance.)
  4. Complete the  application form:  Once you have applied online, the department will verify  each component with supervising faculty or staff. Form must be submitted by March 15 of your graduating year to apply.

» Physics Teaching Assistant Certificate application form available through the Administrative Assistant (Dunn main office room 230).

Students are encouraged to include all physics teaching assistant positions and teaching on their form as it adds to teaching profile. The form is retained in departmental files for reference purposes.

Student representatives

Each fall students elect representatives to the Department of Physics.


1st year: Emma Gamble
2nd year: Brycen Thibodeau
3rd year: Laura Hubbert
4th year: Shannon Bowes


Physics Society

The Physics Society organizes academic and social events.

Contact the Physics Society: mtaphysicssociety@gmail.com

2023/2024 Executive  

Co-Presidents:  Shannon Bowes, Maggie Kerr

VP Finances: Andrianna Scott

VP Communications: Abigail Austin

VP Academics: Andrew Hess

Underclassmen Rep: Sarah Littlejohn

Pravin Varma Teaching Internship Award

Application deadline: March 11th, 2024

The Pravin K. Varma Teaching Internship Award for physics students was established in 2010 by Professor Dr. Pravin K. Varma.

This honour is conferred on one senior undergraduate physics student each year.

About the award and how to apply

Award purposes

  • To honour and recognize the recipient for achievement in academics, and for their enthusiastic and active participation in the promotion of physics in general.
  • To provide the student, through a number of teaching and leadership opportunities, the chance to be mentored and develop teaching skills.
  • To provide a service to the Physics department through leadership of physics-related events.

Award recognition

The selected student shall:

  • Receive $1,800 during the year of the award (given in two $900 instalments)
  • Have their name placed on a plaque prominently displayed in the Sir James Dunn building and receive certification at graduation time.

The department head shall decide, from time to time, what other leadership roles/responsibilities/positions the student shall hold.

Expectations of the student

The student receiving the award will be expected to:

  • Provide academic leadership to fellow physics students.
  • Gain some teaching-related experience.
  • Help organize activities related to the promotion/celebration of physics/physicists.

Academic leadership-related activities

It is expected that the student will display academic leadership not only within the various courses that they are taking, but also by participating in some of the following:

  • Help to organize SURF (Student University Research Fair) at Mount Allison University.
  • Organize physics promotional trips to and from local schools.
  • Organize student/faculty research talks, seminars and workshops. This could be done in conjunction with the Physics department, other departments, external faculty, the Canadian Association of Physicists, or other organizations.
  • Organize and run a Physics Help Centre.
  • Find and implement creative ways of teaching a topic or aspect of physics.
  • Implement other innovative ideas/projects under their own initiative.

Teaching activities

  • Help to develop an experiment or course module for one course.
  • Do some teaching (one or two brief presentations in each term) in courses selected with the approval of the head of the Physics department.


The award recipient will be required to submit a brief report at the end of each term, outlining the completion of the accomplishments that the student had planned. 

Following the receipt of a satisfactory report, the University shall make the award money available to the student.


Students should submit the online application form.

Students may also be nominated by faculty or fellow students. Applications are due on March 11th, 2024

Announcement of the winner of the award

The Physics department expects to select the recipient of the award before Convocation every year, and usually announces the award at the annual banquet.