Faculty Research Assistance Program (FRAP) Directory

The FRAP Directory allows students to identify UCSB faculty who are looking for undergraduate students to participate in their research projects or creative activities. Please use the links below to find opportunities by discipline. Students, if your desired discipline is not listed, please contact the Undergraduate Research Initiatives office at 805-893-3090 or urca@ltsc.ucsb.edu for assistance. Faculty, if you would like to post your research or creative activity opportunity, please complete the online submission form.


Ania Bleszynski Jayich

Broida 4105
(805) 893-8089

Research Project

In this project, we aim to form a versatile quantum technology out of defects in diamond and mechanical resonators. We would like to characterize the strain-mediated interaction between the quantum mechanical spin degree of freedom of a diamond defect and the motion of a surface acoustic wave resonator.

Undergraduate Contribution

The undergraduate will be responsible for designing surface acoustic wave cavities and ismulating their properties in diamond. Furthermore, they will need to drive and detect motion on the GHz frequency scale using a laser doppler vibrometer or RF reflectometry.


Undergraduate must be willing to spend 15 hours a week on this project. Should be competent with quantum mechanics, mechanics, electricity and magnetism, electronics, and machine shop. Should enjoy building things and like to work!

Andrew Jayich

Broida 4123
(805) 893-5456

Research Project

We are setting up a strontium ion trap to study ultracold chemistry and to perform readout and control of molecular ions.

Undergraduate Contribution

There are many ways to contribute, here is a list of some of the major contribution activities: building up lab infrastructure, building laser systems, fiber coupling light, theoretical analysis and simulation of atoms in ion traps, various electronics projects, taking and analyzing data, setting up computer control systems, writing code to control equipment.


It is highly encouraged that applicants are physics majors with the intent of applying to physics graduate programs.

Philip Lubin

Broida 2015C
(805) 893-8432

Research Project

1) Wafer-scale spacecraft for rapid interplanetary and interstellar exploration

Future deep space missions will require a complete reevaluation and redesign of the space systems of today. The objective of the Wafer Scale Spacecraft Development program (WSSD) is to design, develop, assemble and characterize the initial prototypes of small robotic spacecraft, weighing only a few tens of grams, in an attempt to pave a path forward for future innovation and exploration of the outer solar system and eventually interstellar space. This program, which is just one venture of the UCSB Experimental Cosmology Group’s Electronic and Advanced Systems Laboratory (UCSB Deepspace EAS), focuses on leveraging continued advances in semiconductor and photonics technologies to recognize and efficiently address the many complexities associated with long duration autonomous interstellar mission.

To work on this project, a student should have completed at least two years of undergraduate physics, and preferably Physics 127a and 127b (analog and digital circuits), and be familiar with some programming.


2) Multi-element Laser Phased Array (Project Starlight)

Project Starlight, also known as DEEP-IN (Directed Energy Propulsion for Interstellar Exploration) and DEIS (Directed Energy Interstellar Studies), is a program to study and develop  large scale directed energy (DE) systems, powered by a scalable laser phased array, to be placed on the ground, or eventually in orbit or on the far side of the Moon. This revolutionary idea, first proposed by Professor Lubin of UCSB, is supported by NASA and encouraged by Congress. There is currently a large-scale, multi-university effort to develop directed energy for propulsion, beaming power to the Moon for surface operations, planetary defense, and providing energy for on-board ion-driven propulsion systems. Our students work on many aspects of this extensive, interdisciplinary effort. Initially, we are working towards being able to propel small spacecraft to relativistic speeds for rapid interplanetary transport, and eventual interstellar exploration, using a thin film, highly reflective ‘light sail.’

To work on this project, a student should have completed at least two years of undergraduate physics. There are many aspects to this project, some suitable only for students who have taken upper division circuits and optics, and mathematical methods for physics, while other aspects are suitable for students with a good grasp of physics, who may not have had upper division courses yet. Please inquire!


3) Directed Energy for Planetary Defense

DE-STAR or Directed Energy System for Targeting of Asteroids and exploRation is a proposed system to deflect asteroids, comets, and other near-Earth objects (NEO) that pose a credible risk of impact. DE-STAR is a modular phased array of kilowatt class lasers powered by photovoltaics. The modular design allows for incremental development and testing, lowering cost, minimizing risk, and allowing for technological co-development. Objects that cross Earth’s orbit, even relatively small ones, can still have a devastating effect. We propose an orbital planetary defense system capable of heating the surface of potentially hazardous objects to the point of vaporization.  Highly-focused energy raises the temperature of a spot on the target’s surface to ~3000 K, allowing direct vaporization and ejection of surface material, thus altering the asteroid’s or comet’s orbit. Ideal DE-STAR systems can simultaneously engage multiple targets.

Additional applications of these arrays include space debris mitigation, powering or recharging of distant probes, standoff power to remote facilities, standoff photon drive propulsion of small spacecraft that can achieve relativistic speeds, composition analysis of remote objects including asteroids, and many others.

To work on this project, students should have completed the first two years of undergraduate physics, whether at UCSB or SBCC, or the equivalent. There are various aspects of this project where a capable student could help out.


4) Optical SETI at UCSB: Trillion Planet Survey

SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) has been operating in the broad radio bands for over fifty years, but has not yet found evidence of signals from distant intelligent civilizations capable of sending out electromagnetic signals. The implications of recent advances in directed energy on searches for extraterrestrial intelligence, taken together with the recent discovery by the Kepler Mission that there is basically one planet for every star, many of them within habitable zones around their parent stars, have profound implications for the possibility of finding ETs using optical searches. Drake and others have calculated that it is unlikely that we are the only planet to have developed life. Thus, there could be other civilizations, in ours or other galaxies, which may have evolved to our current stage of technological capability of directed energy beams. Such beams of directed energy from ETs, if pointed in our direction, would be as bright, or brighter than, a supernova seen in another galaxy. This has profound implications for optical SETI.  We propose a Trillion Planet Survey (TPS) to search for continuous wave laser beacons from intelligent civilizations in Andromeda (our nearest galactic neighbor, 2.5 million light years away) and other galaxies, as well as within our own galactic plane. We are using the Las Cumbres Global Telescope Network to scan Andromeda and other galaxies every night for several months, and analyze the data for optical transients that don’t match known natural transients (supernovae, variable stars, MACHOs, etc.) to search for signals that could be sent by intelligent beings. Such a discovery would be paradigm changing for humanity.

This project is suitable for freshmen. Recommended courses are concurrent enrollment in Astro 1 (or having passed Astro 1 or its equivalent at SBCC with a B or better), and concurrent enrollment in Physics 134 (Experimental Astrophysics). It is also recommended that students be enrolled in, or have passed with a B or better, introductory physics courses (1-5 series, 20-25 series, or 6A-B-C).


5) Extra-Solar Travelers –Physics/ Biology interdisciplinary project

While NASA is currently working on sending more humans to the Moon, and eventually to Mars, scientists of Project Starlight at the University of California, Santa Barbara, are working on the future of interstellar space travel – sending probes, and eventually people, out of the Solar System and into interstellar space to explore the Galaxy. Before we ever have the technology to send humans, we plan to send tiny animals that have been shown to tolerate extreme environments of cold, heat, the vacuum of space, extreme dehydration, high accelerations (tens of thousands of g’s), and high doses of radiation – and survive unscathed. These hearty creatures are C. elegans (a species of nematode) and the water-dwelling micro-animals called tardigrades, otherwise known as water bears. Even with our relativistic wafer craft, traveling at .25c, it will take between 16 and 20 years to reach the nearest star system (Alpha Centauri). Thus, before we can consider sending humans out into the galaxy, we need to first understand how to put living creatures into a condition of stasis from which they can successfully be awakened when they arrive at their destination.

This project is being conducted in collaboration with the lab of Professor Joel Rothman in the department of Molecular and Cellular Developmental Biology (MCDB). There are various aspects to the project, from experiments with the micro-animals in the lab to development and testing of the micro-chambers that will house the micro-animals during the missions and micro-imagers that will take pictures of them as they are rehydrated during the trip. Various aspects of this project are suitable for biology, chemistry, and physics majors. Previous lab experience is desirable. Please inquire with us!


6) Experimental Cosmology

Although most of our current research is focused on the next frontier of Interstellar Travel, we still have some active projects in Experimental Cosmology.

6a) Studies of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) - This remnant radiation from the beginning of the universe has contained with its spatial and polarization structure the keys to the past, present and future evolution of our universe. For example the composition of ordinary matter, dark matter and dark energy can be derived from the CMB. It is also possible that we will find evidence for gravitational waves from the early moments of the universe if the current ideas about inflation are correct. See the latest results from the Planck satellite for our recent results.

6b) Anomalous emission from our galaxy - Our galaxy emits radiation from various processes including synchrotron radiation from energetic charged particles interacting with the galactic magnetic field and the emission from dust grains in interstellar space. There is an anomalous emission from our galaxy that is currently not well explained that we are studying.

6c) Infrared balloon borne studies of high redshift galaxies - Our group flies payloads on very high altitude vehicles at altitudes up to 145,000 feet. This is far above any fixed wing aircraft and allows us to study the infrared signature of high redshift galaxies with much higher sensitivity that ground based observations.

6d) Reionization at high redshift - The universe starts with extremely high temperature and the matter is ionized. It subsequently cools and largely become neutral after about 400,000 years. Subsequently when the first stars and galaxies form there is a large release of ultraviolet radiation from these early stars that appears to reionize the universe. We are looking for evidence of this period which is critical to understand.


Undergraduate Contribution

Undergraduates in our labs contribute meaningfully to all aspect of research, from designing and building instruments, to data analysis, theory and modeling, and laboratory work. Most students who work with us have several publications in peer-reviewed journals by the time they graduate, some as first authors. We have had more than 900 undergrads do research with us. Undergraduates participate in all aspects of our programs from conceptual design and theoretical analysis to experiments to data analysis and publications.Students are encouraged to present papers at conferences on campus, at SPIE, APS, IEEE, COSPAR, and other professional meetings in California and the Southwest. Some students have presented papers as far away as Tokyo. Undergraduate researchers are an integral part of the work that gets done in our labs, and are expected to participate in weekly meetings and conference calls, as needed. Over 900 students have conducted and contributed to research in the Experimental Cosmology Lab since its inception in 1988.


Vary by project - see project descriptions.

David Stuart

5113 Broida

Research Project

Silicon diode based sensors are being developed to provide precise time and position measurements of charged particles in an upgrade to the CMS detector at the LHC. We are designing this system and carrying out bench and particle beam based tests of the sensors, the readout electronics, and the mechanical aspects of the detector design

Undergraduate Contribution

Up to three undergraduates could contribute to this project in several ways, including: collecting data with prototype sensors to study their performance and long term stability, assembling and testing readout electronics boards, and carrying out mechanical and thermal tests of prototype detector designs.


Electronics and/or programming experience.

Competency in lab work and independent debugging, as demonstrated by performance in past lab courses and/or previous projects.