Practical Experience

Students from the biophysics program at Scranton regularly obtain research experience off campus. Over the past 10 years, our students have been invited to participate in paid student summer research via the NSF-REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) program. This is a highly competitive process funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

"We have a sustained track record of students coming through with unbelievable experiences."

Robert A. Spalletta, Ph.D.

Our biophysics students intern on and off-campus for a wide range of projects – some even get started their freshman year.

Featured Charles Cunningham '19, a biophysics and biology major, interned under Anthony Marano, director of Prosthetics for East Coast Orthotics and Prosthetics (ECOP). He met with patients and worked with Dr. Marano in the workshop, learning how to fit certain prosthetics and how to tailor them to meet specific patient needs. He also worked independently to create a new digital order form for the company. Read more about Charles' experience at Scranton and beyond, here.

Our students are working on things like:

  • Material Strength in Biophysics: By experimenting with various materials, students are exploring the capabilities and limits of materials for a range of different applications
  • Side Effects of Antibiotics: Using different groups of ants, a student is creating a system to better understand how antibiotic treatment impacts ants, and is discovering implications in the strength of the ants’ cuticle.
  • Atomic Microscope Research: The University of Scranton has an atomic-force microscope with a dedicated lab. This enables students to observe biological changes on a molecular level.
  • Cardiovascular System Model: Terrence Sweeney, Ph.D., has designed and constructed a physical cardiovascular model that allows simulation of the cardiovascular system and its various diseases. This model is used by research students and undergraduate and medical students to study the cardiovascular system.

Joseph Delmar '19, a biophysics and philosophy major, conducted research via the NSF-REU program.

"At the University of Arkansas, I worked with Dr. Salvador Barazza-Lopez on theoretical/computational solid state physics research. This involved carrying out simulations on the University Arkansas's Trestles supercomputer to see how increased temperature affected the phase transitions of two-dimensional silicene, stanene and germanene. The results of these simulations were analyzed based on the energy of the system and will be compared to experimental results."

Read more research stories here.

The biophysics program at The University of Scranton is home to a unique group of faculty and students who continue to push the limits of the sciences. With constant exchange and collaboration, the department stays on the forefront of exciting research and experimentation.

Scranton students have:

  • Early access to advanced software and equipment. Get access to state-of-the-art tools as an undergraduate and gain cutting-edge experience most students won’t have until graduate school.
  • Faculty-mentored research. Make a difference contributing to something bigger than you. Collaborate with faculty and students across disciplines, and research topics like haptic research, heart rate variability, prosthetic devices, eldercare, protein folding, biophysics of hearing, transdermal drug delivery and more.

  • Insight into the scientific world. Are you a theorist or an experimentalist? Find how you like to work most, and build your complementary network of science-minded peers. 

"We don’t have graduate students so that means these research opportunities do not go to graduate students, they go undergraduate students."

Robert Spalletta, Ph.D.

Featured Joshua Toth ’20, a biophysics major, is studying the physical structure and properties of ant cuticles alongside Dr. Spalletta. The research was presented at the 65th Annual Conference of the Central Pennsylvania Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers in April 2017. Read the abstract here.

Students and faculty collaborate on projects. For example,  several biophysics students learned fluid dynamics from a research project conducted with Schott Advanced Optics in which they detailed their glass making abilities to make extremely unique glasses. 

Working with Dr. Spalletta, one first-year student recently investigated a fundamental question in biophysics: "What is the strength of a material in biophysics?"

“I began doing research in the spring of my freshman year. That experience led to a competitive summer internship with the Wadsworth Center, a part of the New York State Department of Health. There, I researched flagella and algae. I also researched yeast in collaboration with the research group at the South China University of Technology. We were able to have our research published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.”

Matthew Reynolds '18, Goldwater Scholar

Featured Dr. Paul Fahey's research is in the biophysics of hearing. According to Dr. Fahey, "there is a lot of basic physics within the inner ear. This is where the pressure goes down the ear canal which vibrates with fluid, so my main focus has been on the physics of the middle ear. Many infants are being tested about the interesting physics going on."