Educating and Engaging the Next Generation

The Mitchell Institute is committed to preparing students for exciting careers in science as well as in other areas where the skills learned here −  such as advanced mathematics, programming, modeling, and technical writing − are highly valued.

Scientists trained under Mitchell Institute faculty have gone on to work on some of the most complex and challenging projects on the planet. Astronomers have continued their research at remote locations in Northern Chile and Antarctica; experimental particle physicists have continued their research on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), and our theory colleagues have continued to do their research on string theory around the world. Others have entered the high-tech industry or accepted assignments in medical physics research. Former post-doctoral fellows are now tenured professors of physics around the world, and our former graduate and undergraduate students are regularly moving on for further training at places like the University of Chicago, Yale,  Stanford and the University of California.

We are always looking for bright and dedicated students, researchers, and visitors to come to the Mitchell Institute and exchange ideas to expand the horizons of all.

Degree Programs

Texas A&M University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy offers programs leading to Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Master of Science, and Doctor of Philosophy degrees. Mitchell Institute faculty members focus on modern courses, cutting-edge research, and innovative experiments in Experimental Particle Physics, High Energy Theory, and Astronomy. 

The Department of Physics & Astronomy also offers an undergraduate Minor in Astrophysics. The required courses for the Astrophysics Minor are PHYS 208, ASTR 314, ASTR 320, and 6 hours selected from ASTR 401, ASTR 403, and ASTR 491.

For a current listing of courses taught by Mitchell Institute Faculty visit the Courses page.

A Rich Research Environment for Undergraduates, Graduates and Post Docs

Research opportunities at the undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral level provide one-on-one mentoring interactions with the principal investigator and the associated research group.

Undergraduates – For non-science majors, the Mitchell Institute faculty teach several courses including “Basic Astronomy” (Astronomy 101), “Observational Astronomy” (Astronomy 102), and “Overview of Modern Astronomy” (Astronomy 111).  Professor David Toback also offers “Big Bang & Black Holes”, a survey course which introduces a wide range of topics in physics. 

As part of the Texas A&M University Honors Program, undergraduates who excel in science are invited to participate in Honors classes and in research experiences over the summer and during the school-year. Honors classes encourage students to speak,  inquire, challenge, and do. In the Mitchell Institute, Honors students are given access to research resources more typical of graduate than of undergraduate education. To learn more, visit the Honors Program

Mitchell Institute faculty also participate in the Mechanics Scholars program. To become a Mechanics Scholar, students enrolled in Physics 218 compete in an end-of-semester "Challenge Exam." Top performers win monetary awards and are invited to a special lecture on career opportunities in physics.

Undergraduates can also work directly with the faculty on a wide variety of research projects. Research topics include building instruments, developing software analysis tools, and analyzing observational data.

Graduate students – Graduate students take a full course load but also pursue research while taking courses and during the summer between courses. After finishing the required class work, students do research full-time on their doctoral degree with faculty members in research activities most closely allied with their interests. The research advisor serves as a mentor – sharing research ideas, providing constructive dissertation guidance, and discussing career path options.

Post-Doctoral  – Post-doctoral researchers work in collaboration with Mitchell Institute faculty on in-depth investigations. Assignments, lasting anywhere from one to several years, may include developing a theoretical understanding of inflation and the mysterious dark energy, searching for dark matter particles at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, working  with direct dark matter detectors deep underground, or taking precise measurements of dark energy and the geometry of space with some of the world’s most powerful telescopes.

Invigorating and Collegial Atmosphere

The Mitchell Institute also offers opportunities for collaboration and exposure to innovative ideas through colloquia, conferences, and seminars often headed by world renowned authorities including Nobel Laureates.

For example, British theoretical physicist, cosmologist and author Stephen Hawking has made several talks before sold-out crowds in the thousands on campus. On any given week, experts may discuss the latest discoveries in theoretical high-energy physics, astroparticle physics, astronomy and cosmology. Others will help us understand string theory, M-theory and particle phenomenology. While still others may explore the interface with observation in particle physics, astronomy and cosmology. Visit our Events page for a current listing.

Our special ties with other institutions, such as The Cambridge-Mitchell Institute Collaboration, allows us to host conferences and workshops in Cambridge, Cook’s Branch Conservancy, and at Texas A&M, as well as exchange faculty, postdoctoral researchers, and graduate students. Their stays at the Mitchell Institute are almost always guaranteed to spark lively discussion and vigorous scientific debate.

Enrichment Training for High School Teachers

In addition to opportunities for faculty and A&M students, a number of outreach activities make physics and astronomy more accessible to high school students, undergraduates, and public school teachers. Please visit our Outreach section to view our extensive outreach and learning activities.

With Your Help, We Can Take the Next Step

Your generosity can strengthen the research and training provided through the Mitchell Institute. Individuals, corporations, and foundations can make the critical difference in our training by helping to underwrite postdoctoral fellowships, graduate research assistantships, and endowed chairs for faculty.
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