PHYS 449 and ASTR 449 -- Honours Thesis - UBC – 2019/20


(Last updated Nov 13, 2019)

Academic Session: 2019W  terms 1 +2
Description: A research project, undertaken under the direction of a faculty member culminating in a thesis.
Credits: 6
Prerequisites: none
Required Text none.
Possible Meeting Times: T, Th  13:00-14:00 -- HENN 304
Instructor:  Rob Kiefl


Office: Hennings 407

Phone 604 822-3037

Course Overview

This course involves a research project, undertaken under the direction of a faculty member culminating in a thesis. The course will include two oral presentations: the proposal in mid November  and a final presentation in the last week of March.  Students are required to attend half of all oral presentations from other students to critique those presentations. This aspect of the course is intended to enhance your general background in physics and to improve your ability to communicate and think critically. You will learn to become a good speaker but also an interactive member of the audience.


Your mark in this course will be determined on the basis of the proposal, a written progress report/thesis  outline, final oral presentation, class participation and the thesis itself.  The marking scheme is 

  1. participation                                   10%
  2. proposal (written+oral)                    20%
  3. progress report/thesis  outline         10%
  4. final oral presentation                     20%
  5. written thesis                                 40%

Choosing a Supervisor


The following is a list of some potential supervisors who are actively looking for a student.  However be proactive and seek out the person who you want to work with. Just because they are not on this list does not imply they do not have a project which might be perfect for you. If you show a genuine interest in someone’s research it is quite possible they will take you as a student.


1.      Ke Zou ( ),  Monolayer superconductors grown by chemical vapor deposition.

2.      Ludovic Van Waerbeke (  astronomy.

3.      Chris Hearty (   Searching for axion-like particles with the Belle II experiment General field: experiment high energy, (details).

4.      Kolind, Shannon Magnetic  Resonance Imaging.

5.      Todd S. Woodward Detection of BOLD signal changes under a range of cognitive tasks using fMRI.

6.      Doug Bryman  Rare PION and KAON Decay Measurements. Details

7.      Douglas  Scott  Astrophysics.

8.      Steven Plotkin  

A.    Genetic manipulation of a novel, early-branching organism to investigate animal origins  (details) 

B.     Do proteins compensate energetically for the destabilizing effects of disordered segments? (details)

9.      Ingrid Stairs   CHIME pulsars or Fast Radio Bursts.

10.  Aaron Boley   Astronomy

11.  Ludovic Van Waerbeke  (details)

12.  Rahmim, Arman , anthropomorphic phantom studies and/or AI-based image processing and modelling in medical imaging

13.  Michael Hasinoff Data Analysis for the TREK Lepton Flavour Violation Experiment at J-PARC.

14.  Sarah Dunsiger Evolution of the Skyrmion lattice with dimensionality in FeGe epitaxial films  (details)


Important Notices for  2019

Our first meeting will on Th, Sept. 12 at 1:00-2:00 pm in Hennings  304. 
If you have not found a supervisor please take a look at the list of potential supervisors (see above). You are encouraged to talk with faculty who you might be interested in working with. Once you find a supervisor please send by email --  a  summary of the project,  affiliation and email of the supervisor. Also include some statement of agreement between you and the supervisor regarding about how many hours of work per week you will put into the project on average and how often you will meet. I realize the work load and frequency of meetings may be very uneven so this is just a rough indication.  Please cc a copy of this email to the supervisor when you email it to me.


Notes  for Sept 12

Notes for Sept 26

Notes for Oct 17

Notes  for Nov 14




Written Part: The instructions for preparing the written proposal are given in the following LATEX input file and  corresponding pdf output file . Use the input file as template. It includes one figure given here which  you need to compile the latex  input  file.  Make sure you can compile the template first before filling it in.  I will soon post some examples from  previous years. This will be due before the oral presentations. The basis for evaluating the written reports are described here.  Please send a pdf file of  your written proposal to me by midnight this coming  Friday Nov 15, meaning  before 11:59pm.

Here are a few example written proposals. They are not perfect so try to make yours better.




Oral Part: Here is the schedule of talks for the oral presentations next week. All talks are in Hennings 318 and begin at 12:15 pm on Tuesday Nov 19, Wed  Nov 20 and Friday Nov 22. Note the time slot for each presentation is 30 minutes long. This means your talk should be as close to 20 minutes as possible. This allows for about 5 minutes for questions and 5 minutes to change speakers and allow people to enter/leave the room. 

You must send me a pdf file of your presentation the evening before you are scheduled to speak. For example if your talk is on Tuesday Nov 19th then you have to send me the pdf file by 9 pm on Monday Nov 18th.  We will use my laptop to show all the presentations.  

Please look carefully at this evaluation form as you prepare your presentation.  Here are a few example presentations from last year. Which one do you think is best based on the evaluation form?  Try to make yours better still.  






Please note you are required to evaluate at least 10 other student presentations. These should be handed in before you leave the room on the day the presentations took place.  This is the basis for your participation grade worth 10% of your final grade.

Here are a guideline   and   helpful tips  to  help  you prepare the slides and  give the talk.

Here are the notes  from  Jan 30

Here are the notes from Feb 6


In regard to the thesis.  It is never too early to start writing especially the science motivation section. For examples of  previous 449 theses  that have been  submitted to the library go to:

Here is a UBC  thesis  template.