Advice:Working outside the department

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Research Groups and advice for working outside the Physics and Astronomy Department

There are many students working at other research institutes near SBU. If you would like to contact someone and need help getting contact information then please reach out to

Cold Spring Harbor

Several Stony Brook Physics students found advisors (advisors are called P.I.'s here) and pursue PhD thesis research at the Cold Spring Harbor laboratory (in Huntington). For more information please see their website. Research in CSHL happens on two fronts; Genetics and Neuroscience. The Genetics labs are bigger, but they deal more with biology; like cancer or genetic traits. The neuroscience labs are, much more interdisciplinary in comparison despite being smaller.

A great thing to note is the lab has a great and diverse community built around it. There are people from many fields of science. The atmosphere is great too, the community here is very welcoming and diverse; and the lab has many amenities like trails, gym, beach, cafeterias. The buildings are great, almost every office has a window, can you imagine?

Biophysics and Engineering

CSHL specializes in biophysics and engineering, which yes, does not sound like physics, but at the same time there is a lot of room for the experimental and theoretical techniques of physics to make significant progress in microscopic, as well as more theoretical (evolutionary) biology.


Lately, we had a couple students from the apply to neuroscience labs in CSHL. To my knowledge, Alexei Koulakov and Tatiana Engel are two P.I.'s that have physics PhD's. (There are probably more, but I don't know everybody yet.) While there aren't many graduate students from physics around here, there are many people with physics background in the lab! Neural networks are pretty much coupled nonlinear systems, and most people are trying to model the interactions of this system. Although practical physics knowledge is not required in neuroscience, there is a rising interest in modelling network dynamics and behaviour using mathematical models; just along the alley of theoretical/computational physics! I would suggest check out some publications from the lab to get a feel.

Here is a list of students from CSHL that I know of that is/was from SBU Physics program;

  • Yanliang Shi Postdoc at Engel Lab, and got his PhD from SBU in 2018. (He has been working in the YITP for his PhD) His current research topic is on how vision works in primate brains.
  • Batuhan Baserdem Working in Koulakov lab as a graduate student. His current research topic is on how smell navigation works on animals.

Feel free to reach out to people here, it is a very friendly atmosphere around this lab! Do note that physics department requires your PhD advisor to have a PhD in physics.

Brookhaven National Lab

It is very common for students at SBU to work either full time or part time at BNL. There are many potential advisors who spend similar amounts of time at BNL and at Stony Brook, and there are several strong collaborations between groups at both institutions.

Condensed Matter and AMO

BNL has the National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS II - just built in the last few years for about $1 Billion) which does a lot of chemistry, materials science, condensed matter physics, and x-ray diffraction experiments. Getting time on the NSLS II is something that graduate students can forseeably do within the time span of a PhD thesis, so if defining your own research projects sounds fun then you should investigate research groups around BNL and SBU that are already using this resource.

Lattice Nuclear Theory

Sergey Syritsin is a new Lattice QCD professor at SBU who collaborates heavily with the Lattice Theory group at BNL, and several students at SBU are already working with him and others at BNL.

Heavy Ion Physics

The Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) draws thousands of researchers to work on heavy ion collision experiments, both at RHIC and at the LHC. It should be fairly straightforward to find experimentalist and theorist advisors working on interesting physics for past, current, and future heavy ion physics and the phase diagram of QCD.


There are several researchers at BNL and SBU who do astronomy, particle astrophysics, and cosmology using resources at BNL, and they have given Friday Afternoon Seminar talks searching for PhD students and have taken other students recently.

Accelerator Physics

The Center for Accelerator Science and Education focuses on accelerator science and R&D (more information can be found on their website). There are two faculty members at SBU who do research at BNL: Professor Vladimir Litvinenko and Professor Navid Vafaei-Najafabadi. Professor Litvinenko is a theorist and an experimentalist, and leads the Accelerator Physics Group for Brookhaven's Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider. Professor Vafaei-Najafabadi works on plasma wakefield acceleration and his group works on experimental projects at the Accelerator Test Facility (ATF).

Institute for Advanced Computational Science (IACS)

Mathematical and computational physics has a (relatively new) resource available at SBU in IACS, which is both a research institute for various scientists and engineers across various disciplines, as well as the home of a super computer that researchers across SBU can request access on for their research, even if they aren't affiliated directly or have an office in IACS. The IACS also offers a certificate in computational and data science, which could be useful, particularly for master's students, if you hope to join industry after your time at Stony Brook.

Laufer Center

The Laufer Center focuses on physically rigorous biology research, focused both on experimental and theoretical aspects.


Ken Dill of the physics department is the head of the Laufer Center for Biology, and he is stepping back into a more research intensive role recently. He gave a Friday Afternoon Seminar talk looking for PhD students recently that delved into interesting modeling opportunities in cell energy cycles, among other things. He is certainly a good resource for finding similar research opportunities.

Students who pursue their research in the Laufer Center work in an multidisciplinary environment, as the Center contains faculties and students from the departments of Physics, Applied Math, Chemistry, Life Science, Biochemical Engineering and more, making it an extremely stimulating environment. This allows the students to develop fundamental communication skills to bridge the differences in languages across such disciplines.

Typical research fields within Ken Dill's group are protein evolution, origin of life, structural biology (protein structure), fundamental statistical mechanics, cells energy production strategies and more.


There are several opportunities to pursue AMO and Nuclear physics research in the neighboring Chemistry department as a physics student.

Tom Allison's AMO Lab

Tom Allison has his lab space in the Chemistry building, but he is definitely a Laser-AMO physicist, doing large amounts of research in various subfields of interest for fundamental quantum mechanics as well as materials science.

Nuclear Chemistry

There are several BNL-Physics-Chemistry affiliated professors who do what is called "Nuclear Chemistry" which is just a fancy term for the complicated interactions taking place at RHIC and the LHC in the high intensity era.