Research at the Large Hadron Collider

Photo of the enormous Hadron Collider, the world's most powerful particle accelerator. It is round and full of magnets.

Learn what nature looks like at 10^-20 meters and study the Higgs boson, dark matter, and other huge questions about our universe.

Project description

We perform research at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Geneva, Switzerland. There are a large number of tasks that can be done over the academic year and in the summertime (the latter are paid internships that involve travel to CERN or the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory near Chicago, IL).

There are hardware-based tasks, where you will participate in construction and quality assurance tasks while we build the next generation of detectors at the LHC, or study the detector performance of the current detectors already installed.

There are software-based tasks, which may include machine-learning based reconstruction and identification techniques, calibration of energy and directions of particles in our detector, or other tasks.

There are analysis-based tasks, which may include analysis of collisions to understand the tiny quantum-mechanical interactions that occur at the LHC, including things like the Higgs boson and the top quark, or even more exotic things like dark matter.

Project outcome

The project outcomes have varied in the past. Previous students have: 

  • Constructed part of the LHC detectors. 
  • Written papers detailing work on analysis of LHC data. 
  • Given presentation at major international research conferences. 
  • Spent summers at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, CERN, and Cornell participating in the CMS Project.

Project details

Timing, eligibility and other details
Length of commitment Long (longer than a semester, 6-9 months)
Start time Any time 
Level of collaboration Small group project (2-3 students)
Benefits Academic Credit, Stipend
Who is eligible Undergraduate students with 1 semester of physics (PHY 107/117 or equivalent) and 1 semester of programming (CSE 113/115 or equivalent)
Goldwater and the National Science Foundation

Students participating in this project might be interested in and eligible for the Goldwater Scholarship and the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. Connect with the Office of Fellowships and Scholarships to learn more.

Core partners

CERN, Geneva, Switzerland

Fermi National Accelerator Lab, Chicago, IL

Project mentor

Salvatore Rappoccio

Associate Professor


335 Fronczak Hall

Phone: (716) 645-6250


Start the project

  1. Email the project mentor using the contact information above to express your interest and get approval to work on the project. (Here are helpful tips on how to contact a project mentor.)
  2. After you receive approval from the mentor to start this project, click the button to start the digital badge. (Learn more about ELN's digital badge options.) 

Preparation activities

Once you begin the digital badge series, you will have access to all the necessary activities and instructions. Your mentor has indicated they would like you to also complete the specific preparation activities below. Please reference this when you get to Step 2 of the Preparation Phase.