Here are some of the ways that you might find a research area:
- Most departments have a listing of research areas and the faculty members working in those areas. That can be a great place to start learning more about the current areas of research.
- You might have taken a course that intrigued you and caused you to want to delve deeper into that field. Talk to the professor for that course and seek their advice on how you might find a research opportunity in that field.
- Ask your advisor or your professors for recommendations of journals and conference proceedings in the areas in which you’re interested. Most of these publications are available online. Browsing recent publications can give you a deeper sense of current areas of research activity.
Max Grossman (PhD student, Rice University) found his research topic in a roundabout manner. Max was originally exploring being a physics major, and talking to researchers in plasma physics about the work they were doing. However, much of the work in that field is done through computer modeling and simulation, using large supercomputers to predict how a plasma will behave in a given environment. As a result, Max started learning about topics in high-performance computing, such as C/C++ and GPU programming. In the end, the programming part of physics research ended up being more enjoyable than the physics part, and so Max’s research shifted not only across topics, but entire fields of science.