Physics Majors Doing Research at Georgia Tech Visit Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Physics Majors Doing Research at Georgia Tech Visit Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Students are participants in a new program to broaden participation in undergraduate research in physics

Georgia Tech’s partnership with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) continues to grow. The latest engagement is the early June visit of undergraduates doing research with Georgia Tech professors this summer.

Ten physics undergraduates doing research in the School of Physics traveled to Tennessee to see for themselves the cutting-edge research taking place at ORNL, which is a strategic research partner of Georgia Tech. They met ORNL scientists, who described their research and the national laboratory’s unique facilities, such as the High Flux Isotope Reactor, the Spallation Neutron Source Facility, and the Titan supercomputer.

A special treat was the opportunity to meet with James B. Roberto, a scientist who was part of the ORNL team that discovered element 117, along with teams from Russia and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, in California. ORNL received the privilege of naming element 117 tennessine (Ts), after the state of Tennessee.

The 10 students who visited ORNL are taking part in the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Program “Broadening Participation in Undergraduate Research in Physics.” Just established in 2016, the program enables undergrads to conduct research in one of the  program partner schools: Clark Atlanta University, Georgia Tech, Morehouse College, and Spelman College.

During the 10-week summer program, the physics majors, who came from various parts of the country, will conduct research with Georgia Tech physicists and participate in professional development activities, faculty seminars, and a research symposium. One of the program’s goals is to deepen the research experience and knowledge of high-achievement students from groups that have historically been underrepresented in physics and thereby increase the probability that they continue to graduate school.

The 10 participants, their home institutions, and their Georgia Tech research supervisors are as follows:

Frank Adams, Clark Atlanta University; with Simon N. Sponberg, whose research interests include neuromechanics, locomotor control, and computational neuroscience.

Andrew Blount, Pennsylvania State University; with Colin V. Parker, whose research interests are experimental ultracold atoms, quantum simulation, and condensed matter.

Kelimar Diaz Cruz, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras, and Nathan Hines, Morehouse College; with Daniel I. Goldman, who studies the mechanics of locomotion of organisms and robots.

Eliza Gazda, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University; with A. Nepomuk Otte, whose research interests are astroparticle physics, instrumentation, and photon detectors.

Peter Lott, Howard University; with Ignacio Taboada; who studies neutrinos and gamma rays to find the sources of cosmic rays.

Hannahmariam Mekbib, North Carolina State University;  with Alberto Fernandez-Nieves; whose research on the physics of soft materials focuses on the connection between microscopic order and macroscopic properties.

Shawn Sanderlin, Georgia Gwinnett College; with Peter J. Yunker, who studies colloids, disordered solids, hierarchical structures, self- and directed-assembly of proteins, and fluid-fluid interfaces.

Donavan White, Morehouse College; with Harold D. Kim, who studies the biophysics of the genome.

William Wills, Georgia Gwinnett College; with Deirdre M. Shoemaker, whose work focuses on numerical relativity and its interface with gravitational wave astronomy.

Accompanying the students were School of Physics’ REU coordinator, Shaun Ashley; Martin Mourigal, who organized the Georgia Tech visit; and College of Sciences Director of Academic Diversity Keith L. Oden.

Also with the group but not part of the REU program was Maximilian Stumvoll. He is a physics undergraduate studying in the University of Glasgow who is doing summer research in the lab of James C. Gumbart.

The Georgia Tech contingent gratefully acknowledged the efforts of their ORNL counterparts: Ian S. Anderson, Brittany M. Beitz, and Barbara H. Penland.