Current Physics Majors

Class of 2017: Michelle Cao, Savannah Gowen, Laura Hunter, Achaetey Kabal, Amy Longstreth, Syry Mitchell,  Pa Chia Thao, Xiaofan Xu, and Alyina Zaidi.


Achaetey Kabal '17

Achaetey is working on research as a part of Professor Alexi Arango lab. She helps manufacture solar cells. She started working in the lab in summer 2015, and within the few months from the beginning of summer to fall, she has already designed a piece of equipment and wrote a standard working procedure for the Arango lab!

In order to make it easier to reach the evaporator, which sits inside the Nitrogen glove box in the lab she designed a 'grabber.' She says, "It is like large tweezers that open up and close by the push of a button on its handle so that we can grab materials with it to place them into and later remove them from the evaporator."

"The standard operating procedure I wrote is for the spraying quantum dots onto the transport layer of the solar cells," she continues. "We call it the spray gun, but the official name is the single feed siphon air brush. We use it to spray quantum dots onto the transport layer. I work on analyzing the characteristics and effects of the transport layer, which is deposited onto the substrate via evaporation, to figure a way to reach maximum efficiency of the solar cells."

Achaetey says she has decided to become a physicist when during a high school exam, she forgot that she was taking an exam and lost track of time only to realize afterwards that she had solved all the questions and had fun as if the test was a game!

Amy Longstreth '17

Amy does research in Teresa Herd’s lab on a project named “Cell Ultrasound". She is responsible for cell culture, including feeding, freezing, and thawing ovarian cells of Chinese hamsters. By studying these cells and how they organize, her research group intends to figure out the factors that make benign cancer cells differ from malignant ones. By investigating the characteristics such as the speed of attenuation and sound, they intend to find a way to categorize tumors. Amy says, “I chose physics because I want to have a career as an engineer and majoring in physics provides me with an adequate base, so that I can pursue an engineering master’s degree in graduate school. I chose Teresa's lab because I am interested in becoming a bio-medical engineer, and the physics lab met my interests. One day I would like to engineer new prosthetics.” She is currently comparing programs at different universities to see which she likes the best.

Class of 2018: Lilliana Beckmann, Grace Cai, Xiaoxue Gao, Anitha Kandiah, Rico Li, Puyang, Ma, Meghadeepa Maity, Kathryn Morrison, Kathleen Smith, Emma Thackray, Tamia Williams and Nan Zhuang.


Emma Thackray '18

Emma Thackray has been working in Professor Kerstin Nordstrom's lab since the Spring of 2015. Her project is on the behavior of flowing granular material, like sands through an hourglass. "Think of a sink of marbles under light," she says. "Using the sensitive camera we have in the lab, which can take thousands of frames per second, we can zoom in and observe the properties of granular materials."

The granular system she is studying consists of  special ‘photoelastic’ particles. The system is placed between two polarizing sheets, which would normally block out all light. But as Thackray says, "As these materials shift and roll over one another, the forces in the system change, altering the characteristics of the system, including the way the grains transmit light."

The upshot is that particles experiencing large forces appear bright because they transmit light, particles not under stress block out  light. (In technical terms, the force induces birefringence in the material.) Using the high-speed camera, they can then directly visualize the force network within the system, and image forces as they are transmitted in real time. With this data she can begin to “model the properties of granular materials.”