Current Physics Majors

Class of 2016: Chloe Castaneda, Colbie Chinowsky, Ann Frederiksen, Rebecca "Beca" Han, Fikriye Idil "K" Kaya, Dasol Kim, Ressi Miranda, Nayantara "Tara" Patel, Katerina "Lia" Poulos, Sarah Read, Karla Villalta, and Xinyun "Cis" Xing.

Fikriye Idil "K" Kaya '16

K works in the Aidala lab with Professor Katherine Aidala. She writes simulations to solve equations regarding the magnetic moments on nanometric ferromagnets. She has attended the APS March meetings twice, in 2015 and in 2015, where she delivered ten-minute talks about her exciting research through which she wants to "find a way to develop the science to create a new way of data storage." She is now working on submitting her first paper to a science journal and on preparing her second paper to be presented in the Magnetism and Magnetic Materials conference in January 2016. She is also writing a thesis on the lab research she has conducted with Professor Aidala.

"We work on creating and manipulating domain walls, which are areas along the ferromagnets where moments change their orientation with respect to their neighbors. By understanding domain walls and finding a way to stabilize them, we can store data in a dense way that has not been achieved before!"

K says she always wanted a career in physics and mathematics, and she is planning to go to graduate school in theoretical physics, specifically regarding quantum mechanics. "I just want to fulfill a role in achievement to greater knowledge," she says, "the knowledge of what is around us." Pointing out that she has four younger siblings, who always keep her busy by asking her questions, she states "I want to be able to answer more 'why' questions that kids ask: Why is the world round? Why do eyes have different colors? Why do we like music?"

Class of 2017: Linh Do, Savannah Gowen, Laura Hunter, Achaetey Kabal, Anitha Kandiah, Amy Longstreth, Meghadeepa Maity, Syry Mitchell,  Xiaofan Xu, and Hediyeh "Alyina" Zaidi.

Linh Do '17

In high school, Linh didn't have a lot of physics classes, so when she arrived at MHC she was ready to learn more.  She likes the mechanics of physics and learning how natural phenomena work step-by-step.  Her favorite course is Waves and Optics, which explains visual phenomena such as rainbows and how we perceive color.  She has found a home away from home in the physics lounge, where the Society of Physics Students meet and hold events.

In addition to class, SPS events, physics seminars and grading, Linh researches the application of topology (braid theory) to fluid mixing in the lab of Professor Spencer Smith. Mixing, through repeated folding, plays an important role in the making of quality samurai swords and delicious French pastry!

In the way that sheets of metal or pastry are folded over and stretched, the material lines in a fluid can be forced to fold over on themselves.  Scientists achieve this by stirring the fluid with mixing rods.  The motion of these rods in a fluid trace out geometric braids in time, and the topological attributes of the braids enforce a certain amount of mixing in the fluid.

Professor Smith's research group focuses on braids to answer how well they can mix the materials in fluids of different viscosities. Certain points in the liquid behave periodically, meaning the particles at those points return to where they started in a period of mixing. The question is: How many of these periodic orbitals one needs to include with specific braids to make a topological estimation of mixing that is sufficient to model actual mixing? The group wants to find a close approximation to real-life situations so that they can know how, for instance, currents of air or water at different temperatures mix to produce the phenomena we see in every-day life.

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: Lulin "Rico" Li, Kathryn Morrison, and Emma Thackray.

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.”