Professor Arango’s Physics Lab - South Hadley, MA
Major: Astronomy, Physics
This summer I had the incredible opportunity of working at Professor Arango’s Lab in South Hadley, Massachusetts. For the first time in my life I was able to get a taste of ‘doing’ science – while the classroom experience is invaluable in fields like Physics, it doesn’t give much of an idea of what one’s heading into.
My research involved working with Professor Alexi Arango on making thin film organic solar cells. Part of my project was to co-write a paper on the question of sustainability of solar energy in the United States. Over the course of 10 weeks, I found myself becoming more invested in the lab work, as well as being challenged by the research in a way I hadn’t been in my classrooms. There is no formula for research, and in many ways that’s exciting because there’s so much that can be done, and often it all starts from scratch. I realized lab is where the real learning happens. However, I also found myself spending more and more time on the article – writing took up the bulk of my interest. I had always been interested in journalism and had even considered going into science journalism after Mount Holyoke, but if there was ever a time I became convinced of it, it was now. It helped that the material I was studying talked intensively about climate change and the profound danger our world is in environmentally. I had had an idea about such issues before, but now I could name them and talk about them, as causes important to me. When I started my research I was Physics major, but by the end of it, I knew that I wanted to go more seriously into journalism. I am now working on self-designing a major in Journalism and Media Studies.