Research Wins Recent Graduate National Recognition
Frustrated by a slow Internet connection or laser printer? Then you'll
be thankful that Charis Quay Huei Li '01 worked as a research student
with physics professor Janice Hudgings before graduating summa cum
laude with a degree in physics in May.
Quay's cutting-edge research on vertical-cavity surface-emitting
lasers (VCSELs) is taking physicists one step closer to replacing
the traditional semiconductor lasers that transmit data in high-speed
communication tools. The replacement could mean Internet connections
at least ten times faster than what is available today and CDs that
hold as much as an entire movie's-worth of information, according
"These are the next generation in lasers," says Hudgings,
who specializes in optics research. "When I heard what a phenomenal
student Charis is, I approached her to join me in studying them."
Scientists far beyond South Hadley are also taking note of Quay's
research, which uncovered certain sensitivities of the VCSEL light
beam. In July, the American Physical Society (APS) named Quay one
of seven finalists for the national LeRoy Apker Award, which is awarded
annually for outstanding achievements in physics by undergraduate
"The Apker Prize is the most prestigious award in undergraduate
physics," says Hudgings. "We're all very proud of Charis
for being named a finalist; the honor is well deserved!"
As an Apker finalist, Quay will receive a $2,000 honorarium in Washington,
D.C., September 10. Winners, who will be named later in September,
will receive an additional $5,000 and an award allowance for travel
to APS's March meeting in Indianapolis.
By that time, Quay may be shedding light on another area of experimental physics at Stanford University, where she is now a graduate student.