Five Physics Undergraduates Win Competitive Summer Research Positions

Five Illinois Tech physics undergraduates have won competitive research internships for summer 2018 at Argonne National Laboratory, Northwestern University, Princeton University, and University of Chicago:

  • Adam Denchfield (APHY 4th year) and Noah Samuelson (PHYS 2nd year): For the second summer in a row, Denchfield received a Student Research Participant (SRP) award from Argonne National Laboratory. He will work with the Math and Computer Science Division on implementing modern nonlinear conjugate gradient methods in their Toolkit for Advanced Optimization. These are discrete methods for solving nonlinear partial differential equations which often occur in physical models.

Samuelson won a Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship (SULI) from Argonne and was accepted into the new Muon g-2 experiment, which is being assembled at Fermilab.  The experiment is a highly sensitive measurement of the muon magnetic moment, the goal of which is to search for physics beyond the Standard Model. He will help develop the superconducting nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) magnet for the experiment, which is being built at Argonne.

The SULI program encourages undergraduate students to pursue STEM careers by providing research experiences at U.S. Department of Energy laboratories.

Both Samuelson and Denchfield took advantage of research opportunities at Illinois Tech working under Physics Professor John Zasadzinski, Paul and Suzi Schutt Endowed Chair in Science.

Zasadzinski commented, “This is what we do best: We take our motivated undergrads and get them involved in research experiences, which for Adam and Noah led to a peer-reviewed publication. These serve as stepping stones in their career, making them attractive for the highly competitive SULI and SRP programs. It is a win-win for everyone.”

Detweiler will learn how to understand the astrophysical observations and cosmochemical measurements that underpin the models she will be developing, as well as the necessary high performance computing methods.

  • Ian Gustafson (APHY 4th year): Gustafson has been accepted into the SULI at Princeton Plasma Physics Lab (PPPL) program for undergraduates interested in performing plasma physics and fusion energy research under the guidance of laboratory staff scientists and engineers.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s PPL is dedicated to developing fusion as a clean and abundant source of energy and to advancing the frontiers of plasma science. The laboratory pursues these goals through experiments and computer simulations of the behavior of plasma, the hot electrically charged gas that fuels fusion reactions and has a wide range of practical applications.

  • Keith Hermanek (PHYS 3rd year): Hermanek will do an REU with the University of Chicago’s Department of Physics. He has not yet been assigned a project but hopes to study theoretical general relativity. Potential research areas include experimental and theoretical condensed matter physics, experimental and theoretical elementary particle physics, non-linear dynamics and chaos, space and cosmic ray physics, theoretical and observational astronomy and astrophysics, experimental atomic physics and ultracold atoms, and experimental biophysics.

Detweiler, Gustafson, and Hermanek are all students of Bryce Littlejohn, assistant professor of physics, who noted, “I’m excited for them to expand their research horizons, and I look forward to seeing what interesting research insights and experience they can bring back to our IIT research group in the fall.”

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Front row: Samuelson, Hermanek, Detweiler Back row: Denchfield, Gustafson