When it comes to science, is there a pot of golden data waiting to be discovered at the end of the rainbow?

Trailblazer for Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance joins the ranks of Henry Ford, Thomas Edison.

Young scientists learning the ropes find they get by better with a little help from their fellow students, postdocs and colleagues.

This week at the lab, Ella Morton is heading to New Orleans to attend the bi-annual Ocean Sciences Meeting, her first scientific conference. She is pretty excited: Her suitcase has been packed for months with her mermaid painting, favorite story book, and My Little Pony.

At age 5, she's too young to drive the six hours from Tallahassee to the Big Easy. Luckily, her dad, MagLab geochemist Peter Morton, is going, too, and, as a father of four, is an experienced chauffeur.

Morton is able to bring Ella (child #3) to the conference, where he and his undergrad students will present data on the flow of micronutrients in the ocean, thanks to a MagLab Dependent Care Travel Grant. Launched as a diversity initiative in 2006 and funded by the Florida State University Office of Research, the program helps cover the cost of caring for children or other dependents so that MagLab staff can travel to conferences and MagLab users can come here to conduct experiments.

The financial and logistical strain of raising a family and establishing a career can weigh on young scientists. Last year, Morton was away from home for more than four months, including a 75-day expedition to the North Pole. Whenever possible, Morton brings one of his children, ages 3 to 11, on the road with him. The benefits are many: it eases the burden on his wife, allows him to spend one-on-time with his children, and exposes his kids to the life of a scientist.

"People are paying more attention to the fact that scientists aren't just hard-core data managers and idea generators, but that they have a life outside of science," said Morton. "It makes me feel better about my chosen field."

Increasingly, scientific conferences offer camps or other childcare for kids of participants, and Morton has noticed more of his colleagues bringing wee ones in tow. Youngsters get to watch mom or dad on the job and learn more about what scientists do. Watching her father present his poster at a recent meeting helped his oldest daughter give a better presentation at her middle school science fair, he said.

"I really appreciate this shift in attitude," said Morton, "where there's more infrastructure and attention given to parents and families who want to stay engaged in the science and their personal lives."


Text by Kristen Coyne / Photo by Jennifer Morton

Roxanne Hughes is working to address the production, retention and career development of female physicists.

This week at the lab, a team of veteran machinists is turning two-dimensional dreams into three-dimensional reality. Their deep skill and decades of experience help keep visiting scientists (or "users") on track with their experiments and bring to life the visions of the lab’s magnet designers and engineers.

Six experienced machinists work in the MagLab machine shop. Using both old-school and cutting-edge machines, they juggle some 400 to 500 projects a year — everything from repairing unexpected damage wrought by a broken screw during an experiment to constructing one-of-a-kind probes.

"Typically we’ll have visiting scientists coming in with rush projects that need to be done right away," said Vaughan Williams, who oversees the machine shop, "and in between we’ll fill in with other projects that are longer term. Users have top priority." The team also gives young scientists valuable hands-on training on how to effectively design parts and instrumentation.

Among other things going on in the machine shop this week, machinist Danny McIntosh was drilling holes in a large aluminum block headed for the Ion Cyclotron Resonance Facility, while his colleague Morgan Oliff was translating a three-dimensional model of a rotator part into code that one of the shop’s high-tech computer numerical control (CNC) machines can understand. Scientists at the lab’s Applied Superconductivity Center will use the part to study superconductors in high magnetic fields..


Text by Kristen Coyne

Greg Boebinger has been recognized for his work to advance physics across the region and nation.

Mike Davidson, head of the lab's Optical Microscopy program and trailblazing researcher in the study of cell biology, passed away on December 24, 2015.

This week at the lab our new chief scientist is on the road, connecting the dots that are the National MagLab’s many instruments, techniques and experts.

Physicist Laura Greene, who was named the lab’s chief scientist last year, traveled from the lab’s Florida State University headquarters to the University of Florida in Gainesville, home to two of the lab’s seven user facilities: the High B/T Facility and the Advanced Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Spectroscopy facility (AMRIS). 

Greene (pictured above left with Tom Mareci and Joanna Long of AMRIS) will learn about the special capabilities the facilities offer, including dynamic nuclear polarization (DNP), a promising technique under development at AMRIS and at the MagLab’s Tallahassee-based Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Facility. More familiar to biologists and chemists, DNP may also be a powerful tool for condensed matter physicists, said Greene. President-elect of the American Physical Society, Greene says a big part of her MagLab job will be identifying and building these types of fertile, cross-disciplinary relationships.

When scientists learn from colleagues at a different facility or lab about the research they are working on it, "People are astounded and excited by it," said Greene. "But then they go back and they’re busy. So it’s going to be my job to help keep the flywheel going … to keep it as single MagLab, make sure we learn from each other."

Greene hopes the connections she is fostering will result both in more scientific publications authored by MagLab staff from multiple facilities as well as publications spawned by collaborations with other national labs and industry. Through her work with the Center for Emergent Superconductivity, Greene has close ties to both Brookhaven and Argonne national laboratories.


Photo by Elizabeth Webb / Text by Kristen Coyne

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