11 May 2009

Mag Lab mentors tomorrow's scientists

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — While there are no classes held at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, school is always in session. Students make up a quarter of the lab's staff, and about 30 percent of those students are undergraduates. The Mag Lab at Florida State University offers the rare opportunity for undergraduates – as young as freshman – to work in a national research setting.

Several Magnet Lab-affiliated undergraduates recently received top honors for the quality of their research.

Kristen Collar took first place in the Physics Department's undergraduate poster symposium at FSU, for which she received the Lannutti Award for Undergraduate Research and $750. The award is named for Joseph E. Lannutti, who was a pioneering professor of physics at FSU.

Collar, who will be a junior in the fall, first came to the Magnet Lab as a freshman through FSU's Women in Math, Science and Engineering (WIMSE) program. She conducts research with Stan Tozer on the flux growth of crystals and their characterization, an effort funded by U.S. Department of Energy/National Nuclear Security Administration.

"Kristen has been a real asset to our studies on the actinides and related materials," said Tozer. "We have thrown all variety of assignments her way and she has taken them all on with equal verve. With any luck, we will be able to steer her to a career in physics, as she shows real promise as a crystal grower."

At the end of her first year at FSU, Collar applied for an Undergraduate Research and Creative Endeavors (URACE) Scholarship and received a $1,000 award, and also was accepted to the Mag Lab's Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program at the lab's Los Alamos branch in New Mexico. While there, Collar worked with Jason Cooley and Chuck Mielke; she is a co-author on this work, which has been published in Physical Review B.

This summer, Collar will participate in The Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power REU program at the University of Illinois.

Student Recognized for Outstanding Research

Alison Pawlicki received the Lynn Shannon Proctor Fellowship for outstanding research by a student in a group that is underrepresented in the field of physics. The award is given in honor of Ms. Proctor, who was majoring in physics at the time of her death. Alison was also inducted into the Sigma Pi Sigma honor society and took second place in the physics department's undergraduate poster symposium.

Pawlicki, a junior, works with physics professor and Magnet Lab experimentalist Chris Wiebe on the synthesis of new magnetic oxides. This summer, she'll travel to Tennessee to work with David Mandrus at Oak Ridge National Lab on recently discovered "pnictide" superconductors.

"I have been very pleased with Allison's progress towards understanding new quantum magnets synthesized at the Mag Lab," said Wiebe. "Her appointment this summer at another national laboratory will only enhance the broad range of experiences we like to make available to undergraduates at Florida State University."

Undergrads Snare Best Project

Undergraduates sponsored by the Mag Lab's Nuclear Magnetic Resonance facility won best project in the 2008-2009 FAMU-FSU College of Mechanical Engineering Capstone program, a year-long course focused on produced realization processes with real-world engineering practice issues.

The team – composed of Rebecca Altman, Jason Kitchen, Zac Stevenson and Jessica Vanterpool – developed a method of maintaining the required temperature of a sample for the duration of an experiment in the lab's flagship 900 MHz magnet.

"This was my first experience with the Capstone program for undergraduate projects," said the Mag Lab's Bill Brey, who together with Peter Gor'kov sponsored the project. "I was very pleased to work with such a bright and capable group of students. Their project makes a meaningful contribution to our user program, improving sample temperature stability in the 900 MHz ultra wide bore magnet."
To learn more about the project, visit: www.eng.fsu.edu/ME_senior_design/2009/team2/.

Former REU Wins Fulbright

A Magnet Lab REU student has been awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to build solar-powered water-filtration systems in Ghana this summer.

Amanda Lounsbury, a senior physics major at Occidental College in Los Angeles, participated in the 2008 summer research program at the Magnet Lab's Tallahassee headquarters, where she was supported by the Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration. Lounsbury worked with Eric Palm on helium mixtures and fabricated capacitive thermometers to extend measurements to the highest fields.

The summer research experience did not mark Lounsbury's first trip to the Mag Lab. During the summer of 2007, she accompanied Professor George Schmiedeshoff on a research trip to the lab for initial investigations into the thermal expansion and magnetostriction of a dilute mixture of 3He in liquid 4He.

Lounsbury plans to attend graduate school following her Fulbright year.