North Central College - Naperville, IL

Physics majors finishing with a big bang

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Physics majors landed Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internships
Top: Sam Stunkle ’12, Obaid Khurram ’13; bottom: Mikie McEvoy ’12, Ryan Murphy ’13

North Central physics majors have yielded a bumper crop of highly prestigious research internships at Department of Energy National Laboratories.  All four senior physics majors landed Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internships (SULI) and during the fall term will be gaining high-level research experiences that will prepare them for graduate school as well as careers in engineering, physics and other technical fields. The SULI program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and accepted students receive funds for housing and travel along with a stipend. 

“Part of our commitment to offering the highest quality education in physics is to provide our students with real-world research experience,” says Paul Bloom, associate professor of physics. “While our students conduct research with faculty as sophomores and juniors, as seniors we want them to obtain these valuable experiences at national labs. This is part of a dedicated effort to take advantage of North Central’s unique proximity to two world-class research facilities at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) and Argonne National Laboratories (ANL).”

As part of the application process, the interns were able to specify projects they were interested in.  Ryan Murphy ’13 is working both summer and fall internships at ANL doing research and development for high-energy neutrino detectors to be built at Fermilab and elsewhere. Sam Stunkle ’12 will also be at ANL this fall contributing to an experiment searching for dark matter and dark energy. These unobserved particles may make up as much as 96 percent of the mass of the universe. “I’ve always been interested in astrophysics and particle physics, so this research will combine my interests,” he says.

Mikie McEvoy ’12 will spend the fall at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (in Berkeley, CA) researching technology for an upgrade to the ATLAS detector at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland. Obaid Khurram ’13 will work at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (in Oak Ridge, TN) researching electrical properties of novel nano-scale designed materials

In addition to the research experience and the intellectual atmosphere of these elite laboratories, SULI internships expose students to researchers who can open doors to their futures. “During the course of their work, students have the opportunity to attract the attention of researchers from Ph.D.-granting institutions for future collaborations,” Bloom explains. “This can open the door to the top graduate programs for our students.”