Undergraduate Research Experiences

Archive for the ‘Research Rookies’ Category

March update

So I have been set back a little. Part of this is due to kind static electricity zapping my computer and erasing some of my files, including the progress I made on my poster! At least it saved my custom colors, ha. I have started to remake my poster. The EELS analysis is still going a bit slow. I was not particularly productive this spring break as I was visiting with family a lot. I am not worried at this point since I have more than enough information to present and will definitely have finished my poster by the end of the month. 

I had planned to take my Research Rookies group on a tour of Fermilab but weather had other plans. Oh well, I am arranging a new activity that should be convenient for everyone. We will be eating lunch at one of the near by options. The exact day is still to be determined.

Progress reflection! …Again!

It is that time of year again. URAD is coming up fast and it is time to look at how far my project has come along. I gauge my progress in several categories: my standard (perfectionism!), what goals I have set and questions I seek to/ have answered as outlined in my proposal, and mentor review.

Going off of my proposal guidance,I am essentially done with the most part of my project. The main part left is to start creating my poster for presentation. Personally, I have higher standards and would like to increase the level of professionalism associated with my project. This means that I am going to try to carry out more complex calculations and explain the physics of my project, including results, at a significantly more advanced level. In order to do this, I am teaching myself Electron Energy Loss Spectroscopy (EELS), among other things, and studying ahead of this semester’s class materials to the best of my ability. I will be writing a progress report for my mentors to look over. I feel that a formal written report is the best approach this year for several reasons. One, each of us have a very busy schedule and an emailed written report is convenient to arrange. Second, it is an easy way to prep for what I want to write in my poster and solidify my ability to explain what I have learned. Third, it is general good practice as a researcher.

As a peer leader for new Research Rookies, I feel I have a bit of work to do. I was a bit late in planning activities, planning about a week or two in advanced and trying to get everyone’s agreement on what to do for our monthly activities. I have changed this a bit by planning about a month, at least, in advanced. For example, March’s activity has already been arranged since mid January. We will be taking a trip to Fermilab for the Ask-A-Scientist guided tour.
This month, We will be eating at Aspen leaf and going over abstracts and poster designs. Last month, We (me, one of my group members, and several individuals who happen to be near) ate pizza and practiced logical argument and explanation through a rule modified game of zobmundo. The ethics category developed some of the most interesting conversations, in my opinion. I think one of my greatest strengths as a peer leader is guidance. I always try to give advice, demonstrations or examples, and explanations when members of my group are faced with an issue or new experience/ situation.

I will write more updates later. For now, I need to get back to work.

New month, new year, new fun!

Ah! another year has come. Another year is here for blissful, inspirational research! I am now well into my second year of conducting research. Oh! the great times I have had this far! I remember my first year. I was nervous, awkward, and perhaps even a bit scared. My mentors were always, and still are, encouraging and teaching me the process of research. They, as well as the Office of Student Engagement and Experiential Learning, have taught me professionalism by demonstration. My confidence is much better than it used to be. I am significantly more knowledgeable about physics, which has helped me in my classes. I know I still have a lot to learn but I have come a long way.

The biggest challenge for me when I started in research was not being overwhelmed by the fact that I did not understand new or complex concepts on the first try or beforehand. The biggest rewards have been learning a lot about my field very quickly and many opportunities opening to me as a result of being involved in research.

I am looking forward to this new year! There are many opportunities waiting, or falling onto my lap in some cases.

December update

Hello everyone,

The research Rookies reception went well this month. I got to talk to some new people and with my fellow Research Rookies. I was very excited to see the video presentations, which was a new addition this year! It was nice and had a few adorable moments. Having already been to one reception, I was not particularly nervous about anything. I actually felt quite comfortable and confident.

I will be continuing to work on my project over winter break. Now that classes are over for the semester, I can put a great deal of time into my project. This will also give me a nice advantage come January.  


November (nonpoetic)

Hello everyone! I promise not to be confusing and poetic this time. I still feel like I am moving a bit slow in my project. I have started looking at the dark field images that were obtained over the summer. So far I am writing descriptions of each image and analyzing what they could mean. so far I have written and analyzed half of one of the images. There is so much to explain. There are are interfaces between different layers in the sample and each interface looks different. I am compiling reasons for this and the possible consequences.

It is still a working progress that will be accelerating soon. This Friday I will be going to Argonne again, so I will be learning more.


As for being a peer leader, it is nice. I like being able to help the new researchers and “show them the ropes” or guidelines to research the best that I can. Last month’s activity was lunch at a nice diner near school. Everyone enjoyed it very much. This month, also this coming Friday, I will be holding a study session for my group. Although we are in different fields, it is good to create an environment that is comfortable for promoting studying and learning. I am hoping to bring some nice snacks for my group. I hope they enjoy the session.

Week 6 of SROP

My project is still going good so far. I have been able to work the Transmission Electron Microscope(TEM) without much difficulty and collected diffraction patterns from a gold sample. I am currently analyzing the diffraction patterns from the LSMO and gold samples. I am compiling possible explanations for some of the pattern characteristics, such as halos and extra spots, in the LSMO. Comparing the LSMO patterns to the gold patterns, which seems to be amorphous, can give clues about some of the LSMO pattern characteristics. So far, some of the explanations that are related to what I have observed are superlattice reflections, reflections from defects, and crystalline-amorphous transition. I will continue to look for possible explanations and index the LSMO pattern.

The Field Museum trip was fantastic! It was a nice break from research. However, there was still a lot of relevant information in the museum. The Bio-Luminescence exhibit showed a lot of diagrams on diffraction and reflection of light, which are important concepts in my project. All of the other exhibits where very interesting as well. I made sure to take lots of pictures to remember this great excursion! S30A0059S30A0056

Presentation Time

The past two semesters have been quite an experience. I have learned so much and enjoyed every moment of it. I have now collected enough information and compiled it into a poster for the upcoming presentation day! I would like to say that my project is complete, but learning never ends. There is always more to learn.

Words cannot express my thanks to everyone who has helped me with my project. All I can say is that I am truly grateful and appreciate everything you have done. Now, I am preparing my presentation that will summarize everything I, with great help, have done and learned.

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