Undergraduate Research Experiences

Beginning round 2

It is great to be back in Research Rookies!
I get to continue to grow and get hands on in physics! This time, I will be combining my knowledge of superconductors and LSMO for my project. The focus is to continue to analyse the LSMO structure, this time using Dark Field imaging, with applications to YBCO superconductors. It is going to be a lot of work, but I cannot think of anything more fun or interesting! I have already gotten to work on my project. So far, I have read several articles on YBCO and LSMO as well as started reading some books on Dark Field imaging. Besides research, I have a new responsibility in Research Rookies.

I am a peer leader this time. I want to do my best to ensure the comfort and success of my fellow peers. Since this is my first time as an official peer mentor, I worry that I might not fulfill my duties adequately enough. This worry is mostly due me being a bit of a perfectionist. Regardless, I will due the best that I can!


Week 8 (final)

We are now well into the 8th and last week. I have been practicing and reviewing my notes for the upcoming symposium. So far I feel comfortable and ready to present my project, yet still a bit nervous! I put a lot of effort into putting my poster together. explaining concepts and results and adding necessary pictures was difficult to do in a limited space. However, I feel that I managed the task well.

The past 8 weeks have been amazing and challenging. I really have been able to push myself beyond what I even knew what I was capable of. My experience in the Summer Research Opportunities Program (SROP) will be unforgettable, I am sure! I have had so many more opportunities in field trips, hands on work, useful and enriching workshops, and social interactions than I anticipated. It has been wonderful and exciting to the point that I feel pampered rotten.

My overall ending view of SROP can be summarized in a short poem:

Summer is said to be a time for fun. A time for fun for everyone!
We all have our own interests. A different thought of what is fun.
What a conflict! How do we solve this woe?
Research! How so?
Research is the connecting umbrella that we all share.
It is natural. It is the little thought of instinct we call curiosity.
It is passion. It ignites the flame of motivation.
The umbrella (research) brings us together to learn. It brings us together to grow.
We are the umbrella!We are research!

Week 7 of SROP

Week 7 is at an end. My poster has been submitted for printing, after rigorous proofreading and revising. Now, I have my final report to write and presentation to practice. I could not have gotten this far without everyone’s help! I am especially grateful of my mentor. He constantly encourages me to do my best and reassures me that everything will work out fine, “Don’t panic”. I am both very excited and nervous for the upcoming symposium. I want to present well, which is a matter of practice.I am sure I can do it!

I am happy and honored to have been accepted into the Summer Research Opportunity Program!
The experiences I have had during this program will be unforgettable. The people I have met and places I have gone have been wonderful and inspiring. I feel a lot more comfortable and confident socializing in a relaxed casual setting. This type of setting was perhaps the most difficult for me to handle before I started SROP. Overall, almost every skill, if not every skill, I have has been improved as a result of participating in SROP.

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

Week 5

I am now beginning week 5 of SROP and so far things are going well. On Tuesday of last week I went to Argonne National Laboratory with my mentor to help with/observe the sample fabrication process. The process was different from what I observed in my last project dealing with superconductors. Even the appearance of the machines were different even though they were categorized under the same group. The fabrication took the entire day but it is progressing. I am already observing/analyzing some diffraction patterns and will be, hopefully, taking more patterns to verify what we have now. So far, still on track!

My relationship with my current mentor is a bit different from my last mentor relationship. It is still comfortable to handle but there are differences. My last mentor relationship was more friend-like, with respect. In fact, I recently joined my previous mentor for lunch to catch up. My current mentor, although I feel awkward to say it, seems more father-like.

It is good that I am still on track. The Lorado Taft retreat was a somewhat interesting break from my work. However, I still tried to work while on the retreat. It was not very successful with no internet and few power outlets, which everyone was in line for. The thing I disliked most about the retreat was the bugs! I still have bites that I am treating as my repellent was not effective enough. The good thing, however, was being able to interact more with the individuals in the other research groups. I got to learn more about what they were doing and how it was different from my work. Strangely, even though their work was different, it could still be connected to my own work in some way. I will keep this in mind for future collaborations.

SROP Week 3

Week 3 is now at an end. It has certainly been exciting! On Wednesday, I and my fellow SROP members took a field trip to Fermilab! We learned a lot about Fermilab’s history, culture, and work. Some of the structures within Fermilab, such as the entrance arc, are a result of an artist’s inspiration with an emphasis on saving money! Fermilab is open to the public by allowing tours of the facility, fishing, biking, ect. The main work done at Fermilab deals with particle accelerators and colliding particles at a velocity near the speed of light. As interesting as the field trip was, it was not the only thing I did this past week.

I learned a bit about writing logs in the laboratory journal. My mentor showed me how to read important instruments such as the vacuum pump and what data to record such as pressure in units of pascals. I have also been doing more literature work and exercises. I have been reading textbooks on materials and mathematics to learn important concepts related to perovskite structure crystals and Fourier series and transforms for optics. It has been a bit challenging since the mentioned material is advanced for my current background. However, I thoroughly enjoy a challenge and am confident that I will be successful!

I cannot wait to see what the new week has in store for me. I am sure it will be fun!

Week 2 Of SROP

The second week of SROP has not been too bad. I have submitted my project proposal and am on schedule with my timeline. For the rest of this week and next week, I will be studying more about the basics on electron diffraction. There may also be some training on the electron microscope. Then, I will actually start to get hands on experience! I will be using an electron microscope to study metal oxide crystals. This is just a very general description, however, which brings about another thought.

I am very privileged to be in SROP! I and my fellow SROP participants were given a tour of the company Nanophase, which deals a lot with metal oxides. We also got an informative and amusing talk from the CEO of Nanophase! I almost feel guilty for how kindly we are being treated! Besides the research experience, I am being more social than usual. There is really a sense of community that has been intertwined in this program! Every Tuesday we have social outings with SROP and several other program participants. This week we went bowling. It was a lot of fun. I ended up breaking my previous bowling score of consistent gutters!

Well… it has been nice chatting but it is time to get back to work. How fun!

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