Newswise — Five physics students from four regional universities will spend 10 weeks in Singapore this summer through a program coordinated by Dr. Michael Lim, a professor of physics at Rowan University, Glassboro, New Jersey.
The National Science Foundation-International Research Experiences for Students program awarded Lim a $243,756 grant for his project “Philadelphia-Singapore Optics Research Experience for Undergraduates,” which runs 2016-19. The grant funds round-trip transportation and housing in Southeast Asia, where students will conduct research at Nanyang Technological University, more than 9,500 miles from home.
Working under NTU professors Rainer Dumke and Claus-Dieter Ohl, the local students will join students and postdocs from Austria, Azerbaijan, China, Germany, India, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, Myanmar, the Netherlands, Poland, Singapore and Vietnam. Some of the students will conduct research on experimental atomic physics, studying quantum information processing that could someday make more powerful computing devices for applications from encryption to drug design; others will study the fluid dynamics of bubble jets and shock wave emission, which can impact biomedical applications such as the treatment of cataracts and kidney stones.
The program also includes an industrial mini-project supported by Edmund Optics, Inc., which has its world headquarters in Barrington, New Jersey, and its flagship production facility in Singapore.
Lim said this is a critical time in American history to champion equitable higher education, free and open scientific inquiry, and friendly cooperation with other societies and cultures.
“Our initiative promotes these goals by providing Philadelphia-area physics majors the opportunity to work and learn in research groups at the forefront of experimental atomic physics and fluid dynamics,” Lim said. “To my knowledge, this is the first time in our region there has been an optics consortium to support international physics research for undergraduates.” Physics department chairpersons at Rowan University, Rutgers University-Camden, Delaware State University, the University of Delaware, Bryn Mawr College and Temple University were invited to nominate eligible undergraduate students as the first step of the application process.
The successful applicants, who also will receive $5,000 in travel support, are:
• John Griffin, 20, a Rowan University junior physics major from Brick, New Jersey, who hopes to work at a university as a professor studying optics and atomic physics, will be part of the experimental atomic physics team in Singapore. At Rowan, he has worked as a research assistant for two professors in the Department of Physics, a learning assistant in the department and a resident assistant, as well as serving on the executive boards of Rowan’s Residence Hall Association and National Residence Hall Honorary Society.
• Rahi Patel, 21, a Rowan University junior physics major from Williamstown, New Jersey, will work in the fluid dynamics lab. Patel, who hopes to attend graduate school for astrophysics and teach and conduct research at a university, said, “This opportunity will provide me with research experience in a field of physics that I have not previously explored. I am greatly looking forward to expanding my research horizons as I look to attending graduate school and beyond.”
Also selected were:
• Samuel Hughes, from Pittsburgh, a University of Delaware student• Caroline Kerrigan, from Media, Pennsylvania, a Temple University student• Anna Moorhouse, from Marlton, New Jersey, a Rutgers University-Camden student
Lim and Dumke first worked together in 2000 at the National Institute of Standards and Technology-Gaithersburg, in the atomic physics lab of 1997 Physics Nobel Laureate Dr. William Phillips. They have been periodic collaborators since Lim’s 2009-10 sabbatical, when he spent a year as a visiting professor at NTU, exploring possible new platforms for quantum information processing. Lim said taking students with him to NTU was always a goal, but that the expense previously prohibited student travel.
A former Rowan student of Lim’s, Lucas Willis, helped organize the industrial mini-internship at Edmund Optics, where he holds the position of optical research scientist. Willis is based in Barrington and is involved extensively in technical operations at Edmund’s manufacturing facility in Singapore.
Noted the dean of Rowan’s College of Science & Mathematics, Dr. Karen Magee-Sauer, “This opportunity is simply a life-changing experience for this group of students. Of course they will be learning a lot of physics during their stay, but the experience of living and learning abroad will have significant impact on students’ personal growth, intercultural development and ultimate career path. Students will return home a different person and I hope share their experiences back in their home classrooms. Dr. Lim’s exceptional work in bringing this international experience to Philadelphia area college students is core to Rowan’s mission.”