Tarleton physics students take advantage of research opportunities

TSU Newsroom
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STEPHENVILLE — Seven Tarleton physics students have research opportunities lined up for the summer. Five of the students, all undergraduates, were selected in Texas and national competitions for paid external research projects.

Graduates Arthur Alvarez and Alec Pfundheller were awarded graduate school fellowships at Texas A&M, Alvarez’s in physics (biophotonics) and Pfundheller’s in nuclear engineering (accelerator physics)

“Tarleton’s unique undergraduate research facilities and emphasis on hands-on learning and research often gives students a competitive edge in research competitions and graduate school,” said Dr. Daniel Marble, Professor in Tarleton’s Department of Chemistry, Geoscience and Physics.

“This year’s junior and senior classes have been especially active and compare favorably to our better classes in the past whose graduates obtained advanced degrees and are now in academia, national labs, and industry.”

Alvarez was selected for a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates at the University of Notre Dame where he will work under Dr. Graham Peaslee on an accelerator-based PIXE project to identify carcinogens in flame retardants.

Due to COVID, Alvarez’s REU at Notre Dame last summer was delayed to this summer. He and fellow physics major Alec Pfundheller built a laser system to determine the efficiency of various mask materials using optical scattering for their senior research project this past year.

Juniors Sidney Davis, Ethan Keene, and Jason Pipal, were selected for Texas A&M’s Undergraduate Summer Research Grant Program.

Davis has been involved in research in Tarleton’s accelerator lab measuring enhanced nuclear scattering cross section for protons on light elements. He will spend his summer researching materials for next generation reactors in Dr. Lin Shao’s accelerator facility.

Keene and Pipal did environmental radioactivity research this past year looking at gamma emitters in soil. They will spend their summer in Dr. Vlad Yakolov’s laser labs working on biophotonics research with Texas A&M graduate students from physics and bioengineering.

Sophomore Samuel Garcia-Rodriguez was selected for the Nuclear Forensics Internship program at the University of Texas where he will work on the application of nuclear techniques to problems related to national security.

Some junior physics majors who didn’t pursue off-campus research will be doing research in Stephenville this summer with Tarleton faculty. For instance, Taryn Gibbs will be doing research with Dr. Lance Wayley.

For more information on Tarleton’s physics program, visit https://www.tarleton.edu/physics/index.html.