I did my undergraduate studies at UC Davis, majoring in Physics and minoring in Psychology (graduating with highest honors). I worked several jobs throughout my time at Davis, including scrubbing fishtanks at the aquatics center, working on videography for the center for NeuroMuscular Disease, and working on photosystem II proteins in a biophysics lab. My honors undergraduate thesis involved modeling Bose-Einstein Condensates, and after graduation I worked with the Fadley lab at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab over the summer.
Undergraduate thesis: Markov Chain Monte Carlo simulations
Helium, the second-lightest element and an inert noble gas, does strange things when it is cooled below 4 degrees Kelvin. Essentially all the atoms collapse into the same state and behave as one. Work on behavior of these Bose-Einstein Condensates in heavier atoms such as sodium had won the Nobel Prize in physics when I was a senior physics major. My advisor, Richard Scalettar, and I discussed the ways in which the two situations were different: the helium is kept in a metal can and super-cooled, while the sodium atoms were held in a magnetic field and were cooled by firing lasers at the atoms to slow down their motion. We were interested in simulating this container and investigating whether the phase transition from normal atoms to condensates was similar to that of helium in a metal can. I learned to write Markov chain Monte Carlo simulations to investigate the state of the atoms at different temperatures. I also had the wonderful opportunity to go overseas to France to work with a collaborator at the Institut Non Linéaire de Nice. Ultimately another undergraduate followed me on this research and took it to publication.
Summer student at LBNL
I worked with Charles Fadley’s group at LBNL for a summer. Their group works on a variety of materials (including high temperature superconductors), examining them using the lab’s Advanced Light Source’s X-rays. My role in the group was to improve software written for X-ray holography based on Patrick Len’s PhD dissertation.