Two University of Rochester undergraduate physics students, junior Daniel Richman, and sophomore Samuel Harrold, have won the U.S. Department of Energy 2007 National Undergraduate Fellowship Program in Plasma Physics and Fusion Energy Sciences. The fellowship provides outstanding undergraduates with an opportunity to conduct research in plasma and fusion science.
The program stimulates students' interest in the fields relevant to fusion research while providing capable assistants for fusion research projects. The nine-week research projects are performed at one of the many participating universities and national laboratories throughout the country.
"Both Sam and Daniel were selected from the largest number of applicants in the program's history," said James Morgan, the National Undergraduate Fellowship program leader.
In order that the students obtain a sufficient background to begin their research projects, the nine-week project is preceded by a one-week introductory course at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory in the basic elements of plasma physics, after which the students travel to the sites of their research projects.
Richman, current president of the Society for Physics Students, is currently working towards his bachelor's degrees in physics, mathematics, and music. He will spend the summer at the MIT Plasma Science and Fusion Center.
"I'm very much looking forward to this summer," says Richman. "The Princeton Plasma Physics Lab fascinated me when I was young and first interested in physics, so it is a pleasure to be associated with the facility. I am excited to be able to then spend nine weeks at the MIT Plasma Science & Fusion Center delving into the theory and computation that supports their fusion experiments and to be in such a rich scientific environment."
Samuel Harrold is one of the few sophomores to ever win the fellowship, which is normally bestowed on undergraduates in their junior years. This summer, Harrold will help conduct plasma physics research at Los Almos National Laboratory in New Mexico. He is currently studying toward his bachelor's degrees in physics and astronomy, as well as mathematics.
"At Los Alamos, I will be building and calibrating a magnetic probe that can detect plasma magnetic fields and another probe to measure density, temperature and pressure," says Harrold. "These will be used in an experiment to characterize plasma "ropes"—a channel made of plasma that can be directed with electric and magnetic fields. I am greatly looking forward to the research. Plasma physics, along with astrophysics, are my chief interests within physics, and I hope to concentrate on them in graduate school."
The program is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Fusion Energy Sciences.