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LLE research lands local teens in semifinals for national science competition

January 23, 2017

Two local teens have earned recognition in the prestigious Regeneron Science Talent Search (formerly the Intel Science Talent Search) for research projects they carried out last summer at the University of Rochester’s Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE). Webster Kehoe of Wilson Magnet High School and Nathan Morse of Allendale Columbia are among the 300 semifinalists nationwide chosen from more than 1,700 who entered the competition.

Kehoe and Morse will each be awarded $2,000 and their schools will receive $2,000 to support their science, math and engineering programs. The two students, who are now seniors, will have a chance to be included among the 40 finalists chosen to attend the Science Talent Institute in March in Washington, D.C. to compete for college scholarships with a top prize of $250,000. The finalists will be announced January 24.

Webster Kehoe (University photo / Eugene Kowaluk. Laboratory for Laser Energetics)


Nathan Morse (Photo credit Eugene Kowaluk/Laboratory for Laser Energetics)

Both students carried out projects related to  LLE’s 60-beam OMEGA laser, which is used to implode spherical capsules containing fusion fuel. Chow worked out how to aim the OMEGA laser beams to provide uniform implosions for experiments in which some of the beams are needed for other purposes. Morse worked on how to optimally configure the frequency conversion crystals (which convert the infrared light produced by the laser to ultraviolet light that implodes the capsule) to make sure that all 60 beams are as identical as possible.

LLE has as its primary mission the study of the conditions necessary to create and sustain fusion. Involving young adults in state-of-the-art science, however, is another important goal that LLE’s scientists and engineers take very seriously. LLE started its summer high school program in 1989 and has had 353 participants to date.

“Our program provides a unique educational opportunity for talented high-school students. They’re amazingly motivated, and it’s exciting to see them recognized as among the best in the nation,” says Stephen Craxton, LLE physicist and high school program director.

Students working at the laboratory have made up the large majority of Rochester-area Science Talent Search semifinalists honored during the past two decades. A total of 34 students from the LLE program have now become semifinalists.

Application materials for LLE’s summer program are sent to area high schools and placed on the LLE website in early February or can be obtained directly by calling Ms. Jean Steve at (585) 275-9517.  For more information about the program itself, please contact Dr. Craxton at (585) 275-5467.

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Category: Campus Life