Physics Student Research

2019 Research


Josh McMullen Researches at Jefferson Lab

Josh's Research Statement: 

I participated in the Department of Energy's SULI program at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in Newport News, Virginia. Jefferson Lab is home to CEBAF, the Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility which is used to explore fundamental characteristics of hadrons, elementary particles, and the mechanisms that bind them together. The accelerator recently received an upgrade which doubled the energy of the produced electron beam to 12 billion electron volts (GeV). Physicists in Jefferson Lab's Hall A, including my mentor Dr. Douglas Higinbotham, focus their efforts on measuring the distribution of charge and magnetism within the proton and neutron, a value known as the "form factor".

This increased beam energy allows for higher-precision measurements but requires more sensitive and advanced particle detectors to efficiently track particles following a collision between the beam and the target substance. My work this summer was concerned with the technical upgrades that have been made to Hall A's "BigBite" spectrometer in preparation for the upcoming 12 GeV runs. BigBite's detector package is responsible for identifying the scattered electrons while also providing precise timing and trajectory information. My project included collecting technical specifications on each detector and organizing the information into a journal article to be submitted to Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research. Significant upgrades that required special attention included the addition of gas electron multiplier (GEM) detectors and modifications made to the gas ring imaging (GRINCH) Cherenkov chamber. I also spent a portion of my time doing hands-on work with the spectrometer. My duties included the implementation of high voltage and data acquisition cables and conducting cosmic ray tests on various detectors.

2018 Research


Jarryd Horn Researches at Ohio State University

Jarryd's Research Statement:

I spent 10 weeks with the Ohio State University Center for Emergent Materials, working with experimental condensed matter physicist Dr. Fengyan Yang and a few of his graduate students. The project to which I primarily contributed was with graduate student Mark Meng, primarily growing thin films with the goal of discovering highly desirable magnetic properties for possible spintronic application.


I worked primarily to optimize the crystallinity and epitaxial quality to obtain the desired electronic and magnetic properties. I used magnetron sputtering to deposit thin films and helped synthesize high-quality powder targets for the sputtering process. In characterizing the resulting thin films, I used X-Ray diffraction and used magnetometry techniques to verify crystallinity, growth quality and magnetic activity.


The experience gave me insight into a fast-paced experimental environment in which I was able to observe several projects in varying stages working in parallel in the same lab. As a result, I exposed to a lot of new concepts and experimental techniques between working with Mark and bugging some of his colleagues to ask a lot of questions and offer my own insights.



2017 Research


Barlow Researches at Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in Virginia

Recent NMU physics graduate, Jonathan Barlow, completed a summer internship at Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in Newport News, Virginia. As an intern, Jonathan learned about essential nuclear physics hardware, software, and data analysis techniques. With this information, he studied the ability of a new piece of hardware within a Data Aquisition system and compared it to the behaviors of legacy modules



Hagen Works as Astrophysics Intern at Brookhaven National Laboratory

Physics major, Thomas Hagen, spent most of the summer working as an astrophysics intern at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York. Brookhaven is a multipurpose research institution funded primarily by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

Thomas’s learning objective was to acquire data analysis techniques for astrophysics research instruments.  He analyzed sensor data from LSST sensors which failed an implementation test to figure out why they were failing.

At the end of the summer, Thomas wrote a formal research paper, took part in a poster presentation, and provided two PowerPoint presentations for the members of the research team



Jarryd Horn Researches at National Laboratories in England and Canada

Jarryd Horn, physics major and McNair Scholar, has been participating in physics research with his faculty mentor, Dr. P.W. Mengyan. In addition to work at NMU, the research involves conducting experiments with their small collaboration at two national laboratories: the Neutron and Muon source at the STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory near Oxford, England and TRIUMF (actual name) which is Canada’s national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics and accelerator-based science located in Vancouver, BC.

Jarryd’s work has been focused on addressing some open questions relating to properties of semiconductors (Solid State Physics) by using the Muon Spin Research technique. He has been active in helping run experiments (planning, operating the instruments and data collection at the international facilities), data analysis and interpretation. This summer, he completed a research paper and presented some of his work at the National McNair Research Conference. His continual involvement in the collaboration’s work will continue to contribute to international conference presentations and peer-reviewed publications. Learn more

2016 Research


Hunter Studies Neutrino Oscillations at Vanderbilt University's Physics and Astronomy REU

Physics major, Rachel Hunter, participated in Vanderbilt University's Physics and Astronomy REU 2016 which was funded by the NSF. She was at Vanderbilt from May 30 through August 6. While there she studied neutrinos and neutrino oscillations by working with the neutrino oscillation experiments conducted at the Rovno Nuclear Power Station. The learning objective was to find evidence for/against a fourth neutrino through computer modeling of old and new neutrino oscillation experiments.



Reinhardt Participates in REU at University of Massachusetts Amherst

Biidaaban worked on a collaborative project with another REU student with each student working on a different part of the same general project. Reinhardt's portion of this collaboration was titles "Improving Sensing of Gold Nanoparticles in Biological Samples using MALDI Mass Spectrometry" which essentially was using Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption/Ionization Mass Spectrometry (MALDI-MS) to evaluate if the presence of Gold Nanoparticles changes the biological composition of tissues.


2015 Research


Egan Presents Poster at American Astronomical Society's Annual Conference

Arika Egan, senior physics and philosophy major, recently attended the 225th American Astronomical Society (AAS) meeting in Seattle, Washington where she presented a poster about new data on galaxies NGC4242 and UGC07301, analyzing the light intensity as a function of radius, and creating stellar energy distribution graphs, color graphs, and surface brightness profiles for each galaxy. Arika did this research as part of her summer research experience for undergraduates (REU) at the University of Wyoming.



Kyle Branning's Columbia REU in CERN, Switzerland

Over this summer, Kylee Branning's part in the Columbia REU program was focused on the development of data driven background estimation techniques to discriminate the backgrounds for VV resonance searches in the final state of lepton, neutrino, and two quarks. The background she worked with was composed of W+Jets, Z+Jets, ttbar, multijets, and standard model dibosons. Specifically the W/Z+Jets and ttbar backgrounds were measured in control regions formed by reverting the signal region cuts.

Additionally b-tagging was used to discriminate between those two different background types. For the standard model dibosons, the estimation was based on the Monte Carlo. The multijets Run I extrapolation showed marginal quantum chromodynamics (QCD) contamination. Comparisons were made between data and Monte Carlo for an integrated luminosity of 6 pb-1 collected at 13 TeV center of mass energy. In the end, no discrepancy between data and Monte Carlo was found in this study.

The picture is of Kylee with the statue of Shiva Nataraj. The statue was a gift from India, celebrating CERN's long association with India which started in the 1960's and continues strongly today.


2014 Research

Argonne Students

Argonne Student Research Presentation

At the annual Argonne Undergraduate Research Symposium at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois, several NMU students gave presentations.  Physics major, Daniel Wilbern's presentation was on Measurement of the Mean Lifetime of Muon Particles. His talk was based on research that he did while working with Dr. William Tireman (Physics).


2013 Research

Argonne Students

Argonne Student Research Presentation

Three physics students presented at the 2013 Argonne Conference. Daniel Wilbern's presentation was about time-of-flight and position dispersion in plastic scintillator detectors. Cassy Hasting's presentation was about experimental identification of transmission band shifts for liquid-filled, hollow core for photonic crystal fibers due to refractive index scaling. Elizabeth Butler spoke about analyzing time data for the EBEX experiment.

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Elizabeth Butler Completes Summer REU in Minnesota

NMU Physics major, Elizabeth Butler, worked this summer on the EBEX experiment for the University of Minnesota, creating software to analysis time data. EBEX is a polarimeter designed to look at the cosmic microwave background radiation in hopes of finding traces of gravitional waves in the modes of polarization.

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Hastings Travels to France to Participate in Optics REU

NMU physics major, Cassy Hastings, traveled to Paris, France this summer to study optics and research at The Institut d’Optique Graduate School. This REU program is a collaboration between the University of Michigan and several Paris universities

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Erik Wisuri Interns at NASA

NMU Physics major, Erik Wisuri, interned this summer at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center's Wallops Flight Facility.  At NASA, he worked with a scientist to develop software that can create new mathematical models for ocean microbial ecosystems using genetic algorithms.

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2012 Research

Kitt Peak

Kitt Peak National Observatory Internship

Senior physics major, Amelia Shirtz, was selected to work as an undergraduate research assistant this summer at Kitt Peak National Observatory. Shirtz's research assistant position was offered through the NSF-Funded Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Program.

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Argonne Students

Argonne Student Research Presentation

Three physics students presented at the 2012 Argonne Conference. Elizabeth Butler and Arika Egan presented on techniques used in astronomical photography. Amelia Shirtz presented on creating an infrastructure for LSST all-sky camera site data.

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2011 Research


Student Research Paper Published

A 2012 NMU graduate and physics major, Alexandra Fittante, has published a research paper in an international Nuclear and Particle Physics journal with Dr. Neil Russell of the Physics Department. Ms. Fittante worked on this project, which involved a variety of calculations to find limits on coefficients relevant for space-time symmetries, during her senior year.

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