APS News

August/September 2012 (Volume 21, Number 8)

APS Honors Thirty-Nine Minority Scholars

The APS Committee on Minorities in physics (COM) has selected 39 students, comprised of 21 new recipients and 18 renewal students, for the 2012-2013 Scholarship for Minority Undergraduate Physics Majors. 

Each new minority scholar receives $2,000, and the scholarship may be renewed once, for $3,000.  The scholarship funds may be used for tuition, room and board, and educational materials. In addition, each minority scholar is paired with a mentor at his or her university, and a mentor from the APS Committee on Minorities in physics. Due to the large number of excellent applications, COM created an honorable mention category this year for students who had very good applications, but for whom funding was not available. In this first year, 16 students received honorable mentions and received a letter of recognition along with an offer of mentoring.

The scholarship, which began in 1980, is open to any African-American, Hispanic, or Native American US citizen or permanent resident who is majoring or planning to major in physics, and who is a high school senior, college freshman, or sophomore.

Since its inception, hundreds of undergraduates have received the scholarship, many of whom have gone on to receive PhDs in physics and are now working as physics faculty members in universities, as well as research scientists at corporations and national labs. Some past scholars have also become high school physics and math teachers.

Minority Scholar Carlos del-Castillo-Negrete attends Yale University. Prior to matriculating at Yale, he spent a year interning with the Spallation Neutron Source at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. His project focused on tackling the problem of how to reduce beam loss in high power particle accelerators. He noted that although this research was, at times, frustrating and unsuccessful, the process of discovery that followed was rewarding and fulfilling.

Michael Karl Medina also attends Yale and is taking a full load of physics courses for the upcoming year including quantum mechanics, introduction to nuclear and particle physics, and statistical thermodynamics, along with continued lab experimentation in preparation for a senior research project. Last summer, he interned at NASA’s Langley Research Center where he produced a versatile computer program in Mathematica outputting a highly random pattern of elliptical markers used in optical techniques. This past summer, he participated in the Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internships program at Argonne National Laboratory. He worked with the Medium Energy Physics group involved in several measurements aimed at understanding the quark substructure matter.

Scholar Natalia Guerrero is a physics major at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She entered MIT interested in astrophysics broadly but has since started to focus on dark matter. This past summer, she conducted research at the MIT Laboratory for Nuclear Science on the MiniCLEAN (Mini Cryogenic Low Energy Astrophysics with Noble liquids) experiment with the neutrino and dark matter physics group. Her group at MIT works on eliminating neutron backgrounds with shielding, calibration, and neutron I.D. algorithms. Natalia’s research focus, however, was on the neutron calibration system for the MiniCLEAN experiment.

A standout writer, Haris Durrani studies applied physics at Columbia University where he is an Egleston Scholar. This past summer, he held down two jobs. First, he was a research intern at Columbia’s Robotics Lab on a Brain Computer Interface wheelchair/mobile-manipulator and robotic arm project. His second job was at Scholastic, for The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers as the Editor for the annual anthology, The Best Teen Writing of 2012, which will be published this fall and available on Amazon. Haris has also been published in the 2010 and 2011 editions of The Best Teen Writing and was interviewed thrice on John Hockenberry’s NPR show, The Takeaway, which is about writing, multiculturalism, and youth issues. His engineering-focused novelettes, “The Photosynthesis of Living Engines” and “Tethered,” were semifinalists at the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest, one of the most esteemed competitions for budding talent in the field of science fiction.

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Editor: Alan Chodos

August/September 2012 (Volume 21, Number 8)

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Articles in this Issue
Sam Aronson of Brookhaven Elected APS VP
Permanent Jobs Elusive for Recent Physics PhDs
APS Honors Thirty-Nine Minority Scholars
New Federal Limits on Travel Could Decimate Some Meetings
US Students Among the Best at International Physics Competition
Website Seeks Aid for Physicist Jailed in Argentina
Learning from Lindau: A Physics Meeting Like No Other
Media Fellows Follow Varied Career Paths
Letters to the Editor
The Back Page
Members in the Media
After Finding the Higgs Boson
This Month in Physics History
The Education Corner
Inside the Beltway
APS Committee on International Freedom of Scientists
Focus on Advocacy