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SLAC Summer Institute Abuzz with a Breadth of Physics and Fun
SULI Participants Celebrate a Summer of Science

SLAC Today

Monday - August 17, 2009

SLAC Summer Institute Abuzz with a Breadth of Physics and Fun

(Photo - poster session)
SSI 2009 participants discuss a poster during one of three evening poster social hours. (Photo by Martin Sanchez.)

Last Friday, more than 160 graduate students, post-docs and researchers completed two weeks of lectures, conferences and social events at the 37th annual SLAC Summer Institute 2009. SSI presented topics aimed to challenge attendees and give them food for thought with this year's theme, Revolutions on the Horizon – A Decade of New Experiments.

One of the summer institute's main goals is to cover a broad range of timely topics. According to SLAC physicist JoAnne Hewett, who is one of the four head conference organizers, graduate students "become very focused on their specific research projects, so it's good for them to get out and see what is happening in other areas of physics."

However, this year's institute had an even broader focus than usual. SSI 2009 centered on three main topics: recent neutrino experiments, cosmological experiments focused on the search for dark matter and discovery possibilities presented by the impending activation of the Large Hadron Collider. This meant that the conference organizers had the challenge of giving each topic adequate attention while still creating a cohesive curriculum. "We had to identify areas that those topics have in common," said SLAC physicist and SSI co-organizer Greg Madejski.

(Photo - soccer on the SLAC Green)
SSI attendees and SLAC employees compete in the institute's soccer game. (Photo by Martin Sanchez.)

However, this breadth did not hinder student participation; in fact, it seems to have been a draw for some attendees. "This conference has a lot of theorists and experimentalists… I'm an experimentalist, and it's good to see what the theorists are doing," said Matthew Toups, a graduate student from Columbia University. Toups complemented the institute's "breadth of research." Madejski agreed, saying that students were surprisingly willing to engage with the lecturers during the school's four group discussion sections: "This has not been the biggest summer school, but certainly one of the most interactive."  Read more...

SULI Participants Celebrate a Summer of Science

James Hostetter receives the Ernest Coleman Award.

This year's SULI participants and their mentors at the Sector 6 picnic area. (Photo by Nicholas Bock.)

College students, recent graduates and SLAC mentors participating in the Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship program at SLAC wrapped up two months of research and camaraderie with a barbeque lunch in the Sector 6 picnic area Friday.

During the internship, 21 SULI participants worked under the mentorship of SLAC staff on a science or engineering project—and often a mix of the two—related to SLAC research programs in accelerator physics, lightsource science, astrophysics and more. Each student completed a research paper and presented his or her project during group sessions last week. 

The students receive a stipend, and live in student housing on the Stanford campus. Scientific lectures and tours, and informal outings with their SULI peers and dorm mates round out the program.

Each year, the Ernest Coleman award goes to an exceptional SULI student who demonstrates good citizenship as well as scholastic aptitude over the course of the program. At Friday's picnic, SLAC Program Manager Stephen Williams presented this year's award to James Hostetter, a senior physics student at Louisianna State University, for his work on designing tabletop X-ray prototypes with mentor David Reis.

"Being able to work at a national laboratory was a great experience," Hostetter said. "It was nice to be able to devote entire days to science."


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