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SULI Students Wrap Up a Summer of Science at SLAC

(Photo - SULI award luncheon)
SULI summer students 2010.
(Photo by Lauren Rugani.)

Students in the Summer Undergraduate Laboratory Internship program celebrated the end of their summer at SLAC with an awards ceremony and a picnic at Sector 6 along the linac last Friday. The participants spent nine weeks studying under a mentor at the laboratory, in areas including engineering, computer science, chemistry and accelerator physics.

"Everything about SLAC just blew my mind," said Tiarra Stout, who studies physics at Idaho State University. She worked under Debbie Bard on the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope. From the unique laboratory facilities to the surrounding landscape, Stout said she was able to appreciate something new every day.

Many students realized that the real-world applications of their majors went far beyond anything they had imagined. Ayelet Britton, a sophomore studying math and computer science at the University of California San Diego, spent her summer analyzing database management systems and ways to improve page rankings. "I learned that there are more interesting applications in computer science than just writing software for a big company," she said.

Matt Antalek, a junior at the State University of New York Binghamton studying biochemistry and math, said he learned a lot more about chemistry in general, as well as the scientific process and how research works. He spent his time at SLAC with Ritimukta Sarangi, learning about the structure of halides in water.

Sarangi, along with Matt Bellis, received honorable mentions at the awards lunch for their roles as mentors. Chris Kenney and Xiaobiao Huang received awards for Outstanding Mentor, while Apurva Mehta and Joe Frisch were recognized as Emeritus Mentors for their many years in the program.

(Photo - Ernest Coleman recipient)
Ernest Coleman awardee Luke Zhou (left) with Jo Stohr.
(Photo by Lauren Rugani.)

Michael Whalen, one of Frisch's two mentees, enjoyed his summer studying accelerator physics and radio-frequency technology. "I could do this for the rest of my life," said the senior from Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey. "I get to do wake up every day and do something that doesn't seem like work."

At the close of the ceremony, Linac Coherent Light Source Director Jo Stohr awarded the Ernest Coleman Award for Scholarship and Citizenship to Luke Zhou, a civil engineering student at Rice University. Zhou was elected by his peers to receive the award, in recognition of his generosity and enthusiasm during the summer. He took time out of his own projects to help others, worked long hours, and helped organize several social events to help build friendships that will last beyond the summer. A favorite among the group was a day hiking trip to Big Basin and Big Sur. They also shared plenty of laughs exploring Palo Alto and San Francisco, and had dinner together every night.

"I'll definitely come away from this with a lot of connections," said Zhou, who worked with Brian Fuss and Catherine LeCocq to create three-dimensional graphic models of buildings. "But the biggest thing is that I have a much better idea of what I want to do."

—Lauren Rugani
SLAC Today, August 17, 2010