Undergraduates in physics complete research experience

Hunter Gabbard, a physics major at the University of Mississippi, recently presented a project on gravitational waves during the Research Experiences for Undergrad Students and Research Experiences in Physics Program for Teachers, hosted on the UTRGV Brownsville Campus.

BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – AUGUST 18, 2015 – For the fourth year, the University of Texas at Brownsville/Texas Southmost College’s Center for Gravitational Wave Astronomy and the Department of Physics and Astronomy is hosting a program titled Research Experiences for Undergraduates and Research Experiences for Teachers in Physics.

The 10-week program provides an opportunity for eight undergraduate students from across the country and two local high school teachers to perform research with members of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at UTB/TSC.

UTB/TSC is in the second cycle of the three-year program, guaranteeing the program through 2018 at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

The undergraduates will present their work at the end of the session.

“We’re actually very proud because we had an original grant for three years and that ran out last year and it seems like it’s very difficult to get them renewed,” said Robert Stone, UTRGV faculty associate in the College of Sciences.

Two high school science teachers from the Rio Grande Valley – Alex Garza of Hanna Early College High School and Lorena Lozano of Veteran’s Memorial ECHS – also are participating in the research experience, with the intention of taking what they learn back to their high school students.

“The whole idea is, we want to give the teachers a research experience and we like for them to be able to relate to their students,” Stone said.

Brownsville Veteran’s Memorial Early College High School physics teacher Lorena Lozano called the program an eye-opener.

“The primary job of us teachers is to look at the research process, and then incorporate that process into our classrooms in lesson plans,” she said.

Hunter Gabbard, a senior physics major at the University of Mississippi, conducted research titled “A Low Latency Glitch Classifier Based on Waveform Morphology,” which was supervised by Soma Mukherjee, chair of the Physics Department at UTB/TSC and interim chair of the UTRGV department of Physics.

Gabbard said the experience is essential for anyone looking into graduate studies.

“It’s absolutely incredible,” he said. “For a lot of people, this is their first time actually being exposed to research. As an undergraduate, it’s really important – especially if you want to go to graduate school – because that is a lot of what you do in graduate school.”

Other participating undergraduates include Dieddra Atondo (College of the Sequoias, in Visalia, California), Joshua Flieder (University of Massachusetts); Seth Kimbrell (Georgia Tech); Vasil Kukushliev (Northwestern University in Chicago; Kylee Martens (University of Wisconsin); Ryan Woods (Texas Southern University) and Cynthia Yan (Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California.)

This Research Experiences program is funded by the National Science Foundation. Topics researched included gravitational wave data analysis, laser instrumentation, characterization of the adhesive properties of nanoparticles, galactic evolution modeling, and optical astronomy image analysis.

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Marci Caltabiano-Ponce, UTRGV Director of News and Internal Communications
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Jennifer McGehee Valdez, UTRGV Director of Media and Public Relations 
956-882-5105