Published Date: July 10, 2014
Every summer finds science majors scattered across the country (and globe) hard at work on summer research projects. This year, all 10 senior physics majors are spending the summer doing research. 80 percent of them are doing it supported by federal grants or funding. The Chemistry and Biology Departments have students researching as far away as Germany and Puerto Rico.
Research is required to earn a bachelor's of science degree at UD. Many students use the summer between their junior and senior years to complete this requirement. Additionally, many students will go beyond the requirement and spend two, or more, summers on research projects.
Biology major Crystal Purcell, BS '15, will spend the summer studying the effects of acidification on macroinvertebrates (for example, crabs) in Puerto Rico. Alec deKeratry, BS '15, a chemistry major, is in Julich, Germany, assisting with Lithium Ion battery research at the Forschungszentrum Julich.
"The end goal is to make Lithium Ion batteries more efficient, safe and affordable. These could then be applied to a variety of machines, such as your laptop battery, a standard AA battery or even hybrid vehicles," said deKeratry.
For most of these students, research assistantships mean a lot of grunt work. deKeratry spends a good portion of his time assembling batteries for different tests.
Sally Hicks, professor of physics, tells how the two physics majors assisting with her Department of Energy-sponsored research on neutron scattering showed up for their first day in white dress shirts and ties.
"They spent the next several hours moving heavy, greasy machinery and didn't complain once," she said.
It's not all grunt work for the research assistants, however. According to Hicks, the students were able to take solo shifts monitoring the accelerator by the end of the second week of experiments.
Research assistantships aren't the only summer opportunity for science majors. Samuel Henderson, BS '15, a physics major, and Aaron French, BS '16, a chemistry major, are two of 24 students accepted (out of hundreds of applicants) to the American Chemical Society's Nuclear Chemistry Summer Schools. French is studying at San Jose State University's summer school in San Jose, California and Henderson at Brookhaven National Lab in Upton, New York.
PHOTO: From left, Thaddeus Howard and Luke Pecha working on neutron scattering research at the University of Kentucky for Hicks (not pictured).