undergraduate research profiles archive

Archived Undergraduate Research Profiles

Below, you can read past profiles of University of Chicago physics majors who were active in research. Profiles of current students can be found here.

► Seth Musser (Class of 2017) ► Melanie Calabro (Class of 2017)
► Nina Coyle (Class of 2016) ► John Roberts (Class of 2016)
► Hope Bretscher (Class of 2015) ► Jiaqi Jiang (Class of 2015)
► Samantha Dixon (Class of 2014) ► Zihao Jiang (Class of 2014)

undergrad_research_seth_headshot_thumb.jpg SETH MUSSER
Undergraduate Student: Class of 2017
Majors: Physics and Mathematics
Hometown: Schaefferstown, PA
Awards: Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, Phi Beta Kappa, Walter and Fay Selove Prize for Senior Research, Dean's List
Research: Fluids, Condensed Matter
Research AdvisorsWiliam Irvine, Norman Lebovitz

During my time as an undergraduate, I have had the opportunity to be involved in a number of research projects within fluid dynamics and condensed matter physics.  My first research position started with Professor Lebovitz in my second year.  Throughout the winter and spring quarters of my second year we worked through seminal papers in fluid dynamics so I could obtain a background in the theory.  Later in spring quarter we began working to study the stability of Riemannian ellipsoids, namely the stability of self-gravitating fluids with linear velocity profile confined to an ellipsoidal shape.  Professor Lebovitz wanted to restrict the Poisson bracket formulation for inviscid fluid mechanics to Riemann ellipsoids so as to probe their stability.  In order to investigate the theory behind this restriction I participated in the NSF REU in mathematics at UChicago and wrote a paper on Poisson geometry.  Writing it revealed to me that using the Poisson bracket made obscure conserved quantities into obvious consequences of geometry.  This motivated the decision to pass from the system of 18 ODEs describing the Riemann ellipsoids to the Poisson bracket for the ellipsoids.  Simultaneously I did original work to numerically analyze whether the Poisson bracket formulation could be used to find Energy-Casimir functions for evaluating stability.  It is for this work that I received the Goldwater scholarship.  In the winter of my junior year my work revealed that the proposed Energy-Casimir functions were not useful for stability analysis, at which point Professor Lebovitz suggested finishing the project.

I resolved to continue studying fluids due to my interest in the subject.  When I heard in the early spring that Professor Irvine of the James Franck Institute was investigating the similarities between vortex knot dynamics in inviscid fluids and superfluids, I saw a potential to use the intuition I had gained while working with Professor Lebovitz.  Thus in the spring of my junior year and in the past summer, I worked with Professor Irvine building a simulation of an airfoil moving in a superfluid.  I have also been building analytical tools that will help to reveal how similar the superfluid flow around the airfoil is to the well-known ideal fluid flow around the airfoil.  Preliminary analysis suggests that the flows appear to be quite similar, potentially allowing for a major simplification in describing superfluid flow.  Additionally, I am studying vortex nucleation from the airfoil in an attempt to gain some insight into this not well understood phenomenon.  I plan to continue working with Professor Irvine throughout the rest of this year to continue this research.

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undergrad_research_melanie_calabro_thumb.jpg MELANIE CALABRO
Undergraduate Student: Class of 2017
Majors:  Physics and Mathematics
Hometown: Otego, NY
Awards: National Merit Scholar Commended Student, Dean's List
Research: Material Sciences, Physical Chemistry
Research AdvisorsBinhua Lin, Stuart A. Rice

During my time here at UChicago, I had my first research experience in a lab that I have had the pleasure to remain continuously and deeply involved in since the middle of my 2nd year. Winter quarter of that year I joined the lab of Dr. Binhua Lin, Senior Scientist at Argonne National Laboratory, and Dr. Stuart Rice, Professor Emeritus in the Chemistry Department. Our lab works with colloidal micro- and nanoparticles, and I specifically work with gold nanoparticles. These are 5nm diameter uniform spherical composites of gold atoms, which are then covered with various hydrophobic thiol ligands that allow the particles to have complex interactions with each other that other un-ligate colloidal particles do not.

The first project I was involved in for this lab focused on studying the mechanical properties of gold nanoparticles when self-assembled into monolayer films on the air-water interface. We can deposit a solution of these ligated gold nanoparticles on to a flat water surface, and the hydrophobic ligands will drive the particles to remain on the surface and form into close-packed two-dimensional hexagonal lattices. By compressing these films and studying the corresponding pressure response, we could then extract film properties such as its two-dimensional elastic moduli. We studied these properties as we varied parameters such as ligand concentration and ligand molecule length. Mechanical characterizations like these allow these nanoparticle films to be compared to other monolayer films, such as lipid monolayers prominently used in biological sciences, with the long-term goal of determining how nanoparticle films could play a role in diverse fields such as biotechnology.

The summer after my 2nd year I stayed on campus to continue work in this lab. Over the summer, I became more focused on the structure of these nanoparticle films, which were then explored using electron microscopy. I learned how to use both a transmission electron microscope (TEM) and a scanning electron microscope (SEM), which both provide images on the nanometer scale of the nanoparticle films and so allow us to directly look at the interparticle structure itself. Specifically, we studied properties such as interparticle spacing and domain size as a function of varying the same parameters as the mechanical properties studies. This had the end goal of using the microscopic properties of the film to better understand and explain the larger-scale properties we first studied.

During my 3 rd year, I was given my first opportunity to work at the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory. The APS is the 1104-meter- circumference particle accelerator and storage ring that produces and stores high-energy x-ray beams, which are then used for a multitude of measuring techniques in an even larger multitude of scientific fields. Our PI Dr. Binhua Lin is the Deputy Director and Project manager of ChemMatCARS, one of UChicago’s 3 sectors at APS. At ChemMatCARS, we use the x-ray source to perform liquid-surface x-ray scattering on our nanoparticle films. We spread a film of our nanoparticles on the water surface, and can then perform x-ray diffraction experiments on the film to study the same structural properties, such as inter-particle lattice spacing and domain correlation length, that we did with electron microscopy, but with a 1000x larger sample size than what we get with microscopy. Thus x-ray diffraction is a much more accurate representation of the film’s structural properties. Throughout the summer after my 3 rd year I continued to work at APS performing and data analyzing these gold nanoparticle film structural studies on gold nanoparticle films with various ligand molecule lengths and concentrations.

Currently, I am working on my thesis, which will involve a study to determine the actual surface coverage of the thiol ligands on our gold nanoparticles as a function of the total thiol concentration in the overall nanoparticle solution. This will allow me to tie together the majority of the projects that I have been working on during my time in this lab, which I am very excited about. I’m very grateful to my research advisors, and UChicago, for giving me the opportunity to have had such a fulfilling and long-term research experience.

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Coyle_thumb_0_0.jpg NINA COYLE
Undergraduate Student: Class of 2016
Majors: Physics and Mathematics
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA 
Awards: Dean's List, Phi Beta Kappa, John Mather Nobel Scholar
Research: Astrophysics, high-energy physics
Research Advisors: Paolo Privitera, James Pilcher, Carlos Wagner, Brian Petersen (CERN), Robert Petre (NASA-GSFC)

During my time as an undergraduate, I have had the opportunity to be involved in a number of research projects within astrophysics and high-energy physics. My first position was with Professor Paolo Privitera in my second year, where I worked on the Dark Matter in CCDs (DAMIC) project. Dark matter has not yet been directly observed or studied because it cannot be detected through traditional methods using electromagnetic interactions. The DAMIC project aims to detect dark matter by looking for a direct collision of dark matter particles with the particles in a detector. I helped to assemble a vacuum chamber to test the CCD detectors, tested environmental conditions in the cleanroom and vacuum chamber, and identified the output of leads in the CCD detectors.

During the summer after my second year, I worked at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center with Dr. Robert Petre and Dr. Brian Williams in the X-ray Astrophysics Laboratory, where I examined the Tycho supernova remnant. The Tycho supernova is a Type Ia supernova; very little is actually known about the explosion mechanism of this type of supernova. The goal of my project was to create a map of the dynamics of the material within the remnant, which may give us insight into the manner in which it exploded. My first task was to examine the viability of the project by measuring the ionization of the material in the remnant to ensure it would not bias emission energy measurements. I then examined X-ray emission spectra and luminosity data to calculate two perpendicular two-dimensional velocity measurements. By combining these measurements, we can calculate a three-dimensional velocity vector with a magnitude and two angular values. Overall, we were able to map almost the entire remnant, with velocity measurements for over 100 small regions.

When I returned for my third year, I began working in high-energy physics. I joined the ATLAS experiment with Professor Jim Pilcher to examine the effect of pile-up on the calorimeters, which measure energy of the produced particles. The Large Hadron Collider will be moving to higher luminosities in the future—increasing the number of collision events per unit time—and therefore will have to deal with the increased background noise that comes from having more particles interacting in a given time period. My work primarily consisted of writing code to calculate the measured energy within each cell of the calorimeter and integrating this code with an existing program that calculates higher pile-up conditions.

This past summer, I worked on the ATLAS experiment at CERN in Switzerland. I joined the ATLAS Supersymmetry Group, which works on predicting possible signatures of supersymmetry in the upcoming data and analyzes the data to search for these signatures. My project involved examining certain phenomenological supersymmetric standard models, which consist of randomly generated mass values for the theoretical new supersymmetric particles and their resulting decay chains. Some of these models are within an energy range that we have examined in previous experiments, but were not seen. I examined the parameters and simulation data of gluino production events for each model to determine whether these models may for some reason not have been detectable in previous experiments. One possibility I examined was whether the predicted number of gluinos produced was too low to have a significant experimental signature at the previous running energies. Beginning this year, I will continue to work in high-energy phenomenology with my thesis project with Professor Carlos Wagner. I will be examining the consequences of flavor-changing Higgs interactions, which can be modeled through a two Higgs-doublet model.

During my time in research, Professor Privitera, Professor Pilcher, and Professor Wagner have provided me with great help and support, as have Dr. Petre and Dr. Williams at NASA and Dr. Brian Petersen at CERN. I have also had the opportunity to speak with a number of professors at UChicago about their research, and all have been incredibly welcoming and encouraging. My experiences with research as an undergraduate have broadened my knowledge of the wide array of physics research and helped me to identify my specific interests within physics. 

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Roberts_thumb_0.jpg JOHN ROBERTS
Undergraduate Student: Class of 2016
Major: Physics
Hometown: Fayetteville, NY
Awards: Grainger Senior Scholarship, Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship Honorable Mention, Phi Beta Kappa, Dean's List
Research: Condensed Matter, Optics, Cosmology
Research Advisors: Philippe Guyot-Sionnest, Thomas Schibli (Colorado-Boulder), John Kovac (Harvard), Richard Schnee (Syracuse University)

During my time at UChicago I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to experience lab work in multiple fields and at several institutions. 

My first research experience, while I was in high school, was in the lab of Prof. Richard Schnee at Syracuse University during the summers of 2011 and 2012. As a part of the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search, Prof. Schnee's group was building a cleanroom for detector assembly with low levels of background radiation. I worked on a project to infer the air concentration of radon daughters from measurements of the rates of alpha and beta decay. 

In the summer after my first year I worked in the lab of Prof. John Kovac at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Prof. Kovac's lab studies the cosmic microwave background, and I worked on microwave calibration sources for their receivers. I maintained and performed characterization measurements of nonthermal sources that used microwave electronics to generate broadband noise. I also worked on a source that used thermal radiation from liquid nitrogen in an optical chopper mounted on an elevated platform. I assembled a system to automatically refill the source with liquid nitrogen from a dewar on the ground. 

In the summer after my second year I worked in the lab of Prof. Thomas Schibli at the University of Colorado Boulder as a participant in the CU Boulder Physics NSF REU. Prof. Schibli's lab was fabricating graphene-based thin-film electro-optic modulators (EOMs). I worked with another undergraduate, Mario Dumont, to construct an optical table apparatus for laser cutting of the graphene layer in these devices. The setup scanned the devices with a diode laser in order to create a roughly square-millimeter reflectivity image with micrometer resolution. Using this image we could then place accurate cuts on the graphene sheet with the diode laser at higher intensities. The ultimate goal of this procedure was to reduce the capacitance of the EOMs and to allow higher modulation bandwidth. 

Since the winter of my third year I have been working in the lab of Prof. Philippe Guyot-Sionnest on colloidal quantum dot (CQD) mid-infrared photovoltaic (PV) devices. Quantum dots are nanocrystals in which charge carrier confinement leads to discrete energy states with spacing that can be tuned by controlling the size of the dots. Solution-processed CQDs are a potential alternative to the expensive bulk semiconductors currently used for thermal infrared detection. We have been working on fabricating CQD PV devices for the mid-IR. I have investigated a variety of materials for use as electrical contacts in these devices. I have also configured instrumentation in order to measure the electrical properties of the devices as they are cooled in a cryostat. I am planning to work on optical modeling of the PV devices for my senior thesis.   

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Hope Bretscher                                                                                         Undergraduate Student: Class of 2015
Major: Physics
Minor: Human Rights
Hometown: St. Louis, MO 
Awards: Dean's List, Student Marshall, Grainger Scholarship
Research: Condensed matter physics, defects in diamond
Research Advisors: David Awschalom (IME), Richard Axelbaum (WUSTL)

I began working in Professor Richard Axelbaum's lab in the Environmental, Electrical and Chemical Engineering Lab at Washington University in St. Louis the summer after my freshman year in college. In Professor Axelbaum's lab, the first summer, I studied the cathode side of lithium ion batteries. We made cathodes out of Li1.2Mn0.54Co0.13O2, which exhibits good electrochemical properties, like retaining capacity after many cycles, and high initial capacity of energy storage. However synthesizing the powder was a challenge, and we sought to improve the production method so that we could make denser particles, thereby delivering a higher density of energy within a battery. We experimented with using spray pyrolysis, in which solution is atomized then heated so that droplets react and the water evaporates, forming micron-sized hollow-shell particles with precise stoichiometry, and are subsequently annealed to complete the reaction. While spray pyrolysis is relatively repeatable, the particles produced are very porous and hollow. This means that when made into a battery, the energy density is relatively low. I assisted by preparing solutions for spray pyrolysis, using the Brunauer, Emmett and Teller (BET) device to measure the surface area, and experimented with using a flame (rather than a heated reaction chamber) to synthesize the powder and make denser particles with good electrochemical properties (that were consistent and good for making efficient, cost effective, and cycle-able batteries).

After my second year, I returned to the same lab and continued to research the lithium-ion powder. I continued many of the same duties as the previous summer, but was able to get more involved with experimental design. I helped to dope the solution with other chemicals to improve the electrochemical properties. Additionally, I designed and built a high-pressure nozzle system to try to synthesize powder more rapidly. I'm glad I got the chance to return to the lab, so that I got a deeper understanding of the research and more involved in the research process.

The fall of my third year, I began working in the Awschalom Lab in the IME. This lab researches the spin properties of nitrogen vacancy (NV) in diamond, a solid state system that has potential applications in quantum computing and nanoscale sensing. NV centers have long coherence time, on the order of milliseconds, and the spin state can be optically initialized and read out, meaning we can manipulate and measure through optical means. Additionally, NV centers are sensitive to electric and magnetic fields and temperature. I began helping by doing small projects, like writing labview or matlab programs and using solidworks to design some parts for a cryostat and logic tree. Later in the school year, I began to learn how to build a setup on an optical table. I then continued research over the summer through the UChicago REU. During this time, I built a confocal microscope to study the NV centers and began running simple characterization experiments to understand the properties of the diamonds we are analyzing. In the future, I will continue to improve the experimental setup, adding radio frequency capability and pulse timing, so that we can do other characterization experiments, like Rabbi, ESR, and Hahn Echo.

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Jiaqi Jiang                                                                                                 Undergraduate Student: Class of 2015
Major: Physics, Mathematics
Hometown: Shanghai, China                                                                         Awards: Selove Summer Research Prize, Phi Beta Kappa                                         Research: Astrophysics, high-energy physics                                                             Research AdvisorsDonald York (ASTR), Paolo PriviteraMark Oreglia

I have been involved in various physics research projects as an undergraduate. The projects cover topics from astrophysics to high energy physics. During my participation in the research, Professor York, Professor Privitera and Professor Oreglia all provided me with great help and support. From these research experiences, I have both developed different research skills and acquired a deeper understanding of the physics involved in those projects.

Since the winter quarter of my freshman year, I have been working with Professor Donald York on the study of diffuse interstellar bands (DIBs). DIBs are relatively broad absorption bands appearing in the spectra of stars behind interstellar matter. These bands are most likely to be caused by large molecules, whose identities still remain unknown. I use a computer program to measure the various characteristics of known DIBs, including the equivalent width, full widths at half maximum and central wavelength seen in the spectra of stars of different spectral types. The aim of this work is to develop the biggest data catalog for these known DIBs. Since the beginning of this year, I have begun to study the properties of DIBs in the spectra of the latest 2014 supernova. I modified the various features of the previous computer program to adapt to the measurement of DIBs in supernova because the blending of DIBs from different interstellar medium components make the absorption features much wider than in the spectra of other stars. By comparing the data measured in the supernova spectra with the data of DIBs from our galaxy, I try to classify DIBs into different types and explore the different behavior of certain DIBs in the supernova.

During the last summer, I participated in Professor Paolo Privitera's research on ultra-high-energy cosmic rays (UHECR). UHECRs are very energetic particles originating outside of the solar system with a kinetic energy greater than 10^19 eV. In particular, I am involved in the project of developing the Fluorescence Detector Array of Single-pixel Telescopes (FAST). The Pierre Auger Observatory, the largest cosmic ray detector so far, consists of 24 fluorescence telescopes, each utilizing an array of 440 photomultiplier tubes (PMT). The goal of FAST is to use arrays of fluorescence telescopes with a single PMT to cut down the costs. My work is focused on the calibration and precise measurement of characteristics of PMTs in the laboratory, including the linearity and stability of gain against the background noise. These measurements can help us select the best PMTs for our prototype model and better understand the performance of the detector. At the beginning of this year, I helped assemble our first single-pixel telescope model. Later on, with my research group, I visited the Telescope Array in Delta, Utah, and helped the operation of the field test for our prototype telescope. Having obtained the data from the field test at Utah, I am now concentrating on implementing new features in the data analysis software for FAST. Recently, I have been using simulations to study the performance of FAST and using the simulation data to develop the shower reconstruction program for the telescopes.

In addition to the research in astrophysics, I am also interested in high energy experiments. Since April of 2014, I started to work with Professor Oreglia on a data analysis project on the ATLAS experiment. The aim of this project is to search for the exotic decay of the Higgs particle into two new particles. So far, I have done the analysis on the simulation data. In the next step, I will look at the real data and complete the analysis.

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 Samantha Dixon                                                                                     Undergraduate Student: Class of 2014                                                   Major: Physics, Mathematics                                                                     Hometown: East Brunswick, NJ                                                                   Awards: Dean's List                                                                                                         Research: Astroparticle physics, radio astronomy                                                       Research AdvisorsPaolo Privitera, Alan Kogut (NASA-GSFC)

I began working with Professor Paolo Privitera as part of the University of Chicago Research Experience for Undergraduates. Professor Privitera's group works closely with Pierre Auger Observatory to study ultra-high-energy cosmic rays (UHECRs). My main project for the summer and for the next academic year, was to precisely measure the detection efficiency of several photomultiplier tubes (PMTs). At the Pierre Auger Observatory, PMTs are used in fluorescence detectors, which collect and detect the light produced by the ionization of atmospheric nitrogen by UHECR air showers, as well as in the arrays of water tanks that detect energetic secondary particles from UHECR air showers via the Cherenkov effect. A precise measurement of the detection efficiency of the PMTs used allows us to precisely pinpoint the energy scale of events that are detected using these PMTs.

This past summer, I worked as an intern at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center with Dr. Alan Kogut. Dr. Kogut's lab studies the "leftover" radiation from the Big Bang, known as the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB). In particular, the lab is focused on PIPER and PIXIE, a balloon-borne mission and a proposed satellite mission, that both aim to create maps of the linear polarization of the CMB in order to look for distinctive marks on these maps known as B-modes. The existence of B-modes is seen as a sort of smoking-gun sign of inflation, a theory which posits that there was a short period some time within the first few minutes after the Big Bang in which the universe expanded exponentially. Inflationary models of the Big Bang give a possible answer to the question of how the universe could be as isotropic and homogeneous as we observe it to be, when we know that not every point in the universe is causally connected. A brief moment of exponential growth early on implies that each point in the universe was causally connected, and any anisotropies or inhomogeneities initially present could be smoothed out over time.

In the lab, I worked mainly on characterizing the feed horns to be used by PIXIE (Primordial Inflation Explorer). PIXIE uses a polarizing Michelson interferometer to probe the difference spectrum between orthogonal polarizations of two co-aligned beams. The non-imaging optics that are to be used in this mission needed to be characterized in order to move the project forward. It was necessary to ensure that the concentrator feed horns used to guide CMB waves into the polarization sensitive detectors will not scramble the polarization of this radiation. My role was to prepare for the beam mapping measurements later carried out in the Goddard Electromagnetic Anechoic Chamber (GEMAC) using a scaled model of the concentrator feed horn, along with wire polarizing grids and a power meter. The accuracy of these beam maps is affected by a variety of factors, including drifts in the readout electronics on large time scales or the introduction of vibrational noise to the acoustically sensitive power meter, so I was responsible for characterizing this noise, and for finding and implementing methods of mitigating the effects of this noise on our measurement.

Currently, I am back working in Prof. Privitera's lab, this time focusing on the DAMIC project. DAMIC (Dark Matter in CCDs) is a direct dark matter detection experiment that uses charged-coupled devices (CCDs), the same devices used in digital cameras, to search for low-mass Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs). My role in the project will be focused on the construction of an apparatus to calibrate the DAMIC CCDs. Such an apparatus must consist of a vacuum chamber and cryogenic system to keep the CCDs at a temperature of 133 K in order to mimic the conditions used in SNOLAB, the Canadian laboratory where DAMIC is deployed. Once such a system is built, we can then easily expose the CCDs installed in the chamber to various sources of X-rays, gamma rays, and muons in order to characterize the CCDs' responses to such events. This calibration apparatus will be used to analyze the performance of new CCDs to be used in DAMIC100, the latest planned upgrade to the detector. DAMIC100 will consist of eighteen new CCDs, each weighing 5.5 g, constructed from high-purity silicon, and is planned to be fully deployed by Spring, 2014.

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Undergraduate Student: Class of 2014
Major: Physics, Mathematics
Hometown: Shaoxing, China
Awards: Selove Summer Research Prize, Phi Beta Kappa, Grainger Senior Scholarship (physics), Sugarman Award (EFI)
Research: astrophysics, high-energy physics (experimental and theoretical)
Research Advisors: Donald YorkMelvyn Shochet, Richard Hill

As an undergraduate student, I have been involved in different physics research projects ranging from astrophysics to high energy physics. Professors York, Shochet and Hill offered generous help and support for the work. Through these projects, I gained a broad range of skills in physics research as well as a better understanding of physics learned from books and research papers.

Since the winter of my first year, I have been working with Professor Donald York on a project to identify the physical carriers of diffuse interstellar bands (DIBs). The DIBs are a set of unidentified optical and near-infrared absorption lines observed in the spectra of reddened stars. The carriers of the lines may be remnants of interesting astrophysical events. I worked firstly on analyzing the asymmetry of certain DIB profiles and looking for statistical correlations between the equivalent widths of different DIBs. My search for anomalously asymmetric DIB profiles along the line of sight of Her 36 is included in a paper published in Astrophysical Journal. These asymmetric DIB profiles indicate the small size of their carriers. Since 2012, I started to code independently a data reduction pipeline for ESO's (European Southern Observatory) Fiber-Fed Extended Range Optical Spectrograph. The purpose of the pipeline is to include more spectra of southern sky stars in our database. We would then be able to test the homogeneity of the DIB existence and variation of DIB profiles in different parts of the sky. The pipeline was finished this March. Additional to the functions also available in ESO's official pipeline, some special functions are incorporated into our pipeline to help the DIB study. It corrects the atmospheric absorption lines that contaminate about 15% of the spectra and hence enlarge the wavelength coverage of each spectrum. It can also implement a multi-order photon flux calibration to more sensitively detect broad DIBs that spread out through many orders of an echelle spectrograph. After the work of FEROS pipeline, I also coded pipeline for the MIKE Spectrograph mounted on the Magellan Telescope with similar functionality.

I joined Professor Melvyn Shochet on the ATLAS experiment in the summer of 2012, working on the simulation of the Fast Track Trigger (FTK). Due to the hardware limitation, only about 200 events/sec can be saved at the ATLAS detector. The Fast Track Trigger is a track saving trigger designed to suppress background and select the most interesting events for further study. As my contribution to this project, I studied the helix parameter based efficiency and fake rates calculation method of FTK tracks with respect to the accurately fitted offline tracks. This method enables us to evaluate the performance of the trigger itself and various FTK constants banks. I am also involved in developing the bottom quark tagging technique for FTK. Hadrons containing bottom quarks have sufficient lifetime that they travel some distance with respect to the primary vertex before decaying. Therefore, a better understanding of FTK track errors is needed. I have hence carried out a study on the resolution of FTK track parameters d0 and z0, which are the coordinates of track's origin. I determined that the resolutions can be very well estimated by transversal momentum of the track and the number of hits on the FTK detector. Recently, my focus on experimental High Energy Physics has shifted to analysis, searching for X->hh->bbbb production.

Apart from my interest in observational astronomy and experimental high energy physics, I am also a fan of theory. I read extensively in math as a preparation for theory research. During my second year, I enrolled in the Directed Reading Program of Math Department. Paired with graduate students, I studied advanced linear algebra, combinatorics and differential geometry. I also attended UChicago's Vigre Math REU for two years and wrote two research papers. Since January 2013, I started to study with Professor Richard Hill. So far I have helped update the calculation of the background noise in the MiniBooNE muon experiments with the latest efficiency data. I am now working of a project to fit the proton charge and magnetic radii.

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