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Physics Research Opportunity for Promoting Equity in Learning

PROPEL is a recruitment initiative for high school and community college students to promote success in Physics, especially aimed at underrepresented groups. Admitted students will work on an 6-week research project with a faculty member and graduate student mentor. This year's program will run from July 5th to August 12th APPLY HERE.

 

Advanced Summer Girls: https://umdphysics.umd.edu/events/summer-programs/advanced-summer-girls-program.html

Physics Summer Program for Rising 9th Graders: https://umdphysics.umd.edu/events/summer-programs/physics-summer-program-for-rising-9th-graders.html


Our schedule includes a series of technical skill-building workshops (Fundamentals of Physics, Python, Mathematica), professional skill-building workshops (scientific writing, LaTeX, presenting), and community-building activities interspersed with the workshops.

 

Success in Physics requires the application of knowledge acquisition skills to solve problems. Early experience with research and interacting with senior physicists allows students to develop proficiency in their knowledge building skills, while gaining insight into the research process. A full-time research internship at UMD builds students’ confidence in themselves as aspiring scientists who contribute to their team’s research goals. 

 

Our program’s primary goal is to put the student in the driver's seat of their learning and work experience.


Previous Projects Include:

Magneto Optical Trap (MOT) Imaging and Analysis

Casey Claveria working with Graduate Students Ananya Sitaram and Peter Elgee

In this project, I discovered what a magneto optical trap (MOT) is, and how absorption imaging of the atoms in a MOT can be used to find the optical depth (OD). Working with Ananya and Peter, I took the OD and completed plotting, graphing, and calculations throughout the summer. I learned how to code in python to work through my project from coding lectures. I also learned more about general physics from the guest presentations.


Three Kinds of Random Walk

Abriana Medina working with Graduate Student Naren Manjunath

In this project we observed, analyzed, and compared and contrasted three kinds of Random Walks through a computer simulation with the coding program Python. The purpose of this project was to study an event that seems to have no pattern, but still find patterns by looking at many such events. There are many applications of random walks in real life which makes this topic important and interesting to learn about. Some examples can be the flight path of a cicada, the distance traveled by a spray particle after a certain amount of time, or the journey of photons in the Sun. The first Random Walk stimulated was a 1-dimensional unbiased one, meaning there were only two possible directions to take a step. The second was a biased 1-dimensional walk that favored one direction over the other hence the ‘bias.’ The last walk observed was a 2-dimensional unbiased random walk with four possible directions for each step. We analyzed these walks by finding out their distributions on a histogram, means, standard deviations, and the way the histogram spreads with time. Finally we compared the return probabilities in these cases. An interesting thing to study that I was unable to do is how a random walk behaves in 3-dimensions and how different it is when compared to a one and two-dimensional walk.


Effects of Turbulence on Salt Water’s Conductivity

Kalkidan Michael working with Graduate Student Landry Horimbere

My project was to address the effects of turbulence on salt water’s conductivity. In our research, I found a disturbing lack of information on the topic, other than how well salt water conducts electricity. The reason turbulence is relevant is because it could be key to a magnetohydrodynamic generator. A magnetohydrodynamic generator works by stripping kinetic energy from the water by the positioning of magnets and electrodes perpendicularly to each other. It works better with a strong magnet and water flow, and a large surface area for the electrodes. The turbulence in the water could prove detrimental to the water flow, which could greatly impair the efficiency of the generator. My plan is to run varying voltages through different levels of turbulence, and see how much the resistance of the water changes by looking at the current after it has gone through the water, and divide it by the delta Voltage to get the resistivity of the water.  If the resistivity is higher that means that there is unwanted power loss, and if it stays the same that means that turbulence would not be a concern. This experiment will provide crucial insight into the potential inefficiencies of a magnetohydrodynamic power plant, which could either revolutionize power generation or naval propulsion, or it could ruin the entire idea.


Recent News Article: https://umdphysics.umd.edu/about-us/news/department-news/1725-propel.html