Research Safari

The WMU CUWiP event includes a Research Safari where students will have the opportunity to discuss in groups with selected faculty members and physicists working in academia, government, and private sectors about their research directions and other career options. Faculty members will also give tours and/or discuss about their area of research to introduce students to various research fields in physics. The Research Safari session is dedicated to informing undergraduate women physicists of various research fields and opportunities in physics. During the Research Safari session there will be several breakout rooms with research faculty, graduate students, and physicists from other fields who lead each breakout session. 

Research Safari Sessions and Leaders

Exploring Galaxies in Simulation led by Claire Kopenhafer

Claire is a graduate student at Michigan State University in the Departments of Physics & Astronomy and Computational Math, Science, & Engineering. She uses supercomputers to run numerical simulations of galaxies. These simulations help us untangle the processes that keep galaxies forming stars – or, that shut off star formation all together. During the Research Safari session she will demonstrate visualizations from a selection of simulations and talk about how she runs and analyzes simulations in order to answer important research questions. Most of the software she will be talking about is publicly available.

Measuring Neutrinos at the South Pole led by Jessie Micallef

Jessie is a 6th year graduate student at Michigan State University getting a dual PhD in Physics and Computational Mathematics, Science, and Engineering. Jessie’s specific work uses machine learning to detect neutrinos at the IceCube Neutrino Observatory and uses them to better understand neutrino properties. Outside of physics, she spends her time practicing longsword, writing fiction, cuddling her cat Ahsoka, and attending comic cons and indie/rock concerts. The message she sends about her Research Safari session is:

Let’s talk about neutrinos using Augmented Reality! We’ll discuss how the IceCube Neutrino Observatory works and how we explore the universe with neutrinos while using the IceCubeAR app (or youtube videos if you don’t have a smartphone). This research covers topics in multimessenger astronomy, particle physics, beyond standard model physics, and high energy physics. There will also be plenty of time for questions about life as a graduate student, life at Michigan State University, working on a ~200 person international collaboration, and other research areas that I have expertise in, like machine learning!” – Jessie

I Want More led by Katrina Koehler

Katrina Koehler is an assistant professor of physics at Houghton College and splits her time between Houghton College and Los Alamos National Laboratory. Her PhD in physics comes from Western Michigan University, and her research interests include novel detector technologies and advanced algorithms for nuclear safeguards and low temperature detectors for basic nuclear and atomic physics. She is passionate about evidence-based teaching techniques, productivity tools, and increasing minority representation in the field. The message she sends about her Research Safari session is:

With research interests ranging from basic nuclear physics experiments to theoretical atomic physics to nuclear engineering topics (gasp!), I am looking to expand my research into all things data science with a smattering of social science. Where everyone is specializing, I seek to be the multilingual translator between specialties. Let’s talk accelerator experiments, weak nuclear decays and neutrino physics with low temperature detectors, and counting neutrons to keep the world safe.” – Katrina

LGBTQ+ and Queer Issues in Science led by Madison Fitzgerald-Russell

Madison Fitzgerald-Russell (she/they) is a doctoral candidate in the Mallinson Institute for Science Education at WMU, where she studies science education in physics. She earned an MA in Physics from WMU in 2020, a BS in Astrophysics from the Lyman Briggs College at MSU in 2016, and a BA in Women’s & Gender Studies with an LGBTQ & Sexuality Studies minor at MSU in 2016. Their research focus is on diversity, equity, and inclusion in science, specifically physics, and they focus on LGBTQ+ issues faced by students. Her dissertation explores the connections between language and discriminatory practices faced by queer undergraduate students in science departments. For their master’s degree, they studied the language used to describe stellar energy and luminosity in introductory astronomy classes. As an undergrad, she studied neutron star X-ray superbursts and galactic gas halo movements, as well as the experiences of women in physics and astronomy. The message she sends about her Research Safari session is:

My safari session will introduce students to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) research, if they have not already heard of it, and provide an overview of what kinds of areas are studied in science generally and in physics/astronomy more specifically. I’ll talk about qualitative vs quantitative DEI research and a bit more specifically about the projects I’ve done. Students can also ask questions about any projects I’ve done or am doing–I’ll have a little sign that details my current and past work, as well as a small handout about DEI research they can take with them.” – Madison

Session led by Artemis Tsantiri and Hannah Berg

Artemis is a Greek second year graduate student at the Physics & Astronomy Department of Michigan State University (MSU) in experimental low energy nuclear astrophysics. Her research is based on studying exotic nuclei that participate in different astrophysical processes, mainly focusing on the astrophysical p-process.

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