My name is James Dragan and I just finished my junior year at Stony Brook University as a physics major. I grew up in Merrick, NY where I attended Calhoun High School. I was always curious as a kid - always asking questions about how this and that worked. In school, math and science always interested me and I looked forward to the next year's science class because it was always a new field. When the decision came to choose a major for college, I first thought of engineering. This is because I always loved science behind the practical and relevant machinery and technology that surrounds us in the modern world. But it was difficult for me to choose which type of engineering, I did not want to limit myself to one field, unsure of how I would enjoy it. When I learned that a degree in physics leaves a student the possibility to study any field afterward, I happily enrolled as a physics major in the College of Arts & Sciences at SBU. At that point I had already taken physics for two years in high school and was aware of the far reaching extent & application.
I am still unsure of what field of physics I want to pursue but after taking Waves and Optics with Prof. Metcalf I became really interested in studying optics and its applications. This is why I was so enthusiastic to join Dr. Metcalf's research group in the spring of 2012. After attending several group meetings I was placed with Yuan Sun studying Rydberg Atom Optics using STIRAP (Stimulated Rapid Adiabatic Passage). Additionally, through Dr. Metcalf's group I became involved with the LTC and Dr. Noe. I spent the summer of 2012 with Yuan, working on his experiment and learning everything that experimental physics encompasses. In that summer I was able to get my first grasp of what it takes to handle lasers, optics, vacuum systems, and electronics all together. Running an experiment itself is a beautiful thing, it is much like orchestrating a symphony. In the fall of 2012 I had the pleasure of presenting my work on STIRAP at the OSA's Frontiers in Optics Conference in Rochester, NY. This poster can be found on my webpage, as well as the one I presented in the Spring of 2013 for Stony Brooks URECA celebration.
For the spring semester of 2013 and into the summer I have been working with John Elgin. His experiment involves Adiabatic Rapid Passage which relies on controlled stimulated emission to exert a force more robust then when relying on spontaneous emission. The atoms encounter a laser pulse that exerts a force typically greater in magnitude then if the atoms encounter traditional optical forces. Currently we have been fine-tuning each aspect of the experiment with hopes of taking force maps soon.
I plan on attending graduate school with hopes of earning a doctorate in physics. I would like to continue working in an AMO (Atomic, Molecular, Optical) physics group because of the far reaching overlap and applications that AMO physics offers. I am also interested in such several other fields: architecture, biophyiscs, civil engineering, chemistry, and studio art.
Outside the lab I am a member of the Men's Lacrosse Club at Stony Brook University, in 2011 as the Vice President, and in 2012 as the President. I am also a volunteer DJ at Stony Brook's own 90.1 FM station WUSB. I also love spending my free time going to the beach, reading and golfing.