Frontiers in Optics 2010/Laser Science XXVI

Rochester, New York, October 24-28, 2010

Laser Science Symposium on Undergraduate Research

The Laser Science Sumposium on Undergraduate Research is a new yearly tradition at the joint OSA (Optical Society of America) and APS DLS (American Physical Society Division of Laser Science) meeting, entitled Frontiers In Optics 2010/Laser Science XXVI that showcases the work of undergraduate students across the country. As the organizers, Dr. Metcalf and Dr. Noe invited us, the REU students, and Annie, our Simons high school student, to present our work as talks.

The conference was held in Rochester, New York, and Annie, Heather, Jacob and I participated (a copy of the program can be found here) by giving talks (there's a misprint in the program because it lists me as presenting a poster instead of a talk).

Jacob and I both had amendments to our REU presentations. I was very impressed that he realized after the program ended that he had made a mistake and then returned to Stony Brook to fix his measurements and added new information to his talk. He really seemed to understand and be devoted to his project. My talk was amended with new results that I obtained when I continued my work at California State University at Sacramento after I returned home.

It was good to see Annie's talk, too, because most of her work was completed after we left Stony Brook. I was impressed with her dedication, as well.

We all had the oportunity to meet students like us from across the country, and I really enjoyed that. There were students from a range of college types (private, public, religious, female-only, etc) and the projects utilized lasers in many different ways. My favorite (possibly because I'm taking a Fourier Optics course this quarter) was a poster that used lasers to track worm movement. By observing the diffracted laser light off of a worm, and comparing to the calculated (via Fourier analysis) diffraction off of known shapes (curved, S, a line, etc), the authors could make conclusions about how the small worm moves and at what speeds. I'm not sure about the scientific methods used because there was no paper to read, and I didn't get a chance to study the poster in depth, but the idea was very interesting to me. It seemed creative, applicable, and still enrirely within the capabilities of an undergraduate student.

Unfortunately, all of my time was spent practicing for my own presentation and I only got to hear the first few minutes of an actual talk. It was very interesting and I wish I could have stayed in Rochester longer to participate in the conference fully and also to hear Dr. Metcalf's talk. But, I had to head back to school as soon as I could to get back to classes and midterms. Still, I'm very thankful for the opportunity and the experience I gained.

Undergraduate Symposium participents (courtesy of Dr. Metcalf) Undergraduate Symposium participents (courtesy of Dr. Metcalf)