Amanda White, Physics '11
I am currently a senior majoring in physics with a concentration in astrophysics. I came to Drexel in order to do research as an undergraduate. Many of the other universities I considered said I could possibly get involved with a research group as a junior or senior, if I was lucky, but at Drexel, I was given the opportunity to begin researching the summer after my freshman year. As someone who wishes to pursue a research career, the chance to get involved early was an important part in my decision to come here.
While at Drexel, I have been working with Dr. Michael Vogeley on the properties of interacting void galaxies. Voids are large underdense regions of the universe where there is little visible matter. This makes voids great places to study mergers without the added complication of other nearby objects that are not part of the interaction. My senior thesis project will build on this work but also deviate from it slightly; I will be studying the star formation rates of dwarf galaxies in voids.
As part of the interacting galaxy research project, I was able to use the 2.1 meter telescope at the Kitt Peak National Observatory near Tucson, Arizona. Traveling to the observatory was a great experience that really helped me to decide to pursue astronomy professionally. The research I have done with the Drexel Astrophysics Group has also allowed me to reach national distinction. In 2010, I received a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship.
I am in the four year, no co-op program so I have not been on any co-ops, however, I have been lucky enough to be admitted to REU programs during the summer. Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) are highly competitive research programs that are funded by the NSF and take place at various universities across the country. My first REU was at SUNY Stony Brook on Long Island, NY. There I studied the infrared spectrum of ultra-cool brown dwarf HN Peg B. This was an analysis based project from which I learned several useful techniques for data reduction. My second REU was at the Institute for Astronomy which is part of the University of Hawai’i. I worked at the Advanced Technology Research Center and the Haleakala Observatories, both located on the island of Maui, HI. While there, I worked on a project geared toward the detection of molecular hydrogen in the polarized spectrum of the sun. This was an instrumentation project and I learned a great deal about equipment used in both the lab and the observatory. Both REUs allowed me to explore different areas of astronomy and expand my knowledge of objects other than the galaxies I study at Drexel. The experience I gained in these programs have been great additions to and have complemented my studies at Drexel.
Another great part of my experience at Drexel has been my involvement with the Society of Physics Students (SPS). SPS is an undergraduate group which plans great events for physics majors. Through this group I have made many friends and I have really felt welcomed into the physics department. If given the chance to go to college again, I would still pick the Drexel Physics Department for my undergraduate education.