Exploring the Origins of the Universe

Student in front of lab equipment
Gallano stands in front of “Despereaux,” an open dilution refrigerator at MIT. The refrigerator reaches temperatures near absolute zero and can teach researchers about the behaviors of subatomic particles..

Like many Drexel Engineering students, Cyra Gallano is a practiced researcher. As a STAR scholar, the fourth-year materials science and engineering (MSE) major started her research journey early, working with Ekaterina Pomerantseva, PhD, associate professor of MSE, in her lab, studying how nanomaterials can be used for energy storage. And for the last two terms, Drexel’s renowned co-op program landed Gallano at a prestigious research lab at MIT.

“It's funny how I ended up at MIT,” Gallano explains. “I applied to Argonne National Lab, which is another big research government position, as part of my normal co-op cycle. Through that work at Argonne, my boss there was able to find some connections at MIT so that I could get some hands-on experience there.”

“I think my experiences at Drexel really helped me frame my research experiences moving forward.” 
Cyra Gallano

At Argonne and MIT, Gallano works on superconducting detectors – technology that helps scientists understand the history of the universe and the smallest particles of its makeup. She says that her Drexel research journey was huge factor that contributed to her being able to do such interesting exploration.

“I think my experiences at Drexel really helped me frame my research experiences moving forward. I started in electrochemistry at Drexel, and being consistently in the lab for those classes really helped me develop the scientific skills that you might not get in a traditional classroom.” Gallano says. “When I went into these particle physics labs where I have no background, the skills gave me the mental framework to do good research, being meticulous, methodical and really observant of what's going on.”

As Gallano prepares to return to the classroom, she says that the approach to research that she learned on co-op will help her be a better student.

“I think this is true for many research spheres, but especially with physicists, I've learned that they are not afraid to ask questions,” she notes. “I think, as I come back to the classroom, I will definitely start questioning things more. Bringing that sort of energy to the classroom will challenge me, my peers and my professors to think of things in a new way.”