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Academics, Research/Grant Activity, School of Science

Julianna Rauf ’19

During the week of January 8th through January 12th, Saints from science fields explored what it was like to put their knowledge to action. The events involved Fermilab and CMS Data Analysis Schools (CMS DAS), the American Physical Society who sponsored Conferences for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP), and the annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS).

CMS DAS – Fermilab, Chicago

Comprised of nearly three thousand collaborators from around the world, with graduate students and new post-docs joining every year, the CMS experiment focuses on particle physics at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland. Matthew Bellis, Ph.D., assistant professor of physics, and Maddy Hagen ’20 attended a week-long CMS DAS that the experiment hosted at the Fermilab near Chicago. Hagen, one of only a few undergraduate students who attended the workshop, engaged with complex physics and computer coding, eventually completing a full analysis for signs of new physics in the latest dataset regarding high-energy collision.

“Attending the CMS Data Analysis School was an incredible opportunity to expand my skill set outside of the classroom,” said Hagen. “The progress of my research is always limited by my class schedule so it is invaluable to dedicate a week solely to these projects. I also gained insight into the daily life of a particle physicist which helps me consider future options. I am so thankful that Siena prioritizes research as a part of my education and that these trips are available because of dedicated professors like Dr. Bellis.”

CUWiP – Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT)

For over ten years, the American Physical Society (AAS) has sponsored a series of conferences to engage undergraduate women with physics and motivate them to pursue their passions. Siena physics majors Jolene Cobb ’19 and Clare Reilly ’20 attended one of these national conferences at the Rochester Institute of Technology. At the event they heard stories and learned about studies regarding the challenges many women in science and technology have faced, receiving inspirational advice about how to overcome them. The Saints were also able to meet with Meg Urry, Ph.D., the president of AAS.

AAS – Washington, D.C.

Physics professors Rose Finn, Ph.D., and John Moustakas, Ph.D., led ten physics majors to Washington, D.C. for the annual AAS meeting. Saints presented posters about their research and met with representatives from graduate schools, attended a career fair, networked with other attendees, and listened to talks about current topics in astronomy. Below is a list of the Saints’ research:

• Kevin Napier ’18, University of Michigan summer research – search for trans-Neptunian objects

• Sandy Spicer ’19, Rutgers University summer research – growth of supermassive black holes

• Natasha Collova ’18, Kitt Peak National Observatory – galaxies that live in filaments surrounding a nearby galaxy cluster

• James Agostino ’19 and Matthew Harrison ’20, Puerto Rico – analysis of data obtained from the Arecibo Radio Telescope

• Fred Genier ’19, Siena College – computational project on the large-scale structure of the universe

• Daniel Finnegan ’19, Ghadeer Alsheshakly ’19, Coley Stillman ’19, and Megan Poremba ’20, summer work granted by the National Science Foundation – formation of pathways of the most massive galaxies in the universe and the physical cause for low star formation efficiency in dark matter holes.

“Attending the AAS meeting in D.C. gave me the opportunity to network with astronomers from across the country and learn more about cutting-edge areas in astrophysics.,” said Sandy Spicer ’19. “It was truly a valuable experience being able to present my research to scientists of different backgrounds and gain insight from experts themselves. Not only did I gain knowledge in my research of black holes, but I made connections with professors and other undergraduates passionate about astrophysics.”