Winter break is a great time to work on research. If you are interested in joining a lab, its also a good time to start research in a lab.
One of the things that happened this winter break was a trip to Argonne National Laboratory to use the Advanced Photon Source (APS). Dr. Grice, in collaboration with Dr. Griffin and Dr. Jin, has been working on projects that needed some experiments that can only be done at the APS. Anyone can apply to use the resources at Argonne, so Dr. Grice put in an application and was given “Beam Time”.
What is “Beam Time”? It’s research time at an X-ray beam that comes off of the synchrotron, which is a giant circular tube the size of a large building filled with fast-moving electrons that emit X-rays. The focused X-rays from a synchrotron can be tuned and directed to a wide variety of very powerful experiments.
Dr. Grice and Dr. Griffin took four DePaul students, a mixture of undergraduates and masters students, to the APS to perform an experiment called EXAFS – Extended X-ray absorption fine structure. They worked around the clock for 3 days straight collecting data at the beam line. After the data is processed, it should be able to help describe the three-dimensional solution-phase structures of the compounds they are studying, something that can’t be done without synchrotron radiation!
Getting beam time is a relatively rare occurrence. A researcher has to have a well-planned out set of experiments and the application process is highly competitive.
However, if you are interested in doing research at a national lab, there are other ways to get involved. There is a Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship (SULI) program, and applications for summer 2017 close on January 13th. Argonne participates in this program, as do many other national labs around the US.