Natalie Ferris '18 at the Los Alamos Project Main Gate in New Mexico.
Intern, Computational Physics Workshop.
How I got this internship:
I am hoping to spend each summer in college exploring different fields in physics. I applied to this program in computational physics because I know it’s important to be comfortable with the tools needed to model physical phenomena. This program offers the opportunity to learn this from professionals and to work alongside graduate students.
What I do, day to day:
We generally have lectures from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. every morning on hydrodynamic code, radiation, neutron transport equations, modeling in Fortran, C++ and many topics in between. After that I work on my research project with my partner. Our two mentors join us for an hour or two every few days, and we discuss our progress. We are working on reducing the output differences between an atomic structure model for calculating optical properties of plasmas and a plasma-based average-ion approach.
Last summer I interned at Massachusetts General Hospital’s medical physics department. I worked with a radiation research team on optimizing collimator head rotation for tumor radiation treatment.
Most valuable part of this experience:
For me there are three parts that stand out—gaining larger-scale research experience, expanding what I am learning at Dickinson to other applications and making connections with mentors, graduate students and other undergraduates in the program for future opportunities.
Advice for students considering internships:
Do not be shy if you do not know or understand something. Be curious, and ask lots of questions. The best use of your time is to learn as much as possible and make lasting connections with mentors and other students.
How this internship helps me:
This internship has prepared me to do more research on campus. It has also provided me with a strong introduction to new areas of physics that I hope to continue to learn about in the coming years.
I would like to go to graduate school, then work in a large, collaborative environment such as a National Laboratory.
Published August 7, 2016