Juniata College is unique in many ways. One way it is unique is in its ability to prepare students for life after college. Juniata allows prestigious students to receive a hands-on learning experience by doing research. Brad Dinardo ’10, of Altoona, Pa. shares his experience:
What interested you in research at Juniata?
I would like to go to graduate school and get a doctorate in physics. A Ph.D. is a research degree. You need to have as much undergrad experience as possible. We have our own optics lab and I wanted to be a part of that. So, freshman year I did really well in my classes and got an offer. It’s a really good way to get experience working in a lab.
Describe the research that you did.
Here on campus, I did research with lasers. Specifically we looked at rubidium. We took two infra-red lasers and we shone them into rubidium. Out of nowhere, there was a blue light coming out. We were working with people in Melbourne, Australia to figure out why this was happening. I’m pretty sure they found out now, but I don’t know the answer because the summer ended.
Another thing we worked on was laser locking. Lasers can change their wavelengths really easily, caused by temperatures. They are supposed to send out this certain type of red light. Small fluctuation in temperatures can cause that light to become a slightly different wavelength, which you cannot have! We developed a way to lock lasers onto a certain frequency, which allows us to have a definite wavelength to use in our experiments.
What was the most meaningful part of this experience?
The most meaningful part was working with a lot of the scientists. A lot of the scientists are really young- born in the same decade as me. I gained such camaraderie working with people and I feel that it was a really good method to gain communication skills.
What did you learn about yourself?
I learned that I could literally pick up something without knowing very much about it and become efficient at it. I know the physics, but what we dealt was a subfield that I really didn’t have any experience with. I learned that I could really accomplish anything if I set my mind to it.
Do you have any advice for other students who also want to do research?
Number one, just try as hard as you can. Learn the physics on paper first. If you want to do research, apply to many places. Work on your communication skills. If you can’t tell someone what you know, it’s useless. Also, never give up on anything.
-Erin Kreischer ‘13, Juniata Online Journalist