Young Scholars
"Involving Everyone in Science"

PhYSics Young Scholars program welcomes high school students from the Urbana-Champaign area to explore exciting careers in scientific research. The summer program will help these students better understand how we ask and answer questions in science. They will be embedded in research laboratories in the Physics, Mechanical Sciences and Engineering departments where they will shadow undergraduate or graduate student researchers during a six week program. The Young Scholars will also make measurements and analyze results as part of the work in their research group. The capstone activity will be a poster session at the end of the program where the high school students will present their work to their peers, research mentors, teachers and parents. The student researchers will also act as mentors for the high school students and will be trained in mentoring workshops facilitated by members of the Illinois partnership for the Identities of Students in Engineering (I-RISE). Special programming will be provided for the high school students, including discussions of college applications and financial aid, college life, poster preparation, as well as a range of research talks by the mentors.

Read about the first program in 2017 at NPL News.

Program Dates

Visit Grainger Engineering STEM Programs for more information, dates and application.

Program Goals

  • Introduce students to scientific research and promote career opportunities in the field
  • Help students gain knowledge in a variety of science applications
  • Help students gain an understanding of science and its local and global impact

    Student Benefits

  • Work in a cutting-edge research laboratory
  • Pursue higher education goals
  • Builds resume
  • Get a taste of college life
  • Participants receive a stipend

    Eligibility Requirements & Application

  • Rising high school junior or senior at time of application
  • Underrepresented group
  • Visit Grainger Engineering STEM Programs for more information, dates and application.

  • Prior Projects

    Project #1 :: Alleyne Research Group
    Design of a Continuously Variable Valve for a Thermal Fluid Experimental Testbed

    The Alleyne Research Group focuses on dynamic modeling of complex systems as well as development and implementation of advanced control algorithms on a number of different testbeds. As vehicle electrification increases, thermal management becomes increasingly important. To study the challenges imposed by increasing power and thermal demands, we developed a fluid-based experimental testbed that emulates features of vehicle thermal management systems. This hands-on project will modify a stock on/off solenoid valve so that it can be operated at intermediate positions between on and off and will allow the Young Scholar and teacher to explore multiple areas of study including; mechanical and circuit design, computer programming and mathematical modeling.

    Project #2 :: POETS
    Enhanced condensation heat transfer of low surface tension fluids

    Condensation is a phase change phenomenon encountered in nature and in industry applications including power generation, thermal management, desalination, and environmental control. Experimental setup consists of tube samples with cold water flowing through. The entire system is enclosed within a chamber where vapors of the working fluid are injected. The vapor condenses on the tube samples with the chamber pressure and cooling water temperatures continuously monitored and recorded. The team will be running the experiment cycle with condensation on different tube samples. Scholars will study their own variables/conditions and produce a set of data. They will learn about the two modes of condensation; filmwise and dropwise and will experience high speed imaging.

    Project #3 :: Nuclear Physics
    neutron Electric Dipole Moment (nEDM) Magnetometer

    In the universe, the dominance of matter over anti-matter is thought to have originated at the time of the Big Bang. In the neutron Electric Dipole Moment (nEDM) experiment, we are looking for a tiny echo of the Big Bang in the properties of the neutron. We will begin learning how to make these precision measurements at the Institut Laue Langevin in Grenoble, France, the site of the world’s strongest source of slow neutrons. These measurements require extremely accurate magnetometers which we will work on developing in Urbana this summer.

    Project #4 :: Nuclear Physics
    ATLAS Experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN

    ATLAS uses collisions of protons and Pb-ions to discover fundamental building blocks of matter and study their interactions. The Zero Degree Calorimeter (ZDC) observes the non-interacting nuclear fragments from Pb-Pb ion collisions. The current ZDC operates at radiation doses beyond the levels tolerable by existing detector technology and requires regular repair. The ATLAS group at UIUC is developing a new calorimeter that can be operated continuously under very high radiation exposure. We tested novel high purity fused silica materials in the LHC tunnel at CERN. The YS will help to characterize the modified optical properties of the quartz samples after irradiation at CERN.

    Young Scholars 5
    Project #5 :: Physics
    Astrophysical Fluid Dynamics Research Group

    We use computational and analytic techniques to study dynamical problems ranging from the origin of the Moon to the observational appearance of black holes. A key part of these studies is thoroughly understanding simple model fluid flow problems. The Scholar will study a model problem called the Orszag-Tang vortex. They will do this by running codes - in C language on a linux system - developed by the group. They will learn about the underlying physical model, learn how to operate the model, learn how to analyze the output and produce animations from the results.

    Young Scholars 6
    Project #6 :: Nuclear Physics
    nEDM Light Collection Simulation

    The Standard Model of particle physics has been very successful in explaining the Universe we observe. This theory is not complete as it does not answer fundamental questions such as why there is more matter than anti-matter or where does dark mater come from. We can search for new physics through precision measurements other than using high energy colliders. The electric dipole moment of the neutron is an experiment that is sensitive to new physics at TeV energy scales. nEDM at Oakridge National Lab promises to improve the current sensitivity by two orders of magnitude. At UIUC, we will use modern simulation tools to understand the light collection process and use the simulation to optimize the detector design. We will also build a mock up experimental cell.

    Young Scholars 7
    Project #7 :: Condensed Matter Theory
    Many-body Simulations

    Magnets come about through the combination of quantum mechanics and interactions between the electrons in materials. In this project, the Young Scholar will help perform and analyze many-body simulations of electrons in magnetic materials. By analyzing these simulations, we will understand better how magnets work and how to modify their properties at the atomic scale for new and interesting functionality.

    Young Scholars 8
    Project #8 :: Biological Physics
    Imagining Excited States Using Single-Molecule Absorption STM

    Nanostructures such as semiconductor quantum dots are collections of hundreds of atoms and can behave like an individual enlarged atom. These nanostructures exhibit electronic states that resemble the typical s and p atomic orbitals which can be imaged by a technique we use known as single-molecule absorption scanning tunneling microscopy (SMA-STM). At UIUC we use SMA-STM to observe the excited state structures and intra/inter-molecular dynamics of nanomaterials relevant to a wide variety of scientific subdisciplines. Our Young Scholar will assist with imaging and analysis of excited quantum dots and nanomaterials using SMA-STM. We will also modify our system by adding laser alignment automation using an Arduino microcontroller system.

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    Project #9 :: Materials Science and Engineering
    Biomimetic Energy Harvesting and Storage

    This project is inspired by nature’s ability of using lipid materials to guide the perfect organization of light harvesting proteins in plants. In this project we intend to extract energy conversion membranes from natural systems and combine them with artificial materials to generate new nature-inspired light harvesting and storage materials. Specifically, students will be developing strategies to extract light harvesting membranes from spinach and re-assemble them with synthetic lipid and polymer thin films.

    Young Scholars 10
    Project #10 :: Chemical Imaging and Structures Laboratory (CISL)
    Molecular Composition

    CISL uses chemical imaging and designed structures to understand molecular compositions and functions in a range of problems. The activities in the group are divided broadly into three categories: theory, modeling, and simulations; instrumentation and analysis algorithms; and applications of the first two to a range of problems, notably in cancer pathology, polymeric systems, and food grain analysis. In cancer pathology, we are interested in developing new imaging technology to use molecular changes in the tumor and its microenvironment for better diagnoses, using an integrated approach termed “systems pathology.” The YS will learn about disease diagnosis using pathology and will be involved in handling and analyzing infrared spectroscopic images.

    Young Scholars 10
    Project #11 :: Molecular and Developmental Biology

    The research in Kalsotra laboratory brings together critical ideas in the fields of molecular and developmental biology and offers a robust framework to better understand how, when, and where particular mRNAs are translated into proteins. We are interested in screening for ESRP2 function and localization in human disease. The student’s project will be to conduct Immunofluorescent staining of liver sections and image them for different protein markers in disease. Image Description: LEGO model of a liver. Alternative splicing generates mRNA diversity to support liver development.

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    Project #12 :: Glioblastoma

    Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most common and malignant form of brain cancer in adults, with a median survival time of 12-15 months. GBM tumors present with chemo- and radio-resistance and diffusive invasiveness, making them impossible to completely resect and resulting in high rates of recurrence. Our student will work in the context of glioblastoma, particularly the crosstalk that exists between GBM cells and microglia, the innate immune cells of the brain. Image: GBM from recently published Biomaterials Science Article.

    Poster Presentation Slides

    Poster workshop pdf slides on how to create an effective poster are below.
    Workshop #1 slides pdf.
    Workshop #2 slides pdf.
    Poster Powerpoint Template.

    Engineering Campus Young Scholar Programs

    P/O/E/T/S Center For Power Optimization Of Electro-Thermal Systems: Young Scholars Program
    SPHERES BioEngineering: Young Scholars Program
    ResearcHStart: Young Scholars Program

    Young Scholars Slideshow


    Email: PhYSics Young Scholars