MSU’s Contreras-Martinez, Ready selected for DOE Office of Science Graduate Student Research Program

11 October 2017

Two Michigan State University physics and astronomy graduate students—Crispin Contreras-Martinez and Roy Ready—were among 52 graduate students from across the nation selected by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for its 2017 Office of Science Graduate Student Research (SCGSR) Program.

The DOE SCGSR Program was established to advance a graduate student’s doctoral thesis while providing access to the expertise, resources and capabilities available at DOE laboratories. The award will support Contreras-Martinez and Ready for up to one year of research under the supervision of a DOE laboratory scientist.

This award is of high importance to me since I will be able to advance my research and get hands-on experience with the equipment currently being built at MSU. It will also give me an opportunity to explore post-doctoral research opportunities,” said Contreras-Martinez, a doctoral student who is currently working at MSU’s National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (NSCL) with Peter Ostroumov, professor of physics. “I’m honored to receive this award and excited to start working at Fermilab.”

For the next six months, Contreras-Martinez will study the electromagnetic and mechanical properties of superconducting radiofrequency cavities used to accelerate protons, electrons and ions at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois. These cavities can be “de-tuned” by external noise, but Contreras-Martinez is working to improve the life span of dynamic tuners that can keep the resonant frequency intact by elastically deforming the cavity with piezo actuators.

“With this award,” Contreras-Martinez explained, “I will be able to study the properties of the piezo to improve its lifetime in state-of-the-art facilities, network with other scientists and engineers to learn about different tuning techniques and learn how to drive the piezo actuator for efficient tuning. These projects are of key importance to high energy and nuclear physics.”

Ready, a doctoral student working in Spinlab at MSU’s NSCL, works with his advisor, Jaideep Singh, and other scientists to improve the sensitivity of the measurement of the permanent Electric Dipole Moment (EDM) of the isotope Radium-225. By upgrading the Ra EDM experimental apparatus at the Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) to achieve a higher electric field and better atomic trapping efficiency, Ready and his collaborators hope to move closer to observing a non-zero permanent EDM for the first time.

“From a professional standpoint, I’m thrilled to be working with and learning from world experts in atomic and nuclear physics,” Ready said. “With the SCGSR award, I’ll work on-site at the ANL apparatus in Chicago with a research group known as the Cold Atom Trappers using upgrade components I've developed for the past two years at the NSCL here at MSU.” 

“Receiving the SCGSR award is a milestone for me,” Ready continued. “I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity it provides. I've received a lot of guidance from Dr. Singh and could not have done it without him. I'm a little sad to leave my peers, friends and research group at MSU for six months, but I'm also thrilled to work at ANL!”