Student research assistant earns Jefferson Lab assistantship

Michigan State University (MSU) student Maya Watts, a student research assistant at the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) Laboratory, has earned the 2019-2020 Jefferson Science Associates Minority/Female Undergraduate Research Assistantship. The Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (Jefferson Lab) presents the assistantship to college students to work on projects that are part of the laboratory's research program or directly related to the scientific or engineering aspects of the research program.

Watts is an undergraduate physics major at MSU. Her research work is in the area of nuclear physics, specifically nuclear instrumentation. At FRIB, she works with the Modular Neutron Array (MoNA) with her advisor, Associate Professor of Physics Paul Gueye. Her work with MoNA involves gas electron multipliers (GEMs), which will make up the next generation of neutron detectors. Using GEMs, neutron detectors can be built in shapes that can sense neutrons that current detectors cannot see.

Watts had planned to begin her assistantship in spring 2020, but it was delayed due to the nationwide COVID-19 situation. She hopes to begin in late summer or fall, and has discussed virtual participation and other methods of involvement, including poster presentations and events, with Jefferson Lab. 

Learn more about Watts by reading the Jefferson Lab article: Lifelong exposure to science leads to career in physics.