Student testimonials

The Accelerator Science and Engineering Traineeship (ASET) program at MSU offers PhD and master's graduate students in physics and astronomy and engineering an exciting training opportunity. Below are testimonials from some of the program’s current students.

 

MICHAEL BALCEWICZ

Michael Balcewicz

Michael Balcewicz is pursuing a PhD in physics at Michigan State University with Professor Yue Hao serving as his advisor. He is from Aliso Viejo, California. For his research topic, he intends to research generalizing a square potential well beam model to accommodate multiple square wells. He has been in MSU’s Accelerator Science and Engineering Traineeship (ASET) program since October 2017.

What are your research responsibilities?
My research topic is on generalizing a square potential well beam model to accommodate multiple square wells.  The square wells are interesting to study because they are analytically solvable and can be used to study and better understand what physical parameters create instabilities in a beam.  To this point however, only one potential well has been used for these models, which limits its applicability to real systems.  Adding multiple square wells allows the model to more closely model a real beam. 

How do you think participating in the ASET program at MSU will benefit your career?
Since I want to work at a national laboratory after graduation, doing my thesis research at national laboratory will help me get a foot in the door.

The ASET program can support your stay at a national laboratory at which laboratory are you interested in further your training and what are your research interests there?
Brookhaven National Laboratory.  They have a lot of interesting work with the possible upgrade to the high energy electron-ion collider as well as light source work at the National Synchrotron Light Source II.

October 2018

 

CRISPIN CONTRERAS

Crispin Contreras

Crispin Contreras is pursuing a PhD in physics at Michigan State University, with Professor of Physics Peter Ostroumov serving as his advisor. For his research topic, he is studying the electromagnetic and mechanical properties of medium beta superconducting elliptical cavities. He has been in MSU’s Accelerator Science and Engineering Traineeship (ASET) program since October 2017.

What are your research responsibilities?
My thesis project is to understand the limitations of fast tuners based on piezo actuators. Superconducting (SC) linear accelerators (linacs) can provide high power proton and ion beams in continuous wave (CW) or pulsed mode operation. Linacs have become an important tool for research in many fields such as high energy physics, nuclear physics, and material science just to name a few. One of the main components of a linac are the SC cavities which accelerate the particles via coupling to the radio-frequency (RF) power. Cavities in CW mode are operated at very high loaded quality factor (QL), which results in a small bandwidth making them susceptible to noise which causes detuning. In the case of cavities operated in the pulsed mode, the main source of detuning will be caused by radiation pressure (Lorentz force detuning). These types of detuning can be compensated by using more RF power which can be very costly. Additionally, if the power coupler can’t provide enough power to compensate for the detuning, the cavity will not be able to maintain the accelerating gradient which will result in operational downtime. A cost-effective approach to mitigating the detuning has been shown with the use of piezo actuators for fast detuning. I am studying control algorithms and the development of a reliable piezo tuning systems with long lifetime for applications both in CW or pulsed linacs.

How do you think participating in the ASET program at MSU will benefit your career?
With the support of the ASET program, I will be able to continue my research at Fermilab and will stay here until I finish my PhD. Staying at Fermilab is essential for my thesis project since my collaborators have a lot of experience working with resonance control. While at Fermilab, I will work to develop algorithms and hardware for my project. With my results, I will be able to present my work at the International Particle Accelerator Conference (IPAC), the Linear Accelerator Conference (LINAC), or the International Conference on Superconducting Radiofrequency (SRF).

The ASET program can support your stay at a national laboratory – at which laboratory are you interested in further your training and what are your research interests there?
I’ve spent five months in Fermilab with the SCGSR grant (six months) that I obtained in October 2017. During this time, I worked with different tuners. I measured the stiffness of the tuners as well as the piezo stroke for the 650MHz cavity. I have also measured the piezo stroke at cold temperatures (2k operation) for 1.3 GHz Cavities and 3.9 GHz cavities which are used for the LCLS II project. I have also been exposed to the low-level RF (LLRF) system that is used as well as their data acquisition system. I’m eager to learn more about this systems since they are critical for the resonance control. Lastly, while at Fermilab, I learned about resonance control of a system and how to characterize it.

April 2018

 

DUNCAN KROLL

Duncan Kroll

Duncan Kroll is pursuing a master’s degree in engineering at Michigan State University with Abraham Engeda, a professor of mechanical engineering, and Peter Knudsen, senior cryogenic process engineer at FRIB, advising him. He began in MSU’s Accelerator Science and Engineering Traineeship (ASET) program in August 2018, researching helium purification.

What are your research responsibilities?
My research responsibilities consist of designing and modeling cryogenic process equipment, specifically for my research topic. I have also taken on other projects, including some chemical property calculation coding and process and instrumentation diagram editing.

How do you think participating in the ASET program at MSU will benefit for your career?
It will give me the opportunity to make a lot of connections and work at a world-class facility. My initial interest came from funding opportunities for master’s students at FRIB and a referral from a mentor, but I have been interested in accelerator science ever since I toured NSCL with my high-school chemistry class.

October 2018

 

KELLEN E. MCGEE

Kellen E. McGee

Kellen E. McGee is a first-year graduate student from Oxford, Michigan, pursuing a PhD in nuclear or accelerator physics. He began studying with the MSU Accelerator Science and Engineering Traineeship (ASET) program in July 2018, researching the superconducting radio frequency on FRIB energy-upgrade elliptical cavities.

What are your research responsibilities?
The beta=0.65 644MHz cavities are in the prototype research and development stages. I perform exploratory measurements as we work to determine the production parameters for FRIB implementation. This includes field flatness measurements, quality-factor (Q-factor) measurements, and research regarding cavity processing techniques to increase Q factor.

How do you think participating in the ASET program at MSU will benefit for your career?
I think the program has the unique potential to connect me to opportunities in the world of national laboratories and accelerator physics should I choose that route. If I do not choose that route, I still value the technical introduction to truly unique systems engineering challenges.    

The ASET program can support your stay at a national laboratory – at which laboratory are you interested in further your training and what are your research interests there?
I am interested in the Brookhaven National Laboratory or Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and there are connections between my current research and ongoing work at Argonne National Laboratory and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.

The ASET program can support your stay at a national laboratory – at which laboratory are you interested in further your training and what are your research interests there?
I am not sure yet.

October 2018

 

CHRIS RICHARD
 Chris Richard
Chris Richard is pursuing a PhD in accelerator physics at Michigan State University with Adjunct Professor of Physics Steven Lidia serving as his advisor. For his research topic, Chris is studying non-relativistic beam instrumentation and diagnostics. He has been in MSU’s Accelerator Science and Engineering Traineeship (ASET) program since January 2018.

What are your research responsibilities?
My research focuses on accounting for non-relativistic effects in beam diagnostics. The electromagnetic fields from non-relativistic beams resemble those of charges at rest, causing the field extents on opposite sides of the beam pipe to differ. Beam diagnostics that rely on measuring the field at the pipe wall, such as button beam-position monitors (BPMs), are affected by this disparity in the fields. I am developing a helical pulse line that is capable of replicating the fields from non-relativistic beams. The pulse line will be used to calibrate for non-relativistic effects on a test stand.

Non-relativistic beams also have low rigidity, which allows their phase space to be measured using an Allison scanner. The measurements from an Allison scanner can be used to look for the formation of beam tails. It is important to minimize tails because they increase the beam size and can cause losses and damage to the accelerator. My research also involves developing a method of characterizing beam tails using action-angle coordinates. This method can then be used to study the tail formation and efficiency of scraping in the Proton Improvement Plan II Injector Test (PIP2IT) beamline at Fermilab.

How do you think participating in the ASET program at MSU will benefit your career?
Participating in the ASET program has given me the opportunity to perform research at Fermilab working with the PIP2IT beamline. This has given me hands-on experience with beam instrumentation and machine operation at PIP2IT.

The ASET program can support your stay at a national laboratory – at which laboratory are you interested in further your training and what are your research interests there?
I have spent four months at Fermilab through the ASET program. At Fermilab, I have worked with the PIP2IT beamline, which has provided a unique experience being able to work with a test beamline with non-relativistic beams. Because this beamline is still in development, I have been able to learn about many systems of an accelerator from low-level radio frequency (RF) to machine protection and the difficulties associated with developing these systems.

April 2018

 

DAVID RIMEL

David Rimel

David Rimel, a first-year graduate student, is pursuing a PhD in computational math, science, and engineering, and possibly another PhD in physics. He is from Houston, Texas. His advisor is John Verboncoeur, an associate dean for research and graduate studies as well as a professor for computational math, science, and engineering. Rimel is interested in photonic and plasma device simulation, higher-order numerical methods, and high-performance computation, but has not chosen a research topic yet. He began studying in MSU’s Accelerator Science and Engineering Traineeship (ASET) program in August 2018.

What are your research responsibilities?
Currently, I am studying electron beam expansion in conductive cylindrical waveguides.

How do you think participating in the ASET program at MSU will benefit your career?
After my graduate studies, I would like to work in a national laboratory or in industry. It seems that participating in ASET would be greatly beneficial for me to achieve these goals. Also, ASET is a great opportunity to network with scientists at various national laboratories.

The ASET program can support your stay at a national laboratory – at which laboratory are you interested in further your training and what are your research interests there?
As I have just started this program, I haven’t made a decision yet. I’d like to explore why national laboratories do work with high-performance computing and simulation work with accelerators before I decide.

October 2018

 

JOSEPH D. WILLIAMS

Joseph D. Williams

Joseph D. Williams is a fifth-year student pursuing a PhD. He is being advised by Professor of Physics and Astronomy Chong-Yu Ruan. Williams is researching nanoscale phase transitions through ultrafast electron imaging and spectroscopy.

What are your research responsibilities?
I complete maintenance and further development of our laboratory’s ultrafast electron microscopy system to study nanoscale phase transitions in condensed matter systems with 100-femtosecond time resolution. To achieve this short time resolution, we use folding segment laser pulses to generate ultrashort electron bunches that are then compressed by the alternating electric field of a synchronized radio-frequency signal. The time resolution of our electron bunches is highly dependent on the synchronization between the electron pulse generating laser and the compressing radio-frequency field. I am currently working on improving our laser radio-frequency synchronization.

How do you think participating in the ASET program at MSU will benefit for your career?
The ASET program will allow me to learn from experts in direct-current photoelectron guns and radio-frequency cavity technology so I can apply advanced techniques to the improvement of our ultrafast electron microscopy system.

The ASET program can support your stay at a national laboratory – at which laboratory are you interested in further your training and what are your research interests there?
I would like to visit the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility to learn more about high-voltage direct-current photoelectron guns.

October 2018

 

TASHA L. WILLIAMS

Tasha L. Williams

Tasha L. Williams is pursuing a PhD in mechanical engineering at Michigan State University with Professor Abraham Engeda serving as her advisor. She is from Melbourne, Florida. She is researching the improvement and efficiency of rotary screw compressors, for which her research responsibilities are still being defined. She became interested in in MSU’s Accelerator Science and Engineering Traineeship (ASET) program when she heard about so many others excelling in her field while studying there.

How do you think participating in the ASET program at MSU will benefit for your career?
I think it will help catapult me and put me in connection with the right people while also preparing to fill the role.

The ASET program can support your stay at a national laboratory – at which laboratory are you interested in further your training and what are your research interests there?
The energy-efficiency and cryogenics programs at Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, or Brookhaven National Laboratory.

October 2018

 

ELLIOT WOZNIAK

Elliot Wozniak

Pursuing a PhD in Physics, Elliot Wozniak is a first-year graduate student being advised by Chong-Yu Ruan, a professor in condensed matter physics. He is from Fruitport, Michigan. He started in MSU’s Accelerator Science and Engineering Traineeship (ASET) in September 2018, and is researching the development of a high-brightness ultrafast electron microscope. This microscope would have radio frequency optics for imaging nanoscale dynamics.

What are your research responsibilities?
Right now, we are in the late stages of testing and development of the ultrafast microscope. I am responsible for designing and building many components necessary to incorporate RF cavities into a transmission electron microscope (TEM) column, such as mechanical vacuum feedthroughs for beam alignment and differential pumping to achieve high vacuum in a commercial TEM. I also am working on studying the effects of environmental conditions on RF electronics, given the sensitivities associated with keeping high-quality factor cavities on resonance.

A lot of cutting-edge accelerator-based technology is emerging in my field. The ASET program sounded like a good opportunity to learn more about the fundamentals of these new technologies.

How do you think participating in the ASET program at MSU will benefit for your career?
I hope that the formal training in accelerator systems will help me in my research, both as a graduate student and a professional. After this, I want to go into industry or work in a national laboratory.

October 2018