University of Houston's Superconductivity Center holds student symposium

December 01, 2010

A high school math teacher in India sparked Debtanu De's interest in physics. Ibrahim Kesgin was inspired by his father to pursue an undergraduate, then graduate degree in mechanical engineering. Melissa Gooch's interest in superconductors came after a young career as a ballet dancer.

These students and about 100 other undergraduate and graduate students have been pursuing various research efforts in different laboratories at the Texas Center for Superconductivity at the University of Houston (TcSUH). Of those, De, Kesgin, Gooch and six other students were selected to present their original work Monday (Dec. 6) at TcSUH's 40th Semiannual Student Symposium, which is open to the public.

"The Student Symposium highlights the original research efforts of undergraduate and graduate students working in TcSUH's multidisciplinary labs on high-temperature superconductivity, biomedical materials and applications and nano- and energy-materials and science applications," said Susan Butler, Associate Director for Public Affairs, TcSUH. "Each TcSUH project leader selects an outstanding student to represent his or her lab."

The selected students will each give a 15-minute presentation and then answer questions about their work. TcSUH judges will award cash prizes and certificates to the top three students. Prizes will be awarded based on originality and quality of research and presentation.

De, a graduate physics major, is working on gaining a better understanding of the pairing mechanism between the electrons inside a superconductor. De attended the University of Calcutta and the Indian Institute of Technology before coming to UH.

Kesgin is a mechanical engineering graduate student who has an undergraduate degree in the same field. His current research is focused on reducing the alternating current losses in REBCO (rare-earth barium-copper-oxide) thin films.

Gooch didn't always plan to be the graduate student in physics she is today.

"I didn't begin as a student interested in college. My goal was to be a professional ballet dancer," Gooch said. "I performed professionally in the Austin and Houston areas until I retired due to injuries, at which point I returned to school at the University of Houston. After seeing a demonstration in my introductory physics class of the Meissner effect, I became interested in superconductors."

Gooch's project investigates the newly discovered iron pnictide superconductors.
Note: The Student Symposium begins at 1 p.m. on Dec. 6 at the UH Science Center, Building 593.

University of Houston

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