Awards Student spotlight Undergraduate Research

Summer Research Fellow Interview: Joshua Ange

Joshua Ange, Class Of ’25, is a 2022-23 Summer Research Fellow.

Tell me about yourself! 

Sure! My name is Joshua Ange, I’m a Sophomore (Class of 2025) studying Physics and English with minors in mathematics and computer science. In regards to fun facts, I was born in New York, really enjoy theatre (I did it a lot in high school, but haven’t been able to do much since), and like rock climbing.

What did you do during your summer research? Who did you work with and overall, how was it?

During my summer research, I worked with Dr. Robert Calkins. I was continuing research I began in the Spring semester in Professor Jodi Cooley’s lab as part of the SuperCDMS SNOLAB collaboration, which mainly deals with dark matter detectors.

Dark matter detectors are placed deep underground to be isolated from background and other noise. But underground, there is radon present in the air that can cause “plate-out,” essentially meaning it decays into lead and accumulates on nearby surfaces, which leads to the production of alpha particles. And these alpha particles can act a bit like “false positives” for dark matter detectors. So my research concerned the readings of these alpha particles.

Essentially, an SMU grad student went down and measured pieces of polyethylene plastic (which are used as shielding within the detectors) and found that the rate of accumulation of lead wildly varied between pieces, even if they were in the same location. It was hypothesized that this may be due to the charge embedded within the plastic, so that was the phenomenon we were attempting to find and quantify. Overall, we found some pretty solid relationships and were able to (somewhat) simulate the effects, but there’s still more analysis needed in order to fully be able to correct for the embedded charge.

What was your favorite part during your research? What was the most memorable part for you?

I think one of my favorite parts of the research was just that it was a collaborative, real process. Unlike in class, where you’re learning from the professor trying to find the right (pre-determined) answer, I really loved the collaborative and “working-together” problem-solving aspect of the work we were doing. As we came towards the end of the research and began assembling a paper and presentations, it was very nice to be able to show results and findings that were “ours,” if that makes sense. And then a highlight, as well, was being able to present at the Fall 2022 Texas Section American Physical Society conference. I loved meeting other students and being able to share the work I was doing with people outside of SMU!

What would you say to anyone wanting to start getting involved with research? How would you advise them to go about it?

Honestly, the biggest thing I would say is to just go for it! I think a lot of the time, people are a bit afraid of starting research because they don’t know where to start / how to begin, but I don’t think that gets resolved until you actually start. For me, I just got involved by emailing my professor, learning about the project, and getting started from there. It was of course a bit scary to enter a new environment like this, but also so exciting to be in the research world!

Joshua was lead author on the article “Characterization of XIA UltraLo-1800 response to measuring charged samples,” which was recently published in Journal of Instrumentation 18 P01027. Congrats to Joshua, Dr. Robert Calkins, and Andrew Posada ’17!

Awards Undergraduate Research

Summer Research Fellow Interview: Brynn Price

Brynn Price, Class of  ’23, is a 2022-23 Summer Research Fellow.

Tell me about yourself! 

My name is Brynn Price, and I’m from Dallas and will be graduating next fall. At SMU, I am on the SMU Libraries Student Advisory Board (and have done so since my first year) and love serving the Mustang community in this role. I am also a 2022-23 Summer Research Fellow and am especially grateful for Engaged Learning’s support as I have pursued research on campus (shoutout Dr. Neal and Dr. Ebinger!). This semester, I am excited to continue to serve Dr. Wieselmann and her NSF-funded research project (which is described here!).

What did you do during your summer research? Who did you work with-overall, how was it?

Last summer, I worked with Dr. Jeanna Wieselmann and Marc Sager (a PhD student at Simmons). We undertook a study that examined how well teacher-developed curriculum units incorporated integrated STEM instruction and PBI (project-based instruction). After completing the study, we wrote the manuscript, then submitted it to Education Sciences (where it was published here!). And while I have always loved writing, I had never written anything for a manuscript that would be submitted to an academic journal—but even so, Dr. Wieselmann and Marc were so encouraging during the process. I learned a lot and am appreciative of all they taught me.

What was your favorite part during your research? What was the most memorable part for you?

Actually, my favorite part ended up being the writing of the findings. I do love to write, and it was rewarding to be able to articulate new knowledge from the study in a format that is now shared with others—and hopefully, it will prove useful to those who read on it. Also, likely a result of my love for libraries, I enjoyed locating literature that was used in our manuscript (e.g., in the lit. review/discussion sections). It was cool to see the full research process and see how pre-existing knowledge can facilitate the creation of new knowledge. And lastly, I absolutely loved working with Dr. Wieselmann and Marc. They are amazing, intelligent people! From this experience, I will of course remember how interesting it was to experience the research process from start to finish—but even more, I will remember my time learning from and working with my research team. I am so thankful for them and for Engaged Learning, as well.

What would you say to someone wanting to pursue this program and research? What are things you think people should know before going into this program?

Even if you’re not sure that you want to pursue research, I highly recommend checking out the Summer Research Intensive. The program offers students a unique insight into the world of research and scholarship (and into the professional lives of professors)it’s an experience that cannot be fully replicated in the university classroom. For me, the program helped me to better understand the value of research/scholarship, as well as howand whyto engage with it; it was immensely helpful to experience the research process myself. Consequently, I have been able to transfer these skills and understandings to my courses, reaffirming that this program is truly characterized by “engaged learning.” But even if you are not interested in academic research, the lessons learned from the SRI can be transferred to other settings, as the research process is used all the time and all around. It is always important to know how to ask good questions; how to engage with the abundance of information that surrounds us; and, notably, how to work with a team to find answers to questions. The Research Intensive helped me develop myself in a number of ways, but it most importantly taught me that there’s so much that I can learn from and with the people around me. Engaged Learning works hard to not only support individual students, but also to connect them to the knowledgeable community around themI am grateful for this support.