Lock Haven University juniors conduct research at Cornell

LOCK HAVEN — Two Lock Haven University rising juniors, Samantha Clark and Chadd Miller, spent their summer completing a Research Experience for Undergraduate (REU) program at Cornell University.

Clark, a biology major of Elysburg, has been working with the Boyce Thompson Institute at Cornell University within Maria Harrison’s lab with mentor Bryan Emmett. The objective of the study is to better understand the relationship between Arbuscular Mycorrhizae Fungi (AMF) and Phosphate Solubilizing Bacteria (PSB), as well as other microbes that may enhance nutrient acquisition between AMF and plants. At the lab they isolate microbes from AMF hyphae and create a microbe profile by sequencing the 16S rRNA gene. The overall goal is to identify relationships between AMF and PSB in hopes of finding ways to make plants better at obtaining phosphorus in the soil.

Clark is very happy with her learning experience at Cornell and is grateful for the skills LHU faculty have helped her learn to prepare for this opportunity.

“LHU has prepared me immensely for the position I received at Cornell. The biology department faculty could not be any more supportive and helpful,” she said. “Specifically, my academic advisor, Dr. Shonah Hunter, has supported me through my entire undergraduate education and I couldn’t be where I am today without her caring mentoring and advice. Dr. Barrie Overton has also mentored me in independent research that has allowed me to gain research and laboratory skills that have prepared for this internship. Overall, our biology curriculum, guidance, and support has left me fully prepared to reach my goals here at Cornell.”

Miller, a physics major, of Swissdale, has thoroughly enjoyed his research and interactions within the REU-student community at Cornell. His REU is through the Cornell Laboratory for Accelerator-Based Sciences and Education (CLASSE), with mentor Nilanjan Banerjee, a graduate student at Cornell and works on the CBETA project (Cornell-Brookhaven ERL Test Accelerator).

The goal of the project is to find a way to measure the quality factor of a radio frequency cavity while the cavity is active. These cavities are metal and shaped carefully so they trap and reflect electromagnetic waves, and when a particle passes through the cavities, it can efficiently be accelerated. Miller has worked mostly with simulations and theoretical predictions to develop a software program that will work on the actual CBETA cavities.

“I’ve been academically qualified for this project thanks to the physics department at LHU. The project requires a combination of knowledge from electronics class, my nanotechnology research, modern physics class, and many others,” he said. “Dr. John Reid in particular started my fascination with particle and high energy physics, and I’m thrilled to be working in that field this summer! It’s also been very exciting to move to a new city and meet new people in a new community, and I’m certain that it would have been much more difficult if the Global Honors Program at LHU hadn’t already prepared me through its various leadership opportunities.”

Although close friends, Clark and Miller had no idea that one another would be living in Ithaca, New York, for the summer and completing a REU through Cornell. Both students were very excited to be granted this opportunity for real-life research and to be able to use the training and techniques they learned for future professional endeavors.