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Florida State University


Physics—the science that deals with the matter and energy of the universe, the forces they exert on one another, and the results produced by these forces—does not involve a search for solutions to specific problems, but a search for fundamental knowledge, a knowledge that benefits everyone.

Elizabeth Wingfield knew she wanted to study science, but it wasn't until her first-semester advisor placed her in the "Discovering Physics" course that her budding interest was peaked. Meeting professors who were "excited and passionate about their work," and realizing her "strong Math background would fit perfectly," clinched her decision. Looking back, pleased, Elizabeth says, "I never expected the magnitude of opportunities that lay ahead for me in this exciting field."

She works with Experimental Physicists who construct and maintain equipment, collect data, solve problems that arise, and then analyze the data. "I like this hands-on aspect," she says, "and the capability of seeing tangible products of these abstract physical concepts."

In the summer of 2005, she completed a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) with Physicist Edmund Myers. This year under his supervision, she is working on her Honors Thesis, using a Penning trap to make specific mass measurements. "Often, we are working on making improvements to the trap either to reach more masses previously unattainable or to make our measurements more precise," she says. "Knowing precise masses is important, as it has many applications in other areas of Physics. Astrophysics has direct applications of mass measurements of unstable nuclei. Precision measurements may also lead to a new value for the mass of a neutrino, important in particle physics research. And one of the goals of the FSU Penning trap is to make improvements on fundamental physical constants."

This past summer, Elizabeth was one of 15 students from the U.S. who participated in the University of Michigan's REU at CERN, the world's largest particle physics research laboratory, in Geneva, Switzerland. This annual summer internship program enables 100 students from all over the world to learn, work, and socialize together. Elizabeth was given the opportunity to work with ISOLTRAP, the nuclear experiment in which precise mass measurements of short-lived nuclei are taken.

A superb student—Honors, Phi Beta Kappa, President's List—Elizabeth believes passion is the key. "I have had many great professors; each has shown a passion for Physics. This passion drives me to work harder in aim of something more than just good grades." Amen to that.

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