A graduate student who returned to school after suffering an injury that ended her ballet career has won top honors at the 40th Semiannual Student Symposium at the Texas Center for Superconductivity at the University of Houston.
Melissa Gooch, a graduate student in physics, received the first place honor for her work on newly discovered iron pnictide superconductors.
Debtanu De, also a graduate physics student, took second place for his work involving the pairing mechanism between the electrons inside a superconductor. Ngozi Amuneke, a chemistry graduate student, and Sladjana Maric, a biophysics graduate student, tied for third place. All four are graduate students in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.
About 100 students have been pursuing various research efforts in different laboratories at TcSUH, and nine of them were chosen to present their work at the recent symposium, which highlights undergraduate and graduate students' original, multidisciplinary research efforts.
The competing students were judged on the originality of their work and presentation. First prize was $300, second was $200 and third was $100.
"This symposium provides students with a forum to gain experience in formally presenting their work to an audience that includes their peers and mentors," said TcSUH Director Allan Jacobson, professor of chemistry and the Robert A. Welch Chair of Science. "This is important because researchers are often called on to present their work."
Gooch worked under the supervision of superconductivity pioneer Paul Chu, who founded TcSUH and now serves as the center's executive director. De's project leader was Haibing Peng, an assistant physics professor. Amuneke's project leader was Angela Moeller, an assistant professor in chemistry, and Maric's was John Miller, a physics professor.
The winning students found the experience valuable to their budding careers.
"When you're in academia, you spend a lot of time goin
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University of Houston