Research

If you'd like to hear more about what kinds of research I've done, you can feel free to read below. My research proposals, which will provide more information on the project, my personal responsiblities, and my personal goals are also linked below.

Resonance Scattering with the Computational Reactor Physics Group at MIT
    OpenMC is a monte carlo neutron transport code currently in active development by the Computational Reactor Physics Group at MIT. It is capable of simulating reactor cores as well as other nuclear systems. My project investigates different ways to treat the resonance elastic scattering of neutrons off of various nuclides. This is one parameter that affects important characterics of the system, such as the effective multiplication factor (k-eff). One common assumption used to simplify simulation codes is that the cross sections are constant. However, this is a very poor assumption for heavy nuclides with resonances (which is another way of saying their cross sections can vary dramatically within small energy ranges, see resonance for U-238 here). Several methods have been developed to account for this. The Doppler Broadening Rejection Correction (DBRC) was developed several years ago and has been proven to provide an accurate treatment for resonances. However, this method is computationally costly. A more efficient method utilizing the Accelerated Rejection Scattering Kernel (ARSK/ARES) algorithm decreases computation time by 30-40% overhead. My project deals in part with verifying the ARES method against the DBRC method. In the same effort to minimize computation time (which can take days when simulating a full reactor system), I am also looking into what energy ranges these cross section corrections need to be made. 
    I have been working on this project since the start of my junior year. At the end of the fall semester of 2014, I presented my work to the Computational Reactor Physics Group, as well as visitors from Idaho National Laboratory, and received positive feedback. The following semester, spring 2015, I prepared a conference paper that was sumbitted and accepted to the American Nuclear Society's Student Conference held at Texas A&M University. There, I gave a 20-minute podium presentation on my research to a full room of peers and professionals in the field. 
   During my senior year, I'll be developing this project further for my senior thesis towards the completion of my bachelors of engineering degree in Nuclear Science and Engineering.
   (See UROP proposal here.)

Radiation Damaged Materials with the Short Lab at MIT
   While working on the above resonance scattering project, I also conducted experimental research towards better understanding radiation damaged materials with the Short Lab at MIT. For this project, I worked closely with Dr. Boris Khaykovich in testing out a novel method of recreating radiation-damaged materials. While materials that have been inside nuclear reactors can be tested, it is very expensive to transport these materials to testing sites (since they are radioactive, extra precautions need to be taken). My project involved conducting experiments to test out a new way to create materials like those that have been exposed to long-term radiation damage. To do this, we collaborated with MTL, a Materials Science Lab at MIT. For this project, I learnt various experimental methods, including metallurgical processes. While we originally had plans to investigate the hydrogen retention of our newly created materials at the Neutron Spallation Source at Oakridge National Laboratory, the plans got cancelled due to a scheduling conflict. Currently, the project has been put on hold. 
   (See UROP proposal here.)

Superconducting Coil for Photonuclear Reactions
    As part of the DAAD RISE Program, I conducted nuclear physics research at the Institut für Kernphysik (Institute for Nuclear Physics) at the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz. This project involved experimental tests of a superconducting coil to be used for polarizing the targets of the Mainzer Mikrotron (MAMI), a particle accelerator used to study photons. Throughout the summer, I also worked on building models of the coil using Finite Element Method Magnetics (FEMM) software and explored different ways to optimize the coil. I also helped the A2 group monitor the MAMI accelerator when it was in operation through several 8-hour shifts. For more information, see my blog post here or my international UROP proposal here.

Elastic Strains in Oxides
   By applying mechanical stress on materials (ie. "stretching" them), it is possible to activate chemical reactions by changing the inherent energy landscape. While these effects have been explored in metals, little has been investigated on the effects of elastic strains in oxides. For this project, I contributed to the electrical and electrochemical characterization of solid oxide fuel cells of various cathodes and further explored the prospect of using elastic strain in oxides to tune reaction and diffusion kinetics in functional oxides for catalytic and energy applications.
   (See UROP proposal here.)

Early Childhood Cognition: Moral Development
   Consider two people standing by while a person is drowning. If one of them is a professional swimmer and the other doesn't know how to swim, the professional swimmer is arguably more culpable for not trying to help. Children develop the cognitive ability to make this distinction in culpability while they are 2-4 years old. The goal of this project was to track the moral development of childhood cognition. To this end, I recruited participants and conducted behavioral studies at the Boston Children's Museum, and computationally analyzed the results afterwards. 
   (See UROP proposal here.)

Predicting Success in Language Learning
   While adults are generally better at learning that children, the opposite seems to be true when it comes to learning a new language. This project investigated how certain brain measures may affect adults' ability to learn a new language, and tracked the learning progress of adults through an extensive 9-session study that taught them a made-up language and involved MRI and EEG scans, as well as behavioral tests. I took part in administering the behavioral tests, assisting in MRI and EEG scans, and analyzing the data.
   (See UROP proposal here.)