by Jessica Murphy

Travis King stands beside his poster presentation
Travis King

Earlier this year, six College of Science and Mathematics students from the University of West Georgia attended two national conferences for the opportunity of presenting their research. Their research focused on their majors of physics or engineering, and presenting at these conferences meant showcasing their work to undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and staff from around the world.

One student, Travis King, attended the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) Winter Meeting in Atlanta with Dr. Ajith DeSilva, the student’s faculty advisor and associate professor of physics. His presentation, titled “Homemade Diode for Physics and Engineering Labs,” was presented to physics students, teachers and administration from all over the world.

Joshua Preston stands before his poster presentation
Joshua Preston

“The AAPT National Meeting gave me a chance to showcase the hard work that Dr. DeSilva, Dr. [Javier] Hasbun and I have put into our diode research,” King said. “This experience gave me the opportunity to learn more about physics education and let me network with fellow students and professionals in the field of physics. I enjoyed presenting the results of our research, and I would do it all over again. My experience at the AATP conference was exciting, engaging and educational.”

Five students later presented at the National Conference for Undergraduate Research (NCUR) 2017 at the University of Memphis along with DeSilva. Joshua Preston, a high-school student taking college courses under the university’s Move On When Ready program with a pre-engineering major, shared this experience with Wyatt Johnson, a physics minor student. They presented two posters on “TiO2 Nanoparticles Layers for Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells” and “Change in Optical Band Gap on Aatase TiO2 Nanoparticles Layer by Layer Assembly.”

Christian Ozburn smiles before his poster presentation
Christian Ozburn

“We have conducted this project over the past two semesters,” Preston said. “My time was intriguing, engaging and unforgettable; I’m proud to have been part of it.”

Johnson also felt as if his time at the conference was informative and beneficial to his field of study.

“The event proved to be a fertile ground for both the birth of new ideas and the dissemination of information,” Johnson said. “Researchers from all branches of academia were able to showcase their work to an enthralled audience of likeminded individuals.”

Joshua Harwell stands alongside his poster presentation
Joshua Harwell

Two of UWG’s Advanced Academy of Georgia students, Christian Ozburn and Nicholas DiBattista, presented at NCUR as well. Their presentation was on “A study of Photocatalytic Properties of Thin Layers of Rutile and Anatase TiO2 Nanoparticles.” Both Ozburn and DiBattista thoroughly enjoyed their time at the conference.

“NCUR provided me several unique opportunities,” Ozburn said. “I was able to present the research Dr. DeSilva and I developed over the last two years, sharing our findings with the larger community. I was able to see what other undergraduate researchers had accomplished, learning more about the latest developments in multiple fields. I was also able to meet new people from across the country, all of whom are involved in undergraduate research, and thereby develop my professional network.”

Nicholas DiBattista in a jacket and tie stands alongside his poster presentation
Nicholas DiBattista

Another student, Joshua Harwell, had the opportunity to present his research at NCUR as well. Harwell presented on “Investigation of Optical Properties of CdSe/ZnS Quantum Dots Under High Pressure.”

“Attending the NCUR conference in Memphis was an educational experience as well as an enjoyable one,” Harwell said. “I was able to present an experiment that Dr. DeSilva, Dr. Chesnut and I had put a lot of effort into. I also was able to meet and learn from fellow STEM students from all over the country.”

These six students were all extremely excited for the opportunity to present to others from around the world who share a common interest. The opportunity to attend these conferences was made possible through their hard work, dedication and support from their advisors, professors and from UWG programs.

Wyatt Johnson sits alongisde his poster presentation
Wyatt Johnson

“One of the strengths we have in our department is the support for high-quality undergraduate research,” DeSilva said. He also acknowledged the financial support from the STEM Education Enhancement Plan and the Student Research Assistant Program at UWG.

“I am fortunate to have the students in my research group,” DeSilva said. “I congratulate them for having presented their work because research is vital for undergraduate students for their understanding of basic theories and laws. In my opinion, in order to stay competitive, every student should participate in undergraduate research.”

Posted on August 8, 2017