Plasma physics/Nuclear Fusion research questions?

QuantumLancer
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Joined: Thu May 21, 2015 7:15 pm

Plasma physics/Nuclear Fusion research questions?

Postby QuantumLancer » Tue Jun 23, 2015 6:04 pm

Hi I have a few questions about my summer research experience I was hoping I could ask the forum.

So basically I have an intern position this summer working at one of the few facilities in the united states researching nuclear fusion via Dense Plasma Focus. Most people out there do not have a solid understanding of the device we use and my role here is not exactly the research position I wanted when I looked for internships/REU's for this summer, but I believe I have been successful at making myself stand out. I have learned quite a bit about networking oscilloscopes, plasma physics, Electroomangentic theory, spectrometry, and other things that I have had to learn on the job. Hell, I even had to do some rough calculus calculations by hand today and work on pressure maximas for our firing sequence. Its a great work place, solid pay, and my boss is a great mentor. There is some background and here are some questions I have.

1) Can I count this as real research experience? While my boss is a researcher in the field of plasma physics he does not have a PHD and our lab is not well known nor is it funded that well (we use a lot of duct tape and zip ties). Will people ignore this experience on my resume or grade school application because we aren't a big lab?

2) My boss regularly publishes papers on our results while I may not have my name as a co-author, he does plan on mentioning me in an acknowledgements section. Does that even matter for a grad school application?

TakeruK
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Re: Plasma physics/Nuclear Fusion research questions?

Postby TakeruK » Fri Jun 26, 2015 12:46 pm

1) If your lab is publishing good results then it doesn't matter that you are not a big lab. Also, if you are able to explain clearly what you did in the lab then it will certainly count as research experience. The point of undergrad research experience isn't just to create great science results, but also learn basic fundamental skills that will help you earn a PhD.

2) No, being mentioned in acknowledgements will not count for much. There is no metric for acknowledgements. However, your boss should write about your accomplishment and contributions in his letter of recommendation for you. This will do a lot more to tell the admissions committee about your abilities. In addition, you should discuss your contributions in your CV and SOP.

QuantumLancer
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Joined: Thu May 21, 2015 7:15 pm

Re: Plasma physics/Nuclear Fusion research questions?

Postby QuantumLancer » Fri Jun 26, 2015 1:27 pm

TakeruK wrote:1) If your lab is publishing good results then it doesn't matter that you are not a big lab. Also, if you are able to explain clearly what you did in the lab then it will certainly count as research experience. The point of undergrad research experience isn't just to create great science results, but also learn basic fundamental skills that will help you earn a PhD.

2) No, being mentioned in acknowledgements will not count for much. There is no metric for acknowledgements. However, your boss should write about your accomplishment and contributions in his letter of recommendation for you. This will do a lot more to tell the admissions committee about your abilities. In addition, you should discuss your contributions in your CV and SOP.


Thank you for the detailed response! I gotta say, you are probably the most realistic/supportive person I have encountered on this forum yet! As for the experience part I am definitely learning a lot and it is a great experience. Well here's hoping I can convince my boss to let me help him on the next paper he publishes on our results 8) .

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quizivex
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Re: Plasma physics/Nuclear Fusion research questions?

Postby quizivex » Fri Jun 26, 2015 11:01 pm

Hi Quantumlancer, good luck with your internship. Even if it's not as recognized as the NUF internships it certainly qualifies as a "real" research experience. Not many institutions have plasma physics research so it's great that you managed to find work at a place with a fusion experiment.

If you contribute significantly to the research, you should be an author! Why would your boss be reluctant to add you? Undergrads often get their names tacked onto papers by performing menial tasks . If you're doing more than that, then relegating you to the acknowledgement section would be unfair.

As far as recommendations, I wouldn't worry too much about your boss's degree status or his stance on the origins of the universe.

1) Committees will be evaluating the student, not the professor.

2) He'll be one recommendation out of 3.

3) Would they even know if he has a PhD or not? Scientists usually don't put "Dr." next to their own names in their correspondence. If they already know who he is, they may know he doesn't have a PhD. But in that case they'll know he's the leader of his own fusion research program. And IMO that's a higher distinction than just a PhD.

QuantumLancer
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Joined: Thu May 21, 2015 7:15 pm

Re: Plasma physics/Nuclear Fusion research questions?

Postby QuantumLancer » Fri Jul 03, 2015 4:54 pm

quizivex wrote:Hi Quantumlancer, good luck with your internship. Even if it's not as recognized as the NUF internships it certainly qualifies as a "real" research experience. Not many institutions have plasma physics research so it's great that you managed to find work at a place with a fusion experiment.

If you contribute significantly to the research, you should be an author! Why would your boss be reluctant to add you? Undergrads often get their names tacked onto papers by performing menial tasks . If you're doing more than that, then relegating you to the acknowledgement section would be unfair.

As far as recommendations, I wouldn't worry too much about your boss's degree status or his stance on the origins of the universe.

1) Committees will be evaluating the student, not the professor.

2) He'll be one recommendation out of 3.

3) Would they even know if he has a PhD or not? Scientists usually don't put "Dr." next to their own names in their correspondence. If they already know who he is, they may know he doesn't have a PhD. But in that case they'll know he's the leader of his own fusion research program. And IMO that's a higher distinction than just a PhD.


All really good points, I will try to take to him about it here soon. I doubt he would be reluctant to add me, he has just never done it before for interns. I really think I could make a solid point about being added as an author to a paper if I can continue to contribute ideas to our project. I feel like people who follow fusion/plasma physics research will have to know about him, his project did produce the hottest plasma in a DPF machine on record and he was invited to present at a Google Tech Talk. Also what does IMO and NUF stand for? I am still pretty new to the forum and haven't gotten up to date on some of the slang here.

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quizivex
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Re: Plasma physics/Nuclear Fusion research questions?

Postby quizivex » Sat Jul 04, 2015 9:53 pm

IMO = in my opinion

NUF = National Undergraduate Fellowship

The NUF was a summer internship that offered research opportunities in the plasma physics field at various DOE labs. But I'm not sure if the NUF program still exists. It might've been axed. There's another internship called SULI hosted at the Princeton plasma lab that still exits.

QuantumLancer
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Joined: Thu May 21, 2015 7:15 pm

Re: Plasma physics/Nuclear Fusion research questions?

Postby QuantumLancer » Sun Jul 05, 2015 4:38 pm

quizivex wrote:IMO = in my opinion

NUF = National Undergraduate Fellowship

The NUF was a summer internship that offered research opportunities in the plasma physics field at various DOE labs. But I'm not sure if the NUF program still exists. It might've been axed. There's another internship called SULI hosted at the Princeton plasma lab that still exits.


Thanks, I will definitely have to check those out for internships next year, my plan is to apply to graduate schools the December after I graduate to try to take a summer to get a little more research experience.




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