Probing particle physics

Physics majors Huy Phan and Gina Mayonado
April 02, 2014

Physics majors Huy Phan and Gina Mayonado just landed prestigious summer research internships at the world’s largest and second largest particle accelerators in Switzerland and Illinois.

The juniors are thrilled with their opportunities to conduct research in what Phan describes as physics’ “final frontier” using the cutting-edge technology at CERN in Geneva and the Fermi National Accelerator Lab near Chicago.

“Particle physics studies elementary particles – the building blocks of the universe,” says Phan, an international student from Vietnam who is also majoring in Mathematics. “This research looks at a new method to better describe our universe.”

Phan, who plans go on for his Ph.D. in Physics, received a Lee Tang Internship from the Fermi Lab, while Mayonado, from Salisbury, Md., will be part of the high-energy particles group of four undergraduates traveling to Geneva through Duke University.

“We’ll study high energy particle physics,” says Mayonado, who is also Ph.D. bound and interned last summer at the Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in Newport News, Va. “It’s the fundamental nature of what everything is made of. Chemistry looks at atoms – we look at what makes up atoms.”

Mayonado and Phan will represent a department that couldn’t be prouder of their accomplishment.
“These are fantastic career opportunities for Huy and Gina, and how exciting to work at two of the world’s largest particle accelerators,” says Bill Pagonis, Physics department chair and the inaugural recipient of the John Desmond Kopp Professorship in the Sciences. “All of us in the Physics department are very proud of them.”