Physics senior claims research poster award at regional meeting

Owen Boyer headshot

Owen Boyer ’22 (Delaware, Ohio) has dedicated more hours than he can remember on his senior capstone project.

That hard work paid off recently as the Marietta College Physics student was awarded the “Doc Brown Undergraduate Student Research Poster Award” at the Spring Meeting of the Eastern Great Lakes Section of the American Physical Society.

“I was very excited to receive the award,” said Boyer, who was advised by Dr. Ann Bragg on the project. “For my project, I built a radio telescope designed to observe the neutral hydrogen 21 cm emission line. We built the telescope, then tested it by making observations and comparing them to other research.”

Boyer was surprised when his name was called for the honor.

“Not that I felt I had done sub-par work, but there were so many other wonderful projects at the conference,” he said. “The award also provided a great sense of relief. I have spent the whole of my senior year working on this project and it’s nice to receive an award for that hard work. I’m also flattered that so many people found my work interesting. … This conference was the first place I've presented this project to anyone else. I was nervous people would find it boring, but it turns out I had no reason to worry.”

Boyer will attend the University of Cincinnati in the fall to begin work on his Master of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering.

Dr. Dennis Kuhl, Chair of the Physics Department said Boyer deserved the honor.

“It’s exciting that Owen’s poster was recognized as the outstanding undergraduate poster at the conference,” Kuhl said. “This is the first time a Marietta College student has been recognized in this way.”

Kuhl and Boyer were joined at the spring meeting by three other faculty members — Dr. Craig Howald, Dr. Joseph Smith and Bragg — and three other Physics majors — Alex Blackston ’22 (Lancaster, Ohio), Lily Daneshmand ’22 (Chardon, Ohio) and Darin Skidmore ’22 (Butler, Pennsylvania) — at Youngstown State University on April 1st and 2nd.

Blackston presented “Auger Electron Spectroscopy of Au(111) Films,” with Kuhl and Skidmore presented “Optimization of Coarse Approach for an Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) Design,” with Howald. Daneshmand attended but did not present.

“Presenting their research at the EGLSAPS conference provides our students with a professional experience, which is useful as they apply to jobs, graduate schools, and fellowship programs,” Kuhl said. “It also gives them a first-hand look at how professional societies operate.

“Alex, Owen, and Darin did great work this year on their capstone research projects. They had to learn complicated background theory, experimental techniques, and how to interpret data. They each had to work through a variety of challenges along the way.  When you do an experiment and it doesn’t give the expected result, it becomes a creative process to figure out what the next steps will be. This kind of learning takes the students beyond the classroom and to a greater level of independent, critical thinking.”