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Brookhaven Interns to Make Strong Showing at National Science Competition

Bishnu Panigrahi and Adaire Heady

Bishnu Panigrahi (left), a sophomore at Dartmouth College, is one of 27 Brookhaven interns selected as finalists in the SERCh competition. He worked at the National Synchrotron Light Source this summer, using x-ray fluorescence imaging to examine the chemical composition of ingredients used in alternative medicines. Adaire Heady (right), a senior at Delaware State University studying physics and pre-electrical engineering, synthesized thermoelectric materials and analyzed their properties at extreme pressure and temperature conditions that simulate the environment in Earth’s interior.

Brookhaven interns will account for 27 out of 100 undergraduate finalists at the upcoming second annual Science and Energy Research Challenge (SERCh).

“The fact that about a quarter of the SERCh finalists come from Brookhaven is a testament to the quality of the student interns that we appoint here and to the mentors with whom they collaborate,” said Mel Morris, educational programs administrator.

The prestigious student competition, sponsored by the Department of Energy (DOE), is scheduled for November 8-9 at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. The finalists were selected from student interns at DOE laboratories and DOE-sponsored universities across the country that conducted their research during the 2008-09 academic year and summer.

Contestants will be judged on the quality of abstracts and posters they submitted to showcase their research. SERCh is awarding scholarships for first, second, and third places in each of the following six research categories: computational science, energy, engineering, environmental science, life sciences, and physical sciences — including physics, chemistry, and nanoscience. Additionally, one overall winner will be chosen among the six category winners to receive a $10,000 scholarship.

Brookhaven Lab is represented by its student interns in all six research categories. Specific topics of their investigations include laser absorption spectroscopy, protein microstructures, DNA replication and repair, and biofuels. Not only are the scientific interests of these Brookhaven interns wide ranging, so are their origins: they come from states all across the country.

At the first annual SERCh competition last year, 2008 BNL summer intern Elizabeth Millings received second place in chemistry for her project titled “Fluoroquinone for Peptide and Protein Labeling.”

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