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Juniors Emily Darby, Dillon Dong and Hannah Wayment-Steele Win Goldwater Scholarships

Emily Darby '15

Emily Darby '15

Dillon Dong '15

Dillon Dong '15

Hannah Wayment-Steele '15

Hannah Wayment-Steele '15

Emily Darby, Dillon Dong and Hannah Wayment-Steele, of the Class of 2015, have been awarded Barry M. Goldwater Scholarships, which provide up to $7,500 per year for educational expenses to sophomores and juniors intending to pursue careers in mathematics, natural sciences, or engineering. They were selected from a field of 1,166 students nominated by their colleges.

Emily Darby, a chemistry major with a math minor, has studied atmospheric chemistry with Prof. Frederick Grieman since her sophomore year. She is currently working on an independent research project studying the electronic spectroscopy of molecular ions to better understand the reaction pathways in the atmosphere so that a more comprehensive model of the atmosphere can be developed.

Last summer, Darby conducted solar energy research at Vanderbilt University through a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU). She was the primary researcher and sole undergraduate on a project entitled Photoactive Films of Photosystem I on Transparent Reduced Graphene Oxide Electrodes. The team submitted an article to the journal Langmuir, and, if it is accepted, she will be listed as first author.

In addition to her research, Darby is a mentor with Pomona’s High Achievement Program, a teaching assistant for the organic chemistry lab and a math and chemistry tutor for two to five elementary through high school students each year.

Her future plans include earning a Ph.D. in chemical engineering with an emphasis on alternative energy, then becoming a faculty member at a research university while continuing research in alternative energy that is sustainable and efficient.

Dillon Dong, a physics and math double major, has conducted astronomy research since the second semester of his freshman year, when he worked with Prof. Phil Choi on the Pomona College Adaptive Optics Instrument. The next summer, with Choi’s help, he became a research assistant at Carnegie Observatories working with Dr. Eric Murphy on the Star Formation in Radio Survey (SFRS).

“My objective,” explains Dong, “was to use Ka band (33GHz) radio data taken with the Very Large Array (VLA) to study star formation in nearby galaxy nuclei and extranuclear HII regions. I presented preliminary results from that  work at the American Astronomical Society's winter conference (Jan. 2013) and at the IPAC/Caltech Gas conference (March 2013).”

This summer he will be working with Murphy characterizing the far-infrared spectral energy distribution of galaxy halos as part oft he Herschel Edge on Galaxy Survey (HEDGES). He will also be collaborating with Kristina Nyland, from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, on “a 5GHz observation using the VLA of the likely AGN host galaxy NGC1266 and using that observation along with SFRS data and archival VLA data to make spectral aging, index and curvature maps of NGC1266's massive molecular outflow.”

Post-Pomona, Dong plans to earn a Ph.D. in astrophysics and become a physics/astronomy professor.

Hannah Wayment-Steele, a math and chemistry double major, has been a member of Prof. Mal Johal's lab since her first year at Pomona, working on projects ranging from biological physics to inorganic materials. She recently submitted a manuscript on dye desorption from semiconductors, “for the purposes of improving the efficiency of dye-sensitized solar cells,” and is currently using molecular dynamics simulations and the Quartz-Crystal Microbalance with Dissipation instrument (QCM-D) to study the detrimental effects of aluminum ions on lipid membranes.

She has also conducted research with Dr. Sofia Svedhem in the Biological Physics Department of the Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden, and will return this summer funded by the Beckman scholarship.

Wayment-Steele credits Johal and Dr. Lewis Johnson, a post-doc in the Johal lab, for providing the rich experiences that made her decide on a research career. “They have been outstanding mentors, providing endless support and helping me gain valuable experience: I've given oral presentations on my work at the SPIE Optics & Photonics Conference and the American Vacuum Society National Symposium, traveled internationally to conduct research, and submitted papers on which I am the first author.”

Wayment-Steele plans to earn a Ph.D. in biophysics or materials science.  Her ultimate goal is to be a professor with her own research group, using computational techniques to help develop bio-nanomaterials for medical applications. 

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