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People On The Move: Kristin Beck
SCIENTIST AND SCHOLAR
Super conductors, quantum computers, atoms, particle physics, electrons, the interaction of light and matter…these are not usual topics of conversation for most of us. In the world of Kristin Beck, however, these subjects are commonplace and part of her life.
Colts Neck resident Kristin Beck is studying extraordinarily complex and interesting topics. Because of the mastery of her learning and accomplishments in these areas, the Rochester University Senior has won the prestigious Churchill Scholarship. According to the Churchill Foundation website, applicants for this competitive award need to have “exceptional academic achievement in all disciplines, but especially in the major, as indicated by course grades,* and a capacity to contribute to the advancement of knowledge in the sciences, engineering, or mathematics by pursuing...at an advanced level, as demonstrated by awards and prizes and by letters of reference. Applicants in the sciences and engineering will show extensive laboratory experience, internships, or other related work, while applicants in mathematics will show substantial independent work or other projects…as well as outstanding personal qualities.”
This scholarship will offer Kristin the opportunity to study at Churchill College at Cambridge, UK. Specifically, she will be part of a group working with Michael Köhl (an internationally respected and noted scholar), studying and doing research on quantum optics. She hopes to study and conduct experiments that, in simple and imprecise terms, cool atoms down to try to determine their speed and size. She explained that she will be working with ions or atoms that are missing an electron with the BEC (Bose-Einstein Condensate) to observe what happens.
Prior to becoming a Churchill scholar she had certainly already distinguished herself. Kristin is a double major in mathematics and physics. She shared that she had the “awesome opportunity to spend last summer at CERNEuropean Organization for Nuclear Research in Geneva, Switzerland.” While there, she worked on data systems for the Large Hadron Collider Project – yes, it’s the one that got all the press this summer for having the potential to create black holes or alternate universes. Kristin found doing research in such an esteemed international setting to be an eye-opening experience, and thought it most interesting to observe the different ways [that] people approach science. She was pleased to have had the opportunity to be part of the international collaborations. She has also worked on a project with the atomic clock in Boulder, Colorado.
Kristin became interested in physics as a high school student; she attended High Tech High, one of Monmouth County’s special high schools. She first thought she would go into engineering, but soon found herself wanting to know about the “why” of things. Kristin said, “An engineer takes a physical principal and builds a catapult or robot. I decided to study in college the why and how formulas are created.” She was intrigued by what exists in the smaller world, and finds working in the lab studying lasers, gases, and atoms fascinating. She knows that this is something that will sustain her interest for a long time.
Kristin was a member of the robotics team in high school and, not surprisingly, participated in science fairs and the biology league. She spent the summer of her junior year of high school at the New Jersey Governor School, hosted by Drew University. Kristin also has interests outside the scientific arena. She plays the flute, and has been involved in playing with the community band in Colts Neck. She was also a member of the marching and concert bands while in high school. She attended the Conover Road and Cedar Drive Schools, and attended the Colts Neck Reform Church.
After completing the Churchill Scholarship program in Cambridge, Kristin will pursue her Ph.D. degree. She has already been accepted into several programs, but has not decided which university she will attend; however, she’ll most likely come back to the United States.
*Previous scholars have had a grade-point average of at least 3.7.
Esan, Rochester, NY
Salomone Rossi – an early, controversial composer
flies in a room that bump against the window
THREE PEOPLE YOU WOULD LIKE TO HAVE DINNER WITH
my immediate family, mom, dad, and sister
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