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Summer at the ALS = Opportunities for Teachers and Students Print
Friday, 23 August 2013 09:54

The ALS plays host to many teachers and students each summer, providing invaluable internship and research opportunities. Here’s a sampling of this summer’s visitors.

mytkoChristine Mytko (right), a middle school science and technology teacher at Black Pine Circle School in Berkeley, has been researching 3D imaging and printing techniques at Beamline 8.3.2 this summer through the Industry Initiatives for Science and Math Education (IISME) program. The program matches educators with scientific institutions to create research opportunities that benefit the teacher as an individual and students via new curriculum development. Mytko has been exploring new ways for her students to replicate the 3D printing process she’s been working with at the ALS, likely using an Xbox Kinect as a 3D scanner (instead of a synchrotron) to capture a series of 2D images that they can later reconstruct and print on their classroom 3D printer.  “My experience at the tomography beamline has also given me some great perspective on scale, which is something my students and I talk about a lot in science class,” says Mytko.  Mytko is looking forward to put size and scale into a practical context this fall, when her students will be writing proposals for the opportunity to scan their own samples during a scheduled visit to the ALS.


knightTom Knight (left), a chemistry and biology teacher at Vallejo High School, is also working at the ALS this summer through the IISME program.Knight has been involved with the ALS since 1998, when he came to the ALS to do summer research with Mike Martin at the infrared beamlines. In 2009 he helped build the high-resolution spectrometer at Beamline 5.4. This summer he’ll get his first chance to do some experiments with the spectrometer, olfactometry measurements of gas samples from wine bottles. Wine manufacturers already use infrared for quality control, measuring the actual wine, but Knight is interested in investigating whether anything can be learned from the gas. Knight has run the ALS high school internship program for the past three year and has also helped run teacher internship programs. “My experiences at the ALS has made a huge difference in how I teach science because I’ve had a chance to be immersed in a network of people who are actually doing science,” says Knight. “Most teachers don’t have that experience.”


potasapnOlivier Portaspana (left) is one of three French students interning at the ALS this summer from Ensicaen in Caen, a school that has a long history of sending interns to the Berkeley Lab and the ALS. Portaspana is currently enrolled in the first year of a master’s program in engineering, focusing on advanced instrumentation. He’s been working on visual tomography at Beamline 5.4, reconstructing 3D pictures of samples and looking at various techniques for improving accuracy.


zhangUC Berkeley undergraduate bioengineering student Jason Zhang (right) is spending the summer interning at the ALS through the Cal Energy Corps, an undergraduate internshipprogram that focuses on sustainable energy research and projects around the world. Zhang has been working at Beamline 8.3.2 on a project to improve methods for converting lignocellulosic biomass to biofuels.

Justin Lee, currently a graduate student at MIT studying Health Sciences and Technology, is spending the summer at the ALS through the DOE Computational Science Graduate Fellowship program. Lee is working on improvements to the interface with NERSC for beamline scientists.

SF State undergraduate mechanical engineering student Aaron Treger has been doing a summer internship at Beamlines 8.3.2 and 12.2.2, designing different brackets and fixtures to support experiments using 3D modeling. Treger says he’s enjoyed being at the ALS and seeing all the experimental setups.