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Monday, June 15, 2015

Kansas and Nebraska EPSCoR AMO Research Project encourages STEM interests for young women at the Kansas State University EXCITE Summer Program

     On June 5, 2015, Dr. Vinod Kumarappan, Associate Professor of Physics at Kansas State University and Kansas NSF EPSCoR research team member introduced the EXCITE students to the physics associated with sound and light waves. EXCITE, or Exploring Science, Technology, and Engineering, encourages and fosters female students in the 9th -12th grades to pursue a future in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and agriculture.

     Dr. Kumarappan is one of the key researchers involved with The Atomic, Molecular and Optical (AMO) Nebraska and Kansas NSF EPSCoR Track 2 project Collaborative Research: Imaging and Controlling Ultrafast Dynamics of Atoms, Molecules, and Nanostructures. His main research focus is to develop methods to align and orient small molecules in the gas phase, and to study ultrafast physics in the molecular frame.

     During his presentation, Dr. Kumarappan conducted several demonstrations illustrating both sound and light wave behavior under a variety of conditions. The participants were fascinated with the experiments and actively participated in the discussion.

     Once the EXCITE participants had a general idea of wave behaviors, Dr. Kumarappan led the group on a tour of the James R. Macdonald Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics Laboratory and showed the participants the intricate workings of a complex laser system. He then explained his research, emphasized connections to his previous presentation and provided concrete examples to illustrate his scientific methods for addressing his research questions.  

     The participants were visibly intrigued by all the demonstrations.Following the conclusion of the presentation and the tour, several participants exclaimed "This physics stuff is so cool!"