Prof. Valdes Aguilar Receives 2020 Excellence in Undergraduate Research Mentoring Award

May 11, 2020

Prof. Valdes Aguilar Receives 2020 Excellence in Undergraduate Research Mentoring Award

Professor Rolando Valdes Aguilar

Physics Professor Rolando Valdes Aguilar was notified last week by the OSU Office of Undergraduate Research & Creative Inquiry that he has received a 2020 Excellence in Undergraduate Research Mentoring Award. This award was created to honor individuals who have demonstrated success in mentoring undergraduates in their research and/or creative inquiry endeavors. Dr. Valdes Aguilar was nominated by one of his undergraduate researchers, Elijah Kritzell.

Dr. Valdes Aguilar provided the following information regarding his experience working with undergraduate students in his research lab:

"Elijah will continue to work with me this summer thanks to the Physics summer scholarship. He works on figuring out the temperature dependence of the index of refraction of the polymer material TOPAS. This material has the property that its index of refraction is independent of frequency in the terahertz range. This offers great potential for several uses of this material in our experiments. We have already taken advantage of this property and have published a paper on one of these applications (but Elijah was not part of the group then). We then thought of a second application that required the cryogenic cooling of TOPAS, and thus we needed to understand the temperature dependence of the index, this was started by a previous undergrad (Nick Crescimanno) a couple of years ago, Elijah decided to take on this project when he joined my group. He has completed all the required experiments for this, and is currently working on developing a model to understand all the data. I’m sure this will lead to a publication. Elijah was to travel to the APS March meeting to present these results.

Liz joined my group last August and started working on designing together with one of my graduate students (Evan Jasper) a new reflection setup. Because of her interest in topological materials, I gave her the project to measure a new topological Weyl semimetal material Co3Sn2S2 using the reflection setup in order to obtain the conductivity in the terahertz frequency range. While this project ran into more issues, Liz was successful in obtaining good data to make a presentation at the APS March meeting, which was unfortunately cancelled. The plan was for her to continue working on this project after this past spring break, but then the COVID-19 restrictions were put in place, and her project is unfortunately unfinished. Liz has now graduated and has a new job in the Washington DC area.

I have had other 2 OSU undergraduate students who have also been pretty successful in my group, the aforementioned Nick Crescimanno who, while couldn’t finish the TOPAS project, he is a coauthor in a separate paper that we are soon to submit and now has a job at a high-tech company in northern California. The other student was Alex Potts who wrote a paper in my group as an undergrad, and is now a graduate student in the physics program at UCSB."

Congratulations, Professor Valdes Aguilar!