Physics Student Completes Top Internship Program with the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST)

For the summer of 2014 undergraduate researcher Ben Pound spent 11 weeks in Washington D.C. participating as a fellow with the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST).

Pound was the only student nominated by Utah State for the fellowship. Before his summer opportunity at NIST, Pound participated in research funded by USU’s Undergraduate Research and Creative Opportunities (URCO) program. It was this research using nanotubes to detect a variety of molecules, specifically proteins, in solution that impressed the NIST Summer Undergraduate Research selection committee.

During his fellowship at NIST, however, Pound was able to do research that was completely new.

“I was doing theoretical modeling of a material called potassium tantalate, because it has some very interesting properties that could be useful in next-generation electronics,” Pound explained.

In addition to his research, Pound received the benefit of mentoring from NIST scientist, exposure to new science within his field, as well as a host of networking opportunities. Pound worked for the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology (CNST), a department of NIST, that held almost daily seminars. These exposed Pound to professionals from industry, academia to governmental labs.

Pound stated, “It was eye-opening to see all the different kinds of research that people are doing in the field that I am looking about going into. I gained some familiarity with topics that I hadn’t even heard of during the summer, and that is probably the most valuable thing that I gained being a NIST fellow.”

Pound did not have enough time to get definitive results from his NIST project, but is hopeful to tweak some of the computer code he was working with during the semester to finish the project. In the meantime, he plans on extending his prior research with the nanotubes.

Outside of his research Pound intends to take the GRE’s and apply for graduate school a goal made more obtainable with his acceptance and participation in such a prestigious internship program already on his resume.

Emily James, Communications Assistant, Office of Research and Graduate Studies – emily.james@usu.edu