News - Greenville University Physics Students Score Impressive Wins

Greenville University Physics Students Score Impressive Wins

By Carla Morris Greenville University Physics Students Score Impressive Wins

Three Greenville University students majoring in physics have scored impressive wins this spring, including an invitation to present their work at a national conference and acceptance into two prized internship programs. 

Congratulations go to Ye Jin (“Victoria”) Han ’20, Collin Kessinger ’21, and Qiaoren (“Johnny”) Wang ’21—all veterans of GU’s Summer Research Experience. Their work last summer exploring cryptography under the guidance of Professors Hyung Choi and Andrew Thomack proved instrumental to their success. BigData.jpg

Physicists believe cryptography may hold the key to questions surrounding data security. The students’ research gained acceptance for presentation at a poster session of the American Physical Society’s national meeting this spring. 

Organizers canceled the event, however, over concerns for the Coronavirus pandemic. Still, the invitation represents a significant vote of confidence in the students’ capabilities and preparation.

Internship With World Leader

Last fall, Han received word that she had landed an internship with the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information (IQOQI) in Vienna, Austria. This premier research institute, part of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, includes a team headed by acclaimed quantum physicist and pioneer in quantum teleportation Anton Zeilinger.

Han joined Zeilinger’s group this spring and participated for 12 days before the Academy suspended operations due to Coronavirus precautions.  

She is the second GU student in recent years to secure an internship at the IQOQI. Shuto Osawa ’16, a summer IQOQI intern, went on to study quantum optics and quantum information at Boston University where he is now a PhD candidate.  

Han, the recipient of GU’s Paul Twichell Science and Engineering Scholarship, said the award made it possible for her to pursue the unpaid internship.

“I participated more in hopes of getting lab experience,” she said. “I really want to let people know how grateful I am to Paul and Vicki Twichell for their generous science scholarship. If it wasn't for the scholarship, I would not have been able to go at all, and I am incredibly fortunate and grateful for having had this opportunity.” 

National-laboratory-Oak-RidgeThe World’s Fastest Computer

If all goes as planned, Collin Kessinger will intern this summer with Oak Ridge National Laboratory near Knoxville, Tennessee (left), home to the world's fastest computer (below, left). He recently learned of his acceptance in the lab’s Pathways to Computing Internship Program. 

Kessinger currently double majors in physics and math. At Oak Ridge, he will work on a project that involves quantum computers—computers with encryption capabilities that far exceed the capabilities of today’s fastest “classic” computers. 

To illustrate their speed, he cites an encryption algorithm that relies on complex mathematical calculations: “Currently, it would take a fast computer about 300 trillion years to break the encryption; it would take a modest quantum computer about 10 seconds to do the same . . . in theory.”

Quantum computers promise to enhance everyday internet use, but at the same time they threaten its security.

Students Count Research At GU As Critical To Their Success

Like Han, Kessinger credits his prior research experience on GU’s campus as key to securing this internship. 

“Ultimately, the environment and opportunities present at GU lead to success, and I am blessed to have been a piece of that reality,” he said. 

For many years, GU gained distinction as home to the only ion accelerator south of Champaign-Urbana. Today’s students conduct research in a quantum information lab housed in Snyder Hall of Science. Recent graduates have received full tuition waivers at leading universities to pursue advanced studies in astrophysics, quantum optics, condensed matter, and more.

Photos: “Visitor Center and Conference Center” By Oak Ridge National Laboratory is licensed under CC BY 2.0

 "Summit Supercomputer" By Oak Ridge National Laboratory is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Learn More

Quantum Leap
Extending Our Heritage of Scientific Exploration & Innovation
Publish, Publish, Present, Present: Well Equipped Grad Finds His Stride
Federal Agency Donates Lab Instruments to GU Sciences
Benefits of Undergraduate Research Reach Far Beyond Campus

Help a student researcher today with a gift to the donor-funded Catalyst Fund that powers GU’s Summer Research Experience for students. Thank you for giving

This story was published on April 07, 2020

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