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Noel awarded internship by national physics societies

Zakary NoelZakary Noel, a junior physics major from Baytown, was selected as one of 12 recipients from a nation-wide pool of applicants for the 2017 internship with the Society of Physics Students (SPS) and the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) this summer.

“This is much more meaningful that just gaining lab work experience,” said Noel.

“Science is about sharing ideas and working together. It's about learning firsthand how the scientific community bridges gaps and comes together to support mutual goals and achievements.”

The internship has two components. First, Noel will work directly with the national office of the SPS to develop Science Outreach Catalyst Kits (SOCKs), which will be distributed from the SPS national office to its chapters throughout the country.

“I’ll be part of a team developing core activities to provide SPS chapters with interesting and innovative outreach presentations that will benefit their local communities,” Noel said.

One of the offerings of the 2017 SOCK package is content that will allow students to examine a total solar eclipse occurring in late summer.

For the second part of the internship, Noel will work with the NIST Summer Institute for Middle School Science Teachers to develop hands-on activities, lectures, tours and visits with NIST scientists who educate teachers and non-scientists.

“Throughout the summer, I’ll be connecting with the other interns to describe my own work, and I’ll publish weekly journal entries highlighting my experiences which will be available on the SPS website,” said Noel.

Noel plans to attend graduate school and earn a Ph.D., and he is considering a future in academia or research. He says the internship will give him the necessary experience working for major organizations and may help him get into reputable graduate schools.

Cristian Bahrim, professor of physics and the SPS advisor at LU, has been Noel’s advisor and mentor since the undergrad transferred to Lamar University from Lee College in fall 2016. He hired Noel to the physics group of the STAIRSTEP program and has overseen his progress.

“Zak proved to be a great fit for our SPS project sponsored by a 2016 Undergraduate Research Award, making a significant contribution to the final report,” said Bahrim.

“Starting with January 2017, Zak became the leader of the research group. He was likely placed in the first tier of applicants because of the success of our SPS Research Award for which he worked so hard since he has joined Lamar,” he said.

The SPS helps students transform themselves into contributing members of the professional community. Because course work develops only one range of skills, students must learn effective communication and personal interactions, leadership, establishing a personal network of contacts, presenting scholarly work in professional meetings and journals and outreach services to the campus and local communities.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) was founded in 1901 and now is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Established by congress, NIST is one of the nation's oldest physical science laboratories. Innumerable products and services rely in some way on technology, measurement, and standards provided by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.