Outstanding Students, Indeed

    Date Posted: 
    Monday, April 22, 2013

    Every spring, the College of Optical Sciences recognizes its outstanding senior undergraduates and graduate students, as nominated by professors and selected by faculty committee. These students receive special acknowledgement at the annual awards ceremony, and their portraits hang for a year on the walls of the Academic Programs office.

    The 2013 Outstanding Students are senior Hannah Grant and graduate student Zachary Newman.

    Hannah's nominating instructor, Robert A. Norwood, wrote this:

    Hannah's work has focused on the development of microfabrication processes that enable us to make high-performance photonic circuits from patternable glass materials known as sol-gels, into which we insert patent-pending UA materials for achieving optical isolation. She has shown herself to be a very quick learner, becoming quite adept at making photonic circuits with dimensions as small as a few microns by a few microns; indeed she has taken a lead role on this aspect of the project. At the same time, she has learned how to make polymer-coated magneto-optic nanoparticles (15nm in diameter) with exquisite size control, characterizing the particles using transmission electron microscopy. As a result of her numerous contributions, she was recently a coauthor on a paper published in Optical Materials Express [Optical Materials Express 2, 978 (2012)] that covered a new polymer nanocomposite based on cobalt ferrite nanoparticles. 

    I nominated Hannah to present her work at a meeting of the Arizona Board of Regents at Arizona State University. She was selected and did a wonderful job of representing our group and its efforts at this prestigious event, which was attended by the presidents of all of the major state universities in Arizona among other top academic and corporate leaders. In the summer of 2012, Hannah was chosen for the Integrated Optics for Undergraduates program that is part of the National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center for Integrated Access Networks. She spent the summer in the lab of Shayan Mookherjea, who performs world-leading research in silicon photonics at the University of California, San Diego. Hannah worked with Mookherjea to develop a technique for imaging silicon photonic waveguides so as to observe their light scattering properties, thus providing a way to rapidly assess waveguide quality; this work has now been published in Optics Letters [Optics Letters 37, 4705 (2012)].

    Brian P. Anderson, who advises Zach on his doctoral research, wrote the following:

    In the years I have known him, Zach has been doing a fantastic job working in my laboratory and, at the same time, an excellent job in classes, learning the challenging theoretical aspects of his research area, teaching and mentoring a wide range of students, and finding time to do great community leadership work. All of this convinces me that Zach has a uniquely strong self-motivation, drive to learn and desire to be an integral part of his community, coupled with the raw ability to efficiently soak up new material. In my sincere opinion, Zach would rank among the top students if evaluated in any single assessment of academic accomplishment: independent research aptitude and expertise, outreach and teaching activities, leadership and community involvement, maturity and communications, or self-motivation and drive. But excellent performance in every one of these categories, as exemplified by Zach, is extremely rare; he gives everything he’s got to being the best student that he can be.

    Congratulations to both Hannah and Zach.