Summer Community of Scholars

Who's making new discoveries?

Enjoying one of my favorite things to do in Worcester when I am not busy... Worcester Sharks ice hockey games.

Laurel Winter

I came to Clark knowing I wanted to be a physics major but had no real desire to step foot into a lab, despite having a scholarship to do so. Since my science scholarship offered me an opportunity to work in a lab following the summer after my junior year I decided at the beginning of that year to try and find a lab in which to work. My interest in physics was generally towards electricity and magnetism so I decided to look into what Clark had to offer in that area. Luckily I found that Professor Agosta was studying organic superconductors by using large magnetic fields. At first I learned how to do simple things like make small circuits and solder. Eventually I helped run a whole summer and really learned hands-on how to work in a high magnetic field, low temperature lab.

The material I studied in a coil. The black lines are 0.5mm apart

My research was in Professor Agosta’s lab in the physics department and was on an organic superconductor called ?-(BETS)2GaCl4. I studied this material using a pulsed magnetic field of 20 Tesla at temperatures below 5 Kelvin. In simple terms, a superconductor is a material that if shaped into a ring and supplied electricity through it, the electricity would circulate indefinitely without any loss, so no heating. This would be a great resource to cut electricity and power costs but the problem is these materials only run at super cold temperatures. For example 5 Kelvin = -268 Celsius = -450 Fahrenheit! To put the magnet in perspective, the magnetic field used in my research is about 4 times as powerful as a magnet used in an MRI machine. To sum it up, my research involved learning more about how superconductivity works in this material so that hopefully some day materials can be made that will be superconducting at warmer temperatures, maybe even room temperature. One of the other great aspects of working in this lab is that I was able to go to Pittsburgh for the American Physical Society’s March Meeting and present my research to scientist in my field of physics.

Outside the Lab

I am very active with undergraduate admissions. I have been a tour guide since the end of my freshman year and I continue to give tours. Starting my junior year I became a member of the Scarlett Key Advisory Board, which meant that I help hire and train new tour guides, make schedules, and help run tours on special preview days. Finally as a senior I decided to take on another role, as a greeter, so that I could talk to more families about how wonderful a place Clark is. With any free time I can find outside of work and the lab I like to run, write and read as much as possible.


Carlson Scholarship 2005-09