Tori Dang ’20: Physics Research Assistant, Colorado State

Name: Tori Dang
Class Year: 2020
Major: Physics and Italian
Hometown: Beijing, China

Internship Organization: Colorado State University
Job Title: Research Assistant
Location: Fort Collins, Colo.

What’s happening at your internship?

I am working with Professor Kristen Buchanan in the department of physics at CSU to learn more about magnetorhetorical elastomers (MREs). MREs are a class of solids that consist of non-magnetic matric and embedded micro- or nano-sized ferromagnetic particles. They have tunable magnetic properties and as a result are promising candidates for magnetic devices. More specifically, this summer I am doing micro-magnetic simulations to complement the experimental results that were obtained at Bryn Mawr. We are trying to use theoretical model to explain what we see in the experimental characterization. This is done by the micro-magnetic simulation software Mumax-3, a model built in python and an energy minimization program written in MATLAB.

Why did you apply for this internship?

I was already working with Professor May Cheng on micro-magnetism at Bryn Mawr, and Professor Cheng has collaborative projects with Professor Buchanan, which is how I was introduced to this opportunity. I decided to come because I knew this research is directly related to what I’ve learned at Bryn Mawr and I could readily apply my knowledge to the project while learning something new. I actually worked here as a research assistant last summer as well, except that last summer I worked on experimental techniques such as lithography and magneto-sputtering.

What has been your favorite part of this internship?

My favorite part of the internship is having to learn programming. I don’t particularly like programming, yet as a physics major, I realized that this is an essential skill to have. However I have never really taken a computing course because there was always something else that interested me more. I knew I had to introduce myself to programming at some point during my academic career, as a result I am glad that it happened in the summer, when I don’t have much distraction and can focus on learning and understanding, rather than cramming everything in.

What has been the biggest challenge you have faced at your internship?

While I am glad that I had the opportunity to learn programming this summer, it has also been a great challenge for me. For example, one of my tasks was to build a model of the sample in Python. Due to my lack of experience in computing, I had no idea how to put my thoughts into actual codes in the beginning, which was very frustrating.