Laser Lab Launches Over 100 High School Students Towards Doctoral Degrees: NewsCenter

April 5, 2022

The Laser Energy Laboratory (LLE) at the University of Rochester hosts an annual summer research program for Rochester-area students who have just completed their freshman year of high school. The program, which began 32 years ago, recently reached a major milestone: more than 100 of its participants have obtained their doctorate.

For eight weeks over the summer, high school students are paired with LLE staff scientists to gain hands-on experience working on research projects at one of the nation’s premier laser facilities. Over the years, nearly 400 high school students have participated in the program, which is one of many in Rochester designed to train the next generation of scientists and engineers. The program is led by David Meyerhofer, Visiting Professor of Physics, and Stephen Craxton, LLE Distinguished Scientist.

From high school to college (and beyond)

(Photo University of Rochester / Eugene Kowaluk)

In 2011, Felix Jin studied “Characterization and Design of Magnetic Coils for Magneto-Inertial Fusion Electric Discharge System (MIFEDS)” at the University of Rochester Laser Energy Laboratory under Gennady Fiksel, a former LLE scientist. Jin is currently pursuing a combined MD/PhD in Biomedical Engineering at Duke University School of Medicine. He received a bachelor’s degree in physics and biochemistry from Columbia University, where he delivered the valedictory address and graduated summa cum laude.

professor and student stand side by side in the laboratory

(Photo University of Rochester / Eugene Kowaluk)

Martin Wegman was in the LLE program in 2005 and studied “superconducting electronics for the ICF environment” under Bill Donaldson (pictured), an LLE senior scientist and professor of electrical and computer engineering at Rochester. Wegman received a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering from the University of Rochester and a doctorate from the University of Florida. He is currently an emergency medicine resident at Yale New Haven Hospital.

teacher and student pose next to a computer screen

(Photo University of Rochester / Eugene Kowaluk)

Yekaterina Merkulova participated in the LLE’s summer high school research program in 2004, where she studied the “spatial distribution of reflected laser light on the wall of the experimental chamber” under the supervision of LLE’s principal scientist, Jacques Delettrez (pictured, now retired). Merkulova earned a Ph.D. from SUNY Downstate Medical Center School of Graduate Studies in Neural and Behavioral Sciences. She is currently a resident physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

Key words: community, education, Laser Energy Lab

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