The Outstanding Senior Research in Physics Award

Each academic year, the faculty of the Physics Department assesses the originality, quality, and presentation of each senior research project. If warranted, the physics faculty presents the student deemed to have performed the highest quality independent research with an Outstanding Senior Research in Physics Award. This award carries a cash prize, and is formally presented during the Spring Semester Sigma Pi Sigma banquet.

2013-2014 Recipient

Teckla Akinyi


Teckla’s research project focused on how DNA looping is dependent upon environmental conditions.  Specifically, Teckla used of a single molecule DNA cyclization assay to follow the looping kinetics of single DNA 83 bp molecules, utilizing single molecule fluorescence energy transfer (smFRET) technique.  The assay was first prepared in a Na+ free condition and the majority of the DNA was in its unlooped form. A sudden Na+ jump was introduced at different concentrations (0.05-1.75M) and finally yielded DNA in its looping state by annealing the complementary single-strand overhangs of the assay. Looping and unlooping rates were obtained from the kinetic measurements. Teckla’s results indicated a positive and negative linear dependence of the Na+ concentration to the looping and unlooping rate, respectively, until they plateaued at 500 mM.

Teckla performed her research under the direction of Dr. I-ren Lee and Prof. Taekjip Ha at The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign through the NSF-REU program.

2012-2013 Recipient

Jake Heath

Jake's research project focused on the benefits of using analog computers for solving very stiff differential equations. Numerical techniques for solving stiff equations are unstable unless the step size is taken to be extremely small, making it computationally inefficient to obtain solutions that converge and retain accuracy using traditional computing methods. In contrast, analog computers are particularly good at solving stiff equations because their solutions are continuous.

2011-2012 Recipient

Tim Horton