WALLA WALLA, Wash. – Alex Masarie, a Whitman College student from Longmont, Colo., is participating in hands-on research this summer at one of the world’s leading scientific organizations, and he isn’t straying too far from home to take advantage of the opportunity.

Alex Masarie

Masarie, who just completed his freshman year at Whitman, is one of 20 college students from around the country selected for the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program at Colorado’s Boulder Laboratories of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Masarie is a 2005 graduate of Silver Creek High School in Longmont, Colo.

The SURF program, now in its third year, is partially supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation to encourage undergraduate science and engineering research experiences. SURF students participate in a wide range of research programs, including the design of quantum computers, application of lasers to study tissue health and detect cancer, and the building of better atomic clocks.

Masarie is assisting with a research project titled “Global Positioning System (GPS) Clock Performance and Analysis and Prediction.” The NIST has supported GPS development and sustainment for decades.

Students accepted into the SURF program receive a $4,000 stipend, in addition to travel and subsistence allowances, for the intensive 12-week program. They live on the NIST’s Boulder campus and also take part in a number of informal and organized events that celebrate the many recreational and social opportunities available in the Boulder area and Rocky Mountain foothills.

In addition to Whitman, other schools with students participating in the 2006 SURF program include Harvard, Duke, Stanford, Rice, Grinnell, Pomona and Occidental. Each student is paired with a mentoring scientist in research fields that range from electromagnetics and materials reliability to quantum physics and time and frequency.

Students learn about the broad range of research ongoing at NIST-Boulder through weekly seminars, and they present their own seminars on their research at the conclusion of the summer program. Many SURF students become co-authors on research papers with NIST scientists and later present their findings at major conferences.

The principal goal of the SURF program is to motivate students to pursue Ph.D. programs in preparation for careers in research and development. The program seeks to address the nation’s worsening shortage of career researchers.

CONTACT: Dave Holden, Whitman News Service
509 527-5902; holden@whitman.edu