COSAM News Articles 2022 February Dual major in physics and mechanical engineering explores undergrad research and earns a nomination for a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship

Dual major in physics and mechanical engineering explores undergrad research and earns a nomination for a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship

Published: 02/01/2022

By: Maria Gebhardt

Noah Kim is one of four current students nominated by Auburn University for the prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program. This highly competitive program prepares the next generation of researchers in natural sciences, engineering and math to make significant contributions in honor of the five-term Arizona Senator.

“It is an absolute honor to be a nominee for this scholarship and I am proud that my research has helped contribute to my application for this distinguished program,” Kim said. 

As a student, Kim reached out to one of his professors in the Department of Physics, David Ennis, and inquired about working in his lab. 

Soon, he was conducting research and writing code.

“I have had Noah in my classes in three different semesters and in each semester he worked very hard and excelled,” said David Ennis.

Noah has been working with Professors David Ennis and Stuart Loch as part of a collaboration with the DIII-D National Fusion Facility in San Diego to develop the potential of fusion as a future energy source.

“Noah enrolled in an online summer spectroscopy course in 2020 with Professor Stuart Loch in order to begin analyzing ultraviolet spectroscopic measurements of tungsten emission for the purpose of understanding interactions between hot plasmas and solid material,” Ennis added.

During the same summer, Noah taught himself enough of the Python programming language to implement calibration corrections to raw measurements of tungsten spectra and compare to predicted spectra from large atomic physics computations. 

“Noah has continued to work with Stuart Loch and myself to improve the atomic line identification of many previously unreported tungsten emission lines which are important to the physics of high-temperature plasma experiments such as the DIII-D tokamak,” said Ennis. “Noah has become very valuable to our research efforts.”

Both Ennis and Loch helped mentor Kim and encourage him to further his education with a terminal degree.

“Dr. Ennis and Dr. Loch are very influential professors that have made a difference in my education,” Kim said.

Kim plans on pursuing a career in research and the support he has received at Auburn University has provided him solid experiences and an appreciation for the value of collaboration.

“In the Department of Physics, you don’t get lost in the major,” said Kim. “You have a connection with your professors and the ability to communicate with them so you are constantly building upon what you have learned.”

And building upon what he has learned, Kim anticipates finding out in late March if he is selected for the 2022 Goldwater Scholarship later this spring and we anticipate his bright future in STEM. 


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