EMS Graduate Poster Competition showcases outstanding research across college

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Graduate students Natalie Briggs, Joshua Woda and Nathan Smith received top recognition during the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences’ (EMS) Graduate Student Poster Competition on April 12 at Steidle Building on Penn State's University Park campus.

The poster competition displays and rewards the exemplary research happening within the College of EMS’ graduate community. It is organized by the EMS Graduate Student Council in partnership with the college’s Office of the Associate Dean for Graduate Education and Research.

Briggs, a graduate student studying materials science and engineering, won first place for her poster, which focused on the synthesis and investigation of atomically-thin or 2-D gallium selenide (GaSe). Gallium selenide is a naturally layered, semiconducting material that can be used for optoelectronic technologies, including photovoltaics and LED applications.

“The poster competition provided a great opportunity for me to present my research while interacting with researchers in other departments within the college,” said Briggs, who was advised by Joshua Robinson, associate professor of materials science and engineering.

Joshua Woda

Joshua Woda, a graduate student studying geosciences, was awarded second place in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences' (EMS) Graduate Student Poster Competition on April 12 at Steidle Building on the University Park campus. His poster focused on his findings on the effects of methane in groundwater in a Pennsylvania stream.

Image: Penn State

Second place went to Woda, a graduate student studying geosciences. His poster shared his findings on the effects of methane in groundwater. He collected samples from Sugar Run, a stream located near Hughesville, Pennsylvania, which has very large methane concentrations that may be associated with a nearby leaking gas well.

Woda echoed Briggs’ remarks about the competition, adding that the experience is especially useful for scientists.

“The competition was a great way for students to practice communicating their research with people not directly in their field,” explained Woda, who was advised by Susan Brantley, distinguished professor of geosciences. “This is something that I find a lot of scientists struggle with.”

Nathan Smith

Nathan Smith, a graduate student studying materials science and engineering, won third place in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences' (EMS) Graduate Student Poster Competition on April 12 at Steidle Building on the University Park campus. For his poster, Smith researched electrorefining, a method of recycling using spent nuclear fuel.

Image: Penn State

Smith, a graduate student studying materials science and engineering, was awarded third place for his poster on electrorefining, a method of recycling using spent nuclear fuel. He researched the nuclear waste produced through this method, seeking to reduce certain problematic alkaline-earth elements so that electrolyte can be reused during subsequent electrorefining processes. 

Smith emphasized how the competition opened his eyes to other research in the college.

“I left the competition with a better understanding of the phenomenal research done across the college,” said Smith, who was advised by Hojong Kim, Norris B. McFarlane Faculty Career Development Professor and assistant professor of materials science and engineering. “With so many high-quality posters and eloquent presenters, it was an honor to place in the top three.”

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Last Updated October 23, 2017