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UH's Superconductivity Center Hosts Student Symposium

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November 30, 2010-Houston-

A high school math teacher in India sparked Debtanu De's interest in physics. Ibrahim Kesgin was inspired by his father to pursue an undergraduate, then a graduate degree in mechanical engineering. Melissa Gooch's interest in superconductors came after a young career as a ballet dancer.

These students and about 100 other undergraduate and graduate students have been pursuing various research efforts in different laboratories at the Texas Center for Superconductivity at the University of Houston (TcSUH). De, Kesgin, Gooch and six other students have been selected to present their original work Monday (Dec. 6) at TcSUH's 40th Semiannual Student Symposium, which is open to the public.

"The Student Symposium highlights the original research efforts of undergraduate and graduate students working in TcSUH's multidisciplinary labs on high-temperature superconductivity, biomedical materials and applications and nano- and energy-materials and science applications," said Susan Butler, Associate Director for Public Affairs, TcSUH. "Each TcSUH project leader selects an outstanding student to represent his or her lab."

The selected students will each give a 15-minute presentation and then answer questions about their work. TcSUH judges will award cash prizes and certificates to the top three students. Prizes will be awarded based on originality and quality of research and presentation.

De, a graduate physics major, is working on gaining a better understanding of the pairing mechanism between the electrons inside a superconductor. De attended the University of Calcutta and the Indian Institute of Technology before coming to UH.

Kesgin is a mechanical engineering graduate student who has an undergraduate degree in the same field. His current research is focused on reducing the alternating current losses in REBCO (rare-earth barium-copper-oxide) thin films.

Gooch didn't always plan to be the graduate student in physics she is today.

"I didn't begin as a student interested in college. My goal was to be a professional ballet dancer," Gooch said. "I performed professionally in the Austin and Houston areas until I retired due to injuries, at which point I returned to school at the University of Houston. After seeing a demonstration in my introductory physics class of the Meissner effect, I became interested in superconductors."

Gooch's project investigates the newly discovered iron pnictide superconductors.

Note: The symposium begins at 1 p.m. in the UH Science Center, Building 593. Call 713-743-8213 for more information. A symposium program and list of abstracts to be presented can be found at: http://www.tcsuh.com/posts/events/studentsymposium/295/

About the Texas Center for Superconductivity at the University of Houston (TcSUH):

TcSUH represents the largest multidisciplinary university superconductivity and related materials research effort in the United States, with over 240 faculty, postdoctoral fellows, graduate and undergraduate students, housed in the $22.5 million Houston Science Center and several other buildings on the UH campus. Center personnel create and develop high temperature superconducting and advanced materials and further their fundamental understanding, advance new applications based on these materials, and disseminate fundamental and applied knowledge through extensive education and outreach programs. Strong collaborations with industry and national laboratories promote the commercialization of TcSUH research results through the TcSUH Applied Research Hub.