Alexander Tuna (Trinity 2010) was awarded the 2010 Daphne Chang Memorial Award for undergraduate research in the Duke Physics Department. The award is in honor of Daphne Y. Chang (Trinity 2005), a Duke Physics Major, who passed away in 2009 at the age of 26 and who is remembered for her remarkable success in undergraduate research.
Alexander, under the supervision of Prof. Christopher Walter, designed an analysis to search for fractionally charged particles in the cosmic rays using the Super-Kamiokande experiment in Japan. Although it is known that subatomic particles such as quarks have fractional charge, no free particle with fractional charge has ever been observed. Checking if they exist, even if very rarely, is an important check for new physics and a test of what is know as the "Standard Model" of particle physics. Alex worked with the high energy physics neutrino group for three years, and this work became his senior thesis. Eventually, his work will form the basis of a publication from the Super-Kamiokande collaboration with the best sensitivity in the world for this kind of particle. In addition to this research project, Alex spent a summer at CERN as part of the CERN REU program and will spend this summer in Washington DC learning about public policy as part of an American Physical Society program where he will be working in Congressman Bill Foster's office. In the fall, he will join the graduate program in physics at the University of Pennsylvania. Story submitted by Prof. Haiyan Gao and Prof. Steffen A. Bass. --- For more information on the Daphne Chang Memorial Award, please visit here. Also, see our previous story on Daphne and her work at Duke Physics. Photo: left to right: Prof. Seog Oh (DGS), Prof. Haiyan Gao, Alexander Tuna, Prof. Chris Walter and Prof. Steffen A. Bass. Profs. Oh, Gao and Bass served on the Daphne Chang Award Committee.