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Two City Tech Students Win Rock Stars of Research Awards for Independent Research

Brittiny Dhital

Md Arefin and Professor Kolmakov

City Tech students Md Arefin and Brittiny Dhital won the Rock Stars of Research Award, which comes with a $100 prize. The award recognizes the independent work of student researchers and the promise their research holds for innovative products or results that contribute to a particular field of knowledge. Dhital and Arefin were chosen from a pool of candidates of nearly 100 students who participated in the spring 2014 Emerging Scholars program. This is the first year the Rock Stars of Research Award has been granted.

"City Tech initiated the Rock Stars of Research Awards to honor students who have demonstrated excellence in their approach to research and have helped make original contributions in their discipline." said Professor Justin Vazquez-Poritz, director of undergraduate research. "Just as a rock star is passionate about his or her music, effective researchers are passionate about their work too. While many City Tech students have the capability of helping to make original contributions in their disciplines, in order to actually do so they usually need to make the quantum leap from single-semester research projects to being involved in an ongoing research agenda. We hope to give many such Rock Stars of Research Awards to students in the coming years."

Md Arefin is studying the nonlinear dynamics of polariton Bose-Einstein condensates (a special state of matter, in which all particles move coherently) with Professors Oleg Berman and German Kolmakov in the Physics Department. This work is of crucial importance for devices that couple charges and light, such as those used for quantum and optical computing. Arefin and Kolmakov have submitted a research paper to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S.A.

"Our research focuses on condensation of light coupled with charges in semiconductors in materials important for electronics. Nothing can propagate faster than light, and we believe that our finding is a step towards the design of actual optical processors for high-speed electronics of the future," said Kolmakov.

Brittiny Dhital is studying information theory with Professor Armando Solis, program coordinator for City Tech's biomedical informatics degree program. Dhital's work focuses on a revolutionary outcome of merging the fields of biochemistry and computer informatics, which is the concept of using information theory to investigate the enigma of protein folding. Dhital will continue her research with Solis through the summer.

Dhital said that Einstein's advice of "strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value," encapsulates what research is all about for her. "It is not about merely discovering the answer or solving the problem, it is also the ability to make a difference. The most rewarding aspect of research is knowing that however small your part may be, you are still contributing to something of great importance."

"The most exciting part in research is being able to learn something new," added Arefin. "The Emerging Scholar program not only helped me present my work, it also made me more confident. My advice to new students is to aim high, work hard, have passion and be an inspiration; success will follow you."

Dhital and Arefin gave presentations of their research at the Undergraduate Research Mixer held on May 7 at City Tech.

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