February 11, 2017

Pacific Union College Students, Professor in Big Leagues with Physics Experiments

A physics professor and his students at Seventh-day Adventist Church-owned Pacific Union College in Angwin, California, are seeing “the universe in a beam of ions” in experiments similar to those conducted by much larger institutions.

According to the St. Helena Star and reporter Jesse Duarte, “The experiment is similar to the cutting-edge research being conducted at prestigious labs like Lawrence Livermore in the Bay Area and Oak Ridge in Tennessee. The fact that it’s happening at a small liberal arts college in the Napa Valley is a sign of [PUC] professor Vola Andrianarijaona’s determination to prove that PUC can play in the big leagues of experimental particle physics.

“‘It’s incredible to go to a lab or a conference, see someone from MIT or Yale, and be able to talk to them as peers, not as students from some small school in the Napa Valley,’” said biophysics major Charles De Guzman, who said Andrianarijaona’s research was one of the things that drew him to PUC.”

Duarte reported the experiments were funded in part by a $170,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. The racial and gender diversity of students participating in the research was one factor in the school’s receiving the grant, the newspaper said.

The St. Helena Star feature discussed the range of activities involved in the experiments, as well as the student's reaction to participating. You can read the complete article here.