Liaising for Light
As a young girl in the Netherlands, Huisman had a curiosity about the
world around her that led her to study physics. That same curiosity now
drives the 18-year-old’s interest in photonics, and she’s putting it to
good use in her new appointment as Young Ambassador for Photonics
Huisman, now in her third year of undergraduate studies at the
University of Bonn in Germany, was officially given the role this spring
by European Commissioner Neelie Kroes at the annual meeting of
Photonics21, the European technology platform for photonics. The
position was created by Photonics21 and the European Commission.
Jana Huisman (center) accepts the Young Ambassador for Photonics
Education award from Photonics21 President Dr. Michael Mertin and
European Commissioner Neelie Kroes.
The ambassadorship was created to help stimulate interest in studying
photonics, one of Europe’s key enabling technologies. The European
photonics industry makes up 20 percent of the global market, and the
European Union is home to more than 5000 SMEs (small- and medium-sized
enterprises) in the sector, Kroes pointed out at the meeting.
In her role, Huisman will visit three European research institutes this
year to observe photonics research in action. “I’m looking forward to
learning about what they are doing, bringing my enthusiasm, and then
writing and blogging about it – hopefully, I can transmit some of that
enthusiasm to other students,” Huisman said.
At the award ceremony, Kroes asked Huisman to join, as an observer, her
group of Young Advisors on the Digital Agenda, which provides insight
into digital communication technologies and applications.
In her undergraduate work, Huisman is studying the interaction between
light and matter. “There’s a connection to life,” she said. “There are
photonics applications in environmental and health sciences, and with
photovoltaics, we can imitate nature by getting energy from sunlight.”
Engineering and Relativity
Master’s student Jacob Barnett enrolled at Indiana University-Purdue
University Indianapolis (IUPUI) at age 10 and in the four years since
has conducted research on various physics topics, including engineering
optical materials such as fiber optic cables to balance gain and loss
occurring at different locations; his work could have profound
implications on light propagation in optical waveguides. He was featured
on “60 Minutes” in 2012 as well as in other media, including a memoir
by his mother – and he has claimed that he could someday disprove
Einstein’s theory of relativity.
Flash of Insight
Richard Turere created Lion Lights to help keep lions from killing his
family’s cattle in Kitengela, Kenya – and to keep his family from
killing the lions, which are endangered. As he tended the herd at age
11, he noticed that the lions stayed away when people were present, so
he tried scarecrows and kerosene lamps; when these did not work, he got
technical. He built a solar-powered system of LED lights connected to
car-signal flashers that would make the lights blink randomly, as if
people with flashlights were moving nearby. Now 13, Turere participated
in the TED 2013 conference in California and plans to pursue a technical
career. His invention also won him a scholarship to Brookhouse School
Two years ago, at 16, Raquel Redshirt won special recognition at Intel’s
International Science and Engineering Fair for her research on solar
oven heat capacity. The idea was born of her own experience, according
to Intel: Every day, she saw impoverished neighbors on New Mexico’s
Navajo Nation struggling to pay for basics such as electricity, so she
started working on an improved and affordable solar oven design.
Redshirt told Intel that she wants to be an environmental engineer and
give back to her community someday. Her prize was an educational and
cultural trip to Germany.
In 2012, Henry Lin, a student at Caddo Parish Magnet High School in
Shreveport, La., placed second in the Physics & Astronomy category
at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. His project, “A
Generalized Holographic Model of Cosmic Accelerated Expansion,” won
$4700 in prizes, including an all-expenses-paid trip to the European
Organization for Nuclear Research at CERN in Switzerland. Lin also
presented his work at the 2012 Astrophysics and Exoplanet Science
Colloquia and Seminars at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. This spring,
Lin was one of 100 US students invited to discuss science and
engineering with President Obama at the White House. And in May, he
received an Intel Foundation Young Scientist Award of $50,000.
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