Zooming in on Microscopy

Irvine, Ca, February 12th, 2014 -- Not even a two-hour, campus-wide power outage could deter the 82 attendees who came to Calit2 last Saturday for a full-day symposium held by the Southern California Society for Microscopy and Microanalysis. The seminar, which focused on hybrid approaches in microscopy, featured a slate of speakers, student posters and presentations, and a tour of Calit2’s Laboratory for Electron and X-ray Instrumentation (LEXI).

“I had a spare projector, which saved the conference,” Jian-Guo Zheng, director of operations at Calit2’s LEXI lab, said of the scheduled electrical outage. “There was no microphone, but everything else was okay.”

The conference was attended by microscopists and students from universities across Southern California, including UCLA, UC Santa Barbara and UC Riverside. And while UC Irvine may have been in the dark for a couple of hours, its graduate students shone brightly, dominating the awards presentation by winning two of the four prizes. 

Jesse Angle, a fifth-year doctorate candidate in materials science and engineering, won second place in the poster competition for his efforts at modeling the thermal behavior of multiphase ceramic composite nuclear fuels. Angle uses finite-element modeling of scanning electron microscope images, with the radioactive component included so the thermal conductivity of the fuel can be evaluated.

Chemistry graduate student Yon Joo Kwon beat out four other student presentations to win the best platform award with her study of iron pyrite growth on highly-oriented pyrolytic graphite. Iron pyrite is a promising semiconductor for use in solar cells; Kwon says learning to chemically tailor the material’s surface processes may contribute to increased efficiency in solar devices. 

Kwon’s first-place win included a cash prize to support her travel to the Microscopy and Microanalysis national conference next summer in Hartford, Conn. Conference registration fees will also be waived as part of the prize.

“I am very honored to receive this award,” Kwon said. “This helps make the trials and tribulations of graduate school much easier to bear. It shows that with hard work and perseverance we can succeed.”