ICRU student Doug Karkow and University of Iowa graduate student Ted Jaeger launching equipment with a weather balloon.
Exploring Space the Hawkeye Way
What is scientific research like at the university level? This question comes across many students’ minds and the opportunities for that question to be answered are offered in the University of Iowa’s Department of Physics and Astronomy. ICRU research grant recipient Douglas Karkow experienced what research life was all about, the Hawkeye way.
"Briefly, the research I helped Professor Robert Mutel and graduate student Theodore Jaeger with involved the detection of very fast, very high energy particles that collided with the Moon using modern radio telescopes. The project was exciting from the get-go. We were trying to find something that’s never been seen while using the Moon to do it! And how often do you get to fly an 8 foot weather balloon on the roof in order to test your equipment?”
"It wasn’t all work and no play though. We always enjoyed the tasks we were given and especially had fun with the weather balloon tests. After performing our tests, we had to drain the helium out of the giant balloon and got to test how inhaling a little helium alters your voice. Even scientists get to have fun while doing their research.”
Doug worked on the project with Professor Mutel and Ted Jaeger for about one year and then had a couple of opportunities to share his work with fellow University of Iowa students and faculty. Doug developed a research poster and presented it along with several other students that performed research in a wide variety of fields at the Spring Undergraduate Research Festival (SURF) at the Blank Honors Center and then he continued to present in front of his fellow Physics and Astronomy classmates and professors at the Department of Physics and Astronomy’s annual Awards Colloquium.
The undergraduate research student explains his presentation experiences, saying, “I was very nervous initially. I had never presented my work in front of my classmates or my professors before, but it was comforting to know that my fellow classmates were up there presenting their work too. As soon as I got started talking about my research it was a lot easier and it was a great experience. Plus, now I have my very first scientific research poster! I think presenting my research was a key component of the overall experience since that’s what it’s all about; sharing what you’ve learned with your colleagues! Not only that, but you force yourself to look at your work from a different perspective since you’re going to have to explain it to a crowd full of people who have little knowledge on the subject and it really helps you to understand your topic more fully.”
The research poster that Douglas Karkow presented at the SURF festival in the spring.
The ICRU recipient recommends other students to try undergraduate research, saying, “Research is a fun way to learn about your field without having to sit through the everyday classes. You get to work with faculty and other students together on a project and its more hands on which makes it much more enjoyable and easier to learn.”