My name is Stephanie Sanders, and I participated in the Oak Ridge Science Semester (ORSS) during the fall of my senior year as an Albion student. While at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), I worked in the Geochemistry and Interfacial Sciences group with Dr. Gernot Rother.
Prior to going to ORNL, I had no experience in geochemistry, and that was all right. I got support from my mentor in learning what I needed to know, and he was always around to help when I needed it. In the end, I came out really enjoying geochemistry, and wish I could have taken a proper course in the subject.
As an ORSS student, I worked on setting up a high-pressure magnetic suspension balance to measure the adsorption of gases to porous materials. I was also very lucky to participate in a neutron scattering experiment. ORNL is best known for its neutron facilities, and I was able to participate in a small angle neutron scattering experiment in my last week at ORNL. Neutron scattering is done very few places in the world, so being able to participate in a neutron experiment was a unique opportunity available because of my involvement in ORSS. As a result of my work, I will be a co-author on a paper and had my data presented at a national conference by my mentor.
Outside of my lab work, the other students participating in ORSS and I toured the graphite reactor, biofuels lab, the super computers, nanocenter, and the neutron facilities. There are so many interesting historical and scientific aspects of ORNL that students are introduced to while in Oak Ridge.
In ORSS, you will develop as a scientist and a person with the help of your mentor, the program professor, and your peers. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at ORNL and would highly recommend the ORSS program to any aspiring scientist.