Students prepare for seven-week research trip to Japan

Contact: Rene Abadie
Date: June 10, 2013 Students prepare for trip to Japan


PREPPING FOR JAPAN – Southeastern Professor of Physics Sanichiro Yoshida, center, discusses some of the locations in Japan that will be visited by four university students as part of a National Science Foundation-funded research trip. Pictured are, from left, Jeffrey Mizell of the University of South Alabama in Mobile, Southeastern student Seth Hebert of Brusly, Yoshida, and Southeastern students Sean Craft of Hattiesburg, Miss., and Brando Mobley of Zachary.



       HAMMOND – Four students are preparing for a Southeastern Louisiana University-sponsored research adventure in Japan over the next two months, where they will be studying and researching a variety of materials science areas.
     The students – three from Southeastern and one from the University of South Alabama – will spend seven weeks working under different Japanese researchers at three locales.
     The trip is being coordinated by Southeastern Physics Professor Sanichiro Yoshida, whose four-year grant from the National Science Foundation funds the venture.
     This is the fourth year Yoshida is leading a team of students to Japan under an NSF grant to encourage students to study and research abroad. It is the first time a non-Southeastern student is participating.
     Taking part in the experience this year are Southeastern students Sean Craft of Hattiesburg, a junior physics and computer science major; senior physics major Seth Hebert of Brusly; and senior biochemistry major Brandon Mobley of Zachary. Joining the team will be Jeffrey Mizell of Mobile, a senior in electrical engineering with a second major in physics.
     "Southeastern maintains a loose affiliation with USA and the University of Southern Mississippi, wherein we conduct annual student-oriented research conferences," Yoshida said. "We had a vacant spot, and Jeffrey is well qualified for this research experience."
     In the past three trips, students worked and studied solely at Tokyo Denki University. This year the students will be stationed in three different locations.
     "We are extending the opportunities this year to other institutions under TDU's research network," said Yoshida. "The students will be able to conduct research that is more akin to our current research topics in the new locations."
     Craft and Hebert will be placed at Niigata University, located on the main Japanese island of Honshu. Both will be continuing research started at Southeastern to test the strength of steel while using laser interferonmetry techniques to pinpoint inherent weaknesses in the welded samples of metal. Yoshida earned a patent at Southeastern on using interferonmetry to detect weaknesses in various materials.
     Mobley will be working at Yokohoma National University, also on the main island of Honshu and the second largest city in Japan. His research will also employ optical interferometry to study the mechanical properties of aluminum with a goal of improving mechanical strength in the metal so it can be used in applications such as light or energy efficient automobiles.
     Mizell will perform his research at Japan's High Energy Accelerator Research Organization, known as KEK, which operates the largest particle physics collider in Japan. The organization maintains a super collider and has two Nobel laureates on staff. Mizell's research will be involved in studying the decay rate of the elementary particle muon, using KEK's linear accelerator and other sophisticated equipment.
     Yoshida said the students were selected based upon their motivation, a written application, letters of recommendation, academic performance, and an interview by a search committee.
     "This is a tremendous opportunity for these students that will most likely have a great influence on their careers," said Yoshida, a native of Japan who will visit with the students during the summer. "They will be working in world-class research facilities and will benefit from interaction with Japanese scientists and other students."
     The students themselves are excited about the opportunity, not just to study and research but to also experience the customs and culture of Japan.
     "It's a wonderful opportunity, and I'm honored to have been picked," said Craft.  "I can't wait to meet my research crew and delve into the physics full tilt. This will be a great learning experience for me, and I only hope I am also able to contribute to the results of the research as well. And I'm looking forward to seeing the country, particularly the area where I will be staying."
     Hebert, whose plans call for graduate school after commencement next year, is also looking forward to experiencing the Japanese culture and landscape, as well as the intense research opportunities the trip offers. "I've been looking at the Japanese language to help prepare for the language barrier I am bound to run into," he added.
     The students are also looking ahead to seeing the beauties of Japan's geography.
     "I'm looking forward to climbing Mt. Fuji near the end or our trip," remarked Mobley.


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