July 22, 2002
For participants in DOE's Computational Science Graduate Fellowship
program, one of the requirements is to spend a three-month practicum at
a national lab during their course of study. Mary Ann Leung, a grad
student in physical chemistry at the University of Washington who is
doing her practicum at NERSC this summer, sees it a bit differently.
"They say working at a national lab is an obligation, but to me it's a
benefit, a great opportunity," said Mary Ann, who is working with Andrew
Canning of NERSC's Scientific Computing Group. "I think the whole
program is great -- they support your education, attendance at
conferences and experience working at a national lab."
Fellows are encouraged to spend their practicum studying an area outside
their thesis area. At school, Mary Ann is focusing on the Bose-Einstein
condensate, a recently discovered quantum gas. Here, she is performing
DFT (density functional theory) calculations on copper-nickel-copper
sandwiches to learn how adding nickel affects the formation of quantum
well states in the copper. Both research areas involve quantum
mechanics, but involve different theories.
"I've been doing lots of reading and now we're getting into the project
and we're starting to get some results," Mary Ann said.
Several paths led her to LBNL. She was born and raised in the Bay Area
and her thesis advisor is a long-time colleague of Bill McCurdy. But the
clincher came when she attended the ACTS Toolkit Workshop hosted by
NERSC last summer and she met Andrew Canning, who is leading the project
she's now working on.