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Department of Physics

Doctoral student receives Department of Defense fellowship

Adam Summers

A Kansas State University doctoral student may research small objects, but he is getting big rewards.

Adam Summers, doctoral student in physics, Lenexa, has been awarded a National Defense Science and Engineering Fellowship, or NDSEG, from the U.S. Department of Defense and the American Society for Engineering Education for his research with nanoscale physics. The highly competitive fellowship — one of 200 awarded nationally — will provide funding for tuition, fees and an annual stipend of $31,000 for his graduate degree.

"Receiving the NDSEG fellowship was a true honor for me," Summers said. "It is external validation that other scientists believe my research has the potential to be impactful and provides me with funding to continue my research interests."

Summers works in Kansas State University's James R. Macdonald Laboratory with adviser Carlos Trallero, associate professor of physics. They are researching how intense laser pulses interact with and potentially damage gold nanowires.

"Adam is a very creative student with a great intuition for physics problems," Trallero said. "He gets very excited about new problems and research in general."

According to Summers, nanoscale physics research has the potential to lead to groundbreaking new technologies. The nanowires could be used in new types of electronic circuits. An ultrafast laser pulse could then be used to create a current in these circuits. But the nanowires' damage easily, so Summers is researching a possible cause of the damage — melting from the laser. He has published his research, "Optical damage threshold of Au nanowires in strong femtosecond laser fields," in the scientific journal Optics Express.

"I am passionate about taking scientific breakthroughs and working to translate them into meaningful new technologies," Summers said. "These new circuits would operate at very high speeds, which is of interest to the Department of Defense as well as the optics and electronics industries."

His previous honors and awards include: James R. Macdonald Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics Scholarship, Leo E. Hudiburg Scholarship, and Branson and Cardwell Scholarship, all from the university's physics department; Sigma Phi Epsilon Sound Mind Scholarship; and the Wabash Cannonball Scholarship from the K-State Alumni Association. He earned his bachelor's degree in physics, cum laude, from Kansas State University in 2013. A 2009 high school graduate of St. James Academy, Lenexa, he is the son of Lauri Summers, Shawnee, and Craig Summers, Woodland Park, Colorado.

Courtesy of Communications & Marketing