Major league summer scholars

Ever wonder how the future scientists and engineers of America spend their summers?

Chances are they're doing some major league computing, modeling, theorizing and experimenting like Iowa State's four Goldwater Scholars. In March, William Lindemann, Jacob Harry, Rachel Philiph and Thomas Knief received Goldwater Scholarships -- the nation's premier undergraduate scholarship for science and engineering. And this summer, they're diving deep into the future in laboratories from Boise to Huntsville.

Here's the SparkNotes version of what Iowa State's best and brightest do over their summer vacations.

William Lindemann loves research so much he did it full time for six months while also taking courses on Electronic and Magnetic Properties of Metallic Materials and Kinetics and Phase Equilibria (among others). The senior in materials science engineering and mathematics from Champaign, Illinois, interned at the Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory studying organic photovoltaics and x-ray scattering (which he had already performed after his freshman year, using synchrotron radiation at the Argonne National Lab). Lindemann co-authored a paper published in the research journal Organic Electronics.

This summer, the young scientist is completing an NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates at the University of Minnesota because he wants exposure to theoretical materials science after all that experimental experience. He's working with a group that focuses on quantum mechanical modeling of solids in the deep earth. And that will help him better understand what's ahead in his chosen field for research and teaching -- advanced ceramics.

Jacob Harry is our go-to undergraduate guy for deflecting asteroids. The past two years, the aerospace engineering senior from Clive has been flexing his computational blast modeling muscles in ISU's Asteroid Deflection Research Center. He worked on the design and modeling of the Hypervelocity Asteroid Intercept Vehicle, which was developed in cooperation with NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Then, as part of a team, Harry developed a way to reduce the computational time of the blast modeling simulations without compromising their fidelity. He co-authored a paper about his research on detonations, which was presented at an American Astronautical Society Conference.

And that experience undoubtedly helped him land a nuclear propulsion internship at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, this summer. It's what you might call his dream job, because "when all is said and done," Harry is headed for a Ph.D. and research in advanced spacecraft propulsion systems. That's the technology that will take humans into deep space.

Rachel Philiph, Wildwood, Missouri, senior in materials science engineering, headed west to Boise, Idaho. She's an intern in the research and development department of Micron Technologies, helping further their advancements in semiconductor materials, devices and processes.

Last summer, Philiph completed a National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) in an uber academic setting: the Quantum Nanostructures and Nanofabrication Group in the Research Laboratory of Electronics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The lab focuses on "achieving single nanometer length-scale features on silicon substrates through processes such as electron beam lithography and block copolymer self assembly," Philiph said. This summer, she decided to apply her new nanofabrication know-how to the industry side of research.

After earning a Ph.D. in materials science, Philiph wants to conduct research on biological applications of polymers. Her dream career? Improving medical diagnostic devices. She's drawn to that niche of materials research because it integrates materials science, biology, electrical engineering and nanotechnology.

Thomas Knief may be staying close to home this summer, but he's working on something exotic. The physics senior from Cedar Falls is using computational density functional theory to study exotic ceramics at ISU with Scott Beckman, assistant professor of materials science and engineering. The research is right up his alley: Knief wants a career researching exotic materials for use in energy transmission and storage.

"I have a passion for the environment and am interested in issues such as global climate change," Knief said. "Exploring materials that can help produce cleaner and more efficient sources of energy is an active research field that I am excited to be a part of."

Knief, whose parents said he "was born asking questions," is already an alum of laboratory experiences in two of the nation's most prestigious research institutions -- the University of Chicago and the Argonne National Laboratory. Next stop after ISU is a Ph.D. in condensed matter physics.