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Superconductor research sparks one magnetic resume

Kasey Berger is a Materials Science major at UW-Eau Claire and has been involved in undergraduate research for two years as a member of Dr. Matthew Jewell’s research group. During her time in the group, Kasey worked on numerous projects involving a powerful superconductor called Yttrium Barium Copper Oxide, or YBCO for short.

During her first summer in the group, Kasey developed a procedure for YBCO to control sample orientation and create a perfectly smooth final surface. She was able to capture detailed images of the internal structure of the superconductor using the scanning electron microscope, including cracks, burrs, and other edge defects from the material’s brittle qualities. In the fall of 2017, Kasey had the opportunity to plan and develop her own experiment to study the impact of edge damage on the tendency of the YBCO layers to pull apart. She developed a hypothesis to collect reliable data, designed fixtures that were machined, and then did the experiments to test her theory.

Undergraduate research has also given Kasey multiple opportunities to present her research at conferences and symposia. Kasey has presented everywhere from the local Celebration of Excellence and Creative Activity to the annual Research in the Rotunda event at the capitol building in Madison, WI. “Presenting my research has been a great opportunity for me to display my hard work as well as to learn how to discuss highly technical projects with a wide range of audience types” said Kasey. She added that communication is a crucial part of being an effective scientist in industry and that presenting has made her more confident in her ability to communicate technical information.  

Kasey has received a lot of recognition for her outstanding undergraduate research. In the spring of 2017, Kasey was one of two students at UW-Eau Claire to be awarded the Kell Scholarship for a thorough research proposal. Kasey was also one of four students at UW-Eau Claire to be nominated for the Goldwater Scholarship: a prestigious, national undergraduate research scholarship. She received an honorable mention based on her research experience and strong research proposal.

Kasey says her research continues to be a huge conversation point in interviews, and that it has helped her to stand out when applying for jobs. “Research has been an invaluable part of my undergraduate experience” said Kasey. “It has allowed me to develop my scientific skills and professionalism which will be crucial for my success in industry.” Kasey went on to say that if she could give incoming students any advice, it would be to get involved in undergraduate research or to find an exciting internship. Kasey has shown that opportunities like these are an essential foundation to a successful career in Materials Science.