2010 alumnus selected for National Science Foundation research grant
2010 alumnus selected for National Science Foundation research grant
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
Brian Clark, Class of 2010 - Clark, a graduate student at The Ohio State University, was selected to receive a research grant through the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP). The program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines who are pursuing research-based master's and doctoral degrees at accredited institutions in the U.S. Clark was one of 2,000 who earned a three-year fellowship grant out of an initial pool of nearly 17,000 applicants.

Clark's field of study is physics and astronomy, specifically astronomy and astrophysics. While most of his work will take place in Columbus, Ohio, at the university, his research will take him to the Antarctica for about a month of field work in 2017. Clark works on experiments to discover extragalactic neutrinos, sometime called “ghost particles". These elusive particles travel to earth from sources far outside the galaxy, but are notoriously difficult to detect. Clark primarily works on the Askaryan Radio Array (ARA), which searches for particles by burying detectors in Antarctica, and looking for a characteristic interaction of the neutrinos with ice. He works on simulation, hardware and analysis for the experiment.

"Our experiments are buried in the Antarctic ice, so people have to go south to install them," he said.

Clark said he felt his selection as a research fellow had "direct connections to my time as a student at PHS."

"Every time I think of my physics journey, I think about Pattonville High School," he said. "This is because it was my high school physics teacher, Erin Mulanax, that inspired me to pursue physics as a career. She supported me in discovering more about the natural world and is the reason I studied physics at Washington University in St. Louis for my bachelor's degree and am now a second-year PhD student at The Ohio State University. She is truly an incredible educator."

He added, "PHS really does produce world-leading scholars, and I think this demonstrates it."

Clark is also helping encourage younger students interested in science. He has conducted lab work and outreach as part of the ASPIRE workshop at The Ohio State University. The workshop enables high school female students to operate physics equipment and software used by physicists and learn about physics research. Clark is one of the lead coordinators for the workshop, which takes place at his lab at the university.

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Clark in his lab at The Ohio State University.

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Clark with his Pattonville science teacher Erin Mulanax at his undergraduate graduation ceremony.