After graduating from the University of New Hampshire in August 2008 with a B.Sc. in Mathematics and Statistics and a B.A. in Russian language, I'll be spending the 2008-2009 academic year at Penza State University with Dr. Yury Smirnov and his research team in the Department of Mathematics and Mathematical Modeling. Our work will be part of an international research collaboration with colleagues in France, Switzerland, Sweden, and the United States, including a former summer research adviser of mine, Dr. Vadim Yakovlev.
This collaborative effort is focused on mathematically modeling microwave sintering of nanocomposite materials, which are created by implanting nanoparticles into a macroscopic material, referred to as a matrix; the particles are fused in this matrix using microwave energy. It is this process that is referred to as microwave sintering. Because these composite materials often have drastically improved properties such as stiffness, strength, and optical or electrical characteristics, they are used in a variety of applications where more standard materials fail, for instance in sports gear and certain types of electrical circuits.
The piece of the puzzle with which I am concerned is related to determining certain electromagnetic properties of these nanocomposite materials, a task which must be indirectly solved through hybrid computational and experimental investigation.
My connections to Russia came about somewhat serendipitously; I had no previous knowledge of, nor interest in, Russian before my freshman year, when I realized that it was the only foreign language that would fit into my course schedule. As it turned out, I enjoyed studying Russian so much that I declared a second major after two semesters, and that decision has certainly opened more doors for me than math alone would have, particularly in light of Russia's rich culture and history in mathematics. I'm very excited to see what's behind this door in Penza!