Southeast Missouri State University student Stephen Bauman of Ste. Genevieve, Mo., who is majoring in engineering physics with an electrical application focus and a double-minor in mathematics and Spanish, is currently interning with Argonne National Laboratory, operated for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science in Chicago.
There, he assists with the testing of a superconducting cavity that will be implemented as a part of the Advanced Photon Source upgrade. The Advanced Photon Source provides the brightest storage-ring generated X-ray beams in the Western Hemisphere to more than 5,000 scientists worldwide. The upgrade is expected to equip researchers for the groundbreaking discoveries and transformational innovations that create new products and industries and generate jobs.
At the internship, “I have already gotten to learn a lot about particle accelerators and those who work on and design them. Even if I do not end up in the particle accelerator field one day, many of the things I have learned will be applicable in any field I enter. I have met a lot of amazing people and made some close friends, as many students are here through similar internship programs,” he said.
Bauman said if he ever finds himself questioning whether he is pursuing the right field, he just needs to read about one of the many exciting research projects, technological developments or scientific discoveries of the day to remind himself he is on the right path.
“The immense sea of possibilities for advancing the human race and the Earth on which we currently live is what excites me about this field. Some of the most exciting discoveries and fields are just being tapped into currently, and technologies have been developed that people could only dream of and make cheesy sci-fi movies about in years past,” he said.
This is Bauman’s second internship since beginning at Southeast. Last year he conducted bionanotechnology research on campus under Dr. Santaneel Ghosh of the Department of Physics and Engineering Physics, during which Bauman helped test properties of magnetic nanoparticles and biocompatible nanocapsules for a potential advanced drug delivery system.
“This was very exciting work as well, and it helped prepare me for this year’s internship,” he said.
Because of the work Bauman did during his Southeast internship, he was asked to attend the annual, state-wide NanoFrontiers conference at Missouri State University, which provides a discussion forum for nanotechnology researchers and practitioners that focuses on nanomedicine, nanomaterials, energy, sensing, and regional infrastructure and commercialization.
“This was definitely a benefit of working on campus as a research assistant,” he said.
Also on campus, Bauman works as a lab assistant and teacher’s aide for PH 120, “Introductory Physics I,” taught by Ghosh, and holds homework help sessions for the class.
“The biggest benefit of these jobs definitely goes to the students that I am able to help. That is a good experience from my perspective as well, however. I never thought I would enjoy being anything like a teacher, but when a group of students understands something and their grades improve because of how you explain it to them, it is a good feeling. It also helps to get somewhat of a review in that course material,” he said.
After he graduates, Bauman plans to pursue a master’s degree in an engineering physics or applied physics field. He said his time at Southeast has helped make him more independent, and while he has always been outgoing, he said it has made him more so.
“I have learned that one cannot take his or her foot off of the gas pedal for long in any class, lest one’s grades start to reflect it. While intimidating, this just gives students the potential to really stand out and succeed, depending on how hard they are willing to work,” he said.
While at Southeast, Bauman said that many of his favorite moments happen after he completes his last final exam of each semester, although he said he has many fond memories from his time at the University.
“Most tend to include times with the awesome friends I have made as a result of attending Southeast, but playing sports with them during our free time makes up a large portion of them,” he said. However, “I can’t deny that successfully completing a long difficult homework assignment and knowing that we actually understood it is one of the most rewarding experiences for my physics/mathematics classmates and me.”
While not working or doing homework, Bauman said one of his favorite things to do in Cape Girardeau is play sports, and because he is part of a Facebook group with more than 100 members, it is always easy to find friends to play with. He said he particularly enjoys volleyball, ultimate, soccer and basketball. Volleyball is the main sport he plays with friends, and he said he has always appreciated how many people it has allowed him to meet at Southeast. Last year, volleyball became an official Southeast club, of which Bauman became a board member. Also last year, Bauman was the vice president of the Tumbling Club, a small gymnastics club. Although he stays active with sports and exercise, Bauman is a self-described nerd.
“I’ve found that to be the only way to live in college. It seems that the nerd-jock hybrid is actually a feasible title these days. I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, if ever that occurs. If I’m taking anything seriously, something is probably wrong. Laughter is worth 1,000 words to me,” he said.
In his spare time off campus, Bauman said he and his friends go to the movies, bowl, go out to eat and hang out downtown. His solo activities include running and reading.
“I like taking runs through the town to kind of explore areas of town I’ve not yet seen or had reason to drive through. Getting outside and running around definitely helps me stay sane after a long day of sticking my nose in physics books,” he said. “I also always try to have a book that I’m reading, whether or not it takes months to make it through all the way.”
Outside Cape Girardeau, Bauman said he likes to travel.
“Thus far in my life, my favorite travel destination has assuredly been Spain, and more specifically, the city of Toledo,” he said. “In the future, I’d love to travel to some more European countries, go on an African safari, and see Australia, Japan, Brazil and others, but I’m not going to be picky if opportunities arise.”
Bauman encourages other Southeast students to stop and ask themselves what they want out of their time at Southeast.
“Make the best of it, have fun every single day and meet tons of people (including faculty), but don’t forget why you’re there. It is a school, after all,” he said. “On the other end of the spectrum, woe to you who let school run your life. I’ve had to learn that grades aren’t what define us as people, and sometimes we just need to put down the books and be kids. This is the time of our lives, during which we need to seize every opportunity that comes skipping by. Travel, learn, expand your cultural bubble, and fun will be a byproduct.”