Etching his territory
Where is he now? An update to our original story.
After graduating from UW Oshkosh in May 2008 with a major in physics and minors in mathematics and music, Anthony Kuchera began graduate school at Florida State University in the fall. He was accepted at FSU while he was still a student at UW Oshkosh in 2008.
Kuchera was offered a teaching assistantship through which he taught undergraduate physics and astronomy labs during the first two years of graduate school. Then in 2010 he was offered a research assistantship in his field of study, experimental nuclear physics. Through his research assistantship, Kuchera analyzes experiments and operates the particle accelerator at FSU. During his time at the university, he has been involved with the experimental nuclear physics group working under Dr. Grigory Rogachev.
After earning a master’s degree from FSU, Kuchera was accepted into the physics doctoral program where he is studying experimental nuclear physics. He held a teaching assistantship for two years, and is now a research assistant at the John D. Fox Superconducting Linear Accelerator Laboratory at FSU. He has also had some of his work on clustering of alpha particles published. Of the student research opportunities at UW Oshkosh he said, “My research experiences at UW Oshkosh gave me exposure to fundamental scientific research, which convinced me to attend graduate school to work toward a Ph.D. I do not think I would be where I am today without the research projects I was involved in as an undergraduate at UW Oshkosh. I am also thankful to the faculty from the Department of Physics & Astronomy for their excellent efforts in teaching and mentoring, which made my learning experience very comfortable and worthwhile.”
By Tracy Rusch, journalism, May 2008 graduate
Anthony Kuchera says he owes his acceptance to graduate school at Florida State University to student research.
Even though this physics major, math and music minor, was active in extra-curricular activities as a UW Oshkosh undergraduate, he says research set him apart from his colleagues.
“We [physics students] all pretty much have the same curriculum, but having a decent amount of research experience was a big bonus to add onto my application,” he said.
Kuchera’s interest in doing research the summer after his sophomore year led him to physics professor Dr. Dennis Rioux, who signed on as his adviser. Together, Kuchera and Rioux wrote a proposal for the summer 2006 Undergraduate Student/Faculty Collaborative Research program, and they received a grant that funded their research project titled, “Chemically Etched Germanium Surfaces.”
Rioux told Kuchera to read similar studies on semiconductors to familiarize him with the field. Between that and his coursework, Kuchera had a strong foundation of knowledge to utilize during the research project.
“Just general physics knowledge gave me some intuition as to why things are happening or what to look for,” he said.
Kuchera and Rioux spent the summer in UW Oshkosh’s Halsey surface physics lab studying the process of etching on Germanium, a semiconductor used in making computer chips.
“The more knowledge we have about the etching process, the more we can do with it,” Kuchera said. “That would further our knowledge of semiconductors, which will give us a better idea of what we can do with semiconductors to make computer chips.”
The purpose of the study was to collect data on semiconductors to add to the existing pool of knowledge and the advancement of electronics.
Kuchera said they encountered many equipment problems throughout the summer, and many times he thought they would have to cease the project. But he and Rioux worked in the lab each day fixing the equipment and eventually collected meaningful data.
“We got good data one day and that was exciting for me,” Kuchera said.
As Kuchera heads to graduate school, he looks back on his undergraduate research, setbacks and all, with gratitude. “It was my first real taste of research and because of that project, I would like to do research as a career,” he said.
As a UW Oshkosh undergraduate student, Anthony Kuchera was involved in:
Posters in the Rotunda in 2007 & 2008, the UW System Symposium for Undergraduate Research & Creative Activity in 2007 & 2008 and Celebration of Scholarship in 2007.