麻豆代天府physics major to spend summer at CERN

KENNESAW, Ga. | May 28, 2024

Casey Hampson
Growing up with an interest in space exploration, Casey Hampson knew physics would take him a long way.

The 麻豆代天府 rising junior has fulfilled that promise, accepting a research opportunity this summer at CERN in Switzerland, one of 15 students from the United States.

鈥淚鈥檓 really quite astonished I made it in,鈥 Hampson said. 鈥淏eing around all those really smart people, studying all those amazing things at that level of physics, and doing a good bit of traveling鈥擨 can鈥檛 wait.鈥

Funded by the National Science Foundation鈥檚 Research Opportunities for Undergraduates, the program originates at the University of Michigan. Normally, CERN鈥檚 summer research opportunities aren鈥檛 open to Americans, but Michigan has an arrangement to send 15 American college students to CERN each summer. Assistant professor of physics Andreas Papaefstathiou emailed Hampson a flyer for the program, and he applied.

CERN is the European Organization for Nuclear Research and houses the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), among other facilities. 麻豆代天府has three professors who study theoretical particle physics and work on projects closely related to the CERN LHC.

Hampson took an introductory physics course from KSU associate professor of physics Marco Guzzi as a first-semester freshman. Guzzi, who is an affiliated particle theorist of the CMS collaboration at the CERN LHC, said he touches on his research in particle physics for these students, partially to show the applications and partly to see if students are interested enough in the material to get involved into research. He found an apt pupil in Hampson.

鈥淚t is important to capture students鈥 interest right from the start, and I talk about my research in those lower-level physics classes to do that,鈥 Guzzi said. 鈥淐asey got interested very soon after I started to discuss fundamental interactions in nature and the possibility for students to study these topics in my directed methods class. He made a very good impression on me. Most importantly, he showed a lot of interest since the beginning in particle physics, as he is skilled, curious, motivated and driven. These are important qualities for a scientist.鈥

In addition to this summer鈥檚 research opportunity, Hampson presented a poster at the in the fall, working with a group of engineering students on a project regarding machine learning in the game Minecraft. He has also made the president鈥檚 list in all four of his semesters at KSU so far.

Hampson鈥檚 love for physics and learning started at Sprayberry High School in a STEM-focused secondary education program, a love he has brought with him to KSU. Once on campus, he found a home in the Guzzi research group with access to the expertise he sought and a community of like-minded people.

鈥淭he physics department at KSU is amazing,鈥 he said. 鈥淚t's a small department so you get a lot more of a personalized experience, like you work with a professor almost directly and you learn so much that way. It鈥檚 a great place here, and I wouldn't have been able to have this opportunity to go to CERN otherwise.鈥

With two more years of undergraduate studies ahead, Hampson hasn鈥檛 thought a great deal about the future, but physics will be a part of it. He said he looks forward to learning even more about the world we live in鈥攁nd beyond.

鈥淚 want to know all the nitty gritty details of how the universe works, and being able to explore that and work with these beautiful mathematical equations that do exactly that is just so fascinating to me,鈥 he said. 鈥淭hat's what really gets me in there.鈥

鈥 Story by Dave Shelles

Photos by Darnell Wilburn

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, 麻豆代天府 offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 45,000 students. 麻豆代天府is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. 麻豆代天府is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.