KNI SURF Spotlight: Maggie Anderson

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Maggie Anderson is conducting research in the KNI as part of her summer research fellowship.


August 21, 2018

This summer the Kavli Nanoscience Institute took part in the mentorship of two outstanding undergraduate researchers through Caltech’s competitive SURF (Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship) program. Over this 10-week period, the fellows complete a research project under the guidance of faculty members and scientists in their chosen fields. The program offers students hands-on experience in a laboratory setting and concludes with public presentations on what they’ve learned.


Maggie Anderson is a rising junior at Caltech who is pursuing two curiously distinct majors: medieval history and physics. She developed an inclination towards STEM subjects at an early age. In 5th grade she read a book on astrophysics that introduced her to, quite literally, a fascinating new world with many unknowns waiting to be solved.


During her past two years at Caltech, Maggie participated in a rotation of academic areas, including materials science, optics, and condensed matter physics. Her undergraduate advisor is Fletcher Jones Foundation KNI co-director Professor Nai-Chang Yeh - an expert in experimental condensed matter physics, with specialties in correlated electronic systems, spintronics, and precision measurements using superconducting cavity‐stabilized oscillators. Maggie’s SURF project explores a sub-area of condensed matter physics called valleytronics.


Under the mentorship of Dr. Matthew Hunt, KNI Assistant Director of Staff Research, Maggie is utilizing multi-beam and focused ion microscopes in the KNI’s nanofabrication cleanroom to study the characteristics of graphene, a semi-metal comprised of a monolayer of hexagonally-latticed carbon atoms. Graphene’s valence and conduction bands intersect to form two distinct valleys, giving it qualities of both metals and semi-conductors. Specifically, Maggie is researching the pseudo-magnetic field effect that occurs when graphene is laid across 3D patterned substrates. In this arrangement graphene’s 2D carbon lattices and electronic bands can stretch and break apart, creating a phenomenon known as the valley Hall effect (VHE). Further studying and manipulating graphene’s band structures could play an important role in quantum information transfer.


Outside of the lab Maggie participates in student government and served as the representative for the Academics and Research Committee for her undergraduate residence hall, Ruddock House. As if that weren’t enough, Maggie spent the better part of last year researching the history of Caltech’s first female graduates, class of 1970. She conducted first-person interviews and combed through the campus library archives as part of her independent study project on these remarkable women.


The KNI is extremely glad to get to know Maggie and support her and her academic endeavors this summer.


Maggie is pictured here next to the Zeiss ORION Nanofab focused ion beam microscope in the KNI cleanroom.