Research in the Fink Group
How does it feel to be a graduate student who is a co-author of papers
presented in Science and Nature
within the same year?
RLE speaks with Shandon
February Issue 2
Hart: I am very grateful for
the opportunities that I have had and for the results which we have
achieved. It is exciting to be involved in research that is breaking
new ground, wherever it is published. That is what I enjoy about research,
the fact that it is new and that the answers are not in the textbooks
RLE: Why did you select
MIT to pursue your graduate studies?
Hart: I decided that I wanted
to experience a different environment than I had during my undergraduate
studies at Alfred University, though Alfred was a wonderful place
for me. I was attracted to MIT because of its large and diverse
graduate research programs, as well as its strength in materials
science and photonics. I must admit that MIT's reputation was also
a factor in drawing my attention to it at first, but I would not
have chosen to come here if I did not feel strongly that it was
the right place for me.
RLE: How did you meet
Yoel Fink, and why did you decide to conduct your research in his
Hart: This is a bit of a funny
story. I came to MIT without knowing which research group I wanted
to join, and I had not really read much about Yoel and his work.
After coming here and having a short time to look into all of the
different groups that I might join, Yoel's research was by far the
most interesting and exciting to me. I soon came to have a strong
internal conviction that I should be working for Yoel on his fiber
projects. The first time that I actually sat down and talked with
Yoel, I had already made up my mind about this. He wasn't so sure
at first, and I think he was a little bit taken aback by my unusual
level of certainty. If he remembers that first meeting, he might
still think that it was a bit strange, but now I think he would
at least say that my conviction was not misplaced.
RLE: How would you summarize
the primary research themes on which you are currently working?
Hart: One name for our work
could be "interdisciplinary optical materials research."
It used to be that materials scientists would tend to focus on only
one type of material, such as polymers, metals, or ceramics. In
our research we have the opportunity to study unusual combinations
of materials such as polymers and glassy semiconductors. We are
interested in exploring their thermal, mechanical, electrical, and
optical properties as well as fabricating composites of these materials
which are highly engineered and structured at the microscopic level.
At the same time, we are guided by the electromagnetic theories
of optical devices and photonic crystals.
RLE: What do you hope
to do after you receive your doctorate in materials science and
engineering from MIT?
Hart: I may be interested
in pursuing a professorship, because I enjoy teaching and the relative
freedom that a professor may have in directing their own research.
However, there is also a part of me that is interested in the corporate
world, so I'm not ruling out industrial research or technology management
just yet. I may just have to wait and see if anyone will take me.