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2003 May Issue 3

RLE Pursues the Optical Clock
Erich P. Ippen at the New Limits of Precision

Multidisciplinary Initiative
the DoD MURI program and RLE

Rising Stars
Oxenham and Sugiyama

Students at the Forefront
The Helen Carr Peake Research Prize

Computational Prototyping
an interview with Jacob K. White

Introducing a New Professor
Luca Daniel joins RLE

Download PDF of Issue 3


Graduate Research in the Fink Group
RLE speaks with Shandon D. Hart
2003 February Issue 2

RLE: 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?
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 anywhere.

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 group?
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.

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Shandon D. Hart
Shandon D. Hart is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at MIT, and a graduate research assistant in RLE's Photonic Bandgap Fibers and Devices Group. He was graduated summa cum laude in 2000 from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University with a BSc in Ceramic Engineering. Hart entered his doctoral program in 2000 as a recipient of MIT's prestigious Presidential Fellowship, a program recruiting the most outstanding students worldwide to pursue graduate studies at the Institute. In 2001, Hart was awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.
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