PAS Graduate Student Amy Wakim Attends Meeting of 26 Physics Nobel Laureates

May 5, 2009

Amy WakimAmy Wakim, now a fourth-year graduate student in Professor Bigelow's lab, won the honor of attending the 58th Meeting of Nobel Laureates at Lindau, Germany in June of 2008. Nominated by the University, Amy was selected by the Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) from a large pool of applicants sponsored by the Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, Mars, Inc., and ORAU.

Of the week Amy spent with 26 Physics Nobel Laureates in Germany, she says, "It was extremely inspiring. For example, Professor Dr. Douglas D. Osheroff of Stanford University, who won the Nobel in 1996, told us about his experiences in graduate school. He also said that while it's important to immerse ourselves in physics, it's also important to maintain a balance in life." The key point that Amy took home with her is that, to do well in research, luck is involved but ninety-nine percent of success is due to dedication and hard work.

Students at the Lindau conference met with three or four Laureates per day for informal discussions and research advice. Amy enjoyed the conference banquet, where she sat with distinguished physicists such as Professor Dr. William D. Phillips, a 1997 Nobel winner who also works with the cooling and trapping of atoms with lasers. (below: Professor Phillips and Amy Wakim discuss her research)

Professor Phillips and Amy Wakim discuss her research

Amy also enjoyed meeting the other graduate students and sharing experiences. "This is the first time I've traveled abroad," she says, "and about twenty of us biked around Lake Constantine and into Bregenz, Austria." She also extended her stay for about a week and visited Venice, Florence, and Rome.

Amy Wakim has a Masters of Arts in Physics from the University of Rochester, where she also earned her Bachelor of Science in Physics in 2005 with minors in both Arabic and Mathematics. She won the Phi Beta Kappa Award and graduated Magna Cum Laude. Amy attended the University of Rochester with a Bausch & Lomb Scholarship beginning in 2001.

In addition to her research on the ultracold polar NaCs molecule achieved by laser cooling and trapping of Sodium and Cesium atoms, Amy also plays the oboe in the infamous Physics-Engineering Woodwind Quartet that also includes Professors Bocko, Knox, and Quillen. Her other hobbies include photography and Frisbee.

The 58th Meeting of Nobel Laureates at Lindau was the 19th session dedicated to physics. Sixty-seven countries were represented in 2008, with 557 students attending. The 2009 meeting will be dedicated to chemistry; for information, please see