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Loyola Physics Student Accepted into Prestigious CERN Summer Program

Loyola Physics Student Accepted into Prestigious CERN Summer Program

Barbara Skrzypek is a senior physics and math student, with minors in philosophy and Spanish.

Barbara Skrzypek has a lot to look forward to this coming summer. The Loyola physics and math major was recently accepted into the prestigious Summer Undergraduate Research Experience program at CERN, Switzerland.

This highly competitive program, which pairs students with CERN researchers, accepts only 150 applicants annually from across the globe. The U.S program, organized by the University of Michigan, typically sends 10-15 students who generally come from Ivy League schools. This year, Skrzypek will represent Loyola University Chicago in that selective group.

The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), located in Geneva Switzerland, is the world's leading laboratory for high energy research. The community consists of 10,000 scientists of 600 institutions from 100 countries. Major breakthroughs in accelerator, detector, and computing have been achieved at CERN since its establishment in 1954, among them the World Wide Web.

Skrzypek, who is also a Spanish and philosophy minor, says that she has always been a person that likes to read, learn, and think. She grew up in Glenview, Illinois and as a child, she loved to read about scientists—biographies and autobiographies alike—including books on Richard Feynman and Paul Dirac.

She didn’t tinker with things, she says, but learned science, specifically physics, through a broad spectrum of sources. For example, before submitting her application for CERN, she read extensively about the experiments conducted at the Center to help her understand the work done there.

Family members and teachers have also inspired her. Both her father and uncle instilled a deep respect for education and her high school AP physics teacher, an alumnus of Loyola, helped her further appreciate physics.

“I was attracted to the beauty and simplicity of math,” Skrzypek said. “We can explain so much in the world with these simple mathematical relations.”

Her philosophy minor also goes hand-in-hand with her work in Physics, Skrzypek said, helping her understand how scientific processes play out.

Skrzypek is currently conducting research with Dr. Robert McNees and Dr. Jon Bougie of the Physics Department. She says working with Loyola professors has been the highlight of her academic work, exposing her to diverse fields and fine-tuning her knowledge.

Skrzypek leaves in early June for the nine-week program. In addition to conducting research, students will attend a lecture series given by world famous physicists, present their own research they conduct during the summer, and with any leisure time, take various trips throughout Switzerland.

We will update this story when Barbara returns from her travels abroad. We wish her luck on this impressive accomplishment. For more information about the program at CERN, visit the University of Michigan website.