Astrophysics Major Takes Award in National Conference

MELBOURNE, FLA.—Nathalia Alzate, a Florida Tech senior majoring in astrophysics, has earned a prestigious award for her research at the 2006 Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) National Conference, held in Tampa, Fla. Competing in a field of 110, she earned the SACNAS Undergraduate Poster Presentation Award for Physics, Engineering and Mathematics.
Alzate’s project, her senior thesis, is a correlation study of the charged particle currents produced by geomagnetic storms in the magnetic field around Earth. “We are interested in one particular current system—the ring current—a ring of charged particles that forms around the Earth,” said Alzate. “Not much is known about what happens during a geomagnetic storm. Learning more about this energy correlation will allow us to better understand such phenomena and the effects on Earth and near-Earth space.”
Alzate’s faculty advisor is Dr. Niescja Turner, assistant professor of physics and space sciences. Alzate will earn a cash award from SACNAS and, because of her win, the National Society for Hispanic Physicists will, in June 2007, send her to its annual astrophysics meeting in Hawaii.
Alzate is a member and past vice president of the Society of Physics Students and a member of Students for the Exploration and Development of Space. She plans to begin graduate studies after completing her bachelor’s degree. “My long-term goal is to be a research scientist, work for NASA, and one day, go into space,” she said.
Born in Colombia and raised in the United States, Alzate graduated from high school in Statesville, N.C. before her family moved to Port Charlotte, Fla.

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