MELBOURNE, FLA.—Judson Ben Locke, Florida Institute of Technology December 2011 graduate in physics, presented his undergraduate research on “Nuclear Terrorism Prevention with Particle Physics Technology” in the U.S. House of Representatives building on April 24. His was one of 73 posters selected from over 850 submissions for presentation to Congressional members and staffers at the 2012 “Posters on the Hill” event.
The annual event is organized by the Council on Undergraduate Research. On a national stage, it showcases top research projects in the natural and social sciences, arts and humanities conducted around the country by undergraduates.
Locke, now a software engineer at Harris Corp., was joined in the event by his Florida Tech research adviser Marcus Hohlmann, associate professor in the Department of Physics and Space Sciences and the project’s principal investigator. Also attending was Michael Staib, physics graduate student, who worked on the project. Their team has been researching the emerging technology of muon tomography, which applies state-of-the-art detectors of subatomic particles originally developed for basic research in particle physics to the detection of nuclear contraband in cargo.
A prototype of a compact muon tomography scanner has been operating in Hohlmann’s High Energy Physics laboratory on campus since late 2011. Locke had previously won the Northrop Grumman Science Champion Award for this research at Florida Tech’s 2011 Science and Engineering Showcase.
The Florida Tech delegation also had the opportunity to meet with staff members from the offices of Florida Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio, and Florida Congressman Bill Posey. They discussed the research project as well as future prospects for federal funding for basic and applied physics research.