Berkeley Lab

SCGSR Profile: Lauren Cooper

Lauren Cooper

Lauren Cooper (courtesy University of Michigan)

The DOE’s prestigious Office of Science Graduate Student Research (SCGSR) Program is enabling three graduate students to spend time in ATAP’s BELLA Center in 2022, including experimentalist Lauren Cooper.

The SCGSR program helps prepare graduate students for science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) careers crucial to the DOE Office of Science mission, by providing supplemental funds and an opportunity to conduct part of their thesis research at a DOE laboratory in collaboration with scientists there.

ATAP Division Director Cameron Geddes described the SCGSR program as “an important way for top doctoral students to connect with the team-science environment and leadership facilities at the national laboratories, while combining the strengths of research from their home institutions with those at the Lab to create new projects and capabilities.”

A doctoral student in electrical engineering and computer science at the University of Michigan, Cooper is building broadband laser pulse stackers at Berkeley Lab; these pulse stackers will test coherent combining techniques at the limits of ultrashort pulses.

If successful, “this will be the first demonstration of its kind, showing temporal stacking of very short pulses,” said Tong Zhou, Berkeley Lab advisor for Cooper’s SCGSR project, and will be a stepping stone for future experiments involving higher power. The overall project is developing coherent laser combining, a leading prospect for next-generation lasers that can deliver high average power with high peak powers, including the Laboratory’s kBELLA initiative.

Cooper’s undergraduate degree was in mechanical engineering, but an undergraduate research opportunity in a laser laboratory, and an internship with a beamline group at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, inspired her to do graduate work in laser science.

“I really like the national lab environment, because there are so many different cool projects going on at same time,” said Cooper, quoted in an article by the University of Michigan’s Hayley Hanway. “It’s really motivating and inspiring to me.”

Connections among people make for scientific progress

Connections between Berkeley Lab and the academic laser science and technology community are key to matching top students with research opportunities. “This is a big SCGSR cohort, said Schroeder. “The faculty advisors are interested in collaborating with us, and SCGSR is a good mechanism to further that collaboration and do some good work.”

“In each case, the combination of the resources and expertise of the Lab with important new ideas move both the students and the research forward,” said Geddes.

Cooper is a student of Professor Almantas Galvanauskas, whose research group at the University of Michigan also produced Zhou, and who has been a collaborator in that work from the beginning. She performed doing simulation work during her first few weeks in Berkeley and since has begun experimental work.

SCGSR Application Cycle Begins

The Office of Science has opened applications for the next SCGSR cycle (deadline May 4). The prestigious and competitive program invites applications from current Ph.D. students who are in qualified graduate programs at accredited U.S. academic institutions; who are conducting their graduate thesis research in targeted subject areas; and who are US citizens or lawful permanent residents. ATAP encourages interested students to reach out to scientists in the Division to discuss potential projects.