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National Institute of Standards and Technology SURF

Posted by:
December 6, 2022

The SURF program is designed to inspire undergraduate students to pursue careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) through a unique research experience that supports the NIST mission. Since 1993, SURF students from across the country have had the opportunity to gain valuable, hands-on experience, working with cutting-edge technology in one of the world’s leading research organizations and home to three Nobel Prize winners.

Over 11 weeks, SURF students contribute to the ongoing research of one of the six NIST Operating Units which are the Communications Technology Laboratory (CTL), Engineering Laboratory (EL), Information Technology Laboratory (ITL), Material Measurement Laboratory (MML), NIST Center for Neutron Research (NCNR), and Physical Measurement Laboratory (PML) (which now includes projects in the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology).  The SURF Program is administered at the Gaithersburg, Maryland, and Boulder, Colorado locations.  Applications must be submitted through USAJOBS.


From Thomas Kolibaba (PLU alum and postdoc at NIST):

There are a number of postings available covering a wide variety of scientific interests. Those, as well as a short description of our project can be found on the Boulder projects page (We’re opportunity #647-4): https://www.nist.gov/surf/surf-boulder/research-opportunities

Our project is seeking to utilize new machine learning methods to understand the fundamental interactions between pixels in photopolymer 3D printing. Our goal for the summer will be to make resins with unique chemical properties (Arrhenius parameters, viscosity, functional group density, reaction mechanism, etc.) and try to map some of the fit parameters that come out of the machine learning algorithm to physical/chemical properties. Ultimately we hope that this framework can enable rapid development of optimal process parameters for high resolution printing at any length scale. The tasks of someone involved in this project would involve resin formulation, polymerization kinetic analysis, use of a laser scanning confocal microscope, 3D printing experiments, and scripting in Python.

I think it would be a great experience and let students see a little bit of what life is like at a government lab. It will also result in one or more publications for any grad school/job applications in the future. Caleb Chandler is also involved in this project so anyone who joins our group would get to hang out with two PLU grads!

Thomas said he’d be happy to answer any questions.

Thomas J. Kolibaba
NRC Postdoctoral Fellow
National Institute of Standards and Technology
Boulder, CO