American University of Beirut

Research experience program in physics concludes training high school students

​​​​​​​​​Safa Jafari Safa, Office of Communications,​​​

​The third edition of the Summer Research Experience Program in Physics (SREP) 2022 was held at AUB during the month of July 2022, with the aim of introducing talented high school students in Lebanon to advanced state-of-the-art research in physics. Following a two-year break due to the pandemic, 24 high school students were selected from more than 120 applicants and worked in groups of 3 to 4 students on current research projects. They presented their findings in a closing ceremony that was held on July 28, 2022, attended by their family members, the AUB community, and guests from local educational institutions.

Organized by the Department of Physic​s and supported by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the program consists of one week of suitably crafted common lectures which aim to prepare the students for engagement in research, followed by work on a research project under the supervision of a participating faculty member and with support from research assistants and physics students. Participating faculty members from the Department of Physics were Drs. Sara Najem, Ola Malaeb, Michel Kazan, Malek Tabbal, and Jihad Touma.

“The large number of applicants and participating students - nearly double that of previous editions - is an indication of an increasing interest among high school students across Lebanon in research in Physics," said Dr. Malek Tabbal, professor of physics and SREP 2022 coordinator who introduced the program and the achievements of the students. “It is an activity that is central to the outreach efforts of our department and that will expand in the coming years with the aim of bringing an even greater number of students from different parts of Lebanon."

The participating student-researchers presented their work which they conducted through eight groups. The eight projects consisted of explorations in theoretical, computational, and experimental physics, under the following themes: Active matter, over-damped bead on a rotating hoop, general relativity and the orbit of planets, pulsed laser deposition of oxide semiconductor thin films, X-Ray fluorescence investigation of ancient glass objects from the AUB Archaeological Museum, dynamics of planets around binary stars,  protoplanets and debris disks, and measurements of the thermal conductivity of materials using infrared spectroscopy.

The students attested to having gained deep knowledge and experience in conducting research and developing their understanding in different areas in physics through in-depth investigation. “We gained a deeper and detailed understanding of the scientific process of research and the teamwork in handling complementary tasks," said Karim Kassem from Beirut Annunciation College, who worked on general relativity and the orbit of planets.

 “The vibrant and dynamic research environment at AUB enhances the educational experience for all students participating in the program," said Christiano Suleiman from Jamhour School who worked on the gravitational interactions of planets. “The instructors and team leaders were very experienced in the field of research."

International College student Naya Rahal who worked on active matter added, “The system we worked on is far from equilibrium with no conservation laws. We learned how to model, simulate, and develop insight into its dynamics."

“The sign of a good project is that around the point of catalysis you find a lot of excitement, you put a lot of work in designing and planning it," said Dr. Jihad Touma, professor and chair of the Department of Physics and director of AUB's Center for Advanced Mathematical Sciences. “You are energized by the support, enthusiasm, and dedication of your colleagues."

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