Scholar Spotlight – Samantha O’Sullivan

“I am a sophomore at Harvard University studying physics and African-American studies. This past summer I had the opportunity to conduct research at the Center for Quantum Materials at the University of Maryland. Under the supervision of Professor Johnpierre Paglione and Dr. Yun Suk Eo, I researched the Bulk Resistivity of Neodymium-doped Samarium Hexaboride using the inverted resistance measurement technique. In my researched I gained hands-on experience with lab equipment and gained a deeper theoretical understanding of condensed matter physics with a focus on topological insulators.

I had the opportunity to present my research in the form of a poster (attached here) at three conferences, including the National Society of Black Physicist Conference, the UMD School of Quantum Materials conference, and the Women in Physics conference. At the Women in Physics conference I was awarded “honorable mention” for the best poster prizes, and more importantly I greatly developed my science communication skills through these presentation opportunities.

Conducting research at the University of Maryland this summer was an amazing professional experience and inspired me to begin research on my own campus this fall. I currently research condensed matter physics in the Hoffman group at Harvard, where I study high-temperature superconductors using electron microscopy. After graduating, I plan to pursue a PhD in experimental physics and a career in physics research.

I am immensely grateful for Jackie Robinson Foundation and the GE Foundation for awarding me with this generous prize. As a Black woman, it can be especially challenging to navigate and succeed in physics due to under-representation and implicit bias within the field. This makes the financial, social, and professional support from GE and JRF all the more meaningful. I hope that prizes such as these will continue to inspire more Black students, especially Black women, to pursue careers in STEM and pave the way for others.”