Professor Liz Young Visits the FIS

Secondary

On Wednesday, November 9, the Science department had the great opportunity to host Professor Elizabeth R. Young, Ph. D., from Lehigh University, Pennsylvania, Department of Chemistry.

Dr. Young talked for one hour to Grade 12 students and the science department’s teachers not only about her research, but also about her career and what it takes to become a professor.

Dr. Young accomplished her undergraduate studies at Haverford College, Pennsylvania, spent a year abroad in Heidelberg, Germany, obtained her Ph.D. at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, moved on to Amherst College as an Assistant Professor. and eventually joined Lehigh University. On the way, she got married and now has three beautiful children: combining career and family life is certainly possible for women in science!

Mrs. Young explained the benefits of undergraduate studies in a rather small university. Those provide a more protective environment to students, but still have the possibility to offer a great research environment and have all resources needed for research at the top level.

She invited our students to contact her if studying at Lehigh University would be of their interest.

Moving on to the more scientific part of her speech, Prof Young introduced her research activities within the big picture of green energy conversion and storage and its economic implications.

Grade 12 student Magne Sondberg reflected: “The presentation linked geography comments like GDP and Energy Production to Quantum Mechanics from HL Physics which was very interesting!”

She explained the physics and chemistry behind exciting molecules with light from their stable ground state to an excited electronic state situated at higher energy, and how this energy can then be permanently captured and exploited to drive energy-storing chemical reactions. Professor Young uses ultrafast transient absorption spectroscopy to follow these reactions step by step on timescales ranging from femtoseconds to milliseconds.

Another student, Elliott Steinberg, shared: “The presentation gave us an application of the photoelectric effect and showed us how it can be applied to fight climate change.

Prof Young wrapped up her talk by sharing pictures of her students doing their daily work. One could see high-performance laser setups and impressive material and apparatuses. She explained the fine-tuning required for many parameters in order to reach the best efficiency for solar energy conversion.

With a good balance of career path presentation, physical & chemical theory and insight into the daily activities of college students, Prof. Young was able to hold Grade 12 students’ and teachers’ attention.

Ms. Prest commented: “I found the Professor brilliant and I admire especially the way she was able to keep us focused and interested during the entire hour, despite the challenging topic. She was able to make real life connections and that kept it interesting and meaningful to me.”

Thank you, Mrs. Young, for such a brilliant talk! The topic fitted our curriculum and the level of your speech was perfectly adequate for Grade 12 Students. Your enthusiasm got contagious. What an enrichment for us!

To know more about the visit, you can get in touch with Sandrine.Bachmann@the-fis.de.

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