Junior Physics Student, Marceline Myers
Marceline Myers is a junior undergraduate student of physics currently interested in the fields of quantum mechanics and radioactive decay. During her research with liquid crystals, she produced helical light from self-polarizing liquid crystals at a G-lum score of 0.1, a previously unheard-of intensity for controlled light. Myers was nominated to speak at the 17th annual Northeast Ohio Undergraduate Research Symposium (NOURS) and is currently assisting in writing a manuscript for her research.
Before venturing into the field of physics, Marceline worked as a pipe welder. She describes herself as an unconventional student, one fascinated by the inner workings of the world around her. Because of her fascination with radioactivity, one of her hobbies includes collecting ceramics and glassware made of depleted uranium. This material was originally used to give objects a bright, neon green finish. When asked why she became involved in radioactive decay, she replied, “Light and radioactivity is fascinating. It continues to boggle us. The way that it propagates is neat, and I cannot wait to learn more about that.”
Myers joined an undergraduate research experience though Kent State University and worked over the summer studying circular polarization under a microscope. She was interested in observing how ultraviolet light shines through liquid crystals that have been treated with luminescent dyes. She used this process to create light which shone in orderly, spiral patterns. The objective was to achieve the highest intensity of light emitted through the liquid crystal formation as possible. Marceline was able to achieve a G-lum score of 0.1, an increase from the previous most powerful recording of 0.001. This technology can be used to create sensors that are reactive to light and heat, and the liquid crystal structures can be used to create digital displays like thermometers and digital clockfaces.
Research has been a rewarding experience for Marceline. After her research experience, she presented her findings at NOURS after being nominated by her peers. Marceline gained experience working in her field and made connections with faculty: “Research has brought me very close to advisers and other inspirational physicists in the field. It has connected me to amazing colleagues, it has built my confidence up.” She described the field of physics as, “an ocean of opportunity,” and research to have been a crucial experience for deciding her future career.
"Just do everything unafraid, and if you are afraid, just do it afraid." ~Marceline Myers
Although Marceline takes pride in her STEM career, she has experienced conflict as a female researcher. She reflects that on working with male colleagues, “you can see that there is a disconnect, though I will say Kent State is incredibly nurturing and encourages women to stick together and support one another. Many physicists and engineers on the staff are women, which is nice to see.” Marceline offered a suggestion to improve the environment for female researchers: “Getting more women into STEM is what is needed to help the current situation.”
Marceline also commented on how STEM subjects are approached in the educational system for young women: “Young children, whether it be boys or girls, are fascinated with everything around them. They ask all the hard-hitting questions, but once children get to middle and high school, interest in STEM seems to drop off and tends to become more male dominated.” Marceline remarked that that interest waned at middle school age. She theorized that the culture of middle and high school environments disincentivizes women from maintaining interest in STEM topics, adding: “I think the misogyny of everyday life seeps in. Women are taught to stay within the lines, pushed to fit into a box, but science is meant to be loud. It's meant to be pushy.”
Marceline had some parting advice for women trying to make their way into STEM. “Dive headfirst into it. Do not be afraid and do not be reserved. If you are taking a class and the teacher says, ‘can I have a volunteer?’ Just put your hand up every single time. Just do everything unafraid, and if you are afraid, just do it afraid.”
A photo from Marceline’s research was recently submitted as an art piece to the International Liquid Crystal Society. More can be found here: https://www.ilcsoc.org/art-contest/featured-art/.
Written by: Evan Garrett