I’m Kelsey Kolell and I am currently attending UW-River Falls as a Sophomore. While here, I am double majoring in physics and math with later hopes of going off to grad school to get my Ph.D. in physics. Like many people my age, I had problems trying to decide what I want to do with my life, and while I am not one hundred percent sure what I want to do, I know that it will involve physics. I found I had a love for physics in my advanced physics class in high school. After taking the class, I knew physics was something I wanted to study more. My teacher told me about River Falls; it was where she had gone to school to get her Masters.
When talking with my advisor about what classes I should take and what would be the best path for me in my college career, he mentioned the IceCube internship for the summer. I had only heard a few things about IceCube at the time, but it seemed like a great opportunity to get research experience while as an undergrad. There was just one problem: I live four and a half hours away from River Falls. I either had the choice of staying home with my family and friends and work at my wonderful fast food job or come to River Falls to work on the IceCube project. Even though I wouldn’t be able to see my family for months at a time, I thought that working on IceCube would be a better choice for me.
For the first couple of weeks everything was way over my head. I barely knew anything about neutrinos or IceCube and I had no experience in programming. It was scary at first, being so lost. After those weeks though, things got better. I started to understand what I was doing and I learned a lot more about IceCube. In particular I learned a lot about cDOMs. I work with the color DOMs to find the direction in which they are orientated on String 14. At least that was the plan. As it turns out, we do not live in a perfect world where scripts work the first time you use them. It has taken weeks of running scripts, looking at graphs, and looking at the scripts to understand why it wasn’t working. After adjusting the scripts a little bit, we were able to get most of the fits for the cDoms. String 14 has caused me a lot of trouble, but hopefully we can fit all the cDOMs soon.
Now that I am here, I know I made the right choice. I have found ways to stay in touch with my family, so even though I live alone in the dorms, I still feel like they are there for me. But everything was worth it. I have learned things that surprise me. Every time I explain to people what I am doing this summer, I realize how much I really know. Once I was asked about IceCube and I started to talk about neutrinos and DOMs, it didn’t occur to me that people wouldn’t know what it was, because it is normal vocabulary for me. At the beginning of summer I couldn’t even pronounce DOM right but now I could inform people about them. I enjoy learning more and more every day. I look forward to the future and where my adventures in physics take me.
Editor’s Note: Anna Christenson (UW-Madison) and Rami Jubara (Normandale College) spent last summer as IceCube interns. This summer they are interning with the IceCube group in Brussels, Belgium.
On this site we will chronicle the adventures of UWRF undergraduates and summer students as they launch themselves into the universe of astrophysics research. Most of the work will be on IceCube but we also work on neutron monitors both at UWRF and at McMurdo station in Antarctica. Expect to read about adventures in computer programming, data mining, escaping small town Wisconsin and Minnesota, nerdy science boot camps, travels to Antarctica, summers in Europe, and all the fun stuff that happens when little people try to push back the frontiers fundamental research.