Fellowship Recognizes Young Scientist for Accelerator Physics Research

February 21, 2013

Ken Soong, a graduate student in Stanford University's Department of Applied Physics who is conducting thesis work at SLAC, has received the second Robert H. Siemann Graduate Fellowship in Physics. The fellowship, established in  memory of long-time SLAC accelerator physicist and Stanford faculty member Robert Siemann, provides funding to outstanding physics or applied physics graduate students conducting accelerator physics research at SLAC.

Soong received his bachelor's degree in applied physics at Cornell University and got his first taste of accelerator physics while working on the Cornell Electron Storage Ring. He is studying ways to use lasers to accelerate electrons in structures measured in millimeters instead of the meter-scale structures that make up SLAC's linear accelerator.

The technology he's studying would be especially suited to providing electron beams to drive future X-ray free-electron lasers. "We're trying to re-envision accelerators as clean and compact," he said.

The research team hit a major milestone in December with a beam test of an enclosed dielectric micro-accelerator using their technique at the Next Linear Collider Test Accelerator (NLCTA). Data from these tests are under analysis, and the group expects to publish the results soon. Soong stresses that the research is a team effort.

However, Joel England, a SLAC accelerator physicist and Soong's supervisor at SLAC, wasn't shy about listing some of the student’s accomplishments. "Ken came up with an idea for a diagnostic tool called a beam position monitor that's based on the laser accelerator technology he's working on, and now he has a patent on it," England said. "He's done both theory and experiment and managed to synthesize the two. Ken shows great promise."

Stanford Physics Professor Blas Cabrera, a member of the selection committee for the Siemann Fellowship, said he was heartened by the quality of all the applicants. "Many of us are convinced that the future of particle physics rests on innovative accelerator designs that can reach higher energies significantly more efficiently than existing designs, and graduate students like Ken are making significant contributions to this effort,” Cabrera said. "Bob Siemann, who devoted much of his career to accelerator design, would be pleased."

Soong is grateful to his advisor, Stanford Professor of Applied Physics Robert Byer, and his "unofficial" SLAC advisor Eric Colby, who until recently headed SLAC's Accelerator Research Division and who took Soong under his wing as the new graduate student searched for a project.

Soong also thanked Siemann's widow Hannah, who endowed the fellowship to honor her late husband and his passion for teaching and mentoring the next generation of accelerator physicists.

Byer also said he feels Siemann would have approved of the choice. "Ken doesn't make a lot of noise, but he gets work done and in an elegant fashion,” he said. “I'm really proud of him."

SLAC, Stanford and Hannah Siemann welcome additional contributions to the Robert H. Siemann Graduate Fellowship in Physics (fund KAAWY). Contributions may be made by check to:

Stanford University
c/o Ruth Cinquini Richerson, Associate Director of Development
326 Galvez St.
Stanford, CA 94305-5018