Former Fermilab intern
wins DOE challenge
Gabriel Caceres, a former Fermilab intern, won the Department of Energy's first Science and Energy Research Challenge.
The Department of Energy has honored former Fermilab intern Gabriel Caceres at its first Science and Energy Research Challenge.
Caceres won $3,000 and first prize in the physics category for research on dark matter he conducted at Fermilab last summer.
Caceres completed two summer internships at Fermilab as an undergraduate in 2007 and 2008. He was one of a dozen students researching at Fermilab through the Summer Internships in Science and Technology program for members of minority groups.
He is also an alumnus of the Saturday Morning Physics program for local high school students.
"For me it was very cool to go back to Fermilab and get to work on the stuff I learned about when I was in high school," he said.
The high-energy physics journal Physical Review D recently approved for publication the paper Caceres and his advisor, Fermilab physicist Dan Hooper, wrote about the research.
Caceres currently attends graduate school at Penn State University. He is working toward a Ph.D. in astronomy and astrophysics.
Caceres spent the past summer looking for ways to make sense of a haze of radiation scientists observe in the center of the galaxy. Hooper has promoted the idea that a concentration of dark matter particles there may annihilate one another and create a cloud of particles that is responsible for the radiation. Caceres examined multiple models of dark matter and found that many fit with this theory.
Hooper came up with the project. "It was something I wanted to do but didn't have time to do myself," he said. Caceres sped through the research in 12 weeks.
"That's remarkably fast," Hooper said. "I'm a little jealous of whoever his advisor turns out to be."
Hooper had never worked with a student intern. "But people said a lot of good things about his ability to learn things quickly and his enthusiasm," he said. "I thought I'd give him a chance. He certainly did not disappoint."
-- Kathryn Grim