Physicist Alyssa Miller
Alyssa Miller
Physicist
Gettysburg College - Bachelor of Science (B.S.) Physics2023
• Favorite Quote or Motto: There is no greater education than one that is self-driven. ~Neil deGrasse Tyson
• Work Experience:  College Student: Graduating more than 1 year 
• Find me on:  TwitterLinkedIn

My Story

Our education collaborators are working on programs to implement the app in STEM classrooms and clubs for kids and teens nationally and around the world to learn about how engineering shapes our every day lives. Kids and teens in these programs will be invited to connect with engineers through the app so they can meet and interact with professionals in their fields of interest. Please contact us to learn more about the program and how you can participate.

Technical and Software Expertise

3D printing; Magnetron Sputtering Physical Vapor Deposition Technique for Nanofabrication

I am...

a sophomore at Gettysburg College. I worked for Penn State University's Materials Science Institute to research into the nanofabrication of materials and their applications this past summer. Specifically for the Lynx X-ray Telescope mission concept for NASA under the guidance of Dr. Susan Trolier-McKinstry. This is an internship REU program for research experience for undergraduates that allows me to gain research experience and work with world class research faculty.

I chose to be a Physicist because...

I chose to major in physics because I love to learn how the world works around me. I also wanted to solve problems and work to help progress science that would benefit everyone in the world.

I like my job because...

What I really like about my job is that I am a part of something bigger than myself. My job involves research into how to improve adjustable x-ray mirrors for the mission concept, Lynx X-ray Observatory, that may replace the Chandra X-ray Telescope for NASA. I love how this involves space exploration to push scientists to understand the universe and answer big questions about our existence. I learned a lot about nanofabrication and its many applications in the world today.

My typical day at work involves...

Right now for my internship, I typically work about 40 hours a week from home learning more about material science and engineering, and working towards tackling a given problem. My research focuses on the physical vapor deposition processes, specifically the magnetron sputtering technique, to deposit PZT material onto a curved glass substrate to create a piezoelectric (a device that changes shape when an electric field is applied) adjustable x-ray mirror for the Lynx X-ray Telescope mission project. The main issue is the stress and thickness nonuniformities that arise in the convex and concave lenses. Since this summer is unique due to COVID, I am at home doing literary research (reading many published scientific articles) so that I may gain a better understanding behind this particular technique and what I could do to help make the thickness distribution of the PZT material onto the curved glasses more uniform.

I want others to know...

I want others like me to know that you should not be discouraged by failure or by obstacles. Hard work is proven to overcome "natural talent". There is no such thing as being naturally good at something. Everything comes from practice and you have to start from somewhere. I am not "naturally" good at physics and math. It takes continued practice and effort on my part to get where I want to be. Also, do not be discouraged if you feel you do not have enough experience or connections to reach for your dream. Go out there and take chances. You never know of the opportunities that will arise from your efforts.

My STEM education has helped me ...

My education has helped me become more focused on the process of problem solving, and allowed me to better my skills in critical thinking, data analysis, and teamwork.

This is My Story

My interest in STEM started as early as my elementary years in school when I grew a fascination for outerspace. When I took my first physics and chemistry class in my eighth grade year in middle school, I knew that I wanted to study more into physics. I even emailed NASA for advice for what I should do for my high school years and beyond to aim for my dream career.

I continued my passion for STEM into high school where I took multiple classes in Biology, Chemistry, Math, and Physics. After my freshman year, I decided to challenge myself and test out of Honors Geometry, so that I could take higher math courses in my high school career. During my junior year, I decided to take an amateur course in astronomy at a local amateur astronomy observatory. Standardize testing was a clear challenge for me for I tend to overthink and stress during timed tests that could "determine" my future. I had help with a close friend and succeeded in getting a decent score. I visited over 8 college campuses, however I knew that a smaller college campus was more for me for my undergraduate studies.

I chose to go to Gettysburg College for the friendly and peaceful atmosphere, and for the amount of support I felt I could get from my professors there. I am currently aiming for my Bachelor of Science in Physics on track for a pre-engineering degree if I decided to go to the partnering schools to Gettysburg.

I chose physics because I felt it was right for me, even if I find it very challenging sometimes. I believe that I could take a physics degree anywhere for it is a flexible degree in many areas of academics and for industry. I have a current interest in materials science and engineering, and if I decide to go more into that area of interest, I plan to go to graduate school for either my masters or PhD to obtain an engineering degree in that area.

I am truly grateful for my choices for it opened up many opportunities for me. I was grateful to attend my first Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP) this year where I made many connections to other people in my interest, to be accepted into my first REU program as a freshman at Penn State, and to have made connections to places like NASA through the Gettysburg College Alumni Network.

I learned about RePicture through my friend, and I hope to be able to heighten my skills in professional scientific writing and communication, as well as form connections with more professionals in my field of interest.

Hobbies and interests

AstronomySoccerRunningDrawing & PaintingTravelRock Climbing

What college classes have you used most?

The classes I have used the most are all my math courses (including algebra, calculus, geometry, and linear algebra), physics courses, and even chemistry courses to help me understand key concepts and propose a way to solve a problem for my current internship for nanofabrication.

What skills have been most important to your career?

The skills that have helped me best so far in my educational career was effective communication, adaptability, and problem-solving skills.

Examples of Projects I've Worked On

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