Jesup Scott Honors College

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honors student secures cern internship

Jackson Schall Lab“It’s like a kid wanting to be an astronaut and then all of a sudden they are able to work for NASA.” This is how Jackson Schall, a second-year Physics and Mathematics double-major as well as an Honors student, said he feels about his internship with CERN this summer.

CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, conducts cutting edge research in fundamental particles and is where physicists and engineers are probing the basic structure of the universe. “CERN is the biggest machine in the world, and the biggest scientific collaboration,” Jackson said, “Their goal is just to pursue the fundamental areas of science.” The research campus straddles the border of France and Switzerland.

“I applied to 17 different programs, and this was my top pick. I didn’t expect to get it at all, really,” he said. With only about 14 students being chosen for the internship out of 1,700 applicants, just two of which actually get to travel to work at CERN directly, the internship was exceptionally competitive. “Upon finding out, I immediately was like ‘I don’t care what other positions I get offered – I’m going to this one.’”

Jackson will be working on the research through Columbia University. The internship will pay around $6,500, and he will also have an apartment in France provided for the duration of his stay. “My role involves upgrading the machines, to get better readings on everything,” he said. He will also be assisting with software, developing code to optimize processes in the system. “It’s a good thing to put on my résumé as my first position – this will hopefully be a great start to a career.” Too, he will be working directly Jackson Schall Lab 2with the Large Hadron Collider – specifically the Atlas detector.

Jackson cites the Honors College as influential in his securing the internship due to the opportunity it presented him to work closely with Dr. Vani Cheruvu, associate lecturer of Mathematics. He was the only Honors student in his section with her, which allowed them to collaborate together. “I’d spend like two hours working with Dr. Cheruvu a week by myself,” he said. “It really helped in that aspect. I still have a great relationship with her, which will help in the future.” Jackson also credits his accomplishment with the support of Dr. Rick Francis, the Director of Research Advancement and Information Systems at UT, who offered Jackson a strong letter of recommendation along with Dr. Cheruvu.

“If you’re in the Honors College, you do more work – and that will get your foot in the door to be able to push yourself to achieve more,” Jackson added. “You just have to keep grinding.”

Last Updated: 9/9/17