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Student Spotlight

Farmingdale Physics Research Students Published in Academic Journal 


Alicia Bacarella '21Congratulations are in order for three Farmingdale physics research students on the acceptance of their paper on the conversion of gibbsite to boehmite in the Journal of Solid State Chemistry.  Understanding this conversion process is a key step in remediating environmental damage that was caused by plutonium enrichment facilities during the Cold War. Recent Farmingdale graduate Alicia Baccarella '21 is the lead author on the paper, which marks her third peer-reviewed publication.The work was funded by the US Department of Energy through the GENESIS Energy Frontier Research Center, of which FSC Associate Professor of Physics Jack Simonson is a partner.  Alicia carried out a portion of her research at Brookhaven National Laboratory's National Synchrotron Light Source II and worked in collaboration with colleagues at Stony Brook University's Department of Geosciences and Department of Chemistry.


Storage tanks containing radioactive wastes generated by Cold War-era nuclear facilities have leaked and contaminated soils and groundwaters. Remediating these sites involves storing these wastes in chemically stable forms. Alicia studied ways in which chemical forms initially thought to be stable instead transform under certain conditions to less stable materials, which could continue to cause environmental problems. More importantly, she identified "off ramps" through which these undesirable reactions might be halted or redirected to a more stable outcome.


Alicia’s work previously appeared in the journals Physical Review Materials and Physical Review B and has been presented at American Physical Society meetings. Since graduating from Farmingdale, Alicia is pursuing an M.S. in physics at Queens College while working in military air logistics. 


Urszula Bednarksi and Steven Fisher '20 are two of the co-authors who contributed to this paper while they were undergraduate students at Farmingdale. Urszula is now pursuing a B.S. in physics at the University of Buffalo, and Steven has gone on to PA school. Congratulations to all!  



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