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Physics students spend summer months wisely

Summertime may be vacation time for some students, but for Austin Peay State Universitys Bill Talkington, it was time to beef up his resume.

And he wasnt alone.

Talkington is among 10 APSU physics students and graduates who took part in research internships this summer, setting a record for the department.
Summertime may be vacation time for some students, but for Austin Peay State University's Bill Talkington, it was time to beef up his resume.

And he wasn't alone.

Talkington is among 10 APSU physics students and graduates who took part in research internships this summer, setting a record for the department.

“To have this many students…accepted to these very competitive summer research programs says something about the quality of APSU's science programs,” says Dr. Jaime Taylor, professor and chair of the department of physics and astronomy. “Not only do these students get to work with scientists in major research facilities, they also get paid $3,000 to $5,000 plus room and board.”

According to Talkington, the support of the University's physics faculty and staff plays a large role in student success.

“Our professors are more than willing to write letters of recommendation for us, and they put a lot of time into it,” says Talkington. “They help us apply for the internships that best match our goals and make certain we represent ourselves well on the applications.”

Not such a tough job for Talkington, who, as a physics distributive major, is completing courses in physics, chemistry and biology. Add a minor in math, and it's easy to see why he was awarded internships with both Marshall University's department of chemistry and Western Virginia University's department of physiology.

During Marshall University's 10-week Bio-Inspired Research Experiences for Undergraduates, Talkington studied calcium's effect on muscle contractions. Ultimately, the research will benefit those suffering from diseases caused by improper binding of calcium to muscle cells.

At Western Virginia University's Summer Undergraduate Research Internship in Neurosciences, Talkington spent four weeks analyzing sound waves to determine if certain sounds have specific properties recognized by the brain.

Now back at Austin Peay, and halfway through his junior year, postgraduate plans for a career in medical physics are in the works.

“I'd like to work as both a research and clinical physicist,” says Talkington. “For right now, I'm interested in the radiation treatment of cancer.” — Terry Stringer