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University Physics and Mathematics Graduate Receives Fellowship

 
BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – JUNE 12, 2013An alumnus of The University of Texas at Brownsville was recently offered a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.
 
UTB alumnus Sergio H. Cantu of Ciudad Victoria, Mexico has been offered a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. UTB alumnus Sergio H. Cantu of Ciudad Victoria, Mexico has been offered a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.
Sergio H. Cantu, 24, of Ciudad Victoria, Mexico received bachelor’s degrees in physics and mathematics from the university in May 2012. He just finished his first year in a bridge program for students interested in pursuing doctoral degrees in physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass.
 
“At MIT I decided to apply for the National Science Foundation fellowship because it is very prestigious and one of the largest there is,” said Cantu. “The fellowship would also make my application (for graduate school) look stronger.”
 
During his time at MIT he has worked with the Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics Group. His role has been seeing how photons can interact with each other.
 
“Quantum computation is a very promising thing,” said Cantu. “Binary has the limits to where you work with zeros and ones. Quantum processing gives you an infinity of different states you can use. The computation can be faster and that is the idea if you were able to control light like electronics, then you could do computation much faster.”
 
Once Cantu completes the bridge program in 2014, he will then start the three-year fellowship.
 
Dr. Soma Mukherjee, Department Chair and Associate Professor in UTB’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, said receiving the NSF fellowship is a rare honor for graduate students.
 
“Since 1998, NSF had not held a separate competition for minority students,” said Mukherjee. “This means that Sergio’s application has been judged based on the same criteria as has been applied in the case for students from the rest of the country. This is indeed a very significant achievement. Sergio stood out both for his intellectual merit as well as for his potential to integrate education and research in a compelling manner.”
 
For now Cantu lives a short bike or public transportation ride away from MIT in East Cambridge, Mass.
 
“Being here in the pace and stress of this transitional state has made me decide that graduate life and work is what I need and want,” he said.
 
Cantu heard about the NSF’s fellowship when he worked in the summers of 2010 and 2011 with the Summer Research Program sponsored by MIT’s Office of the Dean for Graduate Education in Cambridge, Mass. His work involved helping to build an interferometric displacement sensor and a thruster to shoot and push ion beams in various directions for satellites and other equipment to move in space.
 
“None of this would have happened without having done research at UTB,” said Cantu. “Everything comes down to that.”

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