Daniel Piero '17

Daniel Piero, a physics and math double major from Medina, Ohio, spent the summer of 2016 at the Center for Exploration of Energy and Matter through a Research Experience for Undergraduates internship hosted by Indiana University. The highly competitive program is funded by the National Science Foundation.

At the major research facility, Piero studied neutrons, one of the building blocks of all of the matter in the universe.

“My research focused on improving the methods that allow us to harness neutrons at certain energies,” said Piero.

Neutronic research is valuable in the science community because neutrons are an excellent way to see into things— from determining atomic structure to scanning bulk items for defects.

“Neutrons are used to probe materials and reveal certain properties of these materials including their atomic and magnetic structure,” said Piero. “X-rays and electron beams are also used to perform similar experiments, but the unique properties of the neutron, such as its neutral charge, allow us to discern information that would otherwise be inaccessible with other probing particles.”Instead of collecting the data or applying the data, Piero spent the summer on the software side of the lab focusing on improving the accuracy of measurements in an effort to “de-muddle the collected data.”

He credits the experience with helping him find his vocational passion—signal processing. After graduating from Bluffton, Piero plans to pursue a masters in electrical engineering. He credits Dr. Stephen Harnish, professor of mathematics, and Dr. Luke Myers, assistant professor of physics, with helping him reach his goals in the fields of math and science.

“Many of my positive educational experiences can be traced back to Dr. Harnish, and I am very grateful to have him as both a professor and friend,” said Piero. “Through Dr. Myers’ insight into the world of academic and research physics, I have been able to get a better idea of what’s in store for me after my time at Bluffton.”

Piero says the subjects of science and math are rewarding because they are so challenging.

“Sure the road to the goal is often long, treacherous and disheartening, but the ‘pleasure of finding things out’ (in the words of Nobel-winning physicist RichardFeynman) makes such journeys worth it.”