Physics major Alex Andriatis explores new ground at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility
Alex Andriatis (Physics '18) presents the work he conducted at the ESRF.

Recipient of the Clarisse Lebel Fellowship, Andriatis pushed the boundaries of his knowledge in an interdisciplinary team

As the second annual Clarisse Lebel Fellow, Alex Andriatis, a rising junior studying physics, was selected for his academic excellence and had the opportunity to intern at The European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble, France in Summer 2015. The most intense X-ray source in the world, the ESRF is noted for its high-quality research in condensed and living matter science. It is home to international researchers from a wide variety of experimental fields, and its interdisciplinary nature is one of the many aspects which caught Andriatis’s attention.

Surmounting challenges

Alex joined the Surface Science Lab, where he helped design innovative Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) techniques for nanoparticle characterization that would serve the entire ESRF community. Specifically, he worked to adapt a biological macromolecule characterization, Small-Angle X-Ray Scattering (SAXS), with AFM.  In the collaborative and innovative spirit of ESRF, Alex enthusiastically joined the project without previous experience working in structural biology. Approaching the project from his physics background gave him a unique perspective for understanding the general behavior and properties of protein structures. “Choosing to work in an unfamiliar field, I exposed myself to challenging material, new perspectives on research, and a different way of thought which I can apply to further experiences,” he explained.

Benefits of an international team

In addition to pushing the boundaries of his academic interests, working at ESRF introduced Alex to the innovation that an international team can bring to science and engineering. “One of the most motivational and defining aspects of the experience was the lab dynamic that welcomed me into a hardworking and dedicated team,” said Alex.  Due to their success this summer, Alex’s team has decided to submit their findings for publication to a journal on structural biology.  In addition, Alex’s eyes have been forever opened to international research and career possibilities. He dreams of pursuing a global career where he can “continue to experience new people, places and philosophies.” To wit: he has returned to Europe this summer, where he is currently an intern at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research.

[My] time living and working in Grenoble created one of the most enjoyable and rewarding summers. I am excited to continue exploring new applications of physics and pursuing greater involvement in research.

  • France
  • Internship
  • Physics