Dec 08, 2011As a freshman, Bryce Frentz '14 investigated how long it takes for electrons to tunnel through a barrier. He was one of 10 first-year students who completed research projects with faculty members.
Electron tunneling is not an easy concept to understand, but Bryce Frentz, Sioux Falls, S.D., explains the phenomenon like this:
Rubber balls of red, blue, orange, yellow and green catapult into motion. Most hit one wall and bounce toward another. But the yellow and green balls careen through the walls, leaving the other balls behind.
As a freshman, Frentz, a physics and mathematics major, investigated how long it takes for electrons to bounce or “tunnel” through a “wall.” He completed his research with Dr. Luiz Manzoni, assistant professor of physics. Their discoveries will be added to the knowledge base of quantum physics.
Frentz is one of 10 first-year students who completed summer research projects with faculty members. They studied topics ranging from the breakdown of sulfa drugs to the diversity of fungi in native and non-native grasslands.
“Many institutions have high quality undergraduate research experiences,” says Dr. Susan Larson, director of Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and National Fellowships. “But it is less common to include first-year students in undergraduate research.”
Frentz dreams of designing concert halls. His research brings him one step closer to becoming an acoustical engineer, which combines his natural gifts in science with his affinity for music. He plays tuba and trombone in The Concordia Band and The Concordia Jazz Band.
Manzoni says first-year students bring a noticeable level of energy and fearlessness to their work.
"They are not afraid to try new approaches, and they are eager to learn,” he says. “Of course, most of these characteristics are also shared by our upperclassmen, but somehow they are even more evident in freshmen students.”