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NMSU graduate wins state TRiO award

Rose Perea, a graduate of New Mexico State University who is working on her doctorate in physics and astronomy at Vanderbuilt University, will be recognized with the 2015 TRiO New Mexico TRiO Achiever Award in November.



Rose Perea, a graduate of New Mexico State University who is working on her doctorate in physics and astronomy at Vanderbuilt University, will be recognized with the 2015 TRiO New Mexico TRiO Achiever Award in November. (Courtesy photo)

The award is given to those who successfully completed any TRiO program, including Upward Bound, Student Support Services and the Ronald E. McNair Postbaccaulaureate Achievement Program.

Perea participated in Upward Bound while attending Mayfield High School in Las Cruces. She went on to earn bachelor?s degree and master?s degrees in physics from New Mexico State University, where she participated in Student Support Services.

?As I made the transition from undergrad to graduate school, I still struggled academically with some subjects, and while I had all intentions of getting my Ph.D., I did not pass my qualifying exam at NMSU and left with a master?s degree,? Perea said. ?A few things that I learned while in Upward Bound and Student Support Services though, was that there are people out there willing to help if you are willing to work hard. I eventually found another program, the Fisk-Vanderbilt Masters-to-PhD Bridge program, and received my second master?s degree from Fisk University and have now successfully bridged to a Ph.D. program in physics here at Vanderbilt University.?

While working on her master?s degree at NMSU, Perea interned with the COSMIAC research facility in Albuquerque, working on a CubeSat spacecraft to study atmospheric lighting.

In the Fisk-Vanderbilt Masters-to-the-PhD Bridge program, Perea uses her background in materials to learn about and work with radiation detectors.

?My knowledge of materials helped me to understand the growth processes of the crystals used as the detector material, and how the growth can affect their performance,? Perea said. ?At Fisk, I worked with both scintillators and semiconductors, and became interested in applications of detectors and instrumentation in general, knowing that their applications extended from the medical and security fields to the Earth and planetary sciences. This led to two internships at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, where I was able to field test a scintillator detector at high gamma-ray energies.?

The results from Perea?s research into how radioactive decay stemming from incident high-energy neutrons may be used to probe the composition of a planet led to her first publication.

?I would rank her among the top 3 percent of the 100-plus senior undergraduate and graduate students that I have worked with or observed as a faculty member at Vanderbilt University and Fisk University over the past 12 years,? said Keivan Guadalupe Stassun, co-director of the Fisk-Vanderbilt Masters-to-PhD Bridge Program. ?I predict that Ms. Perea will not only achieve the high distinction of a Ph.D. in astrophysics but will continue on a scholarly career marked by impact, leadership, and inspiration to others coming behind her.?

Perea will receive the award in November during the TRiO Achiever?s Luncheon in Albuquerque.