SKCTC grad wins prestigious UK research opportunity

Published 10:34 am Monday, May 20, 2024

When 2020 SKCTC graduate Jamie Fee returned to take applied physics, she intended to apply it towards a career in healthcare. By the time the semester had ended, however, she realized that physics was her true calling.
“Near the end, she came into my office and asked about careers in and around physics,” said Dr. Joe Johnson. “We talked for almost two hours, and I signed her up for my calculus-based physics class and Brad Dyer’s calculus course. She took the next semester’s physics and calculus classes along with Brad’s programming course this spring.”
Jamie excelled in these difficult classes, and as a result, both professors recommended she apply for the UK Physics & Astronomy Research Experience for Undergraduates (UK REU). A paid summer internship with room and board included, the REU gives undergraduate students a unique opportunity to engage in research that impacts their chosen field.
“Jamie Fee stands out as one of the best students I’ve had in 14 years,” said Dr. Johnson. “When I got the email about the UK REU, I immediately thought of Jamie and encouraged her to apply.”
Dyer, SKCTC associate professor of mathematics, agreed. “Jamie has been one of my top calculus students during the years that I have taught it,” he said. “She has been a great asset to the college as a peer tutor, as well.”
Fee, on the other hand, remained cautiously optimistic. “I was really excited about the opportunity to apply, but I didn’t think I would get in,” she said.
Jamie managed to surprise herself, if not her professors. She is among ten students—the first ever from SKCTC—chosen to participate in the REU. She will serve on a research team led by Dr. Ryan Sanders, assistant professor of physics and astronomy at UK, to explore the drivers of galaxy disk formation.
“The research project only had slots for ten applicants, so being selected is definitely a testament to her academic achievement and aspirations,” said Dyer.
“It will be a great experience for her,” said Dr. Johnson. “I understand she’s taking part in the astronomy project, so that hits close to home for me. I’m just excited to see where she goes from here.”
As for Fee, she has taken her recent accomplishments in stride and hopes to someday leverage her internship into a career in teaching, research, or both.
“Who knows?” she said. “I just know I like the weird stuff.”

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