Award-winning Research


Max Eve '12, of Amherst, Mass., recently was honored by the American Physical Society in Boston, Mass., with a second place award for "Outstanding Presentation of Undergraduate Research" for his talk, "Physical Manipulation of the Na/K Pump."

More than 400 students gave talks and presentations, and presented posters at this March meeting, which is the largest gathering of the year for the American Physical Society. In total, only six awards were presented.

"We're really proud of Max," said Dr. Emily Maher, physics professor and Eve's faculty sponsor. "It's awesome that someone from MCLA was honored in this way. He deserves it."

Eve based his talk on research he conducted last summer at the University of South Florida as part of a nationally funded Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program. There, he worked in a bio-physics lab for 10 weeks, under the direction of Dr. Wei Chen. 

"My research was very hands-on," Eve explained. "It involved very precise dissections under microscopes, as well as producing all the solutions required for the experiment. I also was in charge of developing testing and analyzing the effectiveness of different wave forms. By the end of the summer, I was totally independent and running the research project by myself."   

Eve's research focused on the body's sodium potassium pump. This pump, discovered in the 1950s by a Danish scientist, is what turns the organic energy in our bodies into electrical energy, which then is used for functions such as communication between cells.

"My research project involved synchronizing the thousands of individual pumps in the cell membrane using an oscillating electric field," Eve said. "This synchronization provides insight on the different steps of the pumps."

The research is important, Eve said, because it provides valuable information about the protein confirmation change. "This is a step in the pump cycle that very little is known about. By understanding this step, we can better understand the cell itself.

"The more research an individual has, the better," he continued. "The award is just a way to distinguish me from other applicants who apply for grad school. As a grad student, I will be expected to present my research at conferences, so this award shows that I am able to present my research well." 

Eve is quick to credit Maher as the "real hero" behind his accomplishment.

"Dr. Maher sat through the talk many times and helped me to perfect it," he explained. "She has and continues to be a wonderful mentor. The award is a nice assurance that the caliber and quality of work expected from me at MCLA is truly top notch."   

After another year at MCLA - which will allow Eve to pick up a mathematics major with a computer science minor, on top of his physics major - he plans to apply to graduate school to study physics.

"MCLA has been a wonderful school," Eve said. "It has provided me with opportunity after opportunity. This school is full of professors who are willing to go above and beyond, inside and outside of the class room. The professors also make an effort to get to know their students, which to me is invaluable."