Students studying in Alex's Place on the Tisch Library roof

Provost's Fellow Emily Carlson

Electrical engineering Ph.D. candidate Emily Carlson has been named a 2016 Provost's Fellow.

Emily Carlson, Provost's Fellow

How did you become interested in electrical engineering and the work you'll be doing with the REAP Labs at Tufts?

I've always enjoyed making things work and figuring out why things work. I majored in math and physics at Bard College and researched solar cells for my senior thesis. During this time, one of my professors suggested that I pursue a graduate degree in electrical engineering because it combined my interests in math, physics, computer science, and material science. My astronomy research with Dr. Rebecca Oppenheimer during my post-baccalaureate fellowship involved using optical devices to directly image exoplanets. I knew I wanted to study both optics and renewable energy, and the Renewable Energy and Applied Photonics Lab at Tufts does just that.

What kind of research have you worked on in this area? What are the broader implications of your research?

For my senior thesis at Bard, "A Model of Charge Transport in a Dye-Sensitized Solar Cell," I reduced a system of five equations describing charge transport to one using physical constraints. During a summer research internship at the University of Oregon, I worked with Dr. Miriam Deutsch to create 2-D photonic crystals by depositing polystyrene spheres into wells. The broader application of both research projects that appeals the most to me is improving solar cell efficiency.

What research topics do you think you might pursue?

Metamaterial fabrication definitely piques my interest because I want to learn how to make highly efficient optical devices. I also plan on researching and implementing more advanced modeling techniques.

What made Tufts the right choice for you?

The nature of the REAP Labs, the Electrical Engineering faculty, and the graduate students made me feel welcome at Tufts. Since STEM outreach is important to me, I enjoy that there are a plenty of outreach opportunities and feel encouraged to be involved in outreach by my advisor, Professor Tom Vandervelde. The small class sizes in a variety of topics are matched with top-of-the-line lab facilities to provide an excellent and customizable learning environment.

Once you finish your degree program, what would you ultimately like to be doing with your time?

I would love to be a scientific educator and researcher, while building a more inclusive environment in the scientific community.

What does having this fellowship and the financial support mean to your ability to pursue a graduate education?

It means that I feel much more financially secure while pursuing my education. Receiving this award also gave me a confidence boost that pursuing a graduate education was the correct choice.