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Honoring Excellence



Pauli Kehayias (E'09)

Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship


2007 Award Winners

By most people's standards, Pauli Kehayias, an engineering physics major, has chosen a complex field of study. But the Tufts sophomore describes his attraction to the scientific discipline in simple terms. "I like working on interesting problems, and physics just has a lot of interesting problems," he says.

And Kehayias has tackled many of them over the years. He says his lab experience—he's been involved in research projects since high school—helped earn him the prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, an award that recognizes outstanding math, science and engineering undergraduates across the country.

"I have a very strong research background," says Kehayias, who worked last summer with Hugh Gallagher, an assistant professor of physics at Tufts, on research involving subatomic particles called neutrinos.

According to Kehayias, the goal of Gallagher's research is to determine whether or not neutrinos have mass. "He does simulations for modeling how subatomic particles interact," says Kehayias, who last year assisted Gallagher in his work related to the MINOS (Main Injector Neutrino Oscillation Search) experiment, which is being conducted at the U.S. Department of Energy's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois.

Kehayias was tasked with developing computer programs to analyze Gallagher's neutrino simulation data. The end goal, he says, was to make Gallagher's simulation consistent with other experiments—and then attempt to match it to the MINOS data.

The Massachusetts native was also involved in other research last summer at the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA) at Tufts. The objective of the project was to develop a method for measuring people's energy intake by labeling food with tracer isotopes—carbon-13 atoms that they would ingest with their food and exhale in their breath.

"We are trying to determine how much fat and protein people eat," says Kehayias, pointing out that the concentration of carbon-13 atoms in their breath is the key to that information. "This application would be useful for nutritionists because right now it's tricky to tell how much people are eating."

While his research activities and classroom studies keep Kehayias busy, he still manages to squeeze in time for his other passion: the violin. The member of the Tufts Symphony Orchestra says he keeps his pieces in a "steady state" during the academic year and practices more when school slows down.

After college, Kehayias says he intends to continue his studies and eventually obtain a Ph.D. in physics. "I'd like to do research in physics and I would like to also teach," he says.

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Profiles written by Meghan Mandeville, Office of Web Communications

Photos by Alonso Nichols for Tufts University. Homepage photo courtesy of Elliott Garber.

This story originally ran on May 14, 2007.