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Eberly College of Science undergraduate to conduct engineering research in Japan

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25 April 2018
Penn State student Benjamin Piazza will spend three months in Japan studying the nation's culture and conducting research on quantum devices. Image: Jeff Rice
Penn State student Benjamin Piazza will spend three months in Japan studying the nation's culture and conducting research on quantum devices. Image: Jeff Rice

Eberly College of Science student and Schreyer Honors Scholar Benjamin Piazza has been selected as one of 12 participants in the 2018 Nakatani Research & International Experiences for Students (RIES) Fellowship for U.S. students.

Piazza, a sophomore physics major and Japanese language minor, will travel to Japan in mid-May to participate in a three-week language and culture orientation program in Tokyo, followed by a nine-week science and engineering research experience at the Aoki Laboratory at Chiba University, working on quantum devices with Professor Nobuyuki Aoki in the Division of Nanomaterial Science.

Piazza will return to Rice University with the other Fellows at the end of the summer to present a research poster at the Smalley-Curl Institute Summer Research Colloquium.

“This fellowship is a validation of the specific path that I have chosen, as I doubt I would have received this only being passionate in physics or Japanese,” Piazza said. “It's a great opportunity to advance my skills in both of these fields, and I plan to take full advantage of the opportunity.”

Piazza, who was chosen from a field of 176 participants, said he is excited to improve his Japanese and see the country he has long studied, and for the chance to do a different kind of research that will help him to reach his larger goals of impacting the world through science.

“I think the dilemma for the modern scientist is how you balance science for the sake of science and science for the sake of money, especially given how tough it has become to be a graduate student,” he said. “I think that as long as I pursue my curiosity above all else and just follow where that takes me, I will be able to serve the world well.”

The Nakatani RIES Fellowship Program is organized by the Nakatani Foundation and is implemented by the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering at Rice University.

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