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Pacific senior a 'Poster on the Hill'

by: COURTESY PHOTO: PACIFIC UNIVERSITY - Alec Bowcock, a member of the Pacific University Class of 2013, and his advisor, physics professor James Butler, traveled to Washington, D.C., in April so Bowcock could present his optical-sensor research. Physics major Alec Bowcock is the lone Oregon college or university student whose work appeared on Capitol Hill for the Council on Undergrad Research’s highly competitive “Posters on the Hill” event last month. 

Held annually in Washington, D.C., Posters on the Hill features students from all over the country selected on a competitive basis to present research posters during an event attended by U.S. Senators and congressional leaders, federal agency staff and the science press corps. 

Bowcock, a senior from Warren, presented “Low Threshold Optical Limiting in Solid-core Photonic Crystal Fibers” at the event, held April 24. 

His work was among that of only 60 others selected from more than 800 submissions from around the country. The presenting students displayed and spoke about their research in the Rayburn House Office Building over a two-hour period. 

Bowcock’s research looks at ways to protect highly sensitive optical sensors — critical within the telecommunications industry and military — from high-intensity laser damage. 

While in Washington, Bowcock and his advisor, physics professor James Butler, also met with U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici and the staffs of Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley. 

Over the two-day trip, Bowcock and fellow students also heard from speakers who are innovators and participants in undergraduate research. 

“Posters on the Hill made me realize the amount of resources that are committed to science policy and the importance of providing undergraduates with research opportunities,” Bowcock said. “The trip also quantified the substantial impact my research experience at Pacific has had on my life.” 

Bowcock’s research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, Naval Research Laboratory and Pacific University. 

In addition to his passion for quantum mechanics, Bowcock is an avid outdoorsman who will be among approximately 300 Pacific students graduating Saturday, May 18 on the Forest Grove campus. 

His immediate post-graduate plans include backpacking and kayaking the fjords in Norway, where he has relatives. 

Bowcock also intends to sea kayak the Inside Passage from the San Juan Islands to Alaska. 

He then plans to pursue graduate studies in biomedical engineering with an emphasis in biomedical optics.

Joe Lang is Pacific University’s public information officer.



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