Physics Student Catherine Rastovski Participating At Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Author: Mary Hendriksen

It has to be every young scientist’s dream: A week in the company of Nobel Laureates from around the world — with the Laureates eager to impart, formally and informally, both their knowledge and their love of science to young researchers.

Catherine Rastovski

For Notre Dame physics graduate student Catherine Rastovski, that dream will become a reality. From July 1 to July 6, she will participate in the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings in Lindau, Germany.

Catherine is one of 580 young researchers, 75 of them Americans, who emerged from a rigorous selection process to be a Lindau participant. Established in 1951, the aim of the meetings’ various sessions and social activities is determined by the guiding principle “Educate. Inspire. Connect.” The meetings focus alternately on a different discipline—this year, physics.

Catherine was nominated by her adviser, Prof. Morten Eskildsen, and selected to participate by the Oak Ridge Associated Universities, a 105-member university consortium in a strategic partnership with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).

Her research interests are in superconductivity — specifically, what she calls “the strange behaviors exhibited by unconventional superconductors.”

Catherine explains: “Superconductors are amazing materials that, when cooled down, allow the free flow of charge. More curiously, wherever a magnetic field penetrates a superconductor, whirlpools of swirling currents appear. With the technique Small Angle Neutron Scattering, I examine these vortices in superconductors to try to uncover why certain superconductors don’t behave in the usual way that scientists expect. By understanding these materials, we pave the way for exciting new superconductor devices.”

Catherine sees the Lindau meetings as an opportunity to forge bonds with several generations of scientists — both the Laureates and her peers.

“Doing fundamental research can be trying at times,” she says. “It is a process of trial and error, and the practical applications may be many steps and many years removed. Lindau is filled with scientists who focus their efforts on the elementary questions of nature. I am very excited at the prospect of being surrounded by this celebrated group of scientists. The Nobel Laureates and student researchers represent the best parts of what it is to be a scientist — people who work hard and work together to make great discoveries.”

This is the second consecutive year a Notre Dame student has been chosen to participate in the Lindau meetings. Last year, Biological Sciences student James Clancy was a participant.