Ryan Bischof

Undergraduate Tuition Awardee

Delaware State University

Ryan Bischof is a Senior at Delaware State University studying Engineering Physics.

I am currently a Junior undergraduate student at Delaware State University (DSU). My major is in Engineering Physics with a concentration in Electrical Engineering. As a research intern in DSU’s Photonics Sensors Systems Lab (PSSL) lead by Dr. Mohammad Amir Khan, I was introduced to the concepts of mid-infrared laser
spectroscopy and optical sensing technologies to precisely detect and quantify greenhouse gas emissions in the earth’s atmosphere. My current research involves development of portable, low-power, near-infrared and mid-infrared quantum cascade laser-based field instruments. Furthermore, a significant part of the sensor
design was laser beam stability and precision alignment, beam coupling in long path optical cavity, and optomechanical robustness using mechanical 3-D printing. My primary role focused on systems design, which involved taking a lead role in the process of a field study for measuring carbon dioxide (CO2) and water vapor
(H2O) in the atmosphere. These low-power, portable laser-based sensors are ideal for air-quality networks and the creation of high (spatial) resolution maps of emissions in cities, helping identify health-related events in specific areas around the state. This summer I will be participating in an internship at one of Northrop Grumman’s space sector facilities which has partnered with NASA on some of their joint projects.

The goals of the research internship fall in-line with NASA’s Science and Technology office through seeking advancements of Earth system science, integrating ground-based observations to face climate and environmental challenges. This project will also be driven largely by myself and other undergraduate and graduate students at DSU in developing early-stage innovation, which would allow for exposure in laser spectroscopy and the use of sensing instrumentation. This practice is also in-line with another of NASA’s
strategic objectives on inspiring and engaging the public in science, technology, discovery, and exploration. Moreover, DSU is also the home of Optical Sciences Center for Applied Research (OSCAR), which has previously partnered with NASA for sponsored research and would allow for smooth communication and transparency, as
well as increased efficiency in research and development.

Through my research and internship, I hope to become an established researcher and a citizen scientist with a direct link between scientists, STEM fields, and the local communities to foster the same passion for creating a reasonable and equitable change in the world. I hope many other students can also be a part of the freedom and creativity involved in student-led research, and I plan to emphasize doing my part in being an influence on the next generation of student-led researchers. I hope to be able to pursue a career that will allow me to continue to have a focus on design and development of impactful projects that can positively affect citizens
around the country.