Photo by Matt D’Annunzio

Moriah Tobin ’11

physics

Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada

Who I was when I got to Reed: Crazy bohemian science potter.

How Reed changed me: In my time at Reed I have been exposed to an incredible quantity of brilliant, interesting, and diverse opinions, viewpoints, and lifestyles. They have worked to broaden my horizons and made me a happier and better-balanced person. Critical thinking (cliché, I know) has really become the cornerstone of all aspects of my life—plus an open mind.

Influential books:Introduction to Elementary Particles by David Griffiths. Ada or Ardor by Nabokov. I really liked reading Lucretius in Hum 110. He was an atomist.

Favorite spot: The canyon. It’s a great place to rebalance when Reed gets stressful.

Cool stuff I did: Shot Husum Falls in a whitewater raft. Was introduced to ballroom dancing and feminism. Pulled myself 200 feet up into the canopy of an old-growth tree thanks to the Gray Fund. Sexual Assault Task Force. Honor Council. Women’s Association of Reed Physicists. Learned to operate the nuclear rector. Did a summer internship at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.

Random thoughts: Neither parent graduated from college, so my family doesn’t have a lot of experience with that lifestyle. But I don’t like to be defined by the obstacles I’ve faced. I like to be defined by the things I do. I ask questions. I use the resources at hand. In the end, it’s a net gain. I would not have been able to be here without financial aid, and I am incredibly grateful to Reed’s commitment to fund every qualified applicant possible.

Adviser: Mary James

Thesis:Energy Spectrum Characterization of the Reed Research Reactor Neutron Beam

What it’s about: I used foil activation analysis to measure how many neutrons are going at what speeds in the center of the reactor core, and compared that to a spot 30 feet above the core where the neutron beam exits the pool. I compared these measurements to the spectra of neutrons emitted from U235 through fission, as well as the Maxwellian distribution of thermal neutrons.

What it’s really about: Playing with radiation for the good of SCIENCE ^.^

What’s next: University of Wisconsin to work on PhD in experimental neutrino physics.

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