Caelan Brooks Receives the 2021 LeRoy Apker Award

October 15, 2021
Caelan Brooks photo

Congratulations to G1 Caelan Brooks, the 2021 recipient of the APS LeRoy Apker Award "for the discovery of distinct dynamical regimes for coherent ultracold atoms confined in a ring-shaped lattice potential; and for developing a statistical model that depicts the formation of phenotypic patterns associated with bacterial biofilm growth."

Caelan graduated summa cum laude from Kutztown University in 2021 with a B.S. in Physics and minors in Mathematics and Spanish. She worked with Prof. Kunal K. Das on ultra-cold atoms trapped in ring-shaped lattices, demonstrating the existence of two distinct dynamical regimes with continuous transition possible via rotation. She and Prof. Das further examined the quantum states of lattices with cylindrical topology in the context of synthetic gauge fields and explained gauge-sensitive features that emerge due to the periodic boundary condition. Through an REU program at Boston University, Caelan also investigated the emergence of unique phenotypic patterns in Bacillus subtilis bacterial biofilms. With Prof. Joseph Larkin of BU and Prof. Andrew Mugler of the University of Pittsburgh, she created a model for the underlying intercellular interactions that describe the emergence of macroscopic fractal-like patterns seen in experiments. Caelan is the first author on three papers tied to her work and is the recipient of the Chambliss Gold Medal, the KU Sesquicentennial Academic Honors Scholarship, and the Syed R. Ali-Zaidi award cited by the Pennsylvania State Congress. During her three years as an undergraduate, she maintained a perfect GPA, was a member of the nationally ranked KU women’s soccer team and served on the executive board of the local SPS chapter. In teh fall of 2021, Caelan has begun her doctoral program in at Harvard University.

The LeRoy Apker Award recognizes outstanding achievements in physics by undergraduate students, and provides encouragement to students who have demonstrated great potential for future scientific accomplishment.