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Bridger Anderson Bridger Anderson
Minnesota State University of Moorhead, MN

Internship: National Institute of Science & Technology (NIST)
Online Journal
Where are they now? Week of July 15, 2006 Week of June 24, 2006
Week of July 29, 2006 Week of July 8, 2006 Week of June 17, 2006
Week of July 22, 2006 Week of July 1, 2006 Week of June 10, 2006
Where are they now?

Bridger Anderson—2005 SPS Intern

Entry posted July 14, 2008

I was an intern in 2005, I was one of the NIST interns. I took some measurements with an Atomic Force Microscope (AFM). My NIST supervisor wrote a paper and gave me a copy, but it never did end up getting published.

Immediately after my intership I was looking for a job. I wanted to eventually be going to grad school, but first I wanted some hands on experience before further pursuing my education.

After about 6 months, I landed an interview at CNSE ( Center for Nanoscale Science and Engineering). I showed the interview committee the paper from NIST that I was apart of. The exact out of their mouth were "I'm really glad you brought this in today, this is exactly the kind of thing we are doing".

That paper helped me land my first permanent full time position as a physicist. At CNSE, I was apart of three different projects, one of which published before I was applying to Grad School.

That paper helped me get into a few grad schools, ASU, OSU, and Montana State University. I was also dimplomatically accepted to University of Missouri Kansas City (i.e. I knew a guy from CNSE who was moving to UMKC and said he wanted me to be his student).

I went and visited UMKC and MSU. Out of the two schools, I found that MSU had a better program. On top of that, MSU is located in Bozeman, MT, which is in the middle of the Bridger Mountain range. Nearby we the Bridgerbowl Ski lodge, we also have great hiking and camping.

So I decided to go to Bozeman, MT for Grad school. A couple of months before moving, I met my sweetheart Sara Monda. We saw each other long distance for a while and then she moved out to Bozeman with me.

So right now I have completed my first year of Grad School. In a month, I will be taking my PhD exam (PhD Qualifier). Next year I will be taking more classes and after that I will be doing research.

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Week of July 29, 2005

Internship Wrap Up:

Well Lindsay left on Friday, without my sweet NIST buddy to keep me out of trouble it's about time that I got out of D.C.

This will be my last entry, so let's talk a bit about this week, and then do a summary of this summer.

Final Presentations were this week. I prepared my presentation for over a week. It was difficult trying to bring down my presentation to a level where someone without a degree could understand what I was talking about, but I think I pulled it off about as best as I could. I really took advantage of power point and had things pop up on the screen as needed so the audience wasn't overwhelmed by too much appearing on one slide at a time. A lot of people came up and congratulated me on how well my presentation went, even the people like Lindsay's mom who was completely unfamiliar with my topic. It meant a lot that a bunch of the NIST staff came to view Lindsay's and my presentations.

Monday I talked with an employer about a potential job offer. I am flying out to Ohio the day after I leave here so I can check out this company's research facility. It sounds like a pretty good job, I am very excited.

Friday the NIST staff took all of their interns out to lunch. They took us to a Chinese Buffet, it was very nice of them. I brought Oreo Cream Pie which I served after we got back. I gave some to everyone who I worked with at NIST. I made sure and gave the secretary some, can't forget about the secretary, Melissa made a lot of things happen.

Summer Warp Up:

Here's what I did/visited in D.C. this summer:

  • National Archives
  • Botanic Gardens
  • Smithsonian
  • National Air and Space Museum
  • Washington Monument
  • Jefferson Memorial
  • Lincoln Memorial
  • Einstein Memorial
  • Swing Dancing Lessons with Lindsay at Lulu's
  • Shakespeare Theater
  • Symphony/Classical Music Concert
  • Paddle Boating on Tidal Basin
  • Forth of July Concert, also Forth of July Parade
  • Arlington Cemetery, Iwa Jima, Tomb of the Unknown Solider, and JFK's Tomb
  • Pentagon Tour
  • Capitol Steps Comedy Club
  • NIST Neutron Facility Tour
  • NIST Tour (Given by Lindsay and I)
  • Met Bill Philips after his presentation (Nobel Prize winner in Physics)
  • AIP Archive Tour
  • Breakfast with Senator Feinstein
  • Spy Museum
  • and finally, measured the work functions of materials using an Atomic Force Microscope

This has been a great summer. The masses of things I did is overwhelming. I don't think I forgot anything. I've also made my pictures available to all the interns. I'll have to get Tracy to post my pictures on the website.

It's been great seeing D.C. with everyone. I will always remember my NIST buddy who I shared most of these experiences with. Ganesh, Gary, Liz, Mika, Morgan, Matt, Rebecca, and Lindsay, it s been fun. It makes me very sad that this is ending Farewell my friends, I hope we meet again.

Have a nice day =D


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Week of July 22, 2005
Some weeks go your way, and some don't. To start the week off, my Grandpa died at 3am Sunday morning. Dad was still up here visiting when Mom called us. I'm glad that he was up here with me. Just like every other time someone I've known has past away, I don't react for a while, and then it'll suddenly hit me.

Dad offered to pay for my plane ticket back to Fargo. I wasn't sure what I was going to do right away. The family wanted all the Grandsons to be Paul Bearers. This would have been my 3rd or 4th time in the last few years being a Paul Bearer. It takes a lot out of you. I have no desire to carry someone to their final resting place. When my Grandfather was sick and in town I visited him every day. I didn't mean to dishonor my Grandfather by not being there, but I really didn't think I could handle it. Then I would come back and just be a wreck for the next few weeks.

Dad put no pressure on me and told me it was entirely my decision. I wasn't sure if I was going to upset my Mom, so I talked to Dad and my Uncle about it. Mom called me up and she was very understanding. My Mom is awesome. She made it very clear that she understood and wouldn't be upset.

I had organized a tour to the Pentagon a few weeks ago. The tour went pretty well. I'm glad that we actually got to see the inside of the building. Everyone seemed to have a good time. The Pentagon had 1 CVS and 5 Starbucks. Lindsay was happy. They must have a Starbucks at each of the 5 tips of the building.

Later that day, Lindsay and I went and saw one of the NIST employees who had won the Nobel Prize a few years back for the atomic clock.

Lindsay also arranged for us to meet with him on Friday. He was very interesting. We would ask questions and he'd take 20-30 minutes to answer the questions. They were good answers, but oh so long. He only answered about 3 questions.

After that Lindsay and I went on a tour of the Neutron facility. I was pretty turned off to how one of the employees was referring to optics equations as "forth grade physics". Some of the Neutron people could use some skills in public relations. Not everyone they were talking to was educated in Physics. Some of the SURF interns at NIST were students in Chemistry and Mathematics. So when the presenter didn't define technical terms like "Cross Section" I'm sure some people were just lost. It was kind of odd that they defined some of the more simple terms like "Dynamics", but dropped the ball on "Cross Section". If you hadn't taken a Nuclear Physics/Chemistry course, you probably wouldn't know what a cross section is. (it's the probability of a certain nuclear event happening particles collide).

The rest of the tour was pretty interesting. They handed around a sample of unmarked material that looked exactly like the boron oxide that I melted down for my senior project (which was a reproduction of James Chadwick's 1930s experiment that proved the existence of the neutron.)

Friday we went to Gary's and had a grand old time. Gray had some really powerful magnets that people were playing with. I wanted to know if the magnets were strong enough to cause a person to get injured, so of course I tried seeing if I could pinch my hand on them, and failed repeatedly. However, Rebecca and Gary's son managed to hurt themselves on the magnets. I'm not sure how they pulled it off, but they did. Rebecca actually cut herself and bled.

Saturday Morgan, Mike (Morgan's bf) and I went to the beach. It also was a grand old time. I brought a big beach ball from Wal-Mart. However my ownership of the ball was not meant to last. The ball needed freedom, so it escaped my grasp and rode the wind and the waves towards the ocean. I tried to catch it, but it was just too fast. I caught up to it a couple of times and it evaded my grasp with its slick surface. I realized it was meant for greater things in this world, and waved goodbye. Maybe it'll find its way to a little kid and make them happy. Or maybe it'll deflate in the ocean and end up killing an unfortunate whale who thought it would make a good snack.

Saturday night we went to Capitol Steps. The first half of the show was mediocre. Political humor is only so funny. The second half was much better. My favorite routine was when one of the actors impersonated 1960 genera of a private detective.

Things are starting to wind down. All I have left to do is take some data next Monday and give my presentation this week.

One and a half more journal entries to go. Have a nice day and see you next week.


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Week of July 15, 2005

Things are going by pretty fast. We've solved some problems about how are data was being collected. Stable readings from the SKPM are meat if you have taken great care in meeting the following conditions:

  1. Ensure that your tip holder is over a very clean spot.
  2. Make sure that the tip holder does not come into contact with the conductive copper tape which holds the sample to a conductive disk.

It took us a great deal of frustration to figure out these unwritten details, but now that we have them, we can get some pretty good measurements.

Dad is up this week. I got him a key for my room. A spare key only costs $10, but you have to be willing to tell the GW residential people that it's a "replacement key". Well Dad lost it the day after I gave it to him, so it is now indeed a replacement key.

We've been out to Arlington Cemetery, the Washington Monument, and a few other places. Dad likes it here. He likes the other interns that he has met. During this last week the fire alarm has gone off three times.

(1st Time) Person from the 4th floor freaked out about something stupid. I just got done running and was in the shower when I heard an alarm from OUTSIDE. I figured it was just a tornado warning. After taking my time and getting dressed, I wondered what that annoying sound was, and didn't know why I still heard it. Then I opened up the door to discover it was from our building. Upon exiting the building, a security officer stopped me and asked me why it took me so long. Then he had to do a police report about why it took me so long to exit.

(2nd Time) Person from the 4th floor stored tupperware in their oven w/o notifying their roommate, who freaked out and pulled the alarm. I was not around, I was out getting a book, and Mika and Lindsay went hunting for me and called my cell phone. Dad answered my phone saying "i don't know where he is" (I was out at the bookstore). Everyone consented that I was staying inside this time, so I didn't get caught coming out late yet again.

(3rd Time) The fire alarm spontaneously goes off. Probably 4th floor related. I think I'm going to post some signs by the fire alarm saying: "Before you pull the fire alarm, get a second opinion".

Well the journal entries are winding to a close. No scientific job offers yet, but I have been offered the following positions this year

  1. New York High School Math Teacher
    (No thanks)
  2. Construction Job
    (Not really my future, but might be good for a part time job)
  3. Website Design Dude
    (I might do this part time until I find a real job)

I think I'm also going to aggressively go after a fellowship this year at a university. It means that I am going to hit the GREs harder and go visit some grad schools. ASU already accepted me, but didn't offer me financial aid because I checked the M.S. box instead of the PhD box. I'm ready to go after my PhD.

I also constructed a website.


It has a bunch of valuable information such as my resume and important transcript details. Maybe I'll luck out and someone will see it. I posted my website on Google, so it should appear shortly when people do the right searches. It'll be done in the next few weeks. I have some minor tweaking here and there to do.

I got it through bluehost.com for only $6.95/month. I have a whopping 4GB of storage space. It really beats all the free sites available with a sad 20 MB limit.

Have a nice day


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Week of July 8, 2005

To start off the week, I watched the fireworks at the Jefferson Memorial. Security in D.C. was ridiculous. They tried blocking all these roads to have all these checkpoints and it just added to the chaos. Then the Metro system changed the Blue Line to the Orange Line, so there were two orange lines running. Why would they do this? To add to the chaos, only possible reason that I can think of.

I worked a whopping 3 days at NIST this weekend. We finally found the secrets to recording good data and getting stable readings on the SKPM.

  1. Flatten all saved data before jpeg exporting.
  2. Don't allow the SKPM tip holder to be overlapping the copper tape. The tape and tip holder weren't touching, but they were close enough were we were seeing effects of small amounts of current (we shouldn't have had any current flowing).

Aaron and I got Friday off for our hard work and accomplishments. I finally have the surgical precision required to mount and unmount tips without killing them. The tip survival rate is up from about 50% to 90%. I haven't killed any tips in days.

I've explored about all of D.C. that I'm interested in for a while. Dad comes up this Thursday. He'll be staying until Sunday night.

Highlight of the week:

PENTAGON TOUR APPROVED! I am authorized to bring up to 8 people. I have to request a few more because additional people like Ganesh and Mika's friend want to come. I don't think that requesting 2 more will be a problem.

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Week of July 1, 2005

Things are going pretty well. This internship is just flying by. I think I'm completely recovered from my acute bronchitis (good thing I didn't have those x-rays.)

This week we did a lot of research at NIST. We got some good data for our work functions. Now our SPM is acting up and spitting all sorts of peculiar things at us.

Thursday all the AIP people came to visit us. Lindsay took the initiative to plan most of the tour. She even called the head director of NIST and tried to get him to meet with us. Only a few other people and I found that pretty funny, but bottom-line, whatever works.

I got people setup to go through security and gave my presentation. I think my end of the month presentation will be pretty strong. I am going to power cram Chem I and II this month so that I can answer any potential chemistry questions. I think I'll just power cram it during my down time at NIST.

Hit a minor bump in the road this week with my bank. They had some kind of database breach and cancelled everyone's debit cards. They called most people from what I understood, I was just one of the lucky few who they didn't have the right phone number for. Which reminds me, I need to electronically pay back Discover Card for taking out some ATM money from them this last week.

Ok, got my credit card paid off. They compound interest daily on ATM transactions. Luckily I can just go online and pay them right back through my checking account if I remember. You always got to have a backup plan. If you are cut off from funding, what are you gonna do? (In my case I used my alternate source of funding).

For fun we hit up the Shakespeare Theater and a Classical music concert. Lady Windemeer's Fan was the play. It was pretty good. I will have to remember some of those quotes. "Experience is what fools call their mistakes". "I can resist everything except temptation".

Well I am off. Maybe I'll go online and see if Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has hit any of the cheap theaters. Mika said that she would be interested in seeing it again.

Have a nice week.

I miss my Panamanian friends. They were people who had almost nothing at all and were about as happy as possible. They appreciated the time that they had and took advantage of it whenever they could. I won't forget their outlook on life.


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Week of June 24, 2005

Week 1 of NIST Internship

The first week has gone pretty well. My internship this summer is at NIST. Washington D.C. has this mystic power which seems to disorient me, however Lindsay, another AIP intern also at NIST, is responsible for getting me where I need to go.

D.C. is a terrific place to go running. There is a national monument on every street corner.

During the week I keep pretty busy at NIST. I am doing a project with Ganesh Ram (*cough*). Ganesh is pretty cool, he's pretty laid back and is great at explaining Chem terminology to physicists. One of the obstacles that I had earlier in the week was getting used to the different terminology between Chemists and Physicists. I am pretty familiar with all the concepts, but the Chemists decided to give their own names to everything. It must be fun for them.

In about 2 days I was able to learn how to use the Scanning Probe Microscope. It's pretty simple once you've run through it a few times. The biggest thing is just being patient with the $150,000 machine. I take my time so that I don't break anything. I broke a worn down tip yesterday. I zoomed in too far onto the surface of the material. No problem, new tips aren't too expensive, but I won't make a habit of breaking them. Today I accurately scanned a 2x2 micron section of gold. If it wasn't gold, then it was a pretty stationary speck of dust.

My parents Dad is coming up in mid July. My sister and brother in law might be coming up, they haven't decided if they are coming or not. None of my family has been to D.C. before. This is my 2nd time here. The last time was for the Army 10 miler. Coming from a place without hills, trees, and tall buildings, I wasn't used to the massive architecture. I'm finally used to it after having been here for a week.

This weekend I am going to find some clubs to go swing dancing at. I'm also going to try and tour every museum before I leave Washington, D.C.

Next week I'll be working with Aaron, a SURF intern. I have to get him to the point where I am next week.

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Week of June 17, 2005

This week I trained in one of the SURF Interns, Aaron. He seems to be doing pretty well. After a few days he became pretty proficient with the SPM. This week we actually started measuring the surface potentials of some materials such as gold. More training will allow us to gather some real data and determine the work functions.

At the NIST picnic this week I met the head of the microelectronics division. He suggested a bunch of places that I should apply to if I wanted a job in semiconductor development. I prepared my new resume and will meet with him on Monday, maybe he knows some bigwigs personally and will be willing to put in a good word for me if I apply.

Today I checked out the Smithsonian, or at least the National History Museum part. I didn't check out all of the other sub museums it had. I could have spent all day there and still not had the chance to see everything.

I also went to the Emergency Room today. I would have gone to a walk in clinic, but I couldn't find a single one in D.C. after google searching and calling 5-6 places. I've had some type of ongoing sickness. I'm not really sure what it is. I met the Dr. told him what my occasional symptoms were and before telling me what he thought I had, he told me that he wanted to do a chest x-ray just to be sure that nothing else was going on. I refused. I told him I would try antibiotics first, and if I still had symptoms, then I would try the chest x-ray. This guy just seemed to want to do it at a whim. He respected my position, but left before telling me what he thought I had. I found out from the orderly that came back that I probably had acute bronchitis. The Dr prescribed an inhaler for me. As I was leaving, I heard the Dr. talking to another patient about his x-rays. I thought he was an x-ray happy nut.

After I got back, I looked online and read about bronchitis. The medicine that he prescribed me only opens up air pathways, it doesn't directly treat what I have. I am considering getting a second opinion. If my symptoms relapse again I will definitely get one. My symptoms are pretty mild now, but they hadn't completely gone away yet, so I thought it was a good idea to get seen today.

Wednesday night I went to swing dancing lessons with Lindsay. I learned how you are supposed to take your steps "step, step, rock-step". This much different than how I first learned to take steps. I will go again with her next week.

*Note D.C. is a fun place to visit, but without things like a big grocery store (the little ones here don't count) and a walk in clinic, I really wouldn't want to live here all the time. This place seems like a big tourist attraction, not a place of serious residence.

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Week of June 10, 2005

Beware! There is an imposter among us. O.O It has recently come to my attention that other interns have attempted to write my journal entries without my knowledge. L. Windsor, wait that's too conspicuous, Lindsay W. has recently attempted to write a journal entry of my week's events from her perspective. Don't be fooled! If a journal entry seems overly positive or just plain nice, I probably didn't write it.

This week at NIST was pretty fast paced. Aaron and I took some actual measurements of work functions. Early on in the week we found that different tips on the AFM gave us different measurements. We had to give a presentation before we could gather enough data to find out what the problem was. Our supervisor just told us to pick a set of data from one tip, and present on it. After we had given the presentation, we collected more data and found that we had picked the wrong tip to present on, oh well. The presentation went pretty well. I made a few minor mistakes in the power point slides. I didn't include units on the scales of my graphs. I should have put nanometers along one axis and volts along the other. I also didn't include a roughness analysis of my surfaces. Overall I felt it went pretty well. The head of our section seemed pretty happy with Lindsay's presentation and with mine. Apparently people don't generally have actual data to present on after only being there for two weeks.

I met some people at NIST this week who sent out my resume to some of their friends at AMD, Freescale, and some other places. If no job opportunities pop up from this internship I would be kind of surprised. If it doesn't work out however, I'll just go back to job hunting and applying. I've been finding jobs available for people with a B.S. in Physics in a few places. Nuclear Power plants are a good place to start. I also found available positions at the NRC and the Navy Research Lab.

For fun this week a bunch of us went to the classical music concert. It was better than I expected. I found it very relaxing. Lindsay was telling me that they played a bunch of songs from the West Side Story. It so happened that Morgan had the movie on DVD, so we watched it when we got back.

Friday we had the AIP picnic. It was pretty fun. I let Mika paint my face up. When I went to the concert I still had red paint on my face that I hadn't been able to wash off yet. I met Liz's kids. Luke wanted to hold my had as we stepped past some of the equipment that was available for the kids to play on. Little Cole was so well behaved. A bunch of people were holding him and he didn't make very much noise. Poor guy seemed pretty tired throughout the whole picnic though.

Occasionally I blurt something out without really thinking about the context in which the person is most likely to take it. For example, let's say I'm holding someone's kid and they make a comment such as "you're going to have one of those pretty soon so you better get used to it". My first thought was that I was not very skilled in the area of childcare. If I was solely responsible for a child's upbringing, the child would probably go onto a national talk show years later and tell the entire nation about how I lacked adequate parental skills. To avoid this problem, I would need a spouse with adequate childcare abilities. However, the appropriate response to communicate these thoughts cannot be summed up in the terse statement: "I'll have a wife". Instead they could be more adequately portrayed by this statement "if I have to raise one of these things by myself, it will have a vast array of psychiatric issues. So in the best interests of my son or daughter, I will need to find a spouse who can properly raise and nurture a child." Oh well, it won't be the last thoughtless comment that I utter. I think I'll be able to avoid this particular instance of seemingly observed chauvinistic behavior in future conversations relating to my potential offspring.

This summer is going by so fast. I'm having a lot of fun out here. When I am at school, or at work, I don't mind talking about anything scientific, but when I am back home, I like to discuss other topics. Every now and then some of the other interns would come over and attempt to engage in conversations about science. To encourage them to engage in topics that were non-physics related, I posted a sign up on my door "No Science Past This Point". All of the interns accepted this policy and a few were even willing to enforce it in my absence. This made me very happy. I can have my professional career and go home and relax without hearing about anything work related. Well, it's Saturday morning, and I'm off to see various parts of D.C. Have a nice day. (Be wary of comments such as this).

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