Trapping the sun: Senior conducts energy study

Caleb Hamilton
Caleb Hamilton

WILMORE, KY—Senior Caleb Hamilton spent the summer catching rays down in Alabama. But Hamilton didn’t work on his tan; no, he studied how to store solar energy. The biochemistry major from Dothan, Ala., completed a summer research fellowship through the University of Alabama’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates/Teachers.

“With an increasing need for alternative energy, solar energy continues to be one of the most promising sources,” Hamilton said. “ The greatest limitation of solar energy is its lack of usefulness when the sun is not shining. This limitation creates a need for new methods of energy storage.”

Hamilton worked alongside of Dr. Silas Blackstock, an organic chemistry professor at UA, and his graduate student group. The team studied the thermal and photochemistry of a new solar energy solar cell.

 “I have learned a great deal about organic electrochemistry, especially its applications in solar energy systems,” he said. “Through working with graduate students of the University of Alabama, I also have learned a considerable amount about the expectations of and the day-to-day routine of graduate school.”

Asbury University’s chemistry program prepared Hamilton well for his research experience. “The professors within the department have done a spectacular job of challenging all of their students, in a manner similar to the academically demanding environment of a research laboratory,” he said. “Specifically courses in analytical chemistry, chemical instrumentation, and physical chemistry at Asbury have prepared me exceptionally well for my summer research project.”

While Hamilton may not continue this specific research into the future, he said this experience will be valuable in graduate school. “The lessons learned and experiences gained I will use for years to come as I continue my education.”

Hamilton is currently applying to optometry schools.

The Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program supports active research participation by undergraduate students in any of the areas of research funded by the National Science Foundation. REU projects involve students in meaningful ways in ongoing research programs or in research projects specifically designed for the REU program.

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