Summer Fellow chooses granular physics for research topic

Summer Fellow chooses granular physics for research topic

SummerFellows-ClayWrightFor his Summer Fellows project, Clay Wright chose to research within the field of granular physics, a field that was introduced to him by Dr. Eli Owens, assistant professor of physics.

Granular materials such as corn, rice, peas, and wheat are collections of macroscopic particles, and grain silos that store these granular particles are subjected to the effects of force buildup due to the particles. For his research, Wright is studying this force buildup, particularly the effects of granular particles of different aspect ratios on buildup.

A sophomore physics major participating in the engineering dual degree program, Wright serves as the treasurer of the Society of Physics Students, a Presidential Fellow in the Office of Campus Life, the Social Chair and Risk Reduction officer for Sigma Nu fraternity, and the Vice President of Recruitment for the Interfraternity Council.

When asked about his goals for his research, Wright suggested that he hopes to learn how to manage the safety and effectiveness of granular storage in grain silos and similar systems. He believes that his project will lead to further research that would address how to improve efficiency within these granular storage units.

“This research is exciting because it is in an area of physics that has extremely useful applications, but little research has been done with it compared to other fields,” said Wright. “Developments in this research have the potential to improve how granular materials are stored and transported in the pharmaceutical and agricultural industry. Improvements in these industries could lower production costs for industries and then lower the cost of goods for consumers.”

Throughout the summer, Wright is working closely with Owens, often meeting with him multiple times a day. “This research is important to me because it furthers our understanding of granular physics and has the potential for significant practical applications,” said Owens. “Granular materials are all around us, and this research project will further our basic knowledge of these common but very important materials.”

Although Wright just finished his freshman year, he already knows that he wants to enter the industry as a mechanical engineer and then eventually attend graduate school for engineering after obtaining work experience.



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