Duke Grad Receives Prestigious DOE Fellowship

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Christopher Lester, ‘08, has received a U.S. Energy Department Graduate Fellowship to support his graduate work at the University of Pennsylvania. Lester, who is from Marietta, Georgia, is currently pursuing a PhD in high energy physics and is doing research at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Switzerland. The fellowship consists of $50,500 per year for three years to cover tuition, living expenses, research materials, and related travel.

“My work at Duke really helped me obtain the DOE fellowship,” Lester says. With Prof. Al Goshaw, Lester spent three summers as an undergraduate working at the Tevatron in Illinois on the CDF experiment (the Collider Detector at Fermilab). There he studied the W boson, which exists only for an instant before decaying into other particles. “I studied a rare decay of this particle to a pion and photon and set the world’s best limit on the observation of this decay,” he says. Lester said the experience he gained while working on the CDF experiment gave him a head start as a graduate student working at the LHC, enabling him to jump right in and start contributing to the research. “In the end, my success is owed in large part to the patience and effort that the Duke high energy group spent in training and mentoring me as an undergraduate,” he says.