The Department of Physics annually awards the Daphne Chang Memorial Award to honor students who excel in undergraduate research in the department. Winners are given a certificate along with a $1,000 award.
The award is named in honor of Daphne Y. Chang (Trinity 2005), a Duke Physics major, who passed away on December 21, 2009 at the age of 26 after battling a never-fully-diagnosed disease. Daphne is remembered by the Duke Physics Community as an extraordinary person: in her sophomore year she joined the Nuclear Theory Group as an independent study student. Her subsequent research under the supervision of Prof. Steffen A. Bass on the production of strange quarks in relativistic heavy-ion collisions led to her giving talks and showing posters at several national and international conferences as well as publishing her results as a letter in the Journal of Physics G: Nuclear and Particle Physics. Daphne defended her Honor's Thesis at the end of her junior year and subsequently went on to work as a TA for the introductory quantum mechanics course and as an administrative assistant at TUNL until her graduation (a semester early).
Daphne was accepted into many top Physics graduate programs in the country, including MIT, Columbia, Yale, Stanford and Caltech. She went to Caltech pursuing a Ph.D. in the Space Astrophysics Lab under Prof. Chris Martin. Daphne was not only a brilliant young physicist, but also a very warm and compassionate person with a broad range of interests outside of Physics who brought a lot of lighthearted fun to the Departmental social scenes.
Daphne's accomplishments in undergraduate research serve as great example on the opportunities available to aspiring physics majors. The Physics Department wishes to encourage undergraduate research and reward stellar achievements in this area.
The call for nominations is announced once a year, toward the middle of the spring semester. The winner — chosen by the selection committee that includes the Director of Undergraduate Studies and two other faculty members appointed by the Department Chair — will be announced prior to the end of the semester.
To nominate a student, send your nomination letter to the Director of Undergraduate Studies prior to April 10. The nomination letter should describe the research project the nominee has been involved in and be detailed about the nominee's specific contributions to the project. The selection committee will pay particular attention to the following criteria:
- Did the nominee take intellectual ownership of the research project?
- Did the nominee present results of the research at conferences (talks or posters)?
- Did or will the research result in a publication or an important technical/analysis note for large-collaboration experiments with a (co-)authorship of the nominee?
- Did the research result in an honor's thesis?