Jennifer Schloss

Hertz Fellow: Jennifer Schloss
School

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Area of Study

Physics

Fellowship Years

2013 - present

Jennifer Schloss is a PhD student studying physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Her love of quantum mechanics led her to MIT, where she jumped into atomic, molecular, and optical (AMO) physics. She spent three years as part of a team in Martin Zwierlein’s group working to create ultracold gases of electrically polar molecules. Although this research gave her a solid foundation in atomic physics as well as a host of experimental skills, she recently determined that it was not the right match for her longer-term research goals. She was eager to find research that tackled problems with a more near-term impact on society. Her search led her to Ronald Walsworth's group at Harvard University, to research that applies quantum systems to study life. Her new research team is developing magnetic imaging of neural activity. The technique uses nitrogen-vacancy centers—quantum defects in diamond crystals—as magnetic sensors to detect the magnetic fields associated with action potentials. This new method has the potential for unparalleled spatial and temporal resolution and could one day aid in diagnosis of neurodegenerative diseases.

Before coming to MIT, Jenny spent her undergrad years majoring in physics at Oberlin College. At Oberlin, Jenny worked with Professor Stephen Fitzgerald studying gases trapped in metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) using variable-temperature infrared spectroscopy. Through probing rovibrational transitions of CO2, CH4, and H2 adsorbed to these highly porous materials, she characterized the gas-binding properties of several MOFs that are candidates for carbon capture, hydrogen storage, and gas separation technologies. Her findings serve to inform computational models of MOFs, which help predict the ideal new structures for various applications. She spent three years in this group and completed a year long honors research project that culminated in a thesis and a lecture for her peers.