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Junior to study at the European Organization of Nuclear Research

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April 22, 2014

Ashlyn Burch and Dr. Ralph France.Ashlyn Burch and Dr. Ralph France.Junior Ashlyn Burch’s life has been quite an adventure. Growing up in Russia with her missionary parents gave her a strong appreciation of culture and education.

“When I moved back to the U.S. and started high school, I became interested in the physical sciences,” said Burch. “I found the perfect fit with physics because I love solving mathematical problems and learning about the makeup of the universe.”

The physics major now has the opportunity of a lifetime to study alongside some of the leaders in the field of high-energy particle physics at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, in Switzerland. She was accepted into a National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program.

“CERN is the largest and one of the only grand-scale research facilities for particle physics in the world,” said Burch. “I look forward to working with these influential researchers and broadening my network.”

REU programs support active research by undergraduate students in any of the areas of research funded by the NSF. REU projects involve students in ongoing research programs or in research projects specifically designed for the program.

“Ashlyn was one of only 12 students nationwide accepted into a summer Research Experience for Undergraduates program through Duke University,” said Dr. Ralph France, professor of physics. “Only four of those 12 students will be traveling to CERN for research.  Entrance into any NSF funded physics REU programs is very competitive, and she has been accepted into one of the very best and most competitive.”

Burch has worked as France’s research student for nearly two years, giving her the experience to be recognized as one of the top physics students in the country.

“I have been able to have one-on-one interaction with many of the faculty members here at Georgia College. They are devoted to their students and really want to see us succeed in our field,” said Burch. “I believe my experience at Georgia College with hands-on research is one of the reasons I was able to get this opportunity.”

Burch will spend several weeks this summer at Duke University researching before leaving for CERN.

“I’m looking at possibly going to Duke’s graduate school, so I hope to use this opportunity to learn how they work in their labs, meet potential colleagues and decide if particle physics is what I want to pursue in the future,” said Burch.

For more information on the Georgia College Department of Chemistry, Physics and Astronomy, visit

ABOUT GEORGIA COLLEGE: Georgia College, the state’s designated Public Liberal Arts University, combines the educational experience expected at esteemed private liberal arts colleges with the affordability of public higher education. Its four colleges – arts and sciences, business, education and health sciences – provide 6,600 undergraduate and graduate students with an exceptional learning environment that extends beyond the classroom, with hands-on involvement with faculty research, community service, study abroad and myriad internships.

Founded in 1889, Georgia College boasts one of the most beautiful campuses in the nation with Corinthian columns fronting red brick buildings and wide open green spaces. Georgia College also offers graduate education at the historic Jefferson building in downtown Macon, at Robins Air Force Base and online.

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