An Attosecond with Eric Cunningham

By: Graduate Studies on

How does a student find his way to such a specialized research area as attosecond science? For Optics PhD candidate Eric Cunningham, the path began with an early interest in math and science. His undergraduate engineering courses helped him realize his fascination with the underlying physics, and he eventually concentrated on atomic, molecular and optical physics. “The College of Optics and Photonics at UCF seemed like a natural and obvious choice for me,” Cunningham states.

Cunningham’s research is conducted at UCF’s Institute for the Frontier of Attosecond Technology, where new laser sources and experimental techniques are developed for observing the fastest quantum dynamics occurring inside atoms and molecules. CREOL’s encouragement and promotion of experimental exploration aligns with Cunningham’s own belief that “a hands-on experience is necessary to build the intuition needed for applying and enacting those principles [of what is theoretically possible] in any meaningful or realistic way.”

Cunningham values the contributions all of his professors made to his education. Along with the technical knowledge he has acquired, he has learned many invaluable aspects of the research process, from working with diverse team members to presenting and communicating research results. On October 23, Cunningham gave a 3-minute presentation of his work “The Frontier of Attosecond Science and Technology” during the Fall 2014 Graduate Fellows Symposium.

In 2011, Cunningham was awarded a Graduate Dean’s Fellowship. In 2013, he received the Army Research Office Graduate Mentoring Fellowship, and in 2014 he was awarded the Graduate Research Excellence Fellowship. Prior to UCF, Cunningham earned his BS and MS degrees in Physics at Brigham Young University where he conducted research in an ultrafast laser lab. He plans to complete his doctorate in 2015.

Eric Cunningham

Eric Cunningham presenting at the Fall 2014 Graduate Fellows Symposium.

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