Scientist of the Week Gennady Malyshev

Caitlin Williamson

Junior physics major Gennady Malyshev spent last summer working with Professor John Brandenberger, Alice G. Chapman Professor of Physics, on a magneto-optical trap as a part of an undergrad research internship. Malyshev is currently continuing his work on the project, which involved creating a system that traps and cools rubidium atoms in order to improve spectroscopic resolution.In order to build the trap, Malyshev and Professor Brandenberger did a lot of research on how to properly make it. The trap uses a series of lasers and mirrors that trap and cool the rubidium. According to Malyshev, the trap can be used for various experiments and branches of physics. But he is currently using the trap to study spectroscopy.

“We’re trying to optically cool rubidium individual atoms to try and improve spectroscopic resolution,” Malyshev said.
The project is a combination of optics and quantum physics, according to Malyshev.

“I got very lucky with Professor Brandenberger — he invited me to work with him during the summer,” Malyshev said. “I really like working on it.”

For Malyshev, physics has always been a part of his life. Both of his parents studied physics in college. Malyshev moved to the United States from Russia in 1997.

“My parents were both physicists in their undergraduate careers, and my dad is still a physicist,” Malyshev said. “[I’m interested in physics] because I guess to an extent it is the most basic of sciences. Physics tries to describe the world as we see it and as we experience it, without very many assumptions.”

As it’s his junior year, Malyshev still has plenty of time to think about what he wants to do after graduation. He wants to go to graduate school for physics, and possibly go into research or education.

“The fact that I’m getting more experience in the lab is definitely something that’s a really big bonus for me,” Malyshev said. “I’ve already learned [a lot], and I want to learn more.”

Malyshev is planning on continuing to work on the magneto-optical trap this year.
“We’re always on the lookout for things to do with our project,” Malyshev said. “I would love to work with Professor Brandenberger again this summer.