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Senior Lab Instructor Omid Ahmadi-Gorgi works with two students

Senior Lab Instructor Omid Ahmadi-Gorgi works with two students

$1 Million Endowment to Support Student Research, Internships in Physics

SCU’s innovative REAL Program helped more than 127 students in the College of Arts and Sciences get paid for meaningful research and internships last summer. 

A $1 million gift is on its way to Santa Clara University’s innovative REAL Program, which supports meaningful paid summer internships, research, and creative projects for students enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences, and will specifically benefit physics majors.

The endowment to REAL—short for Real Experience, Actual Learning—is the program’s largest to date, and was made by a local couple who wish to remain anonymous.

It’s the latest in a series of gifts that the husband and wife have bestowed to SCU over the years, according to college Dean Debbie Tahmassebi, who thanked the donors for their support and commended the physics department for its quality work with students, which encouraged the investment.

“Congratulations to the Department of Physics,” said the dean. “I'm hoping this gift serves as motivation for other generous donors to support the REAL program, which serves students across the entire college.”

Eligible to students enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences, the REAL Program in the last year raised and distributed $550,000 to more than 127 students across 18 different majors. Students are awarded stipends of up to $5,000 each over 10 weeks.

Several undergraduates over the summer employed physics in their projects, including one who used it to study the silk structures of tropical and subtropical insects known as webspinners.

Another student’s physics project focused on the ultrafast optical properties of Weyl semimetals, which experts say could be used to build a range of electronic devices, from superlenses for scanning tunneling microscopes to transistors.

The goal for 2019, Tahmassebi said, is to double the program’s funding—and the number of students who will be able to participate next summer. Ultimately, the College hopes to provide one paid REAL summer experience for every student in the College of Arts and Sciences during their four years at Santa Clara.

The generous couple already had been funding the sort of work being done in the REAL Program, said Amber De Buizer ’98, assistant vice president for Development at SCU, which made it a perfect fit.

“They recognize the value of research fellowships as a co-curricular experience,” De Buizer said.

For more information about the REAL Program, please contact Daniel Iritani, Director of External Relations for the College of Arts and Sciences, at 408-554-3446, or diritani@scu.edu.

About the College of Arts and Sciences at Santa Clara University
The College of Arts and Sciences is the heart of Santa Clara University. Our faculty integrate transformative teaching and innovative scholarship to engage students in the processes of learning, discovery and reflection as members of a community of scholars. The College of Arts and Sciences Corporate Partners Program aims to redefine corporate engagement with undergraduate universities. As the Jesuit university in the Silicon Valley, the College of Arts and Sciences is distinctly positioned to provide companies a unique platform to serve their community. For more information, see www.scu.edu/cas.

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