The Undergraduate Researcher of the Year award honors a junior or senior who has demonstrated excellence in undergraduate research through independent inquiry, classes, and student employment.
Brandon Barker, a senior double majoring in physics and mathematics, has been engaged in research since his freshman year, working at places like Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Michigan State University, and the national lab in Pisa, Italy. His work investigates theoretical nuclear and particle astrophysics, with much of it centering around simulations of core-collapse supernovae and other high-energy astrophysical events. In addition to research, Barker has been involved in outreach programs such as the Saturday Science Club at Pond Gap Elementary School. A first-generation college student from rural Tennessee, Barker was named the 2017 Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher by the Department of Physics and Astronomy. After graduating in May, he plans to pursue a doctorate in astrophysics.