Spotlight on Students: Robert Barton
Growing up in Central Massachusetts, Rob decided in the first grade, “When I grow up, I want to be a scientist.” After graduating from high school, he pursued his dream and went to Harvard University, majoring in Physics.
While at Harvard, Rob was accepted into the summer REU program at Columbia University, where he discovered a whole new world of science called “nano.” Specifically, his research that summer investigated the conductance of single molecules. That is when he got the research bug.
After returning to Harvard, he dove into research, working in the laboratory of Prof. Charles Marcus to learn and discover everything he could at the nanoscale. For the past five years, he has been a graduate student in the Craighead Group in Applied Physics here at Cornell. His research at Cornell focuses on using graphene and other two-dimensional materials to make mechanical machines that are one atom thick. He hopes that they will be useful for applications like magnetic resonance imaging of very small objects and for fundamental investigations of quantum mechanics.
Many of Rob's hobbies are athletic. He was a varsity track athlete and captain of his cross-country team in high school, where his favorite race was the mile. In college, he took up crew and cycling. Rob also enjoys swing and salsa dancing with his wife (while ending his graduate program, he planned a wedding, got married, and went on a honeymoon—all while preparing for his B-exam).
Rob’s next stop is Columbia University, where he will be a postdoctoral fellow for the Energy Frontier Research Center. As a postdoc, he will continue his research on graphene and nanoscale materials with an eye toward applications in photovoltaics.