Collecting data on a cold New York City rooftop is a far cry from enjoying the warm beaches on the island of Jamaica. But Frederic Jones would not have it any other way. The Jamaica native’s curiosity about the atmosphere took hold on that island.
Fast forward to the present day, and his continued interest in and research about air pollution was recognized by Brookhaven National Laboratory, which awarded him a prestigious 2010 summer internship.
Jones, 21, who graduated from New York City College of Technology (City Tech) on June 2 with an associate degree in electrical engineering technology (EET), realized at an early age in Jamaica that he had a love of mathematics and interest in engineering.
While other boys were involved in sports or other amusements, he was inspecting an old broken radio, wondering how it was built and what he could do to fix it.
He attended the prestigious St. Catherine Primary School in Jamaica, and at age 11, immigrated with his mother and two sisters to Brooklyn, where he enrolled in JHS-Middle School 61 from which he graduated with honors. He is also an alumnus of Brooklyn’s Paul Robeson High School.
With the ultimate goal of becoming an environmental/electrical engineer, Jones said that his objective is to “positively influence society through creation of new technologies that will improve the study of the atmosphere, aid in the clean-up of pollution and help develop the impoverished countries of the world.”
Toward these ends, Jones, who participated in City Tech’s Black Male Initiative (BMI) — which aims to increase enrollment and success in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields for underrepresented students — is currently conducting atmospheric research at City College of New York (CCNY) using light detection and ranging (Lidar) techniques. It was as a Lidar team member that he found himself on that cold rooftop collecting and analyzing data.
In speaking about that assignment, Viviana Vladutescu, the City Tech professor who recruited Jones to conduct research under her supervision at CCNY, says of him, “He never gave up when having to stay on the roof during the cold winter days and never even complained about it.”
Jones, who lives in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, was also a participant in the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program.
It was through LSAMP that Jones came to find out about this internship. Professor Vladutescu, his mentor, encouraged and guided him in the application process for this internship and many others.
In fact, she, too, will be doing research at Brookhaven National Lab this summer as a visiting scientist. Her field of work concerns optical alignment of a photothermal interferometric system, which involves the measurements of the optical properties of aerosols in order to better understand their effects on the warming and cooling of the atmosphere.
Frederic’s work focuses on the array of virtual Frisch-grid Cadmium Zinc Telluride detectors, which are room temperature semiconductors used to detect high-energy gamma rays, extremely energetic explosions in distant galaxies. The goal of Jones’ group at Brookhaven is to improve the performance of Frisch-ring CZT detectors.
In the fall, Jones will begin his studies at CCNY to earn a BS degree in either electrical engineering or earth system science and environmental engineering.
When asked about the most rewarding educational experience he’s had in science or technology, Jones replied that it is “highly rewarding to research and analyze data about the atmosphere. The environment is mysterious and each new discovery is fascinating, fulfilling and motivating to me.”