Physics graduate wins award for research at Argonne National Lab

Jul 16, 2014

"These attributes are precisely what makes him an excellent student and researcher."

Zak Tilocco '14


Zak Tilocco '14 was surprised when he was informed about his recent recognition for the work that he did in his co-op placement at the Argonne National Lab in Bloomington, Illinois.

“I had no clue that it would get an award for anything. I’m pretty happy,” Tilocco said.

Tilocco was awarded the William Robert Marshall award for the paper that his research team presented at the ILASS-Americas 25th Annual Conference Liquid Atomization and Spray Systems in May 2013. The 2014 conference recognized the team’s paper on "Synchrotron X-ray Measurements of Cavitation," as the most significant contribution to the previous year’s conference.

“Zak is a very bright, creative and ambitious person,” said Kathryn Svinarich, department head and associate professor of Physics at Kettering University. “These attributes are precisely what make him an excellent student and researcher. The work that he has accomplished as a student co-oping at Argonne is phenomenal. Usually an undergraduate student doesn't possess the necessary skills to produce work of this quality and complexity.”

Tilocco graduated from Kettering in June 2014 with degrees in Applied Physics and Mathematics. His co-op work at Argonne for which he was recognized focused on measurements of diesel injectors and fuel sprays. The research team used X-rays produced by the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne to make quantitative measurements regarding the efficiency of the sprays traveling from the injector.

“An X-ray beam was shinned onto model injector nozzles in an attempt to see if the fuel flowed nicely or if pockets of bubbles formed,” Tilocco said. “The nozzle were modeled after fuel injectors that are are used in passenger cars and small trucks.”

Tilocco was responsible for data collection on the project and was one of four publishing authors on the study that was recognized nationally.

Despite his excellence in spray systems, Tilocco is taking his talents in a different direction as he’s already started his doctorate degree in nuclear physics at Michigan State University. He was attracted to MSU because of the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams and the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory. The U.S. Department of Energy has recently committed millions of dollars for the expansion of both facilities which will ensure that Tilocco will have access to cutting edge technology to for the duration of his graduate studies.

“His research experience at Argonne sets him apart from other beginning graduate students who may come to graduate school with no research experience at all,” Svinarich said. "We at the physics department are certainly proud to have Zak as one of our alumni and are excited to follow his career throughout his Ph.D. and beyond.”

Written By Pardeep Toor | Contact: Patrick Hayes - - (810) 762-9639