Tamra Nebabu: Research on Light at Small Scales

Part of the Senior Stories, Class of 2017 Series
Tamra Nebabu: “Duke is the place where I discovered my passion for physics, found inspiration in my professors and mentors, and made lifelong friends.

Tamra Nebabu 

Hometown: Fairfax, VA
Double Major: Physics, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Clubs: Duke Robotics (sophomore and junior year), Duke’s Ethiopian and Eritrean Student Transatlantic Alliance.
Favorite Duke memory: One of my favorite memories would have to be treating my friends at the WaDuke at the end of one semester. I had a surplus of food points and took six of my friends out for dinner. We all squeezed into one car, which was an interesting experience. Dinner was a blast, but they were still not able to spend my remaining food points.

In 2013, Tamra Nebabu was awarded the prestigious University Scholarship Award to attend Duke University. The award is given to students who represent a range of personal and intellectual backgrounds and share an excitement for original research, collaborative thinking and innovative scholarship.

During her time at Duke, Tamra conducted physics research as part of Dr. Maiken Mikkelsen’s lab where their work focused on examining the interaction of light at very small scales. Tamra discovered there are a lot of interesting phenomena that occur at this scale, with applications ranging from biosensing to quantum computation to the production of ultrafast electronics.

After graduation, Tamra plans to stay at Duke for another year to continue her current research project. Afterwards, she plans to apply to physics Ph.D. programs.

For Tamra, Duke is far more than a place where she received her undergraduate education. “Duke is the place where I discovered my passion for physics, found inspiration in my professors and mentors, and made lifelong friends. Duke was also place of many firsts -- including writing my first piece of code, teaching my first crash course in physics to high schoolers, getting my first taste of chicken and waffles, and giving my first talk to an interdisciplinary audience of students and professors,” Tamra said.