Skip navigation

USM Freshman Completes Prestigious Internship with Fermilab

Wed, 07/10/2024 - 02:57pm | By: David Tisdale


University of Southern Mississippi (USM) undergraduate Prajwal Neupane’s academic prowess earned him a paid opportunity with the country’s premier particle physics and accelerator laboratory as a 2024 Fermilab Quantum Computing Intern. 

Neupane, a native of Kathmandu, Nepal, Neupane is a freshman in USM’s School of Mathematics and Natural Sciences and credits the University’s distinction as a Carnegie R1 Research University as his initial attraction to the institution. Neupane’s internship at Fermilab included work with the Theory Department in its Quantum Computing School, which was recently established to meet the growing need of professionals in the domain. 

The three-week program offers participants direct experience programming for existing quantum computers using Python and Qiskit and is open to undergraduate students majoring in physics and interested in quantum computing for the simulation of physics. The internship is also supplemented by daily lectures on the fundamentals of quantum mechanics and quantum computing and culminates with participants running their own code on an IBM quantum computer. 

In addition to providing a unique learning experience, the internship increases representation of underrepresented populations in scientific research and the engineering workforce. 

 “I’m amazed and humbled by the scale of work at Fermilab,” Neupane said. “My inner child popped up every time I was within walking distance of a particle accelerator. It was truly thrilling to be there for the internship and I’m extremely grateful to have been a part of it.” The internship fed his longtime love of science, remembering “when my eyes glazed with passion watching the CERN collider right around the time they discovered the Higgs boson.” 

 Neupane sees his future in academic research after acquiring a Ph.D. in theoretical physics or abstract math and considers the Fermilab internship a great launchpad for his career. 

“If it were up to me, I would spend the rest of my life submerged in learning,” he said. “Curiosity has always been my best friend, granting me the passion and motivation to be hungry for more.”  

Neupane noted the support of his academic advisor, Associate Teaching Professor of Physics Dr. Jeremy Scott, in the internship application process. “He relentlessly wrote recommendation letters for me, which I am always grateful for,” he said. “I thank all my professors who pushed me to do more.”   

Dr. Scott said it’s rare for a freshman to be considered for an internship, particularly one with a stipend. “I’m very proud of P.J. for receiving this honor,” Dr. Scott continued. “Academically, he is a year ahead of most students in his discipline and has a large potential for success beyond his time at USM.”   

Learn more about USM’s School of Mathematics and Natural Sciences.