Alumna’s physics research developed at SHU

Many alumni made good use of their time at Seton Hall and one in particular who stands out is Fernanda Duarte.

Duarte is currently attending the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, where she is pursuing a Master’s degree in management studies.

Fernanda Duarte was able to complete research on solar technology during her time at SHU.
Photo courtesy of Fernanda Duarte

Before that, she was a physics major and a music minor who contributed to her major and her community in an enormous way.

During her undergraduate years she worked under physics professor Weining Wang to develop more effective solar cell technology, paving the way for more sustainable green energy.

Wang explained how she got to know Duarte. “She was in my class, but before she attended my class here at freshmen year, she went to one of my research talks and got interested in my research, so she came to talk to me before she even was in my class to see if she could do research with me,” Wang said. “She then started doing research with me since her freshmen year.”

When asked about her research, Duarte said, “During my undergrad I worked on solar cell technology. We worked to improve the efficiency of Cadmium Telluride solar cells in an effort to improve its efficiency by introducing organic polymers to serve as a back contact of the cell. This was always the research I was most interested in when I arrived to Seton Hall, because solar energy is such a promising field but there is still so much work to be done in order to have it widely implemented.”

Duarte said, “However I think we need to have it be a part of our lives sooner rather than later! The world is undergoing so many changes and I felt like this was my opportunity to contribute to it and the environment.”

She was also dedicated to her field outside of the classroom, being an active member and then president of the Society of Physics Students (SPS).

Isaac Guevara, a junior physics major, said he knew Duarte from SPS and that she was involved.

Throughout her undergrad years, Duarte was able to attend annual physics conferences with the financial support of the American Physics Society (APS), SHU’s Physics Department, the College of Art and Sciences, and the Claire Boothe Luce (CBL) Foundation.

Fernanda became a CBL scholar in her sophomore year and was awarded CBL Summer Research Fellowships for two summers. Awards given by the CBL foundation only go to students from a handful of universities and Seton Hall is one of them. Fernanda was also awarded the NASA-NJSGC Research Fellowship.

These physics conferences focused on presenting research findings in physics and thus served as a way for Fernanda to present her own research and learn from the works of others in her field of study.

“She goes there every year and presented posters,” Wang said. “Her research actually got published in the Journal of Material Science: Materials in Electronics. It’s very rare that undergrads can get their research published in a journal like that so I’m really proud of her.”

While reflecting on Duarte’s undergraduate success, Wang said, “I think it has many factors in it, one of the factors is that she is not only talented but works really hard, she’s really dedicated in everything she does no matter if it was her research or her academics. She’s involved and dedicated.

“Another important factor is that Seton Hall provided a good environment for her and our Physics Department and College of Arts & Sciences value undergraduate research here a lot.”

Adam Varoqua can be reached at

Author: Staff Writer

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