Undergraduate volunteers from the Department of Physics presented kid-friendly demonstrations at the annual Family Science Night at Franklin School, Corvallis, on January 24th.

  

The hands-on demonstrations focused on the electromagnetic spectrum, from invisible infra-red wavelengths to ultra-violet wavelengths, and everything in between. With an infra-red camera, kids could see through black plastic bags and discover warm hand prints on the table, and show their parents the heat leaks in a model house. At the other end of the spectrum, kids played with fluorescent markers and brought their artwork to life in a UV light box.

Many thanks to our undergraduate volunteers Rosemary Williams, Garrett Jepson, Christian Wood and Hunter Nelson.

Physics will attend several more Family Science Nights at local schools in the upcoming weeks.

Reposted from impact.science.oregonstate.edu

A senior’s gut decision in high school to major in physics holds steady four years later

Looking back on his gut decision in high school to major in physics after taking a class in it, graduating senior Abe Teklu remains somewhat mystified. “I guess I was just really confident,” he laughs.
Abe grew up around numbers and changing locations, moving from Ethiopia to Arizona at age six when his father got an engineering job at Intel, and then moving to Colorado before his family settled outside of Portland when he was 12.
His family is mathematically inclined. His mom is an accountant and his dad, who not so secretly yearned to be a mathematician, is an engineer who reads calculus books and earned a master’s degree in fluid dynamics. This home field advantage explains some of Abe’s youthful confidence (he “loved math” even as a child) but since then Abe has carried the ball all on his own.
At Oregon State as an Honors physics student, Abe has remained confident – at least most of the time – as well as comfortable with numbers and shifting contexts. He has had three research internships. The first was the summer after his sophomore year when he had a paid internship at Northwestern University’s Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics (CIERA) in Evanston, Illinois, in a rather niche but fascinating area of speculative research called astrobiology. There Abe analyzed mathematical models of theoretical predator-prey systems not limited to planet Earth.
The summer before his junior year, Abe headed down to San Diego for another paid internship, this time at the U.S. Department of Energy’s DIII-D National Fusion Facility. The facilty consists of a tokamak, a magnetic fusion device which Abe describes as “a big metal donut spinning plasma to get fusion energy.” Abe used magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) theory to model plasma confinement, with the goal of understanding which conditions better spread heat flux in the divertor region.
In his third research experience, Abe spent more than two years working in physics department head Heidi Schellman’s Particle Physics Research Group, analyzing neutrino-antineutrino data as part of the MINERvA, a major international research effort exploring matter-antimatter differences in neutrino physics. This involved aiming a beam of neutrinos from Illinois to South Dakota. Specifically, Abe worked on the recoil energies recorded when the rare neutrino-antineutrino reactions hit parallel strips of the scintillator, each of which is connected to a photomultiplier tube that determines how much energy is deposited in a strip.
Abe’s research experiences beyond the classroom gave him many advantages. For one, the DIII-D fusion internship formed the basis for his senior thesis. He also learned valuable lessons about the nature of scientific work.
“Unlike class, where there is always an answer, research is open-ended. It was difficult for me at first, but I came to appreciate that even if you don’t solve a problem, you are contributing to a much larger research effort with scientists around the world that will one day lead to a solution.”
Throughout his four years at OSU, community and relationships were key to Abe’s success, a sentiment reflected in his two top pieces of advice for new students.
“Have as much fun as you can freshman year. Talk toeveryone. You will have the most free time this year and so it’s a great time to meet new people and make friends. It gets harder after that.”
As an Honors College freshman, Abe enjoyed meeting friends in his dorm, Cauthorne, and also hung out in West so often that he was mistaken as a resident. He was and is “surprised by the amount of really smart people here. So many amazing people – and it’s so cool now to see all of my friends going off to exciting new destinations next year, from MIT to Brown to AI research!”
His second piece of advice?
“Talk to professors. Go to office hours. Not just to talk about academics, but just to talk about life. It’s helped me out a lot.”
Some of his favorite professors to hang out with are physicists Corinne Monogue, who he calls a “great teacher and person to talk to about anything at all” and Heidi Schellman. Abe suggests another good reason to talk with professors:  It’s a “great way to start research sooner.”
To wit, when Abe visited to Schellman during her office hours, she began describing her research and Abe just jumped in and asked if he could help.
“That day she gave me a key to her lab and I started doing research!” Two years later, Abe still has a coveted seat in Schellman’s Lab and is currently mentoring a new student to take his place after graduation.
Despite his success at OSU, Abe has faced his share of rejection and challenging times. Before joining the Schellman Lab, he was turned down as a freshman for research positions. The fall of his senior year was a really difficult time. After an intense summer working at the fusion facility DIII-D in San Diego, he returned to campus for a nonstop term which on top of his usual demanding coursework included studying for the Physics GRE, applying to graduate schools, writing his senior thesis and dealing with the inevitable “personal stuff.”
“I was overwhelmed and my confidence was shaken. Was I good enough? I had imposter syndrome. The only thing that got me out of it,” Abe reflects, “was just to endure. I just kept going step by step, every single day. I had to keep going and I did and it finally got better.”
It certainly did. Abe was accepted into the physics Ph.D. program at Stonybrook University in Long Island, New York, remarking with great enthusiasm upon the fact that there are no less than “60-70 physics researchers there!” Not wasting any time, he will jumpstart his graduate research this summer at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland, working on a yet-to-be-defined research project with his graduate advisor.
Abe is grateful for the science education he has received at Oregon State and was not surprised when he heard that the Department of Physics recently received a national award for improving undergraduate physics education.
“All of my professors were great,” he said. The junior-year Paradigms in Physics series in particular, which was redesigned to include interactive pedagogies and real-world applications to better reflect how professional physicists think, was a real game-changer for Abe.
“[The junior-year Paradigms in Physics] was hard, but it was great and everyone in the class bonded together. We came out feeling that we could do anything!”
Abe’s gratitude extends to the many scholarships he received that helped cement his choice to go to Oregon State. He received the university’s four-year Academic Achievement award as well as a freshman year Honors College scholarship, a Kenneth S. Krane Scholarship in Physics and a David B. Nicodemus Scholarship in Physics.

Rebecca Grollman, Graham Founds, Rick Wallace and  Oksana Ostroverkhova’s paper “Simultaneous fluorescence and surface charge measurements on organic semiconductor-coated silica microspheres” has been featured by Advances in Engineering  as a key scientific article contributing to excellence in science and engineering research.  See

https://advanceseng.com/simultaneous-fluorescence-surface-charge-measurements/

for a short summary of the paper and a short video highlighting the result.

The American Physical Society has recognized OSU Physics for Improving Undergraduate Physics Education.

We are one of three institutions to receive the award this year. https://www.aps.org/programs/education/undergrad/faculty/awardees.cfm  explains the award and lists previous winners

For 21 years, the physics department at Oregon State has been a national model for its holistic approach to improving the educational experience for undergraduates, from the nationally recognized, upper division curriculum redesign—Paradigms in Physics, through lower‐division reform, thesis research experiences for all majors, and attention to co‐curricular community‐building. We are dedicated to building a strong cohort group of students, prepared for a wide range of careers. For the broader community, we produce and freely share cutting‐edge curricular materials based on our own physics education research.”

Press release from Mississippi State about Physics Alumna Kimberly Wood:

April 9, 2018

https://www.msstate.edu/newsroom/article/2018/04/msu-geosciences-faculty-member-receives-early-career-recognition/

Contact: Sarah Nicholas

STARKVILLE, Miss.—A tropical cyclone authority at Mississippi State is a new selection for the American Meteorological Society’s Early Career Leadership Academy.

Assistant professor Kimberly Wood soon will be among nearly three dozen 2018 ECLA members receiving special training in Washington, D.C. She came to the Starkville campus three years ago.

Founded in 1919 and headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, the American Meteorological Society is the nation’s premier organization for atmospheric, oceanic and hydrologic sciences. Its 13,000 members include researchers, educators, students, enthusiasts, broadcasters and others in these fields.

Supported by IBM, the AMS leadership academy works to sustain a diverse network of early-career achievers. Creative problem-solving, conflict resolution and enhancement of communication skills are major components of the curriculum.

Wood is a 2012 University of Arizona doctoral graduate in atmospheric science and remote sensing. She became an AMS member in 2008.

“Dr. Wood is the only MSU faculty member that has intentionally flown into the eye of a hurricane to collect data,” noted John Rodgers, interim head of the Department of Geosciences. Alongside experiences with hazardous weather systems, she has “excellent computer modeling skills and extensive knowledge of the application of satellite technologies to meteorology,” he said.

Her research “adds a very important component to our already outstanding meteorology program,” Rodgers added.

Wood said her leadership academy participation “already has borne fruit in the form of expanding connections with colleagues I may never have interacted with outside of such a program.” She also credits “strong support” from MSU colleagues and resources for the development of her chosen career.

Last year, she was selected to represent Mississippi at a congressional visit day organized in the nation’s capital by the American Geophysical Union. After helping stress the importance of continued federal science funding, she was asked by the AGU to also join its Climate Science Day program taking place on Capitol Hill in early 2018.

“I believe both experiences positively contributed to my selection for the ECLA, as well as the vision I have for my scientific career,” Wood said.

Academy membership involves a rigorous evaluation process, with documentation required of major accomplishments, successful experiences communicating across cultures and disciplines, and challenges involving weather, water and climate systems.

Wood is a Beaverton, Oregon, native who earned a bachelor’s degree in physics at Oregon State University. She also holds a master’s in atmospheric sciences from the University of Arizona. More biographical information may be read via the “About Us” link at the departmental website www.geosciences.msstate.edu.

Missions of the American Meteorological Society and Early Career Leadership Academy are online at www.ametsoc.org.

MSU’s College of Arts and Sciences includes more than 5,200 students, 300 full-time faculty members, nine doctoral programs and 25 academic majors offered in 14 departments. Complete details about the College of Arts and Sciences may be found at www.cas.msstate.edu.

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.

 

Zachary Free helps attendees understand the orbit of planets around the sun in the above picture (All photographs curtesy of Ikaika McFadden).

On Friday March 9th, the OSU Astronomy Club and the Department of physics held the first Astronomy Open House of 2018! The Astronomy Club under Emily Simpson, Rachel Hausmann, Samantha Carrothers, Nathanial Miller, Leon Linebarger, Tyler Parsotan and many dedicated volunteers invited OSU students, adults and children to Weniger Hall to have fun with hands on demonstrations that help explain how astrophysical phenomena work.

Emily Simpson helps attendees determine which scientist they are most like.

Some of the activities included a room dedicated to Mars landing sites, by Rachel Hausmann, an activity dedicated to the mythology behind constellations, by Samantha Carrothers, a test created by Emily Simpson to determine which historical scientist you would be. We also had a presentation on remote telescope observations by local astronomers Tom Carrico, a presentation on telescope tuning by Stephen McGettigan, and the OSU Robotics Club show off their Mars rover!

The OSU Robotics Club show off their rover in Rachel Hausmann’s Mars Landing Sites Room.
Astronomy Tom captivated the attendees with how easy it is to get amazing astronomy photographs.

Over 100 people attended the event and got a free NASA poster for completing each activity! While we weren’t able to have telescopes out for this event due to the weather, future events will have night observations; especially as the weather gets better and better here in Oregon. In order to hear about our next event like us on facebook.com/osuastronights. We hope to see you there!

Undergraduate volunteers from the Department of Physics took some of their favorite kid-friendly demonstrations to share with families at the annual Family Science Night at Franklin School, Corvallis, on January 25th. The demonstrations included exploding balloons in a vacuum chamber, the dielectric breakdown of air, target practice with a vortex cannon, rainbow effects with diffraction glasses and the department’s home made hover craft.  Many thanks to volunteers, Zack Colbert, Lincoln Worley, Mirek Brandt, Garrett Jepson, Hanna Hansen, and Mattia Carbonaro.

OSU Physics undergraduates were busy in research labs all over the U.S. and the world during the summer of 2017.  Many of them had National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates (NSF-REU) positions, others were working in laboratories in REU programs sponsored by other agencies, and some had industrial internships. All of them helped create new knowledge and they all had a wonderful time doing research!

This level of participation in cutting-edge research by OSU undergraduates is very impressive – congratulations to all of you! Some of this work will be presented at seminars in the Physics Department during the year, so there will be an opportunity for the younger students to learn about the process and the fun of working in a research environment.

Yousif Almulla participated in an REU program at Oak Ridge National Laboratory with Dr. Jacek Jakowski. He used density functional theory to understand how qubits work.

Hassan Alnatah developed a protocol with Dr. Bo Sun of OSU Physics to construct a 3D printed cell model based on confocal imaging.

Hazel Betz did an internship in the Fault Isolation and Failure Analysis Laboratory at Intel in Hillsboro, OR. She analyzed samples with a scanning electron microscope and designed to proof-of-concept experiments to improve device probing characteristics, and developed and documented procedures to improve the process.

Mirek Brandt received a fellowship to study at the Kupcinet-Getz International Science Summer School at the Weizmann Institute in Israel. During his 8 weeks with Dr. Boaz Katz, he modeled the spectrum of type 1a supernova, given some arbitrary explosion model. The intent is to eventually test the supernova detonation models studied by Dr. Katz.  Mirek highly recommends the program! Mirek then returned to OSU to take up his Goldwater Fellowship in the lab of Dr. Matt Graham of Physics. A very busy summer!

Katelyn Chase participated in an NSF-REU program at the University of Utah in the group of Dr. Michael Vershinin in the Physics and Astronomy department.  She studied the effect of Trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO) on the stability of kinesin-1 motor proteins as a function of temperature.

Aaron Dethlefs worked in Dr. Janet Tate’s OSU lab commissioning the new PPMS system in EECS for transport experiments on semiconductors.

Patrick Flynn solved partial differential equations with applications to bacteria migration, with Dr. Arnd Scheel in the Math Department at the University of Minnesota.

Ian Founds studied students’ use of the chain rule in thermodynamics with Dr. Paul Emigh and Dr. Corinne Manogue of the OSU Physics Physics Education Research group. Ian presented his work at the PERC conference this summer.

Cassandra Hatcher had a SURE Science Fellowship to work with Dr. Davide Lazzati of OSU Physics. She studied X-ray polarization from Compton scattering in asymmetric supernova remnants.

Garrett Jepson worked in Dr. David Roundy’s group in the OSU Physics Department. He evaluated a new Monte Carlo code written in rust for use in studying fluids.  He also worked with Dr. Guenter Schneider of OSU Physics using machine learning techniques to locate and identify cells in a cell microscopy image. He has a SURE Science award to support his work.

Ryan Lance developed a new analysis for optical spectroscopy of thin films in Dr. Janet Tate’s lab in the OSU Physics Department.  He received an honorable mention for his presentation at OSU’s Summer Undergraduate Research Conference.  Ryan shows his award in the picture below.

Chris May, working in Dr. David Roundy’s group, developed an improved code for studying the Weeks-Chandler-Anderson fluid.

Dublin Nichols is an OSU College of Science SURE Science fellow and this summer, he built a microscope rig that enabled him to stack atomically thin crystals for further study. He worked in the lab of Dr. Ethan Minot of OSU Physics.

Gabriel Nowak had a Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship (SULI) in the Atomic, Molecular, and Optical sciences group in the Chemical Sciences Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL).  He investigated laser-generated nanoparticle array formation and the dynamics of charge transfer in the process.

Jesse Rodriguez modeled plasmas in the lab of Dr. Mark Cappelli of Stanford’s Mechanical Engineering Department.

Nikita Rozanov characterized the interaction between cytochrome c and 3-mercaptopropionoic acid (MPA) coated gold nanoparticles using molecular dynamics simulations. He worked under the supervision of research scientist Dr. Caley Allen in the group of Dr Rigoberto Hernandez at the Johns Hopkins Department of Chemistry. This work was part of an NSF-REU at the Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology.

Tanner Simpson worked in Dr. David Roundy’s group testing broad histogram Monte Carlo methods using the square well fluid. He presented his work at OSU’s Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium.

Abe Teklu was part of a DOE-funded program at General Atomics in San Diego with mentor Dr. Richard Moyer. Abe analyzed divertor footprints in the DIII-D tokamak to determine whether computational models describe the divertor region accurately. Here are pictures of Abe  discussing his results at a poster session (below left, the taller person) and gathering data in the tokomak (below right, the person in the back row).

         

Attila Varga had a SURE Science fellowship to work with Dr. Kathy Hadley of OSU Physics on modeling rotating star-disk systems.

John Waczak tested and developed a model for the dynein motor protein worked in Dr. David Roundy’s group.

Physics faculty also worked with students from other disciplines. Dr. Weihong Qui and Dr. Bo Sun, who both study biological physics, hosted SURE Science scholars Youngmin Park (BB) and Theresa Dinh (Biology) in their  labs this summer.

 

 


This year’s winner of the WIC Culture of Writing Award in Physics is Jeremy Meinke, for his thesis entitled, “Single-Molecule Analysis of a Novel Kinesin Motor Protein.” Jeremy worked under the direction of Prof. Weihong Qiu.  He was with the Qiu research group for two years and in 2016, he received URISC and SURE awards to support his work. Jeremy says of the OSU Physics Department, “I enjoyed the range of physics topics the upper division classes offered, which kept me constantly thinking about new concepts.  Overall, it was a great place for me to study physics. I truly benefited from the research experience.”

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Physics graduate student Carly Fengel shows a Timber Ridge Elementary School student the beautiful spectral lines of hydrogen, helium, argon and neon lamps. When viewed through diffraction grating glasses, the various wavelengths of light are split apart, revealing a unique signature for each gas. “So we could tell what stars are made of!” remarked the student.

Family Science Nights have been a yearly staple in Corvallis schools for more than a decade, but May 16 was only the second one for Timber Ridge School, a combined middle and elementary school serving a rural area on the northern edge of Albany. About 200 students of all ages attended the event, with middle-school students acting as guides and selling snacks as a fundraiser.

In addition to volunteers from the physics department, OSU was represented by other departments, including the College of Veterinary Medicine, the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, and the School of Nuclear Science and Engineering. Non-departmental groups also showed up, such as the Dairy Club, Geology Club, and Fisheries and Wildlife Club. For the first time, nursing students from Linn-Benton Community College made an appearance, rounding out the science offerings with tables focusing on exercise, vital signs, CPR, and hand-washing.

Other physics demos included classics like levitating ping-pong balls with a hair dryer and the ever-popular hovercraft. As usual, the line for the hovercraft rarely dropped below a dozen students, continuing to draw a crowd to the end of the hall throughout the evening. Many were eager to learn how the hovercraft worked and several times kids remarked: “I want to make one!”

(Prof. Ethan Minot explains the design of the hovercraft)

As the last Family Science Night of the school year, this event ended the semester on a high note, with several new groups and a new physics demonstration. Both volunteers and families will be looking forward to next year’s school outreach events.

A big thank you to the physics student volunteers Evan Peters, Garrett Jepson, and Carly Fengel.

Story by Monica Bennett.