The Oregon State University Society of Physics Students (SPS) made a strong showing at the Sigma Pi Sigma Quadrennial Congress, which was held on November 2-6, 2016 in San Francisco. In cooperation with LBCC students and faculty, SPS secured funding to send 1 graduate student and 7 undergraduates from OSU and 3 LBCC students to the Congress. The students presented posters, toured scientific facilities, networked with professionals, and listened to talks by the leaders in Physics.

Michael Forkner and Tym Mangan (pictured with their posters) were among the undergraduates who presented the innovative research being done at Oregon State University. During the poster sessions, students discussed their work with other physics students from across the country and received feedback from professional physicists on their presentations. They also toured the Stanford Linear Accelerator or the Google X facilities, and listened to talks by professional scientists while looking at the sort of labs they might work in one day.

There were exciting plenary talks, including one by Dame Jocelyn Bell-Burnell who discovered quasars. She thinks that the climate in physics for women has improved considerably since her days as a young scientist. Eric Cornell, Nobel Laureate (and former Yunker lecturer) gave a characteristically upbeat and interesting talk about what the life of a real scientist is like. Between plenary talks, PhysCon conducted workshops that allowed SPS members from across the nation (and beyond!) to network and discuss important topics faced by chapters and individuals during their physics journeys. Grad student Kelby Hahn was a panelist who discussed life as a graduate student. The students were delighted to made connections that will last well beyond their short stay at PhysCon.

OSU/LBCC Participants:
Kelby Hahn, Michael Forkner, Evan Peters, Tym Mangan, Elliot Capek, Hazel Betz, Gabe Nowak, Nikita Rosanov; Osvaldo Galvez, Delphine LeBrunColon, Eric Slyter.

Michael Forkner presents his research at PhysCon
Tym Magnan at PhysCon 2016
Delphine LeBrunColon and Elliot Capek at PhysCon
Students at PhysCon

 

image1The annual Fall Meeting of the Materials Research Society’s “best poster” awards are eagerly anticipated, and this year, James Haggerty garnered his second one. James presented a poster on his work on titania polymorphs at the Fall 2016 meeting in Boston, MA. The poster, entitled “The effect of amorphous precursors on the crystallinity of TiO2 thin films using pulsed laser deposition,” is a collaborative effort between Tate group researchers and scientists from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, MIT and the Colorado School of Mines.  The researchers are trying to understand why a particular metastable form of TiO2 called brookite is difficult to grow. James’s poster presented evidence that the presence of sodium ions, thought to be important in the growth of bulk crystals, is not necessary in thin-film growth.  Bethany Matthews and Janet Tate were co-authors on the poster.  Last year at the Fall MRS meeting, James and Bethany both won best poster awards – maybe a three-peat in 2017?!

Pavel Kornilovich is a runner-up in the “Physics in 2116” essay contest run by AIP’s “Physics Today”. Pavel’s essay, “African Arrow sees hints of structure in the fabric of space”,  imagines the result of a giant accelerator experiment 100 years in the future that probes energy scalepavels at which the four known forces would be unified.  Of about 200 entries, four essays were chosen for publication in the December 2016 edition of “Physics Today”.  The other essays speculated about the implications of future technologies for privacy, emergent consciousness, and a future telescope, the “Asteroid Belt Astronomical Telescope”, built from polished asteroids.  Happy reading!

Pavel Kornilovich is a Courtesy Professor of Physics at Oregon State University and a Senior Technologist at HP Inc in Corvallis.

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Elaine and Ben Whiteley were honored with the College of Science Distinguished Service Award on Friday, November 18th, 2016 at a dinner and award ceremony in the Memorial Union.  Mr. and Mrs. Whiteley are pictured at the awards dinner with Prof. Janet Tate.  The Whiteleys are OSU alumni who graduated in 1951 and 1953 respectively, and are long-time friends of the Physics Department and the College of Science.  They contribute generously to the endowment for the Yunker Lecture series, in honor of Elaine Yunker Whiteley’s father, Prof. Edwin A. Yunker, who was on the physics faculty for 43 years and was department chair from 1949 to 1966.  They have also created a scholarship for students in Materials Science that bears their name.  Many of our students have received the Whiteley Materials Science Fellowship and we all continue to enjoy the intellectual vibrance that the annual Yunker Lecture brings.  Congratulations and thank you both for your support and friendship!

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Congratulations to Dr. Scott Clark who is the 2016 recipient of the  College of Science’s Young Alumni Award.  Scott is co-founder and CEO of SigOpt in San Francisco, a startup company for tuning complex systems and machine learning models.  He’s a 4th-generation Beaver and earned 3 B.S. degrees (in Physics, Computational Physics and Mathematics,) from Oregon State University in 2008! He did research with Prof. Rubin Landau (Physics) and Prof. Malgo Peszynska (Math) while at OSU.  He earned his Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics and his M.S. in Computer Science from Cornell University and then spent 2 years at Yelp developing black-box Bayesian global optimization techniques.  He subsequently founded SigOpt with his business partners and has raised millions of dollars in start-up funds.  (https://www.linkedin.com/in/sc932)

We were delighted to host Scott in the department and the college, where he talked with current students and visited his old stomping grounds! On Friday evening, November 18th, Scott accepted his award at a banquet in the Memorial Union.  He was accompanied by family members, including his wife, Dr. June Andrews, who also has a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics from Cornell and is a  data scientist at Pinterest.

Scott said that what he liked best about OSU was the encouragement to pursue whatever he wanted and the excellent problem-solving and analytical skills he developed in our physics program!  Thanks Scott, and congratulations!

IMG_2954Bethany Matthews and James Haggerty, graduate students in Janet Tate’s research group, attended the 2015 Fall MRS Meeting in Boston, MA.  Each submitted a poster on their work with the DOE-funded EFRC, Center for Next Generation Materials by Design: Incorporating Metastability.  Both posters were nominated for “best poster” in their respective sessions – congratulations!  Bethany is pictured with her poster, “Growth and Characterization of the Metastable Heterogeneous Alloys (Sn1-xCax)S and (Sn1-xCax)Se“.  James’s poster was entitled, “Sb2Ox polymorphic thin films using pulsed laser deposition“.

Alum Brandon Brown (Ph.D. 1997) has written a biography of Max Planck entitled Planck – Driven by vision, broken by war, published by Oxford 51abHwqgpDL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_University Press in 2015.  Brandon’s long-standing interest in science communication led him to the Science Communication program at UC Santa Cruz after he earned his Ph.D. from OSU. He joined the faculty at the University of San Francisco in 1998, and is now is Professor of Physics. Asked where the idea for the book came from, Brandon said, “I’ve been fascinated by Max Planck’s life and times for at least the last 27 years or so. As a student, I was struck by the sadness in his old face and by the fact that he made his most important contribution in his 40’s. That’s not so common, especially in physics.” Brandon’s website for his book is http://www.brandonrbrown.net/.