Physics students and faculty are well-represented in the College of Science 2020 Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) Awards. These awards provide 11-week employment in the summer for students, though this year, because of closures during the covid-19 pandemic, the research may have to be stretched out over the academic year.
This year’s physics student awardees are: Hunter Nelson advised by Tuan Pham (Mathematics) Rohal Kakepoto advised by Janet Tate Alan Schultz advised by Hoe Woon Kim (Mathematics) Alexander van Balderen advised by Liz Gire Jessica Waymire advised by Matt Graham Ryan Wong advised by Bo Sun
Students from other departments working with Physics faculty are: Emily Gemmill, (Biochemistry & Biophysics), advised by Weihong Qiu Ruben Lopez (BioHealth Sciences) advised by Bo Sun
Three OSU Physics alums are among 2,046 graduate students nationwide to receive the NSF Graduate Research Fellowships Program award that pays stipend and partial tuition for 3 years. Congratulations to all three! See the Impact article from the College of Science for some more details about other College of Science GRFP recipients.
Mirek Brandt (BS in Physics & Mathematics 2018) worked in the Graham group while at Oregon State. His thesis was on The Impact of Crystal Morphology on the Opto-Electronic Properties of Amorphous and Organic Crystalline Materials. He won a Goldwater Scholarship as an undergraduate and then moved on to the University of California at Santa Barbara where he is doing his doctorate in Astrophysics.
Katelyn Chase (BS in Physics 2018) worked in Bo Sun’s biophysics laboratory during her time at OSU and wrote her thesis on Synchronized Cellular Mechanosensing due to External Periodic Driving. She is now a Ph. D. candidate at the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics at Princeton University, conducting research in the Gitai bacterial biology laboratory, studying cytoskeletal proteins. She is interested in proteins involved in bacterial cell shape formation and maintenance. Her photo shows her in Iceland in January.
Patrick Flynn (BS in Physics and Mathematics, 2018) did his senior thesis project on Localized structures in a diffusive run and tumble model for M. xanthus, as part of the Complex Systems REU at the University of Minnesota with Arnd Scheel (Bo Sun was the local advisor). Patrick also contributed to the linear solver code for the Monte-Carlo simulations performed in David Roundy’s research group in Physics. Patrick is now a Ph. D. candidate in the Department of Applied Mathematics at Brown University. He is studying the Euler- and Vlasov-Poisson models appearing in plasma and astrophysics. His NSF GRFP proposal was about answering questions such as the existence and stability of solitary waves, or the existence of solutions containing many interacting solitary waves, for the Euler- and Vlasov-Posson equations. Patrick says he is “very enthusiastic about being able to address questions that have been partially addressed by the physics community to discover new mathematics, and in turn inform scientific discovery. Of course, my time at Oregon State was very formative in this regard, and I still heavily rely on what I learned in the mathematics and physics programs there. After all, I first learned what a dispersion relation was from David Roundy!” The accompanying picture shows Patrick on the Brown Campus.
See the Impact article from the College of Science for some more details about College of Science GRFP recipients.
In December 2019, Associate Prof. Bo Sun received the Richard T. Jones New Investigator Award from the Medical Research Foundation of Oregon for his work on the biophysics of collective behavior in cells.
For more details on the award see the MRF awards site and the longer College of Science IMPACT article about Bo’s work.
Oregon State Physics is still operating, although our labs are in standby mode and our teaching is now all remote. We’re using online channels like Zoom and Slack to maintain our tradition of student interaction in courses. Students are still working together on problems and the Society of Physics Students is launching an online game night. We could not have done this without herculean efforts by faculty and students to create online labs, videos, and sophisticated live classes in 3 weeks. Grad students are writing new labs and undergraduates are serving as learning assistants in the Virtual Wormhole. See this video on vectors produced in our Lightboard studio to see what our students see.
If you are interested
in helping students financially in the short term, Oregon State has set up an
emergency fund for students in need. Many students (or their parents)
have lost their jobs and are struggling with basics like books, rent,
food and the now vital internet connection. Please consider donating to
the Beavers Care fund which is providing emergency funding to OSU
students https://app.fundmetric.com/qvRUQF9u4 (You can designate the College of
Science) or to the Human Services Resource Center (HSRC) https://studentlife.oregonstate.edu/hsrc which provides food boxes, loaner
computers and other emergency supplies for students.
Physics research isn’t just for Physics majors. Biophysicist Weihong Qiu hosts students from BioHealth Sciences and Biochemistry in his lab as well.
BioHealth student Haelyn Epp used her #SUREScience scholarship to work in a biophysics lab on motor proteins. “My scholarship replaced one of my jobs, [and] allowed me to focus on research in a way I had not been able to,” says Haelyn. Read the full article at:
Prof. Bo Sun has received an NSF CAREER award for his biophysics research. Please look at the longer IMPACT article for details. (And he’s also the 2019 Richard T. Jones New Investigator Award for the Medical Research Foundation of Oregon, more details on that after the ceremony in Portland later this term.)
Robert “Jake” Jacobs has been awarded a NASA Future Investigators in NASA Earth and Space Science and Technology (FINESST) award for 2019 in the competitive Earth Science Division. With this award, he is developing a method to analyze latitudinal circulation utilizing satellite measurements of ocean surface vector winds measured by the QuickSCAT and ASCAT scatterometers. Our objectives are to improve understanding of climatological atmospheric circulation patterns and how surface winds in the tropical Pacific influence El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events. Latitudinal circulation plays an important role in weather and climate variability as it shapes where precipitation falls and how heat moves from the equator to polar regions. Improved accuracy of the boundaries between large-scale atmospheric cells can advance our understanding of climate and weather models.
Robert “Jake” Jacobs has
been awarded a NASA Future Investigators in NASA Earth and Space Science
and Technology (FINESST) award for 2019 in the competitive Earth Science
Division. With this award, he is developing a method to analyze latitudinal circulation
utilizing satellite measurements of ocean surface vector winds measured by the QuickSCAT
and ASCAT scatterometers. Our objectives
are to improve understanding of climatological atmospheric circulation patterns
and how surface winds in the tropical Pacific influence El Niño-Southern
Oscillation (ENSO) events. Latitudinal
circulation plays an important role in weather and climate variability as it
shapes where precipitation falls and how heat moves from the equator to polar
regions. Improved accuracy of the
boundaries between large-scale atmospheric cells can advance our understanding
of climate and weather models.
This type of work while
exciting is not new, as astronautical projects have been a driving force in Jake’s
life. His passion for space has taken him from an undergraduate degree in
Aerospace Engineering, from Purdue University, to satellite remote sensing at
Oregon State University (OSU) where he is completing a PhD in Physics. Before
arriving at OSU, Jake obtained a master’s degree in physics from Eastern
Michigan University (EMU). While there, he worked with funds from the NASA
Space Grant to develop an ion source that would be used in sputtering
experiments to model the solar wind.
Connecting with his
advisor, Dr. Larry O’Neill at OSU, has created an excellent partnership, as they
bring different strengths to the table.
Dr. O’Neill’s wealth of experience has helped Jake to greatly advance his
knowledge of atmospheric and oceanic sciences.
While Jake’s physics and math background have assisted with advancing
spatial derivative analysis techniques. This
newest project has combined Jake’s passion for physics and math with a novel
astronautical venture. He greatly looks forward to continuing this project with
the support of the FINESST Fellowship.
In his limited free time,
Jake enjoys reading, hiking, swimming and playing disc golf with his two small
children, wife and two dogs. An extra
joy in his life is watching his children grow to love the universe and all its
boundless opportunities. The family also
enjoys star gazing, which can be difficult in Oregon, so they use a home star
theater system to learn about space, stars and the world above.
Tyler Parsotan has been awarded a NASA Future Investigators in NASA Earth and Space Science and Technology (FINESST) award for 2019 in the extremely competitive Astrophysics category. His proposal, titled “Demystifying the Interplay between Explosion Dynamics and Electromagnetic Radiation in Gamma Ray Bursts”, was one of the 11% of selected proposals in this category.
Originally from NY, Tyler is a first generation student. His family is from the Caribbean island nation of Trinidad and Tobago. He acquired a BS in Space Physics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and is now working on a PhD in Physics at Oregon State University.
Tyler is currently a fourth year graduate student working with Dr. Davide Lazzati on understanding the most powerful explosions in the Universe known as Gamma Ray Bursts. These events are so energetic that in the first few seconds of the explosion, they release more energy than our sun will emit in its entire lifetime. Understanding these events allows us to get a better handle on how matter behaves in extreme conditions and may eventually lead to using these Gamma Ray Bursts as tools that can uncover new cosmological truths.
Besides working on his research project, Tyler is the president and co-founder fo the OSU astronomy Club. The club is focused on fostering interest in astronomy at OSU and the community of Corvallis in general. Tyler, with the help of many other undergraduate and graduate students, has hosted the Astronomy Open House events where members fo the public are invited to Weniger Hall to learn about astronomy though interactive demos and rooftop observations. More information regarding OSU Astronomy can be found at: https://physics.oregonstate.edu/astronomy-club
Graduate Student Jihan Kim has won the 2018 Physics Department Graduate Research Award
Jihan Kim works with Prof. Bo Sun on biophysical problems. Jihan’s research focuses on the mechanics of cancer-extra-cellular medium (ECM) interactions, which is one of the major factors dictating the physiology of tumors. This is a particularly fertile ground for interdisciplinary research, as physicists are trained to analyze forces in complex systems. Jihan takes advantage of his physics knowledge in understanding deep biological questions.
Jihan’s first project is to measure the force exerted by cancer cells in 3D collagen matrices, which simulate a realistic tissue environment. He quickly learned MATLAB programing, and wrote a sophisticated image analysis algorithm to enhance images, and to determine the 3D deformation field caused by cancer cells. After publishing his first paper in PLoS ONE, Jihan noticed that a pair of cancer cells can permanently remodel a collagen matrix by creating a bundle of concentrated collagen fibers between them. He talked to a friend during the APS meeting about the observation, which eventually evolved into a collaborative project published in Nature Communications.
Having studied the forces generated by cancer cells and how these forces modify the cells’ environment, Jihan is working on his latest project. In this project, he studies how the environment direct cancer migration. Once completed, his PhD thesis will have a completed loop indicating the feedback between cancer cells and their physical environment.
Ethan Minot, associate professor of physics, received the Milton Harris Award in Basic Research for his impressive accomplishments as a scientist. At Oregon State, Minot has built a world-class materials physics laboratory for the study of the structure and properties of carbon nanomaterials and devices for nanoelectronics.
His research at Oregon State has pushed the limit of fundamental properties of nanoelectronic devices, which have a broad range of applications to biosensing and solar energy harvesting. Some of his achievements are: identifying the fundamental noise mechanism that limits the performance of graphene biosensors in liquid environments; becoming the first to electrically generate and detect single point defects; reaching a new level of control over point defect chemistry; and other pioneering advances in the development of high-quality nanodevices and biosensors.