With departmental funding and an SPS travel grant, undergraduate student Acacia Patterson attended PhysCon, the 2019 Physics Congress, in Providence, Rhode Island 11/14-11/16. Over 1000 people attended the conference, which is hosted by the jointly by Sigma Pi Sigma and the Society of Physics Students and has occurred every 4 years since 1928. A group of OSU students attended the last conference in San Francisco, California.

Acacia Patterson at PhysCon 2019

The 2019 Congress began with tours at Harvard, MIT, and Brown physics departments and at Optikos Corporation, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, Naval Submarine Base New London, and Rhode Island Hospital. The conference included speeches on the work of Einstein and Eddington from Dame S. Jocelyn Bell-Burnett and on the projects of GoogleX and how physics majors can prepare for a career in industry from Sandeep Giri. In addition, there were talks on the use of disruptive technology to mitigate climate change from Ellen Williams, on intellectual property rights from Jami Valentine Miller, and on the Big Bang and the future of astronomy from John Mather. Finally, Jim Gates shared a talk on how to use physics to become like Indiana Jones. A Congress workshop was held in which students brainstormed solutions to the issues that they and their organizations face.

The most important issues which the conference identified were imposter syndrome, mental health, and inclusiveness in physics. Two breakout sessions were offered with topics including science policy and communication, physics careers, physics and astronomy outreach, inclusivity, climate change, and graduate student panels. 

Acacia, who is a member of Janet Tate’s research group, was among the 150 students who presented their research during two poster and art exhibit sessions. Other activities included a lunch with scientists, a demo show at Brown and a tour at the LADD Observatory, a game night with Brown’s SPS chapter, and career and graduate school fairs. Acacia is grateful for this rewarding experience and looks forward to bringing what she learned to OSU. 

Physics research isn’t just for Physics majors. Biophysicist Weihong Qiu hosts students from BioHealth Sciences and Biochemistry in his lab as well.

Haelyn Epp and Weihong Qiu preparing motor protein samples in the lab.

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:

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.

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.

 

 

Physics students and faculty have received a total of 7 SURE Science Awards.

The SURE Science Awards support an undergraduate student for a summer of research in a faculty member’s lab.

our student and faculty awardees are:

Cassandra Hatcher (Physics) in the Lazzati Group
Garret Jepson (Physics) in the Schneider Group
Michelle Zhou (Physics) in the Johns Lab (Vet-Med)
Youngmin Park (BB) in the Qiu Lab
Theresa Dinh (Biology) in the Sun Lab
Dublin Nichols (Physics) in the Minot Lab
Attila Varga (Physics) in the Hadley Group

Congratulations to all – we’re looking forward to hearing your reports at the end of the summer.

Physics Major Mirek Brandt was just named a National Goldwater Scholar!
Press release: https://goldwater.scholarsapply.org/2017-scholars-press-release/

OSU’s last Goldwater Scholar winner was in 2013; most years there are only a couple successful nominations statewide (3 this year).   OSU also had a second successful nominee this year, True Gibson, a Life Sciences major. Congrats!

The Goldwater Scholarship was established by US Congress in 1986. Each year all universities nominate up to four undergraduates in science or engineering for one of ~240 Goldwater Scholarships.  As all nominees are academically near the top of their school, the primary consideration at the National level becomes “the extent to which that individual has the commitment and potential to make a significant contribution to his or her field. This is judged by letter of references, essays written by the student, and prior research experience.”

Mirek will graduate in June 2018 as a Physics and Math major and plans to pursue graduate studies. Since his freshman year (Fall 2014), Mirek Brandt has been a member of Prof. Matt Graham’s  Micro-Femto Energetics Lab.  His research contributions are very substantial and we thank  URSA-ENGAGE and SURE Science Summer Scholarship programs for funding his research.  He will defend his undergraduate senior project thesis later this year entitled “The Impact of Crystal Morphology on Opto-Electronic Properties of Amorphous and Organic Crystalline Materials”.

To top off this National honor, Mirek was recently recognized internationally by being selected to attend the Kupcinet-Getz International Science School. This program matches top-undergraduates with leading research mentors at the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot, Israel.  Mirek will join a Theoretical Astrophysics group at Weizmann this summer before returning to Oregon State Physics to take-up his Goldwater Scholarship.

On behalf of the OSU Physics Department, congratulations Mirek!

Three Oregon State undergraduates went to the APS Division of Nuclear Physics conference in Vancouver BC in mid-October 2016.

Senior Evan Peters shows how to calibrate neutrino response in the MINERvA detector.
Senior Evan Peters shows how to calibrate neutron response in the MINERvA detector.

Undergraduates Gabe Nowak, Tymothy Mangan and Evan Peters gave posters on their work.  Dept. Head Heidi Schellman gave a talk and provided transportation.  All 3 students had won travel awards from the American Physical Society to cover their hotel costs.

Evan’s poster was placed with theoretical posters presented by students also working on neutrino scattering, leading to much discussion among the neutrino community.

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Tymothy Mangan showing his work from Los Alamos last summer.

Tymothy Mangan showed results from a test stand he built at Los Alamos National Lab last summer.

Gabriel Nowak presented preliminary studies of Lorentz invariance that he did as a SULI student at Jefferson Laboratory.

After the poster session we went on a tour of the TRIUMF nuclear laboratory at the University of British Columbia.

Touring the ARIEL facility at TRIUMF. This room will be filled with equipment very soon.
Touring the ARIEL facility at TRIUMF. This room will be filled with equipment very soon.
Congratulations to a physics major Alexander Quinn who received an Undergraduate Research, Innovation, Scholarship and Creativity (URISC) Award for Fall/Winter 2016-2017 sponsored by the OSU Research Office. Alex (pictured while performing experiments) will work with Prof. Oksana Ostroverkhova on a project titled “Investigating Xylindein, a Fungus-Derived Pigment, as a Candidate for use in Sustainable Optoelectronic Devices”. Alex is planning to graduate in the Spring of 2017 and continue his education as a graduate student in physics. His longer-term plan is to work in the area of sustainable materials and renewable energy.

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Congratulations to a physics major Graham Founds who received an Undergraduate Research, Innovation, Scholarship and Creativity (URISC) Award for Summer 2016 for his project titled “Optical Tweezers-Based Probing of Charge Transfer in Organic Semiconductors at Microscopic Scales” ! The URISC program is a university-wide competition of undergraduate proposals sponsored by the OSU Research Office. Graham’s proposal was among 8 compelling undergraduate proposals that were selected for funding. Graham (pictured below) has been a member of Organic Photonics and Optoelectronics Group led by Prof. Oksana Ostroverkhova at OSU Physics department since September 2015. With the URISC funding, he will continue working with Prof. Ostroverkhova over the summer towards demonstrating a new experimental technique for measuring charge transfer between molecules with elementary charge resolution. Graham is planning to graduate in the Spring of 2017 and to continue his education as a graduate student in physics. His longer-term plan is to join the US Air Force laboratories as a research scientist.

Physics undergraduate student Graham Founds setting up his experiment.
Physics undergraduate student Graham Founds setting up his experiment.