The 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 scales 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.
SPS 2016 Applications Workshop
Report by Evan Peters SPS chapter President
OSU’s Society of Physics Students chapter held an applications workshop on Saturday (11/19), where students got excited about summer internships, scholarships, and graduate school admissions. Beginning at 11:00 am, over twenty physics and science students passed through during the six-hour event to grab a snack and get to work.
Supported by unlimited coffee and a pizza lunch provided by OSU SPS, students began the morning by sifting through lists of REUs and scholarships compiled by the chapter.
As the afternoon came around, invited presenters arrived and shared their insights and experiences with students. Dr. Sujaya Rao, director of undergraduate research at OSU, discussed the URSA research program and ways to put together a stellar application. Dr. Randy Milstein from the Oregon Space Grant Consortium office discussed internship and scholarship programs at NASA and OSGC, and shared bios of OSU students who had been successful in the past. Finally, Dr. Janet Tate discussed career professionalism and how to get the most out of interactions with professors and professionals.
The workshop was successful in raising lower-division students’ awareness of research opportunities and getting students to think ahead about career-building opportunities—we hope to hold another one in the future!
Steven Ellefson graduated from Oregon State University in 2014 with a B.S. in
Radiation Health Physics and a minor in Physics. While at OSU, Steven did computational radiation physics research with Dr. Todd Palmer in the School of Nuclear Science and Engineering, completed a summer internship in medical physics at the Samaritan Regional Cancer Center, and was awarded the School’s Lower Division and Upper Division Student of the Year Awards in consecutive years.
After graduation, Steven went on to the Medical Physics graduate program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he focused on the physics of radiation therapy. As a graduate student, Steven researched issues with using the ArcCHECK, a commercial silicon diode array widely used for radiation dosimetry of complex radiation therapy plans, for dosimetry on the ViewRay, the world’s first MRI-guided radiation therapy system. His research on the anomalous behavior of the ArcCHECK device under the influence of the ViewRay’s large magnetic field was presented at the annual conference for the American Association of Physicists in Medicine in 2015 and is currently under review for publication in the Journal of Applied Clinical Medical Physics.
Steven graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2016 with his M.S. in Medical Physics and, through a competitive application process, was chosen for the Medical Physics Residency Program at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, Arizona, which he is currently attending.
Steven says the fundamental problem-solving skills and ability to think outside the box developed in the Physics program at OSU were essential to his success.
He points out some special courses here.
“K.C. Walsh and the general calculus-based physics sequence: Dr. Walsh made the fundamental concepts so easy to grasp and his enthusiasm is contagious. He was able to simultaneously encourage and challenge me to be a better physicist. He was also always willing to talk about interesting extracurricular physics problems and even try to work them out if a student requested (such as why a motorcyclist will turn into or away from a corner depending on the speed).
“Dr. Tevian Dray and Vector Calculus II: I feel that I did not truly understand calculus until I took Tevian’s class. Taking his class made a collection of seemingly unrelated facts about calculus learned in previous courses coalesce into a singular paradigm in my brain. I am very thankful for his dedication to helping physicists and engineers understand vector calculus and the integral (no pun intended) role it plays in describing the physical world.”
“Dr. Corinne Manogue: While Corinne is amazing at teaching, what I remember most is her encouragement of students. She truly tries to bring out the best in students and challenges them to be better than they think they can be. I will never forget her telling us all before a final that our performance on the test does not determine our value as human beings.”
“Last but not least, Dr. David Roundy’s computational physics course was a great preparation for graduate school. So many problems are approached with computers today that being able to translate theories/models into a computer program ended up being an essential skill for me.”
Prof. Bo Sun and student Amani Alobaidi’s work on 3-D tumor modeling technology has been highlighted in an article in Advantage-Impact.
Here is the full article
DIGME shapes better cancer therapies
A new 3-D tumor modeling technology could drastically change the way cancer is treated. Diskoid In Geometrically Micropatterned Extracellular matrix (DIGME) is a tissue-patterning solution that uses a low-cost device to control the shape of tumors — as well as the directionality and rigidity of their surrounding matrix — to stop cancer cells from spreading.
Bo Sun, an assistant professor of physics in Oregon State’s College of Science, says DIGME will help doctors test their own cancer treatments and create new ones. And it could even improve the efficiency of early cancer detection.
“Right now, cancer detection is relying on techniques that were developed decades ago,” Sun says. “I think tumor modeling is going to show us the new things we should look at. There may be a different set of metrics that make the accuracy and sensitivity of early detection much better.”
Sun’s device can facilitate development of new cancer treatments by better mimicking the physiological condition of tumors. Oregon State University has filed for a patent and is looking for potential licensees and research collaborators to further develop the technique.
Understanding how cancer cells spread
In order for a cancer cell to dissociate from the main tumor and spread — also known as metastasis — it must dig a hole through the extracellular matrix (ECM). The ECM is the area that surrounds a tumor, which is made up of connective tissues like collagen. It can act as a barrier to keep tumor cells in or out, depending on its porousness.
For example, an ECM that is very porous provides a soft environment for cancer cells to easily squeeze through and enter other areas of the body. An ECM that is very rigid, on the other hand, provides a barricade that is very difficult for a cancer cell to dig into. However, a rigid ECM also promotes tumor growth; therefore the relationship between ECM and cancer is anything but simple. This relationship is one of the central problems of cancer research.
Sun’s team worked with standard cancer cell lines in the lab. To shape a tumor, a micro-fabricated stamp is used to create a mold made of collagen. Tumor cells are then suspended in a collagen solution and poured into the mold. The liquid collagen turns into a gel and links to the mold. The device can precisely control the location and rotation of the stamp, creating an exact shape.
Different tumor shapes equal different clinical outcomes for patients, Sun explains. If a tumor has very high curvature corners, these sharp corners are more likely to become cancer stem cells, which are very invasive and lead to metastasis.
Directionality is an equally important factor. The ECM — which is covered in polymer fibers — can be rotated with the help of DIGME technology. When the ECM is polarized — or given positive and negative charges — the orientation of those fibers can be rotated circularly, preventing additional cancer cells from disconnecting and spreading throughout the body. Controlling the shape and directionality allows DIGME to create challenging environments for cancer cells, testing their adaptability and understanding how they respond to treatments in complex physiological conditions.
“A tumor — no matter where it starts — is going to experience many different environments when it metastasizes into many parts of the body,” Sun says. “If a cell has no way to adapt to this new environment, it is going to stop there and won’t be able to spread.”
Sun’s research began with the goal of determining how tumors migrate and communicate with one another. Two-and-a-half years later, DIGME has the potential to help save lives.
For licensing information, please contact Jianbo Hu at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-737-2366.
This figure shows a breast cancer cell.
(A) DIGME consists of a diskoid – a tumor cell aggregate whose shape is tightly controlled. The example shown in A is a hexagonal diskoid of monolayer thickness. Typical diskoid thickness can range from one to five cell layers. (B) A triangle diskoid of MDA-MD-231 cells (green) in collagen matrix (labeled with fluorescent particles, blue). Top: top view. Bottom: side view. (C) A MDA-MD-231 diskoid (green) surrounded by two layers of collagen matrix with different concentrations (1.5 mg/ml, red and 3 mg/ml, blue). Top inset: the diskoid invasion into the surrounding ECM after five days. Bottom inset: confocal reflection imaging showing distinct fiber microstructures across the interface of two collagen layers. (D) A MDA-MB-231 ring diskoid with its sounding ECM circularly polarized. The configuration mimics the ductal carcinoma in vivo. Scale bars: 200 μm.
Please see the full article in IMPACT on Scott Clark’s award. He had very nice things to say about the Paradigms, Computational Physics and special thanks to Ruben Landau.
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!
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!
Oksana Ostraverkhova has won the Milton Harris Award in Basic Research!!!
She was honored (and surprised!) at a ceremony on October 17 at the Horizon Room.
In her ten years at OSU, Oksana has built a successful program demonstrating creative and productive basic research in the study of photophysics in organic semiconductors. She has also collaborated with Prof. Sujaya Rao (entomology) to study bee color vision. This interdisciplinary collaboration has led to while new insights in the basic science field of bee color vision.
Oksana also won the Harris Graduate Teaching award this year and has supervised dozens of undergraduates and graduate students in her lab.
About the award:
This award was endowed by G. Milton Harris, a Portland native who received his bachelor’s degree in 1926 from OSU and his PhD from Yale. He was a pioneer in polymer, fiber and textile science and was founder and for many years president of Harris Research laboratories which later became part of Gillette. His distinguished career in chemistry included service with the National Bureau of Standards and five years as the chair of the American Chemical Society.
The purpose of the Harris award is to recognize exceptional achievement in basic research by honoring an outstanding faculty member in the College of Science. Special consideration is given to recent research that was carried out at OSU and that will have a significant impact on its field. The recipient of the Harris award not only receives a monetary award, but also is given the opportunity to present a public lecture that highlights his or her research.