West Virginia Wesleyan College

Department of Physics and Engineering

Faculty Grants


Wiest wins $20,000 for magnetic resonance instrumentation


wiestMarch 12, 2009—Governor Manchin announced that the WV Higher Education Policy Commission had approved Dr. Wiest’s proposal to purchase a tunable laser. Wiest explained, “I plan to use the laser in research to produce high-resolution energy diagrams of atoms.”  



NASA funds Stevens’ pulsar grant

April 15, 2012—Dr. Trevor Stevens was awarded a $10,000 seed grant from NASA/West Virginia Space Grant Consortium for the astrophysics project, “Analysis of Pulsar Timing Data in TEMPO2.” TEMPO2 is a computer program developed by astrophysicists. A pulsar is a highly magnetized, rotating collapsed stellar remnant consisting almost entirely of neutrons.

Pulsars emit a directional beam of electromagnetic radiation that can only be observed when the beam is pointing toward Earth, similar to the way that a lighthouse can only be seen when the light is pointed in the direction of an observer. This is responsible for the pulsed appearance of emission.

Neutron stars rotate very quickly and at a constant rate. This produces a very precise interval between electromagnetic pulses that range from roughly milliseconds to seconds for an individual pulsar.

The precise periods of pulsars makes them useful tools. Observations of a pulsar in a binary neutron star system were used to indirectly confirm the existence of gravitational radiation. Certain types of pulsars rival atomic clocks in their accuracy in keeping time.


NASA funds Stevens’ course development grant


http://faculty.wvwc.edu/stevens/stevens.jpgApril 16, 2013—Dr. Trevor Stevens is using funding from the NASA West Virginia Space Grant Consortium to develop a class in computational astrophysics. The class introduces upper-level students to advanced techniques in modern computer programming and modeling. Students apply these ideas by studying problems in astrophysics and cosmology.”


Stevens explained, “The course will strengthen our curriculum in modern computational methods. I am also using my experience with the WV High Performance Computational Resources group to introduce students to opportunities in high-performance computing, such as advanced modeling applications.”


Stevens is also collaborating with Dr. Maura McLaughlin of WVU on a project involving the NASA Chandra X-ray Observatory.



Popson wins $19,858 for magnetic resonance instrumentation


Jan. 31, 2008—The West Virginia Higher Education Policy commission approved Dr. Popson’s proposal to purchase a pulsed magnetic resonance spectrometer. The instrumentation is designed to determine the forces between atoms by the reaction of their nuclei to an external magnetic field that oscillates at high frequency. The theory forms the basis of the medical procedure called magnetic resonance imaging. In the photo below, Dr. Popson is personally accepting the check from Governor Manchin.











IMG_2423NASA approves Brennan’s $5000 photovoltaic grant


April 15, 2012—Dr. Thomas Brennan won a $5000 NASA grant for a research project to improve the efficiency of photovoltaic cells. The photo shows Dr. Brennan’s playing a solar-powered guitar.



NASA funds DeLaney’s astrophysics grant proposal


http://faculty.wvwc.edu/delaney_t/delaney1rot.jpgFeb. 11, 2013—When talking about the sky, it is hard to mistake the expression on Dr. Tracey DeLaney’s face as anything short of thrill. In fact, if you spend a few minutes with her, you may wonder why you never studied more science.


DeLaney has studied the supernova remnant in Cassiopeia A for many years. NASA recently accepted her $50,000 two-year proposal for a two-year study of the magnetic field in this enormous supernova remnant made from the explosion of a star. This is her seventh grant of this nature.


She commented, “Cas A is my baby and this is a project from my brain. It is very cool.”


DeLaney will collaborate with a team of astronomers for the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, a trained NASA scientist, and a current physics student. They will study a topic that has sparked interest in the astronomy world for years.


With a partial 3-D computer model already in place from her previous research on Cassiopeia A, DeLaney is ready to figure out what causes stars to explode. “All our research is made of bits and pieces that will eventually help to answer this question,” DeLaney stated.


They will combine 2012-2013 radio images from the Very Large Array and with archival x-ray images obtained with NASA’s Chandra x-ray observatory.


They will identify highly polarized radio emissions from the debris field of the stellar explosion and compare those polarized structures to emission features in the x-ray images. This will help us to understand how magnetic fields are amplified in the blast wave of the explosion and how cosmic rays are produced in supernova remnants.


DeLaney also focused on what this grant could mean for her students. “When students collaborate with us and they apply to graduate school, they carry our name wherever they go,” she commented. “It is a great thing whenever we can give students real-world research experience.”


NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory was launched into space on July 23, 1999 by Space Shuttle Columbia. It is the most advanced x-ray observatory to date, especially designed to observe remnants of exploded start.



NASA approves Brennan’s $5000 proposal for Marcellus research


April 15, 2012—Dr. Thomas Brennan won a $5000 NASA grant for a research project to improve extraction of natural gas from Marcellus shale. Last summer, Brennan worked at NASA-Glenn on sonoluminescence research, flashes of light produced by sound waves in materials.  He has also contributed to the picosatellite program at the NASA IV&V facility in Fairmont.