“Wesleyan provides engineering and
physics students with diverse research opportunities early in their academic
careers,” said Bert Popson, Chair of the Department of Physics and
“Students gain an opportunity to
develop laboratory skills, explore research as a career, build
relationships with their professors, and earn a good amount of money. At
larger schools, you rarely see students in their freshman and sophomore
years having access to these types of opportunities.
Later in their academic careers, their
resumes and applications are looked on more favorably, so that they have
further opportunities to gain experience,” Popson said. “That is something
unique that we offer here.”
SURE Grants—Picosatellite project. Andrew
Knotts and Josh Hiett are assembling the
electronics for a picosatellite project to
measure Earth’s magnetic field from orbit. They are building electronic
circuits and writing software
with the guidance of Dr. DeLaney.
Hiett explained, “We are working to control the picosatellite’s
orientation in space. We are replacing an existing magnetometer with a more
advanced one with a triaxial accelerometer and
gyroscope. We will map out the satellite’s exact orbital path using data
from NORAD. We get technical support from NASA IV&V. Our electrical
components are supplied by the NASA WV Space Grant consortium.” Our salary
for the summer is provided by the WV Higher Education Policy Commission.”
NASA Fellowship—Analysis of NASA data. Matt Stadelman is analyzing data from
the Chandra x-ray observatory and the Very Large Array Radio telescope. The
combined data will provide a three-dimensional image.
Fellowship—Turbine engines. David Rhodes is
investigating the thrust of a small-scale turbine engine. His goal is to
determine how thrust is related to fuel consumption.
NASA Fellowship—Supersonic wind tunnel. Lucas Greza
is measuring vibrations from a scale model aircraft traveling at supersonic
speeds. The high speeds will be produced in a blow-down wind tunnel that he
is constructing. Lucas is particularly interested in what happens during
the transition from subsonic to supersonics speed. Dr. Wiest is Lucas’s
NASA Fellowship—Tunable dye laser. Russell Gillespie is working with Dr.
Wiest to use a tunable dye laser to determine the fine-structure spectrum
NASA Fellowship—Fluid mechanics of petroleum. Travis Hanson is working with
Dr. Popson on applications of fluid mechanics to petroleum extraction. He is
studying energy loss and the Reynolds number in pipe flow, open channel
flow, measurement of pump and turbine characteristics.
Grant—Tunable Nb:Yag laser. Emily Biggs is assembling a laser
system using a Nd:YAG
rod, a KTP frequency-doubling crystal, and a Peltier
chip to thermally fine-adjust the wavelength. Emily will produce a
wavelength versus temperature calibration curve.
Grant—Fluorescent dyes. Andrew Ferguson studied laser dye
fluorescence with Dr. Wiest. Andrew’s objective was to determine how
various dyes fluoresce in lasers. He simulated the interaction when a laser
interacts with dye injected into the human body.
Grant—Chandra x-ray telescope analysis. Miranda Lincicome studied the
evolution of the Cassiopeia A supernova remnant with Dr. Delaney. A
supernova remnant is what is left after a star explodes. Miranda compared
supernova observations collected from the Hubble Space Telescope and the
Chandra x-ray Observatory.
SURE Grant—Supernova research. Jason Neace studied the expansion of the blast wave from Kepler’s supernova remnant with Dr. DeLaney.
This supernova was one of the brightest objects in the Milky Way. Jason
used DS9 computer software to better understand cosmic rays.
SURE Grant—Ostwald viscosity. Jacob Poldruhi
studied the temperature dependence of viscosity of various shampoos using
an Ostwald viscometer. with Dr. Popson. Viscosity
is the frictional opposition to flow in a fluid. Dr. Popson was Jacob’s
research research mentor.
diffusion. Matt Spicer studied the diffusion of zinc-65
into monocrystalline silver chloride. Matt placed
a zinc solution on the surface of the silver chloride inserted it into a
hot furnace at fixed temperature for a known time. After repeated trials,
Matt determined the activation energy for this diffusion process.
Ledford Fellowship—Solar cell
efficiency. Scott Roberts worked on ways to improve the efficiency
of solar cells by using coatings of organic thin films. His research mentor
was Dr. Wiest.
Fellowship—Lithium spectrum. Robert
worked in our laser lab to measure the energy structure of lithium. We had
recently purchased the equipment using funding from the NSF Epscor program. Robert reports, “Our results may enable
engineers to improve the lithium-ion batteries commonly found in laptop
Conor Forrester studied graphene,
a newly discovered allotrope of carbon that is stronger than steel and
conducts heat and electricity better than copper. Conor
studied graphene using x-ray diffraction and a Nd-YAG laser. His research
mentor was Dr. Wiest.
Grant—Rutherford backscattering. Casey Rowland studied backscatter
symmetry in Rutherford backscattering. Backscattering theory is based on
elastic collisions between high-speed particles and atomic nuclei. Casey’s
research provided information on atomic mass and the elemental concentration
as a function of depth below the surface of a material.
SURE Grant—Molecular bond study. Tom
Holtschneider studied Raman spectroscopy with Dr. Wiest. He measured bond
angles and lengths of new molecules with potential to be used as industrial
material or pharmaceuticals.
SURE Grant—Laser biomaging.
Ferguson studied photoacoustic bioimaging with Dr. Wiest. This process has the
potential to replace ultrasound for viewing organs, cells, and biochemical
of the human body. The process directs a non-ionizing laser through the
Fellowship—Krypton analysis. Russell Gillespie used our New Focus
tunable laser to study the vibrational motions of vaporized krypton under
the mentorship of Dr. Wiest.
NASA Fellowship—Motion of neutron star ejecta. Joe Satterfield worked with Dr. DeLaney to
perform a computer analysis of the asymmetries in the expansion of the ejecta from the neutron star in Cassiopeia A. Joe used
data from the high-resolution camera on the Chandra X-ray observatory to measure
the proper motion of the neutron star in Cassiopeia A
over 10 years. Measurements indicate a motion of 400 m/s in a
south/southeast direction. This motion is consistent with the inferred
proper motion based on the offset of the neutron star from the center of
the expansion of the optical ejecta.
NASA Fellowship—Potassium spectrum. Chera Rogers
studied the hyperfine laser spectroscopy of potassium with Dr. Wiest.
Fellowship—Organic photo-voltaics. Scott Roberts studied the efficiency of new organic photovoltaic
technology with different doping. In addition, he investigated the effect
on efficiency of thin film silicon photovoltaics
after irradiation by a femtosecond laser.
Fellowship—Raman spectroscopy of
polymers. Wes Hughes performed his research in our
Electro-Optics Lab. When a laser encounters a material, the scattered
wavelength has a different wavelength that the incident wavelength, an
observation called the Raman effect. Raman measurements give information on
the material’s molecular bonding. Wes used a nitrogen laser and a Nd:Yag laser to make Raman
spectroscopy studies of four polymers.
Fellowship—Using a GIS in the petroleum industry. Denny Vincent used a geographical information system to update a database
of their gas wells for Energy Corporation of America.
Fellowship—Neutrinos emitted from Supernovae. Jerry Caligiure used the software language Mathematica to make a computer model of neutrino
emission from supernovae under the guidance of Dr. Stevens.
Fellowship—Radio Telescope. Michael
Murphy worked with Dr. Stevens to construct a small-diameter radio
telescope. His design is known as a superheterodyne
receiver and consists of four primary blocks: a low-noise amplifier, a
band-pass filter, a mixer, and a local oscillator. Mike obtained signals
from the Sun and Jupiter.
NASA Fellowships is provided by the West Virginia Space Grant Consortium. Funding
for SURE grants is provided by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy
Commission. Funding for Ledford Grants is provided by the Appalachian