West Virginia Wesleyan College

Department of Physics and Engineering

Student Research Grants at Wesleyan


“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 Engineering.


“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.”


Summer 2013


SURE GrantsPicosatellite 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.”


P1000040NASA FellowshipAnalysis 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.


Rhodes 8.10Ledford FellowshipTurbine 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.


Greza 9.10NASA FellowshipSupersonic 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 research adviser.


gillespieNASA FellowshipTunable dye laser. Russell Gillespie is working with Dr. Wiest to use a tunable dye laser to determine the fine-structure spectrum of krypton.


Hanson 8.10NASA FellowshipFluid 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.


SURE GrantTunable 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.


Fall 2012/Spring 2013


SURE 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.



SURE 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.


neace 10SURE 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.


Poldruhi 8.10SURE 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.


SpicerSURE Grant—Impurity 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.





Previous summers


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.         


NASA Fellowship—Lithium spectrum. Robert Vollmerhausen 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 computers.


Forrester 8.10SURE Grant—Graphene. 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.


SURE 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.


holtschneider 10SURE 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. 


Ferguson 8.10SURE Grant—Laser biomaging. Andrew 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 skin.


NASA 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. 


cid:image006.jpg@01CB58A1.0B0ECF50NASA 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.


rogers 4.12NASA Fellowship—Potassium spectrum. Chera Rogers studied the hyperfine laser spectroscopy of potassium with Dr. Wiest.


NASA 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.


NASA 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.


vincent 4.12NASA 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.


NASA 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.


Mike MurphyNASA 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.



Grateful acknowledgements


Funding for 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 College Association.