Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy Rebecca Koopmann ’89 organized the “Undergraduate ALFALFA Team Workshop” at Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico Jan. 14 to 16, sponsored by a recent NSF award. Rachel Almodovar ’15, an astronomy major, accompanied Koopmann and 17 other undergraduate students and 14 faculty members from 15 colleges and universities across the country. Together they learned about the ALFALFA project to study neutral hydrogen gas in nearby galaxies and carried out their own observations on the William F. Gordon telescope, the largest reflecting telescope in the world. See this Union College Chronicle story and visit The Undergraduate ALFALFA Team Workshop home page for more information.
Physics and Astronomy summer research students displayed the results of their projects in a poster session on Thursday, Sept. 13.
Principal Investigator Samuel Amanuel (Assistant Professor, Physics & Astronomy), with Co-PIs Palmyra Catravas (Associate Professor, Electrical & Computer Engineering), Brian Cohen (Lecturer, Biology), Rebecca Cortez (Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering), and Michael Hagerman (Associate Professor/Chair, Chemistry) — have been awarded $308,323 to acquire an inverted microscope for a shared instrumentation suite (IRIS). The microscope will be integrated with an existing AFM to enable research across five different departments. While the five PIs and the two Senior Personnel (Joanne Kelbeck, Associate Professor of Chemistry and Seyfollah Maleki, Professor of Physics & Astronomy) will be the major users of the new integrated system, the new system will enable research across the campus and will be accessible to the whole Union community.
A summary of the grant is available at this site.
Associate Professor Rebecca Koopmann has been awarded a $437,883 grant from the National Science Foundation for three years to support the Undergraduate ALFALFA Team (UAT) project. Koopmann leads the UAT, a consortium of 19 undergraduate-focused institutions committed to develop undergraduate research opportunities within the Arecibo Legacy Fast ALFA (ALFALFA) survey, a major radio astronomy observational survey led by astronomers Riccardo Giovanelli and Martha Haynes of Cornell University. The UAT will build on the infrastructure and enhanced faculty skill set developed during the previous grant period (NSF AST-0724918), which successfully involved more than 150 undergraduates and 22 faculty mentors (~ 50% women). Core components include an annual group workshop at Arecibo, observing runs for several groups per year at Arecibo, a summer student research stipend program supporting 8 students per year culminating in a presentation at a national meeting, and funding to provide computers to each Team school. Multiple Union College students have participated to date in ALFALFA research and activities. See for example: Union Students Observe at Arecibo and 2012 Workshop
A summary of the grant may be found at this site.
Scott LaBrake, Senior Lecturer and Accelerator Manager in the Department of Physics & Astronomy, presented a poster titled “Construction of a Scattering Chamber for Ion-Beam Analysis of Environmental Materials in Undergraduate Physics Research” at CAARI 2012 the 22nd International Conference on the Applications of Accelerators in Research and Industry in Fort Worth, Texas, in August. A paper of the same title was submitted for the conference proceedings. Michael Vineyard, the Frank and Marie Louise Bailey Professor of Physics, and three Union students were co-authors on the paper.
Prof. Koopmann organized and hosted an international group of astronomers for the Star Formation and Gas Reservoirs in Nearby Groups and Clusters
Conference from July 8-11, 2012. Prof. Koopmann received funding from the Skidmore Union Network (NSF ADVANCE grant, PI Brenda Johnson) to gather an international group of astrophysicists to discuss the latest results on the evolution of galaxies relatively near the Milky Way. The meeting focused on the observed star formation properties and gas content (the raw material for star formation) of galaxies in nearby relatively high density regions (groups and clusters), and the current theoretical understanding of the dominant physical mechanisms at work in the conversion of their gas to stars. The invited speakers were Michael Balogh (U. Waterloo), Greg Bryan (Columbia U.), Henry Ferguson (Space Telescope Science Institute), Christine Jones (Harvard U.), Martha Haynes (Cornell U.), Robert Kennicutt (Cambridge Institute of Astronomy, UK), and Ann Zabludoff (U. Arizona).
There were 73 attendees, including ~30 from international institutions (including Argentina, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Germany, Italy, Korea, Russia, South Africa, Spain, and Switzerland). 14 were undergraduates, including 2 Union students: Halley Darling, ’13, and Lucas Viani, ’14.
A well-known attendee was Neil deGrasse Tyson, whose research interests include unusually active star-formation in galaxies in dense environments. He spent time with student attendees and interacted and posed for pictures with Union summer research students who recognized him during the lunch in Wold Atrium.
Halley Darling, ’13, and Lucas Viani, ’14, each presented posters during the conference about their multi-year research projects with Koopmann on the gas and star formation properties of a nearby group of galaxies.
Many Union staff helped with the conference. Special thanks to Colleen Palleschi, Halley Darling, Lucas Viani, Scott LaBrake, Paul Debiase,
Cynthia Martin, Mina Evtimova, Joyce Chabot, John Sheehan, Judy Manchester, Gary Olsen, Dining Services, ITS, Diane Meyers and Facilities, Mary D’Amelia and Special Events staff.
Associate Professor Chad Orzel gave a presentation at the 2011 annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, DC, as part of a symposium titled “Science Without Borders: Learning from TIMSS Advanced 2008,” about the Trends in International Math and Science Survey, an international test of math and physics given to students in nine countries. Chad’s talk, “What Physics Knowledge Is Assessed in TIMSS Advanced 2008?” evaluated the content of the physics test by comparing them to college and high school curricula and tests developed through physics education research. Other speakers in the symposium included representatives from the international study center that administers TIMSS, and from the national test centers in Norway and Slovenia talking about their nations’ experience with TIMSS Advanced.
The AAAS is one the world’s largest general scientific society, and one of the premier science organizations in the world. This year’s meeting brought together several thousand scientists, educators, journalists, and policy makers from some 50 countries.