Category Archives: Research

Michael Warrener ’16 and Professor Koopmann Observe at Kitt Peak National Observatory

Michael Warrener '16 in the WIYN 0.9m Telescope dome at Kitt Peak National Observatory

Michael Warrener ’16 in the WIYN 0.9m Telescope dome at Kitt Peak National Observatory

Michael Warrener ’16 and Rebecca Koopmann ’89, professor of physics and astronomy, recently observed at the WIYN 0.9m telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory near Tucson, Ariz. The observations of the star formation properties of nearby galaxies will clarify the role of a galaxy’s environment on its evolution.

Michael Warrener '16 at Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona

Michael Warrener ’16 at Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona

Physics Students and Faculty Present at Oct. 2013 Nuclear Physics Conference

Five students from the Department of Physics and Astronomy were among 170 undergraduate students who presented posters at the 2013 Meeting of the Nuclear Physics Division of the American Physical Society (APS) in Newport News, Virginia, in October. Chris Allen ’14 presented a poster on his research in nuclear astrophysics with Professor Rebecca Surman, who also presented on “The sensitivity of r-process nucleosynthesis to beta-delayed neutron emission probabilities”. Salina Ali ’15, Alexandrea Safiq ’14, and Josh Yoskowitz ’16 reported on work they conducted with Professor Michael Vineyard on the analysis of pollutants in aerosol samples collected in the Adirondack Mountains using proton-induced X-ray emission (PIXE) and Micro-Raman spectroscopy. Jeremy Smith ’14 presented a poster on work he performed with Professor Scott LaBrake on the PIXE analysis of aerosol samples collected in Schenectady. The students all won competitive awards from the Conference Experience for Undergraduates program of the APS for travel and lodging.

Salina Ali '15

Salina Ali ’15

Alexandrea Safiq '14

Alexandrea Safiq ’14

Chris Allen '14

Chris Allen ’14

Jeremy Smith '14

Jeremy Smith ’14

Josh Yoskowitz ’16

Josh Yoskowitz ’16

2013 Summer Research Gallery

Professor Koopmann and Rachel Almodovar ’15 at Astronomy workshop at Arecibo Observatory

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 Summer Research Student Poster Session 2012

Physics and Astronomy summer research students displayed the results of their projects in a poster session on Thursday, Sept. 13.

Prof. Amanuel Awarded NSF Major Research Instrumentation Grant

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.

Prof. Koopmann Awarded NSF Grant: The Undergraduate ALFALFA Team

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.

Professor LaBrake Presents Results at Accelerator Conference

Professor LaBrake presents a poster coauthored by Professor Vineyard and three Union students at CAARI 2012, the 22nd International Conference on the Applications of Accelerators in Research and Industry in Fort Worth, Texas.

Professor LaBrake presents a poster coauthored by Professor Vineyard and three Union students at CAARI 2012, the 22nd International Conference on the Applications of Accelerators in Research and Industry in Fort Worth, Texas.

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.

International Astronomy Meeting at Union July 8-11, 2012

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.