Physics Department

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Department News

Students Inducted Into Sigma Pi Sigma, Physics Honor Society

Students Alexa Carollo'14, Nicole "Nicki" Cronin '14 and Matt Skater  '14, were each inducted into Sigma Pi Sigma, the Physics Honor Society, on May 4th, 2014.

Physics Department faculty Adam Clark and Jane Flood performed the induction ceremony at the Hoffman House on Muhlenberg College’s Campus.  Alexa and Matt are shown in the photo below. Nicki could not attend the induction ceremony as she was competing in the Centenial Conference Track & Field Championships.

Alexa Carollo & Matt SlaterFounded in 1921, Sigma Pi Sigma is a member honor society of the Association of College Honor Societies. The society has some 75,000 historical members. Election to Sigma Pi Sigma is a lifetime membership.

Sigma Pi Sigma exists to honor outstanding scholarship in physics; to encourage interest in physics among students at all levels; to promote an attitude of service of its members towards their fellow students, colleagues, and the public; to provide a fellowship of persons who have excelled in physics. Sigma Pi Sigma’s mission is not completed in the induction ceremony with the recognition of academic accomplishment. In the four dimensions of Honor, Encouragement, Service, and Fellowship, the mission of Sigma Pi Sigma takes a longer view.

For more information concerning Sigma Pi Sigma please see this link.

Macauley Breault ’15, Physical Science Major, Receives Multiple Awards

Maculey S. Breault was recognized at Muhlenberg’s 2014 Honors Convocation with three awards.

Maculey and a prosthetic leg Maculey received, the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, awarded through national competition for to outstanding sophomores and juniors intending to pursue graduate education in science or mathematics.

 Additionally she received the Novartis Endowed Science Scholars Program Award which is bestowed upon junior or senior science majors who have achieved a 3.50 or higher grade point average in their major field of study and who have clearly indicated their intention to pursue post-baccalaureate work in the sciences leading to an advanced degree.

She was also awarded the Robert W. And Edythe M. Mull Award for Excellence in Mathematics which is awarded to a junior most outstanding in mathematics.

Physics Majors Recognized at Honors Convocation

Physics students Andrea M. Rommal '14 and MariAnne L. Skolnik '14 were each recognized with awards during Muhlenberg's 2014 Honors Convocation.

MariAnne and Andrea
MariAnne Skolnik and Andrea Rommal

MariAnne Skolnik receieved the Dr. Robert A. Boyer Prize. This prize is awarded to a student who exemplifies the many outstanding qualities of Dr. Robert Boyer, Emeritus Professor of Physics, including sound scholarship, a genuine concern for others, adherence to high standards of ethical and moral principles and a deep commitment to the religious dimension of a liberal arts education.

The Clifford R. Moyer Memorial Prize in Physics was awarded to Andrea Rommal. The prize is awarded to a student majoring in physics who displays exceptional qualities of scholarship, perseverance and commitment typified by Clifford Moyer.

 

‘Berg Physics Majors Have a Blast at the 8th Annual Cantalobber Contest

First year physics majors, Carlos Herrera Acevedo, Emran Lallow Victor Lora & Alan Mendez designed, built and entered a pneumatic cantaloupe launching cannon in Kutztown University’s 8th Annual Cantalobber Contest on April 6th, 2014. The team’s air cannon, known as the “ Muhlenlobber”, was entered in the pneumatic division of the contest and the team placed a respectable 3rd with an average distance of  811 ft, more than two and a half football fields!

Cantalobber Team with Trophy

Emran Lallow, Alan Mendex, Victor Lora & Carlos Herrera Acevedo pose with their trophy.

The cannon’s design includes a 10ft long, 6” diameter launch tube attached to 14 ft long air tank that has a volume of approximately 35 liters.

Muhlenlobber 2014

The cannon, shown above, is supported all around with a wooden structure. The air tank was pressurized to ~100psi and quickly vented into the launch tube, giving the average cantaloupe a launch velocity of nearly 115 mph.

The video below shows the “Muhlenlobber “ cannon in action.

The 2013 American Physical Society Division of Nuclear Physics Fall Meeting

Research into the nature of nuclear matter under extreme conditions (and another new topical area) continues for faculty and students at Muhlenberg. Dr. Fadem and five Muhlenberg students (Benjamin Kimelman, Kathryn Kooistra, Julian Rutkowski, MariAnne Skolnik, and Cora Wallace) attended the American Physical Society Division of Nuclear Physics 2013 Fall meeting in Newport News, Virginia. Fadem presented a talk entitled, Transverse Energy at Forward Rapidities at RHIC using the PHENIX Muon Piston Calorimeter.

Four of the students (Kimelman, Kooistra, Rutkowski, and Wallace) presented posters related to the transverse energy measurement. MarriAnne Skolnik presented a poster on research related to the possibility of heavy photons, a hot topic at this year's meeting. Marianne independently applied for and received a SULI Fellowship to work at Jefferson Labs.

The posters sported the following titles:

Detector response of the PHENIX Muon Piston Calorimeter for sqrt(S_NN) = 200 GeV Au+Au Collisions, by Benjamin Kimelman

Comparison of UrQMD, Hijing, and parameterized data as inputs to PHENIX detector simulations of RHIC Au+Au collisions in the forward/backward kinematic region, by Kathryn Kooistra

Study of the influence of neutral pion decay on the inflow and outlow of energy from the PHENIX Muon Piston Calorimeter, by Julian Rutkowski

 Calibrating the PHENIX Muon Piston Calorimeter for Au+Au Collisions at Sqrt(S_NN) = 200 GeV, by Cora Wallace

Support for this research included the National Science Foundation Research at Undergraduate Institutions grant to Muhlenberg College (grant number 1209240), and the Muhlenberg College Provost's Office.  

Light Yield Measurements of Heavy Photon Search (HPS) Muon Scintillator Hodoscopes, by MariAnne Skolnik

MariAnne's attendance and presentation at the conference was supported by SULI Fellowship and the Muhlenberg College Provost’s office.

We'll all have to stay tuned to learn whether "dark" photons mediate interactions of the mysterious dark matter as well as the many other open physics topics discussed at the conference!

 

Physics Students Make a Strong Showing at the Summer Research Poster Session!

Muhlenberg's annual poster session showcasing student summer research in the sciences was held on September 27th, 2013 in the Seegers Union Event Space. Students presented summer research projects in anthropology, biochemistry, biology, chemistry, English, history, neuroscience, psychology, sociology and physics.

Summer research was carried out by both Physics and Phyiscal Science majors at various locations including, Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Lehigh University, University of Rochester, Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (Jefferson Lab) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

Macauley Breault '15, Nicole Cronin '14, Ben Kimelman '15, Kathryn Kooistra '15, Andrea Rommal '14, Julian Rutkowski '15, MariAnne Skolnik '14 and Cora Wallace '15 all presented posters describing their summer research work.

The full 2013 poster session brochure is available here. Photos of the some of the physics and physical science presenters are shown below.

8

The poster session was well attended.

1

MariAnne Skolnik discusses the finer points of her reserach concerning Light Yeild Meausrements of HPS Muon Scintillattor Hodoscope.

2

Macauley Breault talks about the work she did at Lehigh University this summer.

3

Niki Cronin presents the work she did this summer at the University of Rochester.

5

Corra Wallace explains her work concerning Hot Quark Matter created in BNL's Relatavistic Heavy Ion Collider to some interested students.

6

Kathryn Kooistra and Benjamin Kimelman display their posters concerning work assocaited with the PHENIX detector at Brookhaven National Lab (BNL).

7

Andrea Rommel presents here poster on Trevisan Extraction Theory, work funded by the National Insititute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

6

Julian Rutkowski speaks to other students about his work Modeling Pion decay at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL).

 

Students Inducted Into Sigma Pi Sigma, Physics Honor Society

 

Students Nathan Crossette '13 and Benjamin Schweid '13, were inducted into Sigma Pi Sigma, the Physics Honor Society, on May 3rd, 2013.

Physics Department faculty Adam Clark and Jane Flood performed the induction ceremony at the Hoffman House on Muhlenberg College’s Campus.

Sigma Pi Sigma Induction

Proud students Nate Crossette & Ben Schweid (center) are inducted into Sigma Pi Sigma
by Dr. Adam Clark (left) and Dr. Jane Flood (right).

 

 Founded in 1921, Sigma Pi Sigma is a member honor society of the Association of College Honor Societies. The society has some 75,000 historical members. Election to Sigma Pi Sigma is a lifetime membership.

Sigma Pi Sigma exists to honor outstanding scholarship in physics; to encourage interest in physics among students at all levels; to promote an attitude of service of its members towards their fellow students, colleagues, and the public; to provide a fellowship of persons who have excelled in physics. Sigma Pi Sigma’s mission is not completed in the induction ceremony with the recognition of academic accomplishment. In the four dimensions of Honor, Encouragement, Service, and Fellowship, the mission of Sigma Pi Sigma takes a longer view.

For more information concerning Sigma Pi Sigma please see this link.

 

 

Physics Majors Recognized at Honors Convocation

Physics students Nicole Cronin '14 and Nathan Crossette '13 were each recognized with awards during Muhlenberg's 2013 Honors Convocation.

Nicole Cronin & Nathan Crossette
Nicki Cronin & Nate Crossette

Nicole "Nicki" Cronin receieved the Dr. Robert A. Boyer Prize. This prize is awarded to a student who exemplifies the many outstanding qualities of Dr. Robert Boyer, Emeritus Professor of Physics, including sound scholarship, a genuine concern for others, adherence to high standards of ethical and moral principles and a deep commitment to the religious dimension of a liberal arts education.

The Clifford R. Moyer Memorial Prize in Physics was awarded to Nathan "Nate" Crossette. The prize is awarded to a student majoring in physics who displays exceptional qualities of scholarship, perseverance and commitment typified by Clifford Moyer. Nate also recevied the Wesley S. Mitman Mathematical Prize. This prize is awarded to a senior most outstanding in mathematics.

Each prize carries a monetary award.

Astronomy Students Put the Sun in Clear View

Muhlenberg Physics students in this semester’s astronomy course had the opportunity to view solar prominences and sun spots thanks to members of the Lehigh Valley Amateur Astronomical Society.  Each semester LVAAS members bring telescopes to campus at the invitation of Dr. Judith Parker, Lecturer of Physics, but the solarscopes were a first this semester. 

LVAAS Memeber and the Muhlenberg Community View the Sun
Members of LVAAS and the Muhlenberg community view the sun.

Three tripods were set up in front of the  Trumbower Science Building on Muhlenberg’s campus.  Each tripod supported two telescopes.  The larger telescope had a “white light filter” mounted onto the front of the tube.  While the filter appeared to be a sheet of ordinary tin foil, it is actually a metal coated polymer material made specifically for solar filters blocking out over 99.999% of the light making it safe for student viewing.  Students were able to see sun spots on the sun’s surface through this scope.   The smaller scope is a dedicated solar telescope that provides a “hydrogen-alpha light” view of the sun.  Students were able to observe solar prominences emitted from the sun.
 

71 students and their guests signed in and more than an equal number of faculty, staff and curious students passing by were eager to check out the sun.

Muhlenberg Faculty and Students Present at National Conference

Muhlenberg College was well represented at this year's American Physical Society Division of Nuclear Physics Fall meeting held from October 24 to October 27, 2012 in Newport Beach, California.

Last summer, Dr. Fadem and eight students focused on analysis of data taken from the PHENIX detector at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) on Long Island, NY in 2010.

Dr. Fadem and three of the students, Benjamin Schweid '13, MariAnne Skolnik '14, and Christopher Zumberge '14 attended the conference. At the conference Dr. Fadem gave a talk entitled "Transverse Energy at RHIC in the forward/backward direction with the PHENIX MuonPiston Calorimeter" while Ben, MariAnne, and Chris presented posters at the Conference Experience for Undergraduates poster session (for which all three earned conference scholarships).

MariAnne Skolnik
MariAnne Skolnik proudly presents her poster entitled Calibrating the Muon Piston Calorimeter (MPC).

Benjamin Schweid
Benjamin Schweid  stands at the ready to present his poster on Transverse Energy at RHIC in the forward/backward direction with the PHENIX MuonPiston Calorimeter.

Christopher Zumberge
A poster describing Simulations for the PHENIX Muon Piston Calorimeter Measurement of Transverse Energy was delivered by Christopher Zumberge.

Work on the project continues, the analysis is progressing nicely, and the nuclear physics group looks forward to some preliminary results in the spring of 2013.

 

Physics Students "Represent" at Summer Research Poster Session!

Muhlenberg's annual poster session showcasing student summer research in the sciences was held on September 28th, 2012 in the Seegers Union Event Space. Over 40 posters covering a wide range of scientific topics were presented. Students presenting summer physics research were: Alexa Carollo '14, Niki Cronin '14, Nate Crosssette '13, Benjamin Schweid '13, MariAnne Skolnik '14, Andrew Tullo '14, Cora Wallace '14, Michael Young '14 and Christopher Zumberge '14.

The full 2012 poster session brochure is available here. Photos of the some of the physics presenters are shown below.

Chris Zumberge Presents his Poster
Chris Zumberge presents his poster on PHENIX detector simulations to interested on-lookers.

Ben Schweid presents his poster
Ben Schweid talks Transverse Energy with another student.

Andrew Tullo and Mike Young
Andrew Tullo (left) looks on as Mike Young comments to the crowd surrounding their poster on
identifying high qualtity events in very large PHENIX detector data sets.

Niki Cronin and MariAnne Skolnik present their poster.
MariAnne Skolnik and Niki Cronin pose next to their poster entitled: Calibrating the Muon Piston Calorimeter (MCP). Behind them (left) is Alexa Carollo answering questions about her poster on heavy ion collision data simulation and analysis.

Caro Wallace presnets her poster.Corra Wallace presents her poster on the topic of transverse energy in the PHENIX detector at the event.

Nate Crossette Presents his post on quark mass supersymmetry-breaking
Nate Crossette presents his poster on quark mass supersymmetry-breaking.

NSF Awards Muhlenberg College a three-year Research at Undergraduate Institutions (NSF-RUI) award of $162,000

Dr. Fadem of the Muhlenberg College Physics Department has earned his second NSF-RUI grant for research in experimental nuclear physics with Muhlenberg undergraduates.  The grant, entitled “RUI: Antiquarks and Ultra-Relativistic Heavy Ions at Muhlenberg College,” allows the Department to continue a research program that includes the College in cutting edge research at Brookhaven National Laboratory with the PHENIX collaboration.  PHENIX has designed, built, operated, and analyzed data from a large detector located on the 2.4 mile circumference ring of the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider.  Every summer, Muhlenberg students have the opportunity to work shoulder to shoulder with some of the finest scientists in the world.  Thanks to this new grant, this work will continue.

Another Successful Summer at Brookhaven National Lab!

Muhlenberg students just completed another summer of research at BNL.  While past summers have been used to help with the construction of a new detector for the collaboration, this summer was used to focus on analysis of data taken by PHENIX at RHIC in 2010.  Many of the scientists at BNL helped to make this among the most productive summers yet.  Nine students worked at BNL this summer:  Alexa Carollo, Nicole Cronin, Benjamin Schweid, MariAnne Skolnik, Matthew Slater. Andrew Tullo, Cora Wallace, Michael Young, and Christopher Zumberge. 

One exciting highlight of the summer was the after midnight trip to Columbia University in New York City to take part in the 3:00 a.m. simulcast announcing the discovery of the Higgs boson-like particle at the CERN LHC.

At the end of the summer, the students returned to campus here at Muhlenberg to report on their progress as participants in Muhlenberg’s summer science Friday series of talks by Muhlenberg undergraduates performing summer research.

Beyond the First Year of Laboratory Instruction

Brett Fadem attended a conference in Philadelphia that focuses on physics laboratories beyond the first year of undergraduate instruction, Alpha’s BFY conference from July 25 to July 28.   There, he and his student, Benjamin Schweid, demonstrated the Muhlenberg muon telescope that is to be integrated into the Advanced Projects course – a capstone course in the Physics Department.

 

Alumni in the News

 

Dr. Johanna Nelson '05 and her colleagues at the Stanford Linear Accelerator carried out a breakthrough study of lithium sulfur batteries, a possible alternative to lithium car batteries. The group use X-ray microscopy to study a battery while it was running. See the details here: Standford University News



Raub Fund Supports Summer Research

Physics student Nathan Crossette '13 under the tutalage of Dr. Adam Clark will conduct research in string theroy over the summer months.

Nate will begin his study of string theory in the summer of 2012, supported by the Raub Fund.  Under the guidance of physics professor Adam Clark, Nate will explore the correspondence between quantum field theories in our universe and string theories in non-physical universes with 6 extra dimensions and special curvature properties known as “anti-de Sitter.”

The Raub Fund, established in 1996 to honor the life, career and memory of Dr. Harry L. Raub III, the Harry Raub Physics Department Endowment Fund provides annual income to support summer internship and research experiences for current physics students. Click the Raub Fund link for more details on Nate's proposed reserach and the Raub Fund.

 

Outstanding Students Recognized at Honors Convocation

Physics students Lauren Ryan '12, Nathan Crossette '13 and Benjamin Schweid '13 were  each recognized with an award during Muhlenberg's 2012 Honors Convocation.

Ben Schweid '13 & Nat Crossette '13
Ben Schweid & Nate Crossette (Lauren Ryan unavailabe for picture)

Lauren Rayan receieved the Dr. Robert  A. Boyer Prize. This prize is awarded to a student who exemplifies the many outstanding qualities of Dr. Robert Boyer, Emeritus Professor of Physics, including sound scholarship, a genuine concern for others, adherence to high standards of ethical and moral principles and a deep commitment to the religious dimension of a liberal arts education.

 
The Clifford R. Moyer Memorial Prize in Physics was awarded to Benjamin Schweid.  The prize is awarded to a student majoring in physics who displays exceptional qualities of scholarship, perseverance and commitment typified by Clifford Moyer.

Nathan Crossetee was recognized with the Novartis Award. Recipients of the award are junior or senior science majors who have achieved a 3.50 or higher grade point average in their major field of study and who have clearly indicated their intention to pursue post-baccalaureate work in the sciences leading to an advanced degree. Nate, as a junior, was also recently induced into The Phi Beta Kappa Society, the nation's oldest academic honnor society. Nate’s career goals include getting a Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics and then conducting research in theoretical physics and lecturing at the university level.

Each prize carries a monetary award.

 

Crossette Receives Goldwater Honorable Mention

Nate Crossette '13Nathan Crossette ‘13, who was a candidate for a 2012 Goldwater Scholarship, has received an honorable mention.  Nate is Dana Scholar, and is majoring in Physics and Mathematics. Nate’s career goals include getting a Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics and then conducting research in theoretical physics and lecturing at the university level.

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was established by Congress in 1986 to honor Senator Barry M. Goldwater, who served his country for 56 years as a soldier and statesman, including 30 years of service in the U.S. Senate.

The purpose of the Foundation is to provide a continuing source of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians, and engineers by awarding scholarships to college students who intend to pursue careers in these fields.

Student Presents Poster at the Northeast Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics

Physics major MariAnne Skolnik attended the Northeast Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics at Yale University in New Haven, CT. (January 13th -15th, 2012). There she presented her poster entitled: Dark Current in PHENIX Resistive Plate Chambers. The poster describes research work she performed in the summer of 2011 concerning the PHEINX detector at Brookhaven National Laboratory with the guidance of Dr. Brett Fadem.

MariAnne Skolnik and Friends at Poster PresentationMariAnne (second from the left) and friends in front of her poster during the student poster session.

While there were many interesting talks at the conference, MariAnne says she most enjoyed the interactive talk given by the Graduate Student Panel. The panel and audience discussed the particular challenges women undergraduates face in transitioning from undergraduate to graduate education.

 

Students Inducted Into Sigma Pi Sigma, The Physics Honor Society

Three students were inducted into Sigma Pi Sigma, the Physics Honor Society, on May 6th , 2011. Inducted were Jonathan Ben-Benjamin, Nicole Hammer and Lauren Ryan. The event took place at the Da Vinci Science Center in Allentown, PA. Members of the Physics Department faculty and staff performed the induction ceremony. Founded in 1921, Sigma Pi Sigma is a member honor society of the Association of College Honor Societies. The society has some 75,000 historical members. Election to Sigma Pi Sigma is a lifetime membership.

Sigma Pi Sigma Inductees

Sigma Pi Sigma Inductees Lauren Ryan, Jonathan Ben-Benjamin and Nicole Hammer.

Sigma Pi Sigma exists to honor outstanding scholarship in physics; to encourage interest in physics among students at all levels; to promote an attitude of service of its members towards their fellow students, colleagues, and the public; to provide a fellowship of persons who have excelled in physics. Sigma Pi Sigma’s mission is not completed in the induction ceremony with the recognition of academic accomplishment. In the four dimensions of Honor, Encouragement, Service, and Fellowship, the mission of Sigma Pi Sigma takes a longer view.

For more information concerning Sigma Pi Sigma please see this link.

 

Physics Students Honored

Physics students Jonathan Ben-Benjamin, Class of 2011, and Nicole Harmmer , Class of 2011, each were honored with prizes at Muhlenberg's 2011 Honors Convocation.

Jonathan Ben-Benjamin was honored with the Dr. Robert A. Boyer Prize.

The Boyer Prize is awarded to a student who exemplifies the many outstanding qualities of Dr. Robert Boyer, Emeritus Professor of Physics, including sound scholarship, a genuine concern for others, adherence to high standards of ethical and moral principles and a deep commitment to the religious dimension of a liberal arts education.

Nicole Hammer was honored with the Clifford R. Moyer Memorial Prize In Physics.

The Clifford R. Moyer Memorial Prize In Physics is awarded to a student majoring in physics who displays exceptional qualities of scholarship, perseverance and
commitment typified by Clifford Moyer.

Each prize carries a monetary award.

Students Participate in Annual Cantalobber Contest

Muhlenberg Physics students Andrew Nederlof, Ben Schweid, Steve Motchswiller, Nate Crossette, and Kyle Sullivan participated in Kutztown University’s 5th Annual Catalobber Contest. Students Alex Isinhue and Matt Moscowitz helped build the ‘Berg’s trebuchet but didn't attend the contest.

Preping the trebuchet

Ben Schweid, Andrew Nederlof, Nate Crossette and Steve Motschwiller

(Clockwise from noon)

The contest was held at Kutztown University on Sunday, April 10th. Seven different teams from five different colleges and universities participated in the event. There were two classes of Cantalobbers, trebuchets and air cannons. Muhlenberg’s entry was a floating arm trebuchet. They placed fourth in field of four with total summed yardage of 116 yards.  The winning trebuchet had a total summed yardage of 660 yards. 

After getting a good look at the substantial competition, an example seen looming in the background of the photo below, the ‘Berg team readily admits they have more work to do and plan on entering next year competition with a new and improved trebuchet.

The Competition

A fun video compilation of the event can be viewed via this YouTube link. The video compilation and photos are by Kyle Sullivan.