Volume II • No. 1 Fall/Winter 2008
By David Seely, Chair, Physics Department extensively in engineering, and its systematic use will provide part of
We are delighted to report that Charles Moreau was granted tenure, the coherence across curriculum that we and past students have identi-
and that the interim reviews of Aaron Miller and Nicolle Zellner were fied as lacking. We also are working to unify lab experiences at the
very good. Nobody is letting their foot off the pedal, however, as there introductory level with the planned advanced lab course. Because the
is much work still to be done. advanced lab is not fully implemented (its first introduction is planned
This past year, our goals included: (1) continued integration of for the fall semester 2009), we have been withholding the expenditure
teaching technology into the introductory physics courses, (2) con- of gift funds to meet its anticipated costs. The department receives
tinued development of laboratory exercises and research opportunities about $10,000 per year for equipment, but that amount is anticipated
in astronomy through digital imaging, (3) continued redevelopment to be insufficient for our needs. We will continue to post progress on
of the physics curriculum for majors, (4) enhancements of in-house the advanced laboratory initiative.
research-based opportunities for students, and (5) the introduction of a We continue to enhance in-house research opportunities for stu-
new intermediate-level seminar. Significant progress was made in all of dents. Aaron Miller supervised the work of senior student Tim Rambo
these areas. this summer as Tim worked on a remote positioning system for local
In the area of integrating teaching technology into introduc- satellite dish manufacturer Patriot Antenna Systems (www.sepatriot.
tory physics courses, we are pleased to report that Aaron Miller, Dave com). Tim hopes to turn the experience into a departmental thesis.
Seely, and Andrew French (Chemistry) were successful in their bid Nicolle Zellner supervised the research of first-year students Culver
for a Hewlett Packard Foundation Technology for Teaching Grant Redd and Ludwik Lembryk, who worked to stabilize and enhance our
(http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/newsroom/press/2008/080602b.html) astronomical digital imaging capabilities. Dave Seely worked with first-
which provided nearly $80,000 in TabletPC hardware and technology year student Samantha Strasser to reassemble a low-energy accelerator
infrastructure. that we received
This was matched last year from
by the College the University
in the amount of of Denver.
about $40,000 to Samantha spent
augment the capa- a week at Oak
bilities provided by Ridge National
the grant. Aaron Laboratory as part
Miller is the prin- of this experience.
cipal investigator Finally, our
for the grant. He new seminar series
notes that technol- has taken off
ogy-aided teaching well. Last year we
is not new to had talks by Joe
Albion. He has Nicolle Zellner worked with students Culver Redd and Ludwig Lembryk this summer to further develop our digital Minow, a NASA
spent the past two imaging capabilities for astronomy. Culver took filtered photos of astronomical objects, including the Ring Nebula engineer who
years developing and Jupiter. His work was included in the highlights at this year’s faculty retreat. studies the lunar
“clicker” technol- environment and
ogy that physics students use to answer questions and provide real-time how it will affect future lunar spacecraft missions; Ernst Galutschk,
feedback in class. These follow other physics “firsts” in technology in a Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute accelerator scientist study-
years past such as the incorporation of spreadsheets and computers in ing the migration of carbon in ocean sediments; Kevin Chalut, ’99, a
labs by Dave Kammer, Marty Ludington, and John Williams. postdoctoral fellow at Duke University who is working to develop new
The department continues to redevelop its curriculum for majors, biomedical imaging techniques; and Martha Ackmann, the author of
with some emphasis on upper-level courses. A new advanced labora- The Mercury 13, and Wally Funk, one of the original 13 women tested
tory course is planned, as is a regularly offered quantum mechanics by NASA doctors to fly in space in the 1960s. The series also included
course. This will be accomplished by paring down the introductory talks by the faculty and talks by students on their summer research
calculus-based course from three semesters to two semesters, with an experiences. To see this year’s seminar offerings, please go to: www.
introduction to Matlab® array processing software. Matlab® is used albion.edu/physics/seminars.asp. You are always welcome to join us!
FACULTY RESEARCH Nicolle Zellner firstname.lastname@example.org
As I write this note, I am sitting in a café in Florence, Italy, enjoying
Dave Seely email@example.com a very good cup of cappuccino and even better people- watching. I’m
Dave worked this summer with Samantha Strasser, ’11, reassembling a here for a conference on the Study of the Origin of Life (ISSOL), for
low-energy negative ion accelerator that we acquired last year from the which I chaired a session on planetary evolution and the habitat of
University of Denver. As reported in last year’s newsletter, Dave took early life. The conference is made up of over 300 scientists, includ-
a Ryder truck to Denver, where he met Aaron Miller who was already ing post-docs and graduate students, from over 30 countries, and it
working at NIST in Boulder. Aaron brought a few of his hefty col- is probably the most international conference I’ve attended. We’re
leagues to help and many boxed pieces of the apparatus were returned discussing topics related to how planetary systems form, how organic
to Albion. At the beginning of the summer, Sam assembled a 9-foot- molecules for life form, how cells form, and how all of this works
tall gantry crane with a 14-foot span, which we need to install heavy together to form life on our planet and possibly others. It’s a fantastic
pieces on and inside the apparatus. Much of our time was spent iden- exchange!
tifying pieces of the apparatus and reconstructing them with the help Florence was home to Galileo,
of photographs and some intuition. The apparatus will initially be used one of my favorite Renaissance men.
to study the creation of low energy neutral hydrogen beams by the However, without the Medicis,
photodetachment of negative hydrogen ions. This system was the pro- who ruled Florence for 300 years,
totype for the neutral hydrogen beam currently used in the ion-atom perhaps none of his scientific
merged-beams experiment in the Multicharged Ion Research Facility at equipment or writings would have
Oak Ridge National Laboratory. In some ways it has better operational survived to the present day. I was
characteristics than the ORNL apparatus, and we initially plan to use able to view his lunar sketches that
it as a “test bench” for optimizing the ORNL apparatus. After that we showed the phases of the Moon and
will use it for the study of interactions between low -energy hydrogen helped support Copernicus’ idea of a
beams and gaseous targets. sun-centered solar system, as well as
Recently, Dave presented an invited paper titled “Production of his compasses, astrolabes, planetary
long-lived H2-, HD-, and D2- during grazing scattering collisions of motion clocks, and a copy of his
H2+, H3+, D2+, D3+ and D2H+ ions with KBr, KCl, and LiF surfaces” at Dialog (Dialogue Concerning the
the 20th International Conference on the Application of Accelerators Two Chief World Systems). This book
in Research and Industry (CAARI). The conference was held August explained Galileo’s thoughts on a A side trip to Rome . . . this is
10-15, 2008 in Ft. Worth, Texas, and the work was performed both sun-centered solar system and was Jupiter rising over the Coliseum.
during his recent sabbatical leave and during subsequent visits to used to contradict the belief of an
ORNL. The manuscript will be published in a forthcoming volume of earth-centered system. For something that’s almost 400 years old, it’s
the American Institute of Physics (AIP) Conference Proceedings series. in pretty good shape! At the Santa Croce Church, I saw Galileo’s final
In addition, Dave was coauthor of a recently published paper with resting place, thanks to the Franciscan monks, who defied the Church
H. Bruhns, H. Kreckel, and D. W. Savin of the Columbia Astrophysics and interred his body in a sacred place.
Laboratory and C. C. Havener of the Physics Division at Oak Ridge If you ever get a chance to travel to Florence, I highly suggest
National Laboratory, titled “Low-energy charge transfer for collisions visiting these places. They bring history to life. My cappuccino cup is
of Si3+ with atomic hydrogen,” (Phys Rev. A. 77, 064702 (2008)). now empty, and I’m off to see Michaelangelo’s David. Ciao!
Another paper, titled “Rotating Dual Wire Beam Profile Monitor
Optimized for Use in Merged-Beams Experiments” was published Aaron Miller, ‘95 firstname.lastname@example.org
in Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research A with coau- This summer was productive for my research. As is now a pattern, my
thors from the Columbia Astrophyiscs Laboratory and ORNL (Nucl. family and I spent nine weeks in Boulder, Colorado where I was spon-
Instrum. Meth. in Phys. Res. A, 585 (2008) 69. sored by NIST to further their continued work on ultra-high efficiency
photon counting detectors. The cryogenic detectors designed and built
Charles Moreau email@example.com at NIST currently hold the world record for total efficiency at near-
Charles is currently working with students developing a thin-film infrared wavelength (95% at 1550 nm).1 My research this summer was
thermal deposition system in Norris Center. The system will utilize concentrated on reducing the residual losses even further in an attempt
a vacuum chamber capable of achieving pressures about 10 orders of to reach toward the “perfect” (~100% efficient) photon counter. I
magnitude less than atmospheric pressure. High current sources will worked on a new idea of using silicon micromachining to enable the
literally vaporize metals inside the chamber where they can be depos- precise positioning of our cryogenic devices relative to the fiber-optic
ited on silicon substrates. Similar techniques are used throughout the cable that brings light to the devices. This is a difficult task because the
semiconductor industry to produce integrated circuits, including com- detectors are half the diameter of a human hair (25 µm) and the fiber
puter chips. Students will be learning the theory of thin film produc- light source is even smaller (10 µm)! Nevertheless, we accomplished
tion in addition to vital hands-on techniques required by experimental an estimate coupling loss of less than 1% for the first time, which is
physicists: plumbing, electrical wiring, machining, computer program- promising for our future work. These results were presented at the
ming, and safety. Applied Superconductivity Conference in Chicago in late August.
The finished films will then be analyzed in the atomic force You can download a copy of our poster at www.albion.edu/physics/
microscope that the College purchased recently through a grant from ASC2008.pdf .
the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations. The microscope uses microma- Teaching in our department is a bit new this year as well. David
chined silicon pyramids that vibrate on the end of tiny cantilevers. The Seely, Andrew French (Chemistry), and I were awarded an HP
tips interact mechanically with the surface of the film and can be used Teaching with Technology grant which enabled us, along with gener-
to visualize a host of film properties: topography, magnetic structure, ous Albion College matching, to supply a classroom with 30 Tablet PC
conductivity, and surface hardness to name a few. computers and related support technology. With our ultimate goal of
Charles also spent ten days this past spring in England sightseeing.
having one Tablet PC per student we can explore graphical interactive
teaching in the classroom—an idea I am very excited about. Physics
education research shows that increasing student participation with
the course material during class improves long-term retention and, Join us at our Baird Observation Deck on the roof of Palenske Hall
as a result of over $100,000 worth of new teaching technology, we and in our historical observatory in the Brown Honors Building for
will explore these ideas in physics more fully over the coming years. star and planet viewing on selected nights and days this year.
As an aside, we had expected that 30 computers would suffice for our
introductory Physics (with calculus) courses; however, I walked into a The telescopes will be open to the campus community and the
Physics 167 (Analytical Physics I) class this semester with 35 registered public for viewing celestial objects, weather permitting.
students! This is a terrific sign for the future of our department. Thank
NOVEMBER 8 (FAMILY DAY)
you for your continued interest and support of our work!
Solar observing, Palenske Hall, 3-4 pm
A.E. Lita, A. J. Miller, S Nam, Counting near-infrared single-photons Evening observing, Palenske Hall, 7-8 pm
with 95% efficiency. Optics Express 16 (5), 2008. Evening observing, Alvan Clark Telescope, 7-8 pm
For current information on observing times, go to: www.albion.edu/
STUDENT RESEARCH physics/public_observing.asp
Tim Rambo, ’09
Adviser: Aaron Miller
During summer 2008 I was privileged to work for Patriot Antenna important to study starburst galaxies, such as NGC 4449, because their
Systems Inc. My job was to implement an electrical system on a solar- periods of low and rapid star formation are currently unexplained.
tracking satellite dish, for undisclosed renewable energy purposes. The I will apply my knowledge of the IRAF software during the next
basic outline of the system is an embedded microprocessor attached year while setting up the Physics Department’s 14” Celestron telescope
to a GPS, two DC motors, two absolute optical encoders (to track and SBIG CCD camera to take scientifically sound photometric data
the rotation of the dish), and two motor controllers. Essentially the of two local star clusters. This project is a directed study under Dr.
microprocessor reads time and position information from the GPS Zellner, and it will be included with the galaxy data in my senior hon-
and then, using an algorithm from the National Renewable Energy ors thesis.
Laboratory, drives the motors to point the dish at the sun to within a
tenth of a degree of accuracy. To accomplish this I had to draw upon Culver Redd, ’11
knowledge of coordinate systems, rotations, linear algebra, electricity, Adviser: Nicolle Zellner
device programming, Linux, and the C programming language. I will Over the summer, I worked on setting up the 11” Celestron telescope
be writing a thesis on this experience this fall. that was donated to the department by Jim Trolz back in the mid-
1990s, and learned how to use it with the two CCD cameras in the
Lesley Simanton, ’09 department’s possession.
Adviser: Rupali Chandar, University of Toledo First and foremost, I had to learn how to use the equipment to
I spent summer 2008 conducting research at the University of make sure all of it was in working order, and find solutions to any
Toledo’s Department of Physics and Astronomy through the Research problems I encountered. As it turned out, the telescope was donated
Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program. I worked to establish without a finderscope, making it very difficult to aim the telescope
a procedure for finding stellar clusters in galaxies outside of the local properly. To solve this, I had to purchase a Telrad—a holographic
group, beyond 10 million light-years, using data taken by the Hubble sight-like device that is used in the same manner as a finderscope—and
Space Telescope. Astronomical tools, such as the software program mount it properly onto the telescope.
Image Reduction and Analysis Facility (IRAF), allowed me to search I spent the rest of my observing time taking both black-and-white
for and take brightness measurements—known as photometry—on and color images of various objects, including Jupiter and the Ring
possible clusters within the images of the galaxies NGC 1291 and Nebula, seen on page 1. The image of the Ring Nebula was a 37.5-sec
NGC 4449. With these measurements, it is possible to determine the exposure taken with the H-alpha and OIII filters. I also tested features
age, mass, and metallicity of the clusters. Analyzing the distribution of included in the telescope’s software to determine whether they could be
these cluster proper- used to increase the quality of the telescope’s output.
ties throughout the As a secondary project, I worked with Ludwik Lembryk to
galaxies allows us to continue developing a comprehensive instruction manual for all of the
study the formation college’s astronomy equipment.
and evolution of the
galaxies as a whole,
and we can deter- SCHOLARSHIPS AND AWARDS
mine whether the
properties of much Charles Ricker Scholarship: Holly Farris, ’12, Dugan Karnazes, ’12
closer, well-studied Dorothy and David Kammer Scholarship: Dan Klarr, ’12,
spiral galaxies, such Lesley Simanton, ’09
as the Milky Way Lesley Simanton (second from the left) presents her E.T.S. Walton Award: Marci Howdyshell, ’08, Andrew Fidler, ‘08
and Andromeda Alumni/Faculty Scholarship: Ryan Graham, ‘09
summer research on extragalactic stellar clusters.
galaxies, are consis- Norma J. Taber Scholarship: Yang Chen, ’11
Also pictured (from left to right): Rupali Chandar
tent throughout the Howard E. Pettersen Prize: Jarrett Dunn, ’11
universe. It is equally (mentor), Rachell Gestrich (undergraduate research
partner), Adam Lark (graduate research partner).
EMERITUS NEWS Katherine Brewer, ’05 firstname.lastname@example.org
I am in the second year of an administrative fellowship program at the
David Kammer email@example.com University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). Currently, I am a
Dave and Dottie traced the ancient civilizations of Peru last fall and practice manager of a family medicine clinic outside Pittsburgh. After
are taking a fjord-hopping cruise from Bergen, Norway to the Russian the fellowship I plan to continue pursuing health care management
border this fall. Dave’s main hobbies continue to be bicycling and and opportunities to get involved in rural health care policy.
amateur radio where he is becoming involved with digital radio—using
a computer with for reception and transmission of signals. They still Nick Moroz, ’06 firstname.lastname@example.org
spend winters in Tucson, their base for exploring the Southwest. In May I received a full-time position as research associate for the
University of Michigan working at the Additive Materials Processing
Martin Ludington email@example.com Laboratory in Dearborn, Michigan. In December I will graduate with
Since retiring in 2005, Marty has spent most of his time reading, a B.S.E. in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan’s
traveling, mountain biking, doing genealogical research and volun- College of Engineering at Ann Arbor. Currently, I am applying to the
teer work, and enjoying his four grandchildren. His volunteer work direct doctoral program at U-M. I’m also writing several articles for
includes service at the Marshall Public Library, Binder Park Zoo, the Journal of Thermal Spray and am presenting my research at the
and Temple Beth Emeth in Ann Arbor. As a member of the Board Thermal Spray Convention in Las Vegas in February 2009.
of Directors of Temple Beth Emeth, Marty serves on the Pulpit
Committee, is blood drive coordinator, and is a member of the hospi- Andy Ruddick, ’08 firstname.lastname@example.org
tal visitation group. His wife, Kathy Fry Ludington, continues as an I am currently finishing my 3-2 program at Michigan Technological
actuary with Farm Bureau Life of Michigan, and is beginning to count University where I am a mechanical engineering major. During my
down to retirement. time at MTU I have had the opportunity to co-op at Bayer Material
Science in Auburn Hills, as well as intern at Gentex Corporation in
John Williams email@example.com Zeeland. I plan on graduating this December.
John Williams continues his retirement life of being a volunteer.
He has finished a six-year term on the board of Albion Interfaith
Ministries (AIM), five of them as treasurer, and started a term on the
HOW IS MY GIFT BEING USED?
board of the Forks Senior Center (FSC). AIM runs a thrift store and We continue to reap the benefits from the generous gifts from our
food pantry and provides assistance with rent and utilities. FSC pro- alumni and friends. We have identified four areas in which we will
vides activities, trips, and educational opportunities, including com- use these funds: seminar speakers, our advanced laboratory initiative,
puter classes taught by John, for older Albion residents. He continues student research activities, and faculty research activities.
as treasurer of the Albion Rotary Club and maintains the database of • Seminar Series: Last year, we had a very rich seminar series which
the Jackson Area Emmaus Community. He also continues as mission included visits from a NASA scientist who is studying the lunar envi-
secretary of the Albion District of the United Methodist Church. In ronment for forthcoming manned lunar missions and an accelerator
that role last year he was able to have Peter Hudy, a missionary and physicist from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute who is study-
former Peace Corps volunteer, meet with Albion students who were ing the decay of 14C by accelerator mass spectrometry. We also had
interested in having either of those activities in their futures. He will seminars presented by the faculty and by student Kent Bornemeier, ’10.
be dean of the School of Christian Missions for the West Michigan • Advanced Laboratory Initiative: We are submitting for approval
Conference of the United Methodist Church for the next two years. by the faculty a new advanced laboratory course, and already
This four-day school is held every year in July on the campus of Albion have required much of the instrumentation we will need for this.
College. Right now he is gearing up for the annual CROP Walk that Nonetheless, we anticipate the need for additional instrumentation or
he and his wife have coordinated for the past 14 years. curricular materials.
Last year they had the cottage replaced on some lakefront prop- • Student Research: We used approximately $200 from gift funds to
erty in northern Ontario that has been in John’s family for some years. support travel expenses incurred by student Samantha Strasser, ’11,
He and his wife, kids, and grandkids are now spending significant during a weeklong visit to Oak Ridge National Laboratory in June. A
amounts of time there. With almost no lights, the night sky there is FURSCA grant in the amount of $500 (the maximum grant) covered
much darker than in Albion. her remaining expenses. We anticipate using gift funds for student
research only when FURSCA options have first been exhausted. We
ALUMNI NEWS also spent approximately $500 on infrastructure (wiring, air, and gas
lines) and tools (a torque wrench and some small tools for general use).
Kyle Kidder, ’02 firstname.lastname@example.org • Faculty Research: We used approximately $4,500 from a dedicated
I am getting married Sept. 13 to a fellow Briton, Kelly Kulka ‘06. I am $5,000 gift for the cost of the move of the low energy accelerator from
currently working as a development engineer designing head and side the University of Denver and related expenses. An additional $500
impact energy absorbers for the Asian OEMs (Toyota, Honda, Nissan, (approximate) was used to supplement travel costs by Dave Seely to
Hyundai). ORNL and to the recent CAARI conference. Major funding for those
events was provided by a faculty development grant, Provost Office
Jenny Tobin, ’03 travel funds, and our annual $400 allowance for departmental travel.
In January I started a different job at the Nuclear Regulatory We anticipate using gift funds for faculty scholarship only when other
Commission. I’m now in the international programs office where I faculty funds (departmental travel, faculty development, Provost
manage the financial assistance program for the nuclear regulatory aide Office, and “startup funds”) have been exhausted.
that we provide overseas. I’ve been engaged since the beginning of the We always look to our alumni for guidance in how to spend gift
year, and we’ve gotten a “puppy” (he’s a Great Dane, though, so he’s funds. If you wish to offer such guidance, please communicate your
definitely outgrown the puppy size requirement!). We plan to get mar- thoughts to Chair Dave Seely (email@example.com) or to one of the
ried next year and can hopefully buy the house that we occupy. other department members.