New Funding

National-Science-Foundation-logoAlexander Kostinski (Physics/EPSSI) is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $156,119 research and development grant from the National Science Foundation.
The project is “Correlated Random Processes in Physical and Radar Meteorology.”
This is the first year of a potential three-year project totaling $477,948.

Dean’s Teaching Showcase: Raymond Shaw

Raymond ShawThis week’s Dean’s Teaching Showcase recipient is Raymond Shaw from the Department of Physics, winner of the 2016 Michigan Tech Research Award. Shaw was selected by College of Sciences and Arts Dean Bruce Seely precisely because his efforts in the classroom forcefully demonstrate the unity of teaching and research and signal no necessary tension exists between these two core faculty responsibilities.

Seely says “That past fall, the Physics Department honored Ray for the Research Award in the manner it had recognized several other research award recipients — assigning them to teach a large lecture class. In Ray’s case, this was PH 2200, which covered electricity and magnetism for 390 students. He discovered large classes requires ‘one part professor and two parts theater director.’

“Fortunately, he enjoyed significant assistance from a demo crew that prepared attention-grabbing experiments suitable for classroom use, a dedicated assistant who managed iClicker content and online homework systems, the office staff that printed and organized 400 exam booklets every few weeks, and the physics learning center coaches who assisted students with homework and exams.

“At the end of the term, student evaluations ranked the class at 4.36 on the seven dimensions reported on the  evaluation form. This is a very good score for a large introductory class.

“Ray identified several keys to this success, including support from Physics faculty, John Jaszczak, Wil Slough, and Bob Weidman, with extensive experience in large-lecture sections, who shared lecture materials and staging tips, and provided occasional pep talks. In addition, help from the testing center and IT staff members further confirmed that such courses are taught by a team, not just a professor.

“When asked about his contributions to making this class work, Ray noted that because  big classes can seem impersonal, he ‘took it as a challenge to let my students get to know me as a person.’

“He spiced up lectures with personal anecdotes related to the course, like his rapidly-flashing blinker (RC time constants) or electromagnetic phenomena in his research. Other times he used more random elements related to life in general. He once asked students to provide iClicker responses on possible ways of disciplining his son for breaking the TV. (Corporal punishment won, but he did not take that advice) His point — students respond when taught by faculty who are real people and who care about them. As one student commented, ‘Every class was enjoyable due to the somewhat ‘nerdy’ humor followed by funny references to his son (absolutely hysterical).’

“But perhaps as important was Ray’s enthusiasm for the class. Students clearly recognized his passion and excitement about physics. One student said, ‘Your enthusiasm for Physics is inspiring. It makes the lectures much more enjoyable.’  Another added, ‘Your enthusiasm was great. You were always passionate and in a good mood.’

“This might not seem like rocket science, but teaching seems to work better in environments where faculty exhibit their enthusiasm about their field and show how they care about students and their learning.”

Shaw will be recognized at an end-of-term luncheon with 11 other showcase members, and is now eligible for one of three new teaching awards to be given by the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning this summer recognizing introductory or large class teaching, innovative or outside the classroom teaching methods, or work in curriculum and assessment.

by Michael Meyer, Director, William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning



2016 Making a Difference Award Winners Announced

Jesse_Nordeng_B     Jesse_Nordeng_A

Jesse Nordeng, Master Machinist, Physics

As one letter of support states “How many times have I walked into the Physics machine shop with a group of students to ask Jesse for assistance with an urgent challenge? I can’t count how many times and I positively and constructively Jesse responds. He inevitably is able to help us come up with a creative solution that is more practical, more cost effective, and more direct than we had in mind.” Jess is very collaborative in nature, he is very versatile, he routinely finds ingenious solutions to our problems efficiently and effectively and he often goes well beyond his expected role. He also excels in his role as safety liason in the department. His nominator also states “Often I will mention a project that I want to do in the near future and will pass Jesse in the hall and he will throw out 10 ideas that he was thinking about and how to make things better.”


This Month In Astronomical History

Teresa Wilson’s monthly series “This Month in Astronomical History” has released its January publication “Remembering Bengt Strömgren”. Each month, as part of this new series from the Historical Astronomy Division of the AAS, an important discovery or memorable event in the history of astronomy will be highlighted. This month, we look at the scientific career and achievements of Bengt Strömgren in Stellar Astrophysics. You can read the compete article here or on aas.org.



SURF Proposal Workshop

Will Cantrell

Will Cantrell, coordinator of the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship program, will conduct a workshop for students on the SURF application process, including writing an effective SURF proposal. The workshop will take place at 6 p.m. tomorrow (Jan. 12) in Fisher 130.

Faculty and staff are encouraged to notify students interested in applying for SURF funding to attend.  This workshop will cover the same material as the one presented in December.

The deadline for SURF applications is 4 p.m. Jan. 27.


Pengfei Xue Interviewed on Lake Climate Projection

image98360-persHOUGHTON — A Michigan Technological University researcher is leading the effort to create a comprehensive model for the complicated and diverse climate of the Great Lakes region.

Pengfei Xue developed a model combining climate and water models with assistance from Loyola Marymount University, LimnoTech and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory.

When we have that component, the entire water cycle and surface water cycle would be complete. Then we could estimate the water level change over years.

Read more at the Mining Gazette, by Garrett Neese.


New Funding

Raymond Shaw

Raymond Shaw (Physics/EPSSI) is the principal investigator on a  project that has received a $98,855 research and development contract from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

The project is titled “HOLODEC Participation in the ARM Campaign Aerosol and Cloud Experiments in the Eastern North Atlantic (ACE-ENA).”

This is a 20-month project.


A New Mineral Named after Physics Professor

In Mineralogical Magazine’s recent newsletter, the International Commission on New Minerals, Nomenclature and Classification announced twelve new minerals that were approved by the commission in November.

Among them is a new bismuth and gold sulfide [Bi3S3][AuS2] from Alsó-Rózsa adit, Nagybörzsöny Mountains, Pest Co., Hungary named jaszczakite, in honor of Michigan Tech professor John Jaszczak (Physics).

The new mineral was proposed by Luca Bindi (Università di Firenze, Italy;) and Werner Paar (Salzburg, Austria).