Category Archives: Academic

Kostinski – In the News

Sun glints off atmospheric ice crystals (circled in red) in this view captured by NASA's EPIC instrument on NOAA's DISCOVR satellite.
Sun glints off atmospheric ice crystals (circled in red) in this view captured by NASA’s EPIC instrument on NOAA’s DISCOVR satellite.

One million miles from Earth, a NASA camera is capturing unexpected flashes of light reflecting off our planet, and Alex Kostinski has helped identify them as ice particles high in the atmosphere. NASA, Health Medicine Net and Astrobiology Web have published news stories about the phenomena and the research.

Visit here, here and here.

Scientific American and Nature magazine reported on Kostinski’s  research that helped NASA solve the mystery of flashes of light appearing over land, which turned out to be ice crystals high in the atmosphere. See the full story here.


Physics Student Kelci Mohrman Receives Honorable Mention

GRFP_logoKelci Mohran received honorable mention from the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF-GRFP), one of the oldest and most competitive programs in the nation.

Pushpalatha Murthy, dean of Michigan Tech’s Graduate School says, “Being a recipient of the Graduate Research Fellowship or Honorable Mention status in this very prestigious competition speaks to the high caliber of our students and the dedication they have for both intellectual pursuits and serving society. The NSF-GRFP is unique in that it emphasizes commitment to both intellectual inquiry and service to society and are looking to support individuals who have the potential to be high achieving scientists and engineers as well as have a broader impact on society. These awards are a well-deserved recognition of the superior accomplishments of our students and the quality and dedication of Michigan Tech faculty, staff and programs. Crafting a winning proposal is a lot of effort and I want to congratulate the students for their accomplishments and thank the dedication and passion of the faculty and staff who helped them. I look forward to great contributions for our students.”

THE NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines who are pursing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited US institutions.

Mohran recently participated in the Undergraduate Research Symposium.


Applied Physics student Kaelan Anderson in Undergrad Research Symposium

KaelanAKaelan Anderson’s research, Studying the Properties of Free Tropospheric Aerosols in the Mid Atlantic, was presented at Michigan Tech’s 2017 Undergraduate Research Symposium this past week. With the assistance of Claudio Mazzoleni, Anderson looked at if the long term research of atmospheric aerosols is necessary to accurately understand and predict a variety of atmospheric phenomena. A relevant example is black carbon, and its forcing effects on the climate.

The Undergraduate Research Symposium highlights the amazing cutting-edge research being conducted on Michigan Tech’s campus by some of our best and brightest undergraduate students.

The students showcasing their work today have spent a significant portion of the past year working alongside Michigan Tech faculty and graduate students to explore, discover and create new knowledge. They’ve spent long hours in the lab or out in the field designing experiments, gathering data, creating new models and testing hypotheses. They’ve applied their classroom knowledge in new and sometimes unexpected ways, and developed new skills that will propel them forward in their careers.


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



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.


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).


Cloud in a Box

Cloud Chamber20140324_0003When it comes to climate change, clouds are the wild card. Atmospheric physicists at Michigan Tech use a turbulence-generating cloud chamber to better understand the details and droplets.

There are few absolutes in life, but Will Cantrell says this is one: “Every cloud droplet in Earth’s atmosphere formed on a preexisting aerosol particle.”

And the way those droplets form — with scarce or plentiful aerosol particles — could have serious implications for weather and climate change.

It’s been known for decades that cleaner clouds tend to have bigger cloud droplets. But through research conducted in Michigan Tech’s cloud chamber, which was published by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Cantrell, graduate student Kamal Kant Chandrakar, Raymond Shaw and colleagues found that cleaner clouds also have a much wider variability in droplet size. So wide, in fact, that some are large enough to be considered drizzle drops.

Dirtier clouds, Shaw explains, not only have smaller droplets, but also much more uniformity in droplet size, with no observable drizzle drops.

“If clouds have more aerosols in them, the drops would be smaller and more similar in size,” Shaw says. “It would be harder for the cloud to rain, and the cloud would then last longer. If a cloud rains, or has less water in it, it won’t be there to reflect sunlight.”

By Stefanie Sidortsova, read the full story.

 


SURF Applications Open

Cloud Chamber 201510230011Applications for 2017 Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships are now open. Fellowship recipients will spend the summer on an individual research project under the guidance of a Michigan Tech faculty mentor. SURFs are open to all Tech undergraduates who have at least one semester remaining after the summer term. Awards are up to $4,000. Applications are due by 4 p.m. Jan. 27.

A workshop on writing effective SURF proposals is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 5 in Fisher 132.

For more information, access to the application materials and instructions, visit the webpage or contact the SURF coordinator, Will Cantrell.


Jaszczak discovery is spreading across the world

image144299-persDozens of news outlets and science blogs have covered research by John Jaszczak (Physics) and his team that led to the discovery of the new mineral merelaniite.

Several of the outlets include United Press International, Australian Mining, Phys.org, the German blog Scinexx, several geology blogs like Geology In and Science Explorer. Local coverage in Tanzania has also been extensive including stories by the BBC and The Guardian in Swahili.