Category: Michigan Tech News

Professor Emeritus Max Seel Passes Away

Professor Emeritus Max Seel

Max Seel, a professor emeritus of physics and former provost and vice president of academic affairs at Michigan Tech, passed away Sept. 14 at the age of 72.

Seel was a beloved member of the Michigan Tech community, leaving his native Germany in 1986 to join the University faculty as an associate professor of physics. Over the course of his three-decade career, Seel served as dean of the College of Sciences and Arts (CSA) from 1991 to 2008, as interim provost in 2009, and as provost and vice president of academic affairs from 2010 to 2015. Seel was a scholar-teacher, publishing more than 85 research papers related to electronic structure theory, several of which were published after he stepped down as provost and returned to the physics faculty.

Max is remembered by his colleagues for his sharp intellect and great sense of humor. Many have expressed that he was a calm, steady presence in rough times and someone who helped people talk through issues to reach the best possible outcome. Max is an integral part of our Husky legacy, and we will miss him.

Read Seel’s full obituary here.

Professor Emeritus Don Beck Passes Away

Don Beck, Michigan Tech professor emeritus in Physics

Don Beck, Michigan Tech professor emeritus in Physics, passed away on May 11, 2022.

Beck joined the Michigan Tech Physics Department in 1980 as part of an initiative to develop the research and Ph.D. programs in the department. His previous appointments included the University of Illinois, the National Hellenic Research Foundation in Athens, Yeshiva University and Yale.

Much of Beck’s work at Michgan Tech centered on computational atomic physics applied to transition and rare-earth metal ions. He was passionate about his research and pursued it with persistence. He was an MTU research awardee in 1999 and named a fellow of the American Physical Society in 2001 in recognition of his seminal work on relativistic correlation methodologies in electronic structure theory.

Beck retired in 2016 having published over 150 scientific papers. He received funding from many sources, most notably for his ongoing work on Lanthanide ions, which received continuous NSF funding for over 30 years. He always played an active role in the department, College of Sciences and Arts, and university. Most notably, he helped develop and provide leadership for the graduate programs in the department. As a principal advisor he graduated 10 Ph.D. and 6 M.S. students. At the University level, he was particularly active as an advocate for the Van Pelt and Opie Library and improved faculty benefits.

He was a friend, colleague and mentor to many in the department.

https://www.mininggazette.com/obituaries/2022/05/donald-richardson-beck/

Merelaniite article Published by Inside-Science

John Jaszczak 2Merelaniite, a new mineral discovered by Michigan Tech professor John Jaszczak, was named Mineral Of the Year for 2016. The mineral was selected by the International Mineralogical Association (IMA). Sergey V. Krivovichev of the IMA says this annual initiative was started in 2014, and “recognizes a single new mineral species published in the previous year as most interesting and outstanding among others.”

Congrats!

 

New funding announcement

Ravi Pandey
Ravi Pandey

Greg Odegard (MEEM) is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $1,000,000 research and development grant from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Ravi Pandey (Physics), Julia King (MEEM) and Trisha Sain (MEEM) are Co-Pis on the project titled “Institute for Ultra-Strong Composites by Computational Design (US-COMP).”

This is the first year of a five-year project potential totaling $14,999,995.

Yap featured in Research Magazine – Commercialization

Yoke Kin Yap 011320170045Yoke Khin Yap’s research in high-brightness fluorophores earned him a place in Michigan Tech’s Research Magazine in the article “Commercialization“.

“We are expecting a huge impact to the field of flow cytometery…This will mean a lot for cancer and stem cell research.”

High-brightness fluorophores are dyes that fluoresce in different colors and degrees of brightness. They are used in machines called flow cytometers to detect diseased cells in blood.

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

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.

 

Great Lakes Climate Modeling in the News

image98360-persPengfei Xue (CEE) and his modeling work through the Great Lakes Research Center, which led to a more comprehensive climate and hydrodynamics model for the whole Great Lakes region, has been featured in several science media outlets including Science Daily, Phys.org, Terra Daily and Supercomputing Online News. The story was shared numerous times by collaborators and the science community on Twitter.

Weather the Storm: Improving Great Lakes Modeling

The collaborative work brought together researchers from Michigan Technological University, Loyola Marymount University, LimnoTech and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory. Pengfei Xue, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Michigan Tech, led the study through his work at the Great Lakes Research Center on campus.

One of the important concepts in climate change, in addition to knowing the warming trend, is understanding that extreme events become more severe. That is both a challenge and an important focus in regional climate modeling. —Pengfei Xue

Read more at Michigan Tech News, by Allison Mills.