Category: Research

Physics Major Anthony Palmer Wins Best Poster at Computing [MTU] Showcase

Michigan Tech physics and applied and computational mathematics double major Anthony Palmer, along with computer science PhD candidate Elijah Cobb, won the best poster recently in the Computing [MTU] Showcase for “Universal Sensor Description Schema: An extensible metalanguage to support heterogenous, evolving sensor data.”

Image of Anthony Palmer and Elijah Cobb in front of their poster at Michigan Tech’s Computing [MTU] Showcase
Anthony Palmer (left) and Elijah Cobb present their poster at Michigan Tech’s Computing [MTU] Showcase

Collecting and processing underwater sensor data is a critical need for U.S. Navy operations. Differences in sensor data types and forms presents a challenge for complete and accurate use of these data. The Universal Sensor Description Schema (USDS) project seeks to design, evaluate, and deploy a unified, extensible metalanguage for supporting legacy and future sensor data across multiple programming languages and environments. Michigan Tech is collaborating with Applied Research in Acoustics LLC to develop a robust programming environment for development of data-intensive applications.

Anthony came up with the idea for the project while interning at ARiA (a small research-and-development firm serving the Navy, government and industry). It’s been the basis for his senior thesis in physics. Anthony says “This project in particular has helped me learn alot about how programming languages work and are made. It also helped me learn a new functional programming language called “Racket”. Finally, it introduced me to some awesome people in the MTU computer science department including my partner Elijah Cobb and my advisor, Dr. Charles Wallace.”

Eye-opening describes the experience for Anthony.  He says, “I would say that I was surprised by the intricacy of how programming languages are built and function. I would also say that it was unexpected how useful recursion can be for solving problems in computing.” Recursion reduces time complexity, adds clarity and reduces the time needed to write and debug code.

Anthony graduates in a few short weeks. HIs attention will turn to the Navy, where he will be a submarine officer. Eventually he hopes to go into graduate school.


Sunny forecast for Physics Pi Cloud Chamber

Michigan Tech Pi Cloud Chamber
Michigan Tech Pi Cloud Chamber

$4 million in NSF funding makes the Physics Pi Cloud Chamber and extensive supporting instrumentation available to the atmospheric sciences community for investigations of atmospheric processes including aerosols and clouds. The award will also support a 10-week experiential learning program for visiting students through a Pi Chamber laboratory fellowship program and broaden student participation in the physical sciences. Funding will also go towards the design of a larger cloud chamber.

What is the Pi Chamber?

The Pi Chamber at Michigan Technological University simulates cloud conditions within the range of pressures and temperatures occurring in the lower part of the atmosphere (the troposphere). It has a proven record of enabling productive and insightful research in aerosol-cloud interactions, ice nucleation, mixed-phase cloud properties, cloud optical properties, and moist Rayleigh-Bénard convection in the atmospheric sciences.

Design of a larger cloud chamber in the works. 

Current cloud chambers do not allow for collisions between cloud drops as would occur in natural clouds. That’s why the NSF is funding an Aerosol-Cloud-Drizzle Convection Chamber too. NSF support of this project facilitates a cohort of researchers to conduct preliminary design work on a large cloud chamber capable of producing droplets up to the size of drizzle, which is a key transition point for fully understanding the development of precipitation. The proposed chamber would dramatically expand the US and international research community’s ability to conduct laboratory studies of clouds.

Read more about the Pi Chamber.


New Funding

Professor Emeritus David Nitz (Physics/EPSSI) is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $249,804 research and development grant from the National Science Foundation.

This three-year project is titled “WoU-MMA: Enhancing the Neutrino Sensitivity of the Pierre Auger Observatory.”

The Pierre Auger Observatory is used by researchers from across the world to study high energy cosmic rays – high energy particles that can travel through space at speeds approaching the speed of light. This project will support the AugerPrime upgrade to the observatory, increasing the detection efficiency of the observatory’s surface detectors.


New Funding

Raymond Shaw (Physics/EPSSI) is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $2,903,682 research and development grant from the National Science Foundation.

Shaw, co-investigators Will Cantrell, Kartik Iyer, Claudio Mazzoleni, and researchers from institutions across the country will collaborate on the project titled “A Community Laboratory Facility for Exploring and Sensing of Aerosol-Cloud-Drizzle Processes: The Aerosol-Cloud-Drizzle Convection Chamber.”

The proposed ACDC2 cloud chamber will be a world class facility, capable of producing droplets up to the size of drizzle while allowing air motion analogous to that in real clouds.


Yap named University Professor

Yoke Khin Yap, a professor in the Department of Physics, was selected to become Michigan Tech’s newest University Professor during the 2019-2020 academic year, through a highly selective process. Yap joined the Department of Physics in 2002 and was promoted to full professor in 2011. Ravi Pandey, chair of physics, said “Dr. Yap is enthusiastic about both teaching and research and treats the two as inseparable.”

Read more in Tech Today.


In Print

A recent study, Radiative absorption enhancements by black carbon controlled by particle-to-particle heterogeneity in composition, stemming from a collaboration between Brookhaven National Laboratory, Michigan Tech, and other institutions was recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) and has been highlighted in the research highlights section of Nature Climate Change this March. 

The research resulted in the development of a new modeling approach – guided by experimental results – to account more accurately for the effects of soot on climate. Coauthors of the paper include two former students of the Atmospheric Sciences Ph.D. program from the physics department, Drs. Janarjan Bhandari and Swarup China.

Janarjan Bhadari, ’18, currently works at the Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota, and Swarup China, ’14, is at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.


Physics Colloquium – Graduate Presentations

Two Physics Graduate Students will be presenting their research at 4 p.m. Thursday (Feb. 20) in Fisher 139.

Tyler Capek (advisor Claudio Mazzoleni) will present “Measuring Humidification Effects on Atmospheric Particles Optical Properties with a Novel Humidity-Controlled Albedometer.”

Abu Sayeed Md Shawon (advisor Will Cantrell) will present “Laboratory Measurement of Aerosol Scavenging by Activation in a Cloudy, Turbulent Environment.”

A social with refreshments will be held 30 minutes prior to the talk in the Fisher Hall lobby.


U.S. Naval Research Laboratory Physicist to Visit Campus

Ben Dzikowicz will present “A Taste of Acoustics at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory” at 11 a.m. Thursday (Feb. 20) in GLRC 202.

In the New York Times Magazine in 1915, Thomas Edison wrote an editorial addressing concerns over US involvement in WWI stating “The Government should maintain a great research laboratory… In this could be developed…all the technique of military and naval progression without any vast expense.” From this editorial, the US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) was established in 1923.

Dzikowicz, a physicist in the NRL Acoustics Division, will provide a brief overview of NRL, followed by information on arctic-related programs and new navigation/sonar techniques he developed utilizing transducers capable of producing sound fields with spiral wavefronts.