The National Council of the Society of Physics Students has named Allegheny College’s chapter a Distinguished SPS Chapter for 2014-2015. Based on an assessment of the chapter’s breadth and depth of activities, the award recognizes Allegheny’s physics students for their efforts to build community and propel students into professional careers.
March 2nd 2016
November 4th 2015
Professor of Physics Doros Petasis co-authored a chapter, titled “Quantitative Interpretation of Multifrequency Multimode EPR Spectra of Metal Containing Proteins, Enzymes, and Biomimetic Complexes,” with Professor Michael Hendrich of Carnegie Mellon University. The chapter is part of a volume of Methods in Enzymology titled Electron Paramagnetic Resonance Investigations of Biological Systems by Using Spin Labels, Spin Probes, and Intrinsic Metal Ions, which was published in October.
September 4th 2015
A paper by Professor of Chemistry and Physics David Statman, Ariel Statman ’14, Kaitlin Wozniak ’11 and Christopher Brennan ’13, “Comparison of photoinduced reorientation of ortho-, meta-, and para-methyl red-doped nematic liquid crystals on rubbed polyimide,” has been accepted for publication in Physical Review E.
May 4th 2015
Professor of Physics Doros Petasis was invited by De Gruyter Publishers (Berlin) to be a co-author of a book on Electron Paramagnetic Resonance (EPR) Spectroscopy. The book, part of De Gruyter’s graduate series program focused on graduate students and beginner scientists in industry, will cover EPR theory, instrumentation and data analysis methodologies with applications in biological and synthetic systems. The book is scheduled for publication in 2017.
April 9th 2015
April 9, 2015 – The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded Allegheny College senior Erin Brown an honorable mention in the prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program, which provides fellowships to individuals selected early in their graduate careers based on their demonstrated potential for significant achievements in science and engineering.
Additionally, Brown, a physics and mathematics double major with an English minor, has received the 2015-16 Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education–in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (EDGE-STEM) Doctoral Fellowship at Stanford University. She was nominated for this award by the Stanford School of Engineering based on her record of extraordinary academic accomplishment and her potential to contribute to the diversity of her program and academic field.
The EDGE-STEM fellowship will provide Brown with a stipend and research and travel funds when she begins Stanford’s Ph.D. program in Computational and Mathematical Engineering in the fall. She hopes to someday teach and conduct research at the university level.
“Receiving these recognitions is a great honor. Allegheny allowed me to become involved in research during my freshman year, which I believe helped me get all the opportunities I’ve had,” says Brown, who has researched “Mathematical Sciences – Computational and Data-enabled Science,” meaning she uses math and theory to develop new computational techniques, particularly for understanding the brain. “I’ve also benefited from active mentorship in the physics and math departments. I believe the College has prepared me well for my next chapter at Stanford.”
These are not the first honors for Brown. In 2014, she received a Goldwater Scholarship, which is awarded to only 300 students annually, from an applicant pool of 1,200 to 1,500. The prior year, she received a Goldwater Scholarship honorable mention.
“Erin’s accomplishments say it all; she clearly has a first-rate scientific mind,” says Patrick Jackson, Allegheny national fellowships adviser and visiting professor of religious studies and history. Jackson works with students who are applying to external fellowships.
Brown, from Gainesville, Ga., has served as president of the Allegheny Society of Physics Students. She has worked on research projects with professors in the Allegheny physics department and at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif., through the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Exceptional Research Opportunities Program.
In addition, Allegheny class of 2013 graduate Douglas Barber of Austin, Texas, received an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. Barber, who is studying geology at the University of Texas at Austin, was one of 2,000 individuals chosen for the Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program from among 16,500 applicants in 2015. He was a geology major and economics minor at Allegheny.
Allegheny class of 2013 graduates Colleen Friel and Michael Vlah also received NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program honorable mentions. Friel is studying biology at Michigan State University, and Vlah is studying environmental science at the University of Washington.
With its emphasis on support of individuals, the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program offers fellowship awards directly to graduate students selected through a national competition. The program provides three years of financial support within a five-year fellowship period ($34,000 annual stipend and $12,000 cost-of-education allowance to the graduate institution) for graduate study that leads to a research-based master’s or doctoral degree in science or engineering.
Former NSF Fellows include numerous individuals who have made transformative breakthroughs in science and engineering, become leaders in their chosen careers and been honored as Nobel laureates. A complete list of those offered this fellowship for 2015 is available on the NSF website. For general information about the program, go to nsfgrfp.org.
April 9th 2015
Faculty mentorship, research and fellowships help prepare Allegheny senior for the next chapter
With not one but TWO senior comps to finish (one in physics and one in math) before becoming an official member of the Bicentennial graduating class, one would think Erin Brown had enough on her mind at the end of the semester.
But in March, Brown, a physics and mathematics double major with an English minor, also learned that she had received two prestigious honors.
The National Science Foundation awarded Brown an honorable mention in the prestigious Graduate Research Fellowship Program, which provides fellowships to individuals selected early in their graduate careers based on their demonstrated potential for significant achievements in science and engineering.
Shortly after receiving that news, she learned that she had received the 2015-16 Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education–in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (EDGE-STEM) Doctoral Fellowship at Stanford University. She was nominated for this award by the Stanford School of Engineering based on her record of extraordinary academic accomplishment and her potential to contribute to the diversity of her program and academic field. This fellowship will provide Brown with a stipend and research and travel funds.
But these are not the first honors for Brown. In 2014, she received a Goldwater Scholarship, which is awarded to only 300 students annually, from an applicant pool of 1,200 to 1,500. The prior year, she received a Goldwater Scholarship honorable mention.
Brown, from Gainesville, Ga., has been accepted to Stanford’s Ph.D. program in Computational and Mathematical Engineering and will attend in the fall. We recently spoke to her about these honors and how Allegheny helped to shape her future:
How does it feel to receive these prestigious recognitions?
It is a great honor. Allegheny allowed me to become involved in research during my freshman year, which I believe helped me get all the opportunities I’ve had. I’ve also benefited from active mentorship in the physics and math departments. I feel like Allegheny has put me on an equal footing with larger schools and has prepared me well for my next chapter.
How did Allegheny help to prepare you to apply for these recognitions?
One thing I’ve benefited from at Allegheny is the ability to become involved in research early on. I started research during my freshman year with Assistant Professor Adelé Poynor in the physics department. I think that helped me get all these other opportunities I’ve had.
Also, I think that my English minor has helped me. A lot of academia and research is grant writing, publishing papers, etc. Plus I just love literature and the English department.
What kind of research have you done?
I had the opportunity to work on research projects with professors in the Allegheny physics department and at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif., through the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Exceptional Research Opportunities Program. I started off studying the interaction between water and hydrophobic surfaces with Dr. Poynor. I’ve also worked with Professor Shafiqur Rahman on studying magnetic materials.
In addition, I have studied “Mathematical Sciences – Computational and Data-enabled Science,” meaning I have used math and theory to develop new computational techniques, particularly for understanding the brain. I really love this line of work. I initially wanted to do very pure theoretical physics, but my interest has morphed. I’m now really interested in complex systems and the brain, particularly.
How challenging was it to be a double major in math and physics?
I think any double major here is ambitious, but math and physics go together really well. It’s been a great combination for me. I’ve had such a positive experience with the physics and math departments. There’s some really impressive work going on there.
How do you balance it all?
It’s important that everything I’m doing is stuff I love to do. I’m really cut out for academia. I love learning. I love research.
What other organizations were you involved in at Allegheny?
I served as president of the Allegheny Society of Physics Students. Last semester, I worked on instituting events to incorporate students in the major early on. For me, being involved in research at an early stage was so formative. I’d really like everyone to have that opportunity. We set up a series of lunchtime presentations where students who have done research came and presented. We tried to bring in people from physics, math and other departments. I think that early involvement in research is key to assimilation.
Why is it important for women to become involved in the sciences?
Throughout history, women have had a huge influence on the development of math, computer science – all the sciences, really. I think any kind of unequal representation is unnatural.
What is your goal after Stanford?
I want to stay in academia. I’d really like to be a professor. I’ve had some amazing influences and faculty mentorship while I’ve been at Allegheny. I’d like to carry that on.
December 2nd 2014
Professor of Geology Ron Cole and Professor of Physics Dan Willey gave an invited presentation in an educational strategies session at the national Geological Society of America conference in Vancouver, BC. The title of their presentation was “Enhanced Diversity and Retention of Undergraduate STEM Majors at Allegheny College: Outcomes of a National Science Foundation S-STEM Program.” Cole also presented results of NSF-funded scientific research including new hypotheses on volcanism in southern Alaska with contributions by Marie Takach ’16 and colleagues at the U.S. Geological Survey, National Taiwan University, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Bucknell University, and Lehigh University.
November 21st 2014
Star Wars sound editor inspires future filmmakers
Two production classes gathered into the small screening room in the Vukovich Center to listen to Benjamin Pickering Burtt speak on Monday, Nov. 10.
Burtt is a four-time Academy Award winner for his sound editing skills. He graduated from Allegheny in 1970, where he received his undergraduate degree in physics.
Assistant professor of communication arts John Reilly and professor Michael Keeley took a break from their typical lectures and let Burtt run their classes.
“[Burtt]’s talk was immensely important for the introductory production students because it allowed them to witness the creative measures he took during his early filmmaking days with limited means and rudimentary equipment,” said Reilly. “At the same time, it also allowed them to hear how he still considers the very basic components of effective storytelling even though he now has unlimited production resources and technology at his disposal.”
Photo by Joe Bruch
November 7th 2014
Note: Aaron Conner is an Allegheny College graduate from the Class of 2012.
Aaron Conner makes light of his career choices, right on his own website. “I am a college graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Physics. Learned about stars exploding, now I make shampoo.”
Conner’s job involves more than just making shampoo. He built an almost entirely waste-free business from the ground up.
He is the founder of Healthy Skin for a Happy Life, a holistic company making bath and beauty products out of Wexford. Not only are their products entirely natural, but the process for their production is highly eco-friendly.
Conner says that it’s a combination of his collegiate experience, his many interests, and his desire for an innovative workspace that inspired him to forge his own business. And it’s his belief in their cause that keeps their products– and their process– pure.
Read the full story.
October 10th 2014
Professor of Physics Doros Petasis co-authored the chapter “Quantitative interpretation of EPR spectroscopy with applications for iron-sulfur proteins” in the book Iron-Sulfur Clusters in Chemistry and Biology. The book presents a comprehensive overview of research on iron-sulfur proteins with a target audience of graduate students and researchers in the field of bioinorganic chemistry.