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CMU nominates two students to compete for Goldwater Scholarships

February 19, 2014 - Amanda Clark, a junior from Three Oaks, Mich. majoring in biochemistry, and Che Ting Ho, a sophomore from Alma, Mich. majoring in biomedical engineering, have been nominated to compete for a Goldwater Scholarship.

The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was established by Congress in 1986 to honor Barry Goldwater, who served for 56 years as a soldier and U.S. Senator. Scholarships are awarded each year to 300 college sophomores and juniors committed to pursuing research careers in mathematics, engineering or the natural sciences.

Amanda Clark

Amanda Clark is a 2013 McNair Scholar and vice president of the CMU student chapter of the American Chemical Society. Clark has been working with associate professor of chemistry Choon Lee, on research involving the synthesis of antioxidant dendrimers - repetitively branching molecules - since January 2012. The goal of her most recent project was to synthesize a second-generation dendrimer.

Clark evaluated the pro-oxidant effects of the dendrimer, but was not able to full test its antioxidant capacity. She is currently redesigning her compound to make it more soluble in biocompatible solvents in hopes that it can someday be used to help treat cancer and other diseases.

"I enjoy research because of its challenges. It is thought provoking and very difficult, but I enjoy the amount of knowledge that I am gaining from this experience," Clark said.

Clark's interest in cancer medications stems from a very personal connection to the disease - when she was 15, she lost her father to lung cancer. Two years later, Clark was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. After experiencing the side effects of chemotherapy medications herself, she was inspired to help develop medications with fewer adverse effects.

Clark has been in remission since undergoing chemotherapy, but she will never forget her battle with cancer. "I keep the memories with me as motivation for what I want to help discover someday," she said.

Clark plans to earn a Ph.D. in chemistry and pursue a research career in academia. She hopes to pass along her enthusiasm for science to future students, and conduct research that aids in the development of new cancer treatment medications.

Che Ting Ho

Che Ting Ho is a member of the Society of Women Engineers and the Science and Technology Residential College.

Ho is currently working on a research project with assistant professor of electrical engineering Tolga Kaya, involving electrotation. Their goal is to develop a technique for detecting disease through the entrapment and rotation of diseased cells.

"This could potentially help medical professionals detect diseases, such as cancer, more quickly," Ho said.

Ho is currently working to direct the movement of polymer particles, a technique that she hopes to eventually use to separate diseased cells from healthy ones.

"Our goal is to induce the diseased cells to gather at the center of an electromagnetic field where we can trap them," she said.

Ho was first introduced to Kaya as a student in one of his courses. Impressed by her problem-solving skills and strong work ethic, he offered Ho the chance to help design and fabricate printed circuit boards for a summer program called Research Experience for Teachers. RET provides pre- and in-service teachers with research skills and projects to incorporate into their own classrooms.

This past summer, Kaya offered Ho the opportunity to join his research team. She was grateful for the opportunity to become involved in faculty-led research. "I love research because it challenges not only my knowledge and technical skills, but also my creativity," Ho said.

Ho plans to earn an M.D. or Ph.D. and pursue prosthetics-related research, an area that she became interested in after learning that many people living with disabilities cannot afford current models. Ho hopes to design more affordable prothestics using lower cost materials to improve the quality of life for individuals who have suffered amputations.

Du's research on glucose poly(ortho esters) featured as cover story of Angewandte Chemie

February 13, 2014 - Assistant professor AC-cover-300of chemistry and Science of Advanced Materials research scientist Wenjun Du recently had his research featured as the cover story on the journal, Angewandte Chemie.

His paper - "Synthesis of Highly pH-Responsive Glucose Poly(orthoester)" - hypothesizes that pH-responsive polymers have great potential in biomedical applications, including targeted drug delivery.

Since tumors and inflammatory tissues tend to have low pH values and existing pH-responsive materials, such as polyketal copolymers, had known limitations and were falling short in terms of treating conditions optimally, Du and his research colleagues synthesized a glucose poly(orthoester) as a highly pH-responsive polymer to address these issues. Their research demonstrates the first, successful creation of a new class of sugar-based polymers, in which the sugar units are connected through orthoester linkages.

Ths new discovery has broad applications and may be useful in the synthesis of highly pH-responsive materials that could selectively and rapidly deliver drugs to diseased tissues with low pH values.

Du and his team plan to continue their study of glucose poly (ortho esters), with additional research studies already underway in his laboratory.

Angewandte Chemie is one of the premier chemistry journals in the world. It is the only journal in the field that delivers a mix of review articles, highlights and communications weekly, and also regularly publishes Nobel lectures in chemistry and related fields.

Fornari invited to provide expert commentary about materials research in Physics' Viewpoint paper

February 13, 2014, 2013 - Physics professor and Science of Advanced Materials research scientist Marco Fornari was recently published in Physics, the online publication of the American Physical Society that spotlights exceptional research. Fornari was invited to write a Viewpoint commentary on the research article, "Comprehensive Search for New Phases and Compounds in Binary Alloy Systems Based on Platinum-Group Metals, Using a Computational First-Principles Approach," explaining the results of recent research conducted at Brigham Young University to physicists in other subfields.

In his invited paper, Fornari notes that being able to use powerful computers to search for new and improved functional materials - particularly new platinum-group-metal-containing alloys that have proven useful for a wide range of industrial applications - yields significant time-saving by allowing researchers to explore potentially useful chemical combinations of elements and structures in a fraction of the time that real experiments would take. Results are organized in a database that researchers then go through to analyze the relationships between multiple materials. Through their analysis, they create what are called "property descriptors" - quantities that link the calculated microscopic and macroscopic properties - and what research scientists use as a compass to navigate these complex, multidimensional materials databases. They hope that this "high-throughput materials modeling" will expedite the discovery and development of new materials, and their applications to real-world issues.

The researchers at Brigham Young University used a supercomputer and software called AFLOW to process 153 binary combinations of platinum group and transition metals, calculating the energies of 250 different possible crystal structures. They were able to identify crystal structures that had already been found, but also discovered 28 new, unexplored alloys that could have potential use.

Fornari indicates in his review that although years might be needed to examine all of the leads yielded by this particular study, it highlights the need for greater standardization in how materials are catalogued in various databases. This would help achieve a long-term goal of high-throughput materials modeling of allowing searches to automatically generate new descriptors for new functionalities, and in turn, enhancing material scientists' research abilities through data mining to expedite the discovery of new materials and their potential uses.

Click here to read Fornari's full Viewpoint paper, "Computational Materials Discovery Goes Platinum.

Barone and Jackson awarded research grants from National Science Foundation and U.S. Department of Energy

February 11, 2014 - Two CMU Science of Advanced Materials faculty members were recently recognized for their research:

  • Assistant professor of physics Veronica Barone was awarded a Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental, and Transport Systems (CBET) grant from the National Science Foundation to work on sodium-ion batteries research in collaboration with professor Liangbing Hu at the University of Maryland. Due to the low cost and abundance of sodium on Earth, sodium-ion batteries are emerging as a viable technology to meet the requirements for transportation and other energy storage applications. Although sodium is much more abundant than lithium, sodium ions have a much larger size, which poses grand challenges for sodium-ion technologies. Barone's research group at CMU will address these issues by utilizing computational tools to investigate possible sodium-ion storage mechanisms, such as intercalation and cluster formation.

  • Professor of physics Koblar Alan Jackson has received a three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Basic Energy Science to study the physics and chemistry of cluster-based catalyst systems using computer simulations. The grant will support Science of Advanced Materials and CMU Department of Physics graduate students who have research interests in computational studies of atomic clusters and nanomaterials.

Uzarski shares wetland expertise in Sustain Our Great Lakes webinar

February 5, 2014 - Sustain Our Great Lakes recently hosted a webinar on January 29 that CMU Institute for Great Lakes director Don Uzarski participated in, along with Matthew Cooper from the University of Notre Dame and Valerie Brady from the University of Minnesota Duluth.

The webinar discussion centered around the Implementing a Basin-Wide Great Lakes Coastal Wetland Monitoring Program, an ongoing collaborative research effort of monitoring the conditions and trends at over 1,000 coastal wetlands of the Great Lakes Basin.

Available for viewing online here, Uzarski and other experts provided an overview of the monitoring program and examples of how the collected data is being used for wetland protection and monitoring across the region. The accompanying PowerPoint presentation - without the webinar recording - is also available to view online here.

Sustain Our Great Lakes serves to sustain, restore and protect fish, wildlife and habitat in the Great Lakes basin by leveraging funding, building conservation capacity, and focusing partners and resources toward key ecological issues. The organization is a public-private partnership among ArcelorMittal, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S.D.A. Natural Resources Conservation Service.

SAM graduates recognized for outstanding dissertations

February 4, 2014 - December 2013 graduates of the Science of Advanced Materials Ph.D. program Jordan Phillips and Chananate Uthaisar have each been recognized by the CMU College of Graduate Studies with a 2013 Outstanding Dissertation Award.

Phillips' dissertation, "Towards the Blackbox Computation of Magnetic Exchange Coupling Parameters in Polynuclear Transition-Metal Complexes" and Uthaisar's dissertation, "Optimizing Graphene Oxide Derivatives as High Performance Anodes in Lithium-Ion Batteries: From Density Functional Theory Calculations to Fundamental Experimental Research" earned them their awards.

Phillips is now working as a postdoctoral researcher in the chemistry department at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Uthaisar recently took a position as a research scientist with Fraunhofer USA in the Center for Coatings and Laser Applications located in Lansing, Michigan.

Interdisciplinary research to develop a fundamental understanding of environmental chemical cycles

January 31, 2014 - Central Michigan University assistant professor of Earth and atmospheric sciences and Institute for Great Lakes Research scientist Deric Learman was recently awarded a $170,000 research grant by the National Science Foundation's Geobiology and Low-Temperature Geochemistry Program to examine how microorganisms make minerals (manganese oxides) which are found in soils and sediments on land and in lakes, rivers and oceans.

This research will be done in collaboration with Colleen Hansel from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (funded separately).

While small in scale, understanding the factors involved in making manganese oxide minerals is environmentally important since these oxides can impact the fate of a broad range of nutrients, such as carbon and phosphate, and contaminates, such as lead and chromium.

In addition, manganese oxides are receiving increased attention as a dominant control on the release of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from soils and sediments, since they are one of a select few compounds that can degrade recalcitrant carbon to more labile forms, hindering its long-term sequestration and stabilization.

Despite this existing knowledge, a scientific understanding of the manganese cycle is fundamentally incomplete, with major gaps in the processes responsible for the formation of manganese oxide minerals.

This research aims to obtain essential information that will help close these knowledge gaps, improve predictive models of carbon cycling and aid strategies for cleaning up contaminated ecosystems.

In addition to the NSF grant, Learman's research has generated a peer-reviewed paper, "Constraints on superoxide mediated formation of manganese oxides," and two invitations to present at conferences - Goldschmidt Conference on August 27 and the American Geophysical Society Meeting on December 9.

CMU advances Great Lakes research with unmanned helicopter, hyperspectral camera

January 30, 2014 - Central Michigan Benjamin Heumann with his unmanned aerial vehicleUniversity has acquired the only unmanned aerial vehicle in Michigan that is equipped with a hyperspectral camera - a six-foot long helicopter - that will significantly advance research imaging of Great Lakes wetlands.

The camera takes extremely high-resolution images in 334 colors compared to typical cameras that capture just three.

Researchers will use the semi-autonomous helicopter, controlled via computer or by radio waves, to capture images of vegetation in wetlands throughout the Great Lakes basin. Their work will continue the fight against invasive species, protect rare plants and ultimately help to preserve and protect the world's largest supply of fresh water.

"This allows us to determine where and when we collect the data instead of relying on archives from the federal government or commercial vendors," said Benjamin Heumann, director of CMU's Center for Geographic Information Science. The center conducts research locally, regionally and internationally on social and environmental issues that require spatial analysis.

"We now have the technology to do more than anyone else in the state in geomapping and analysis of wetland ecosystems," Heumann said. "Using the hyperspectral camera, we have the capability to collect aerial imagery with far greater precision than manned aircraft and satellite."

Now, instead of capturing an image that shows a tree, for example, the hyperspectral camera will show individual plant leaves throughout a wetland.

The helicopter flies at about 10 miles an hour and to the height of a 40-story building. It is flown under Federal Aviation Administration guidelines.

Unmanned aerial vehicles historically have been used in law enforcement and the military, although there are many civilian applications as well.

The technology also has applications in agriculture. Heumann recently spoke at the Michigan Advanced Aerial System Consortium about the potential use of UAVs for mapping disease, detecting weeds and monitoring fertilization and drought in the state's $5.72 billion field crops industry.

"We can help farmers better forecast crop yields," Heumann said. "By mapping disease, we can pinpoint more precisely where to target the spraying of pesticides, reducing costs to farmers and health hazards to humans and the environment."

Heumann and a team of graduate students will use the helicopter for the first time this spring to determine the biodiversity of a wetland area in Washtenaw County.

The unmanned aerial vehicle and the hyperspectral camera were purchased by the College of Science and Technology at a cost of $140,000.

​Howell publishes new book about high performance polymers

November 26, 2013 - Central Michigan University professor of chemistry and Science of Advanced Materials researcher Bob A. Howell recently published "Foundations of High Performance Polymers: Properties, Performance and Applications" along with U.K. polymer scientist Abbas Hamrang. This 332-page book presents phenomena associated with the remarkable features of high performance polymers and also provides an update on applications of modern polymers.

Helping to fill the gap between theory and practice, "Foundations of High Performance Polymers" offers new research insights into structure-property relationships, synthesis and purification, and potential applications of high performance polymers. The collection of topics discussed reflects the diversity of recent advances in modern polymers with a broad perspective that scientists, graduate students and engineers will also find useful.

Howell's research interests include flame retardants for polymeric materials, new polymeric fuel-cell membranes, polymerization techniques, thermal methods of analysis, polymer-supported organoplatinum antitumor agents, barrier plastic packaging, bioplastics, and polymers from renewable sources. A particular current research interest is the development of nontoxic, environmentally friendly flame retardants based on renewable biosources.

Tomasik receives $565,000 grant from National Science Foundation for STEM education research

November 22, 2013 - Central Michigan University assistant professor of chemistry Janice Hall Tomasik recently received a $565,000 grant from the National Science Foundation's Transforming Undergraduate Education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (TUES) Phase II program to support work exploring the impacts of research-based environmental experiments on students and faculty at CMU, Saginaw Valley State University and Delta College.

Along with CMU associate professors of chemistry Dale LeCaptain and Anja Mueller, Tomasik and research colleagues - David Karpovich and Tami Sivy from SVSU, and Jay Vanhouten and Bernadette Harkness from Delta College - will develop new laboratory activities for undergraduate STEM courses. 

The new labs will involve authentic hands-on research experiences for students, as they investigate the environmental health of the watershed in the central Michigan area and on Beaver Island in northern Lake Michigan. Students in courses including Biology, Biochemistry, General and Analytical Chemistry, and Ecology will perform investigations both onsite at local sources and in laboratories on each campus, using state-of-the-art equipment and procedures. 

Students will share their findings between the three institutions and with the public at an annual student research summit made possible by a portion of the grant. 

Tomasik and researchers will investigate the impacts of the research-based experiences on students and faculty in multiple disciplines and at each type of institution - a research-intensive university, a predominantly undergraduate institution, and a community college. Their research will shed light on best practices for incorporating research-based environmental activities into courses at each type of institution, and their work will serve as a model for other programs. 

They will share their findings and host a workshop at national conferences at the end of the research study.

Outstanding Vicksburg graduate receives $17,000 in scholarships from CMU

October 30, 2013 - Central Michigan Claudia Ramsey receives an Incoming Freshman Scholarship from CMU biology professor Bob BaileyUniversity freshman Claudia Ramsey has received the CMU Board of Trustees Outstanding High School Student scholarship, worth $4,000 annually and awarded to students ranked first or second in their graduating class.

She also has received an Incoming Freshman Scholarship from the CMU biology department, a one-time award worth $1,000.

Claudia is studying biomedical science and is a member of the CMU cheerleading team. She hopes to attend medical school in southern California and become an orthopedic surgeon.

Biology graduate student recognized for Best Student Presentation

October 28, 2013 - Congratulations to Kristen Karasiewiczbiology graduate student Kristen Karasiewicz, who won the Best Student Presentation Award - Biology Section at the Michigan Microscopy and Microanalysis Society meeting held on October 18 at The Dow Chemical Company.

A native of Cedar Springs, Mich., Kristen received a B.S. in biology from CMU in 2012 and is currently working on an M.S. in biology, conducting research on shrimp in professor Philip Hertzler's lab in Brooks Hall. Her poster, "Vasa and Nanos Protein Localization within the Germ Line of Penaeid Shrimp," was singled out from ten competing posters and talks by program officers and two invited speakers. In addition to the recognition, Kristen received a new iPad.

Senior and chemistry major Geoffrey Bourdon receives scholarship

October 22, 2013 - Congratulations to Geoffrey Bourdon, pictured third from left, receives the O'Connell Family Endowed ScholarshipCMU senior and chemistry major Geoffrey Bourdon, who is the recipient of the Dr. Barbara Leiting-O'Connell Family Endowed Scholarship. A native of Muskegon, Mich., Geoff plans on pursuing a Ph.D. in chemistry after graduating in May 2014 and ultimately wants to have a career as a chemistry professor. The award will help him cover some of his tuition expenses during his last year at CMU.

Established in 2007 by Dr. John O'Connell, '83, in memory of Dr. Barbara Leiting-O'Connell, this scholarship is awarded annually to a full-time junior or senior with a signed chemistry major and a cumulative GPA of 3.25 or higher. Preference is given to students desiring to attend graduate school and who demonstrate financial need.

Click here to explore all available sc​holarships to CST students.

Using fish ear bones to help protect coastal wetlands

September 30, 2013 - Don Uzarski, CMU Conducting mass spectrometry on otolithsprofessor of biology and director of CMU's Institute for Great Lakes Research and the CMU Biological Station, and his research team are reading information stored in the ear bones (otoliths) of fish to track fish movements. 

The otoliths in fish grow daily in layers, similar to rings in a tree trunk. Biology graduate student Lee Schoen and Jim Student, director of the Center for Elemental and Isotopic Analysis in the CMU College of Science and Technology, are taking thin slices of the otoliths and running them through a laser-equipped mass spectrometer, which picks up trace elements that the ear bones integrate from surrounding water, enabling the researchers to track the fish's pattern of visits to particular coastal wetlands.

Uzarski says, "We're basically trying to find out exactly how important these coastal wetlands are to the overall energy base or food web of the entire Great Lakes ecosystem." 

Their research aims to provide the hard data necessary for better choices to be made about managing, restoring and protecting the Great Lakes basin's coastal wetlands. 

Learn more:

Powerful Research: Using Supercomputers to Simulate Supercell Thunderstorms

September 27, 2013 - What occurs withistorm simulationn a thunderstorm that leads to the formation of destructive weather events such as tornadoes and downbursts? Associate professor of meteorology Leigh Orf is trying to answer this question, and in the process, is gaining national recognition for his expertise in using supercomputer modeling and simulation to study atmospheric disturbances such as supercell thunderstorms.

Supercells are the most powerful, long-lived thunderstorms. They exhibit a rotating updraft, and they are responsible for nature's mightiest twisters.

The National Institute for Computational Sciences (NICS) recently published "Simulating Supercell Thunderstorms," covering Orf's storm simulation studies and ongoing research, the objective of which is to capture the entire life cycle of a supercell thunderstorm that produces a strong, long-lived tornado.

Along with colleagues Bob Wilhelmson of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois and Matthew Gilmore, associate professor of atmospheric science at the University of North Dakota, Orf recently ran supercell simulations on the Blue Waters supercomputer located at NCSA and rendered them on a system housed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

These simulations  still being analyzed  are guiding the research team in designing new simulations to be run at the Texas Advanced Computing Center, all of which are resources of the National Science Foundation's Extreme Science and Discovery Environment (XSEDE)  the most advanced, powerful and robust collection of integrated digital resources and services in the world.

"With enough simulations, we hope to have a spectrum of storms to investigate, from storms that produce the weakest tornadoes, to those that produce the most devastating, in addition to storms that do not produce tornadoes at all," Orf explains.

Recent similar research  published in the latest edition of NCSA's Access magazine  that Orf is conducting along with Wilhelmson and Eric Savory of the University of Western Ontario has them using the Kraken supercomputer at NICS to create storm simulations in environments known to be conducive to creating downbursts.

Downbursts are created by a column of sinking air that, after hitting ground level, spreads out in all directions and are capable of producing damaging straight-line winds in the range of 80-150 mph. Occurring 10 times more often than tornadoes, they produce a debris pattern in parallel straight lines, which distinguishes them from tornadoes, which leave a rotational damage pattern.

Orf and Savory are exploring the specific stresses that downbursts present to structures, such as power transmission lines, and their simulations are producing a more physically realistic wind field not found in simpler models.

They are hoping that advances in supercomputing power will bring them closer to answers that will ultimately help meteorologists issue better short-term forecasts and more accurate, timely, and targeted warnings for these types of storms.

Biology professors awarded Amazon Web Services Teaching Grant that provides students with access to cloud computing

September 25, 2013 - Assistant DNA sequencingprofessors of biology Deric Learman and Andrew Mahon were recently awarded an Amazon Web Services Teaching Grant. The award, in the form of $1600 worth of credit from Amazon, enables them to use Amazon's high-powered computer servers as an instructional tool in the BIO 610: Next Generation Sequencing course that they are teaching this semester.

Access to the AWS servers allows students in the class to analyze data hands-on, including being able to do whole genome assemblies, alignments and analyses using the most modern methods in the field.

Amazon Web Services is a collection of remote computing services that together make up a cloud computing platform, offered over the Internet by The AWS in Education team evaluates academic research support proposals from active faculty at accredited universities and colleges four times a year, and selects recipients for AWS Teaching Grant awards that enable students' access to the global computing infrastructure and storage capacity of the AWS cloud.

The ability to access AWS services provides a cost-effective way for educators to teach courses in distributed computing, artificial intelligence, data structures and other compute and storage-intensive subject matter. In the past, such courses would have required extensive hardware and network infrastructure.

Engineering students using pedestrian traffic to produce electricity

September 24, 2013 - Step by step, CMU Engineering studnts using pedestrian traffic to produce electricityengineering students are generating electricity.

Last year, in the entrance of the Engineering and Technology Building, students constructed an electrical panel that serves as a vibration energy harvester to create renewable energy for powering a temperature display. 

The project was a success and now this year, assistant professor of engineering Tolga Kaya and four students - Indian River senior Brianna Ohlert, Livonia senior Steven Shapardanis, China senior Fei Pang and Elk Rapids senior Jared Jorgensen - are looking to make further enhancements, adding solar and wind power capabilities. 

The team is hoping to increase the device's current output of 5 watts per hour to 50 watts per hour - enough energy to power a digital display in front of the building.

Click here to read more about this exciting research project.

Engineering senior receives competitive NSF Bioelectronics Student Travel Award

September 23, 2013 - CMU senior and Steven Shapardaniselectrical engineering major Steven Shapardanis recently received an NSF Bioelectronics Student Travel Award for the 2013 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Sensors Conference, one of the biggest and most prestigious international conferences in the field of sensors. 

Written under the research guidance of assistant professor of electrical engineering, Tolga Kaya, Steve is the primary author of a conference paper, "Design and Implementation of Collagen-Based Capacitive Relative Humidity Sensors," and has also been selected to present in a lecture session at the conference, scheduled for November 3-6 in Baltimore, Md.

Funded by the National Science Foundation, the Bioelectronics Student Travel Award is  given to only twenty students internationally and covers some additional tutorial session registrations and lodging expenses.

The IEEE Sensors Conference is a forum for presentation, discussion and exchange of state-of-the-art information including the latest research and development in sensors and their related fields. It brings together researchers, developers and practitioners from diverse fields including international scientists and engineers from academia, research institutes and companies to present and discuss the latest results in the general field of sensors.

Undergraduate student conducts world-class nuclear physics research in Canada

September 12, 2013 - Physics triumf-research-300undergraduate student Caleb Bancroft recently spent eight days at TRIUMF laboratory in Vancouver, Canada conducting nuclear physics research. Caleb prepared and performed an experiment that investigated the shape of very exotic atomic nuclei.

TRIUMF is one of the world's leading subatomic physics laboratories. In addition to basic research in nuclear and particle physics, TRIUMF researchers use accelerators to produce medical isotopes which are, for example, used in the diagnostics and treatment of cancer.

The experiment that Caleb participated in involved an international team, led by CMU assistant professor of physics Kathrin Wimmer. Their goal was to explore the phenomenon of shape coexistence in heavy Strontium isotopes. While some nuclei are round like soccer balls, others exhibit a more deformed shape, along the lines of what an American football looks like. In the case of the Strontium isotopes, the transition between spherical and deformed nuclei is very abrupt - only two additional neutrons change the shape of the nucleus completely.

In order to investigate this sudden change, a beam of radioactive 94Sr, consisting of 38 protons and 56 neutrons, was guided to the experiment where it collided with a foil containing Deuterium, a special form of Hydrogen. In some cases, only one neutron was transferred in the collision onto the 94Sr nucleus, making it 95Sr with 57 neutrons. The properties of this newly formed 95Sr were then investigated in great detail to draw conclusions about the rapid shape change in the Strontium nuclei.

The success of the experiment was a major breakthrough for the TRIUMF facility. Before, the heaviest beam that was accelerated and used for experiments at TRIUMF had a mass number of 30. Now, it is possible to do experiments with nuclei that are over three times more massive. This allows researchers to do many more exciting experiments and gives CMU physics majors the opportunity to participate in cutting-edge science.

Chappaz inv​estigates molybdenum as one of the two key trace elements for the development of life

September 11, 2013 - The Goldschmidt triumf-research-300Conference, the world's largest geochemistry conference, recently met in Florence, Italy from August 25-30, where thousands of geoscientists presented their latest research. One of them, Dr. Steven Benner from the Westheimer Institute of Science and Technology in Gainesville, Fla., attracted a lot of attention.  

He presented a new hypothesis that life in the solar system may have begun on Mars billions of years ago. Benner's theory is based upon results that suggest minerals containing the elements boron and molybdenum are key in assembling atoms into life-forming molecules. Molybdenum is a unique trace metal, since it is required for nitrogen assimilation for all life forms on Earth.

Dr. Anthony Chappaz, assistant professor of geochemistry within Central Michigan University's Institute for Great Lakes Research and the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, is a recognized expert on molybdenum geochemistry. Along with colleagues from the University of Copenhagen and Princeton University, he also presented some new research results on how molybdenum can be used to reconstruct the rise of oxygen concentration in the ancient ocean.

This month a new postdoctoral researcher is joining Chappaz's research group in the GEM Lab to investigate molybdenum geochemistry under low oxygen conditions. In light of Dr. Benner's recent presentation at the Goldschmidt Conference, this project - funded by the National Science Foundation - could bring new insights into how life may have started.

CMU's 2012 physics hires continue connection to world-class lab

September 11, 2013 - Do the words "mass spectroscopy" excite you? Do you dream of smashing atoms? If so, you might find yourself right at home in the CMU Department of Physics, where three faculty members - Georgios Perdikakis, Matthew Redshaw and Kathrin Wimmer - are part of an exciting new partnership between Central Michigan University and Michigan State University. As part of their appointment, they are supervising MSU doctoral students and involving both undergraduate and graduate students in their research at the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams in East Lansing.

"We can offer to students this more intimate atmosphere where they're not lost in the crowd and professors actually do know their names, but at the same time be connected to cutting-edge research and world class facilities," says Chris Tycner, chair of CMU's physics department.

The $680 million FRIB facility is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, MSU and the State of Michigan. "It's going to be the most powerful rare isotope user facility in the world," says Redshaw. "It's a great opportunity to have this facility only 60 miles down the road from CMU."

Find out more:

Catch up on CST news in the latest issue of Spectrum

July 19, 2013 - Click here to read the latest Spectrum Newsletter - Summer 2013digital edition of Spectrum, the annual newsletter from CMU's College of Science and Technology.

It'll bring you up-to-date with news - ranging from the planned new Biosciences Building and CMU's new research vessel, to a 6,000-pound magnet that will advance nuclear physics research. You're sure to find an article of interest. 

Read about what fellow CST alumni have been up to, and be sure to send us your update to be included in our next issue!

Biology graduate student conducts shrimp research Down Under

July 18, 2013 - CMU graduate student Sam Sam Glaves Glaves from Clovis, Calif. recently spent time conducting research in Brisbane, Australia. From January through April, Sam and his research colleagues studied the germ line development of the Kuruma shrimp, Penaeus japonicas, in an aquaculture setting. They are hoping that their findings will benefit aquaculture breeding practices and help answer prevalent germ line developmental questions for this particular shrimp species, as well as others that follow the same patterns.

Sam said the trip was extraordinarily beneficial for his research progress and "an amazing opportunity not only to experience a different culture, but to experience a different way of thinking, learning and talking about our universal field of biology."

Sam collected Kuruma shrimp samples at Bribie Island, the smallest and most northerly of three major sand islands forming the coastline sheltering the northern part of Moreton Bay, Queensland. He conducted his molecular research on the shrimp at the University of Queensland, a research-intensive institution in the top 1% of universities worldwide.

Sam studies under the guidance of biology professor Phil Hertzler and plans to graduate in December 2013 with a Master of Science in biology.

CMU senior Rebecca Jones participating in Misasa International Student Internship Program in Japan

July 16, 2013 - CMU senior and geology Rebecca Jonesmajor Rebecca Jones from Lake Orion, Mich. is spending six weeks in Misasa, Japan after earning a coveted spot in Pheasant Memorial Laboratory's International Student Internship Program.

Along with other students from around the world - including India, Germany, Canada, Colombia, Brazil and England - Rebecca is currently running a geochemical analysis of the Chelyabinsk meteorite that fell from the sky on February 15, 2013 in Russia. She is conducting multiple tests on the samples, hoping to discover new data that will provide information and improve our understanding of the origin and evolution of terrestrial bodies.

Only five students are selected to participate in PML's Misasa International Student Internship Program (MISIP) each year. The program is open to juniors, seniors and masters-level students who are studying Earth sciences, physics, chemistry and/or materials sciences and who have a strong interest in pursuing a career in scientific research. During the program, students work in state-of-the-art research facilities and gain first-hand research experience. Program participants reside in a guesthouse and have their travel and living expenses fully covered. At the end of the program, each participant presents results of their research findings in a talk.

PML MISIP is jointly sponsored by the Institute for Study of the Earth's Interior at Okayama University and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science & Technology in Japan.

Biology graduate student Clarence Fullard receives prestigious Sea Grant Fellowship

July 11, 2013 - Clarence Fullard has been Clarence Fullardselected as one of the 2014 John A. Knauss Sea Grant Fellows. Clarence is currently working on an M.S. degree under the supervision of CMU Professor of Biology Dr. Tracy Galarowicz.

Named after John A. Knauss, one of the founders of the Sea Grant program and former director of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Sea Grant John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship provides a unique educational experience to students who have an interest in ocean, coastal and Great Lakes resources and in national policy decisions affecting those resources.

Since their inception in 1979, more than 900 young men and women have been recipients of the prestigious Knauss awards that allow them to spend a year working in Washington, D.C. as a staff person in either the legislative or executive branch of government. Knauss fellows assist their host offices by contributing expertise gained from their graduate studies, while gaining invaluable experience and insights into public policy at the highest levels.

One of the goals of CMU's Institute for Great Lakes Research is to provide scientific information to inform public policy and assist national resource managers; through his work as a Knauss fellow, Clarence will be able to help make this goal a reality.

Click here to learn more about the John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship program.

CMU graduate begins Peace Corps service in West Africa

June 28, 2013 - Mark Hanss, '12, of Ann Mark HanssArbor, Mich. has been accepted into the Peace Corps and departed for Togo on June 10 to begin training as a health volunteer.

Togo, officially the Togolese Republic, is one of the smallest countries in Africa. Located in West Africa, the French-speaking nation is bordered by Ghana to the west, Benin to the east and Burkina Faso to the north. With a population of approximately 6.7 million in a 22,000 square mile area, it is a tropical, sub-Saharan country that is highly dependent on agriculture.

Access to quality health services varies across Togo, but families living in rural areas often experience great difficulty securing even basic medical treatment, and are faced with a variety of issues - high child mortality rates, one of the highest rates of HIV infections in Western Africa, shortage of health care workers, and limited access to safe drinking water. 

The medical care and health facilities that do exist are limited and of very poor quality, and emergency medical care is inadequate. Working with the Ministry of Health and other partners, and applying what he's learned from his biomedical sciences major, Mark is working to improve and expand community health education in rural areas of Togo during his two years of service.

From June through September, Mark will complete training - technical, language, health and safety - while living with a host family to become fully immersed in the country's culture. Once assigned to a community, he will work on sustainable, community-driven development projects that make a difference for the people of Togo and provide him with leadership and cross-cultural skills he can use throughout his career.

Mark joins the 316 Michigan residents currently serving in the Peace Corps. More than 6,866 Michigan residents have served as volunteers since the agency was created in 1961, helping to promote world peace, friendship and a better understanding between Americans and people of other countries.

CMU unveils new Great Lakes research vessel

June 21, 2013 - Central Michigan RV ChippewaUniversity students and faculty are able to increase their scientific research on the Great Lakes thanks to the purchase of a 38-foot vessel by the CMU College of Science and Technology.

Don Uzarski, director of CMU's Institute for Great Lakes Research, said students studying areas of science from ecology to botany will benefit from the utilization of the RV Chippewa.

"With respect to Great Lakes research, this was one of the last pieces of the puzzle to get us out into that open water of the lakes that we couldn't do before with smaller vessels," Uzarski said. "We're very strong in research in wetlands and in the nearshore region; now we're hoping to take it out to the offshore."

The vessel will help further the work of the Institute for Great Lakes Research, which recently received a $10 million federal grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to conduct Great Lakes wetlands preservation research alongside a team from nine other universities and three government agencies.

"I have about 20 faculty who study various aspects of the Great Lakes with a goal of understanding the ecology of these vital ecosystems," said Ian Davison, dean of the CMU College of Science and Technology. "This vessel will enhance their capacity to provide the information that is needed to protect and preserve them."

Biology graduate students spark the science spirit in elementary classrooms

BioBuds pilot program brought to Ganiard Elementary

June 6, 2013 - Central Michigan University BioBudsgraduate students shared their passion for biology with Ganiard Elementary third graders through BioBuds, a program designed to get students interested in science at an early age.

The Biology Graduate Student Association developed BioBuds last fall after learning about world-famous conservationist Jane Goodall's "Roots and Shoots" program. The BGSA piloted BioBuds in the spring and plans to make it a yearly program.

"We wanted to help develop the love of science and biology with the students," said Hastings graduate student Nicole Wood. "The teachers have been really thankful we've come in, and they like seeing their kids happy and learning at the same time."

Ganiard Elementary third grade teacher Michelle French said it is always appreciated when experts in a field speak to a class.

"The students loved having the BioBuds come into our classroom for lessons, and they were always eager and excited to learn from them," French said. "It really helped us as teachers because they covered topics that are part of our curriculum."

The program currently includes five interactive lessons that expose children to a variety of biology topics. Fourteen graduate students were involved in teaching the lessons.

Midland graduate student Alicia McGrew created and taught the food webs lesson. The students used gestures and noises to act out the concepts of plants and animals in food webs.

"I went off of what my research interests are and tried to think of something that was relatable to the kids," McGrew said. "Something that they would understand and be able to appreciate while applying it to their everyday lives."

Physics professor is one of 15 recipients of Department of Defense MURI research award

June 6, 2013 - A team of six scientists, Marco Fornariincluding physics professor Marco Fornari, is receiving $8.5 million from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to develop and apply computational methods that will replace expensive and rare chemical elements from critical technologies.

Their award-winning research proposal, "Rare Element Replacement Strategies," is a combined effort between Fornari and his colleagues at Duke University, Brigham Young University, University of North Texas and University of Maryland - College Park. The team is receiving one of 15 awards given by the DoD to academic institutions to perform multidisciplinary basic research. Totaling $105 million, the awards are presented by the Army Research Office and the Office of Naval Research under the DoD Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) program.

The MURI program supports research by teams of investigators across traditional science and engineering disciplines to accelerate research progress. Fornari, along with his research colleagues, will investigate topological decompositions and spectral sampling algorithms for elements substitution in critical technologies. In simpler terms, he will develop and apply methods to design advanced materials with improved functionalities for applications that are crucial for the mission of the DoD.

The Army Research Office and the Office of Naval Research solicited proposals in 16 topics important to the DoD and received a total of 193 papers, followed by 43 proposals. The 15 awards handed out are for a five year period, with the research expected to produce significant advances in capabilities for U.S. military forces, and to open up entirely new lines of research. A total of 43 academic institutions are expected to participate in these select 15 research projects.

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