News and Events
November 2009 - SLU physicist featured in Discover Magazine blog. Dr. Potvin has been applying some of the lessons learned in his parachute research into the problem of lunge-feeding by rorqual whales. Amazingly, it appears that the physics of lunge feeding may ultimately limit how large whales can be. Click here for details.
SLU Chapter of the Society of Physics Students (SPS) has been selected as an Outstanding SPS Chapter for the 2007-2008 school year! The selection was based on the depth and breadth of SPS activities conducted by the chapter in such areas as physics research, public science outreach, physics tutoring programs, hosting and representation at physics meetings and events, and providing social interaction for chapter members. The complete citation of the award is shown here on the national SPS site . More details on the chapter's activities can be found here. Congratulations on this notable accomplishment!
August - September 2008 - Physics majors return from summer internships. Christopher Pierse, Junior, completed a summer REU internship in biophysics at Keck Graduate Institute in Claremont California. He researched the nonlinear dynamics of an information preserving automaton that simulates a gene regulatory network, which codes for its own transcription factor. Kevin Seats, Junior, completed a summer internship at the National Earthquake Information Center, a subgroup of the United States Geological Survey, centered in Golden, CO. He processed massive amounts of earthquake data from several stations around the world, in an attempt to help find a new way to locate earthquakes, as well as to correlate certain kinds of "noise", non-earthquake data obtained from the stations, at specific frequencies with other phenomenon, such as ocean waves crashing against the continents. Nate Williams, Senior, completed an internship with the National Undergraduate Fellowship Program in Plasma Physics and Fusion Energy Sciences. He worked for ten weeks during the summer with the Solar Research group at Princeton University in a laboratory that recreates the conditions in a solar flare.
September 2008 - Dr. Potvin has been elected to the grade of AIAA Associate Fellow by the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics. Associate Fellows are individuals of distinction who have made notable and valuable contributions to the arts, sciences or technology of aeronautics or astronautics. The award will be presented during the upcoming 47th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting and Exhibit which is to take place during the first week of January 2009 at the Orlando Marriott World Center in Orlando, FL.
The Department hosted the 2007 Midwest Relativity Meeting on November 2nd and 3rd.The meeting gathered 45 experts on Einstein's theory of General Relativity, to discuss the latest applications to gravity, cosmology and astrophysics. Click here for information about the program and abstracts.
Fall 2007 - Dr. Comer reports on the latest trends in the undergraduate teaching of Einstein's General Relativity Theory. See his contribution in the Fall 2006 issue of the Newsletter of the Topical Group on Gravitation of the American Physical Society. Dr. Comer is one of our two faculty members studying the physics of gravity.
April-May 2007 - Caitlin A. Rochford Wins the James D. Collins Award for Student Academic Excellence in Physics; she also wins the 2007 James I. Shannon Award in recognition of exceptional scholarship, initiative, and promise.
The Collins Award is awarded by the Saint Louis University College of Arts & Sciences. The Shannon Award is a physics department award and was established in memory of Father James Shannon S.J., who was the first chair of the department from 1925 until 1950. Caitlin is completing a double major in physics and mathematics. She has also completed a research project with Professor Thacker on planetary scale waves, called Rossby waves, which arise in the ocean and atmosphere due to the rotation of Earth. During the summer of 2006 Caitlin completed an internship at the NOAA Climate Diagnostics Center in Boulder Colorado, where she analyzed spatial and temporal temperature patterns in two Rocky Mountain watersheds in an attempt to improve snowmelt and stream flow modeling. Caitlin will be going to graduate school in physics at the University of Kansas (Lawrence) in the Fall of '07.
September 2006 - Physics majors return from summer internships.
Mar Vaquero completed a summer internship at the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands (Tenerife, Spain). Her project involved the development, integration, and verification of cryogenic prototypes and subsystems in the testing cryostats of EMIR. EMIR is a wide-field, near-infrared, multi-object spectrograph proposed for the Nasmyth focus of GTC (Gran Telescopio de Canarias), a 10.4 meter telescope located in the Observatory of Roque de los Muchachos, in the island of La Palma. EMIR will allow observers to obtain tens to hundreds of intermediate resolution spectra simultaneously, in the near infrared bands Z, J, H, K, using a multi-slit mask unit for target acquisition.
Caitlin Rochford completed a summer internship at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) Climate Diagnostics Center in Boulder Colorado, supported by a NOAA Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship. She analyzed spatial and temporal temperature patterns in two Rocky Mountain watersheds in an attempt to improve snowmelt and stream flow modeling. In this project she helped with the field work (see pictures below), did all of the data analysis and interpretation, and put together a poster and presentation. At the NOAA student conference in Silver Spring Maryland, Caitlin was recognized for the best presentation in her session.
April-May 2006 - Ryan M. Wilson Wins the James D. Collins Award for Student Academic Excellence in Physics; he also wins the 2006 James I. Shannon Award in recognition of exceptional scholarship, initiative, and promise.
The Collins Award is awarded by the Saint Louis University College of Arts & Sciences. The Shannon Award is a physics department award and was established in memory of Father James Shannon S.J., who was the first chair of the department from 1925 until 1950. Ryan is completing a double major in physics and mathematics, with a minor in philosophy. He has also completed a research project with Professor Redmount on electromagnetic scattering of charged scalar particles in exponentially expanding de Sitter spacetime (for the un-initiated: this is a problem that uses concepts and equations from Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity). During the summer of 2005 Ryan participated in an internship at Columbia University in New York, NY, working on a neutrino detector. Ryan will be going to graduate school at the University of Colorado (Boulder) in the Fall of '06.
April 2006 - SLU Physics students and professor experience the fury of fluid dynamics!
Dr. Comer, together with five intrepid physics undergraduates went camping and rafting in the New River, on their way to a tour of the National Radio Astronomy Observatoryin Green Bank(WV).
How about creating a "soup" of quarks and gluons? Dr. Dixit has long been interested in "cooking up" something to that effect - he even devised a formula that is used by other researchers (see photo below - from Blaschke et al.; European Physics Journal, Vol. C43, 81-84 (2005)). For more info about the quark-gluon plasma see this Physics Central report from the American Physical Society.
Fall 2005 - Caitlin Rochford wins a Hollings Scholarship through the National Oceanographic & Atmospheric Administration
The scholarship includes a stipend and a summer internship at one of the NOAA sites. Caitlin will have her internship in Boulder Colorado (2006).
Fall 2005- Uri Manor enters Johns Hopkins University with a Graduate Fellowship from the National Institute of Health
Uri Manor, who got his B.S. degree in Physics in May 2005, plans to study biophysics at Johns Hopkins University.
February 2005- SLU Physics Almna Rachael M. McDermott passes Ph.D. qualifying exams at MIT
Rachael McDermott (B.S. 2003) is studying Nuclear Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is working with MIT's high field tokamak group in the Plasma Science Fusion Center.
SLU Parachute physics Researchers Featured in the St. Louis Post Dispatch
Dr. Potvin, Mr. Peek and their team were featured in the local newspaper last November 9th (2004) - see photo. The journalist and his photographer were able to see some good test drops, and a "bad" one (i.e. a parachute malfunction). They even got a free ride in the airplane - lucky them!
Physics students spend summer 2001 at research labs
Several of our majors spent the last summer learning and doing research here and elsewhere.
Parachute physics students win third place in AIAA contest
Ms. Becky Borcato and Mr. Carlos Manglano won third prize ($250 and certificates) for their student paper entitled "Size and Speed Scaling Study of Parachute
Inflation Dynamics", at the Region V AIAA student conference held at Wichita, April 26-28, 2000. A total of 23 papers were presented at this conference.
Congratulations are also due to Dr. Jean Potvin, their mentor who worked with the students diligently.
Mr. Brian Fore wins the 1999 Shannon Award Shannon Award
Mr. Brian Fore wins the 1999 Shannon Award. The Shannon Award was established in memory of Father James Shannon S.J., who was the
first chair of the department from 1925 until 1950. Brian Fore was a research student with Dr. Les Benofy, to investigate the effects of proton structure on the spectrum of
atomic hydrogen. He has devised a model for proton structure on the spectrum of atomic hydrogen. He has devised a model proton structure based on quarks
interacting through spring forces. Using this model he has calculated the electric polarizability for the proton and an average shift for the lowest levels of the hydrogen
atom, and he is now working on the hyperfine splitting in the ground state. Brian holds a prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, one of only three in the state of
Missouri. He interned at the Argonne National Laboratory during summer of 1998. Brian will attend graduate school at MIT next fall, where he has been awarded a