Programs & Awards  

2002-03 Sigma Pi Sigma Undergraduate Research Awards
Award Information & Previous Recipients

University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Construction of a Scintillator Detector for High Energy Cosmic Ray Showers


Final Report

To promote university student involvement in research, as well as outreach efforts with local high schools, the University of Tennessee Department of Physics and Astronomy has launched TECOP, the TEnnessee Cosmic ray Observatory Project. A collaborative effort involving Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the UT Society of Physics Students, TECOP’s goal is to build a university-community partnership by placing cosmic ray detectors in area high schools. High school students will assemble the detectors and analyze the collected data with assistance from UT’s undergraduate physics students. The UT Department of Physics and Astronomy will compile and further analyze the collected data.

Johns Hopkins University

Surface Tension Impelled Low-gravity Liquid Mixing Experiment

  Left to right are: Yo-Rhin Rhim, Sam Phillips, Paul Gosling, Paul Nerenberg, Sara Marten, Mowery Cook, and Mike Sharma.

Final Report

The JHU STILLMix Team is exploring the dynamics of liquids on surfaces in microgravity. Liquid samples will be injected onto test surfaces, and the propagation and passive mixing characteristics analyzed digitally. Space applications include microbiology and chemistry experiments, cooling, consumables and waste processing, and injection-molded parts manufacturing. The research team has been accepted into the 2003 campaign of the NASA Reduced Gravity Student Flight Opportunities Program, and have been appointed to the April 10th - 19th flight group.

We are honored to be Sigma Pi Sigma Undergraduate Research Awardees, and we thank the Society of Physics Students for helping to make the project possible. The team hopes to maximize the impact of this support by giving back to the local community with our college, high school and middle school outreach program. More information about our project can be found on our website.

University of South Alabama

Investigating "Neglected" Binary Stars

  Left to right are: Jarrod Cunningham, Jonathon Pierce (chapter president), Tiffany Scarborough, and Jessica Guidry.

Final Report

Society of Physics Students (SPS) members at the University of South Alabama (USA) recently won an Undergraduate Research grant from the national office of the SPS. The USA chapter will purchase a bifilar micrometer which will be used in their research of “neglected” binary stars. These binary stars have not been adequately observed in over twenty years or are in need of confirmation of their binary nature. The data collected will be submitted to the United States Naval Observatory for inclusion in the Washington Double Star Catalog.

Ohio Northern University

Creating Advanced Labs in Crystal Diffraction and Spiral Density Waves

  Left to right are: Dr. Mellita Caragiu, Dr. Jason Pinkney, Courtney Buckey, Robbie Merrill, Matt Katschke, and Tom Manuszak. Not Pictured: Christina Leidel.

Final Report

The student members of the Ohio Northern University SPS Chapter intend to organize two of the more complex experiments of an Advanced Lab that would be offered starting in Winter 2003. The first experiment studies the diffraction of laser light on colloidal crystals formed by polystyrene spheres of approximate diameter of 100 nm. The experiment addresses fundamental notions of solid state physics. The second experiment explores the fields of hydrodynamics and astrophysics, as it tries to simulate and explain the formation of spiral arms in galaxies using density waves in fluids.

Rowan University

  Left to right are: Brian Seaman, Keith McDonalds, T.J. Wark, Greg Guyon, Keith Harell and
Joe Palma.

Investigation of Electronic Instabilities in Quasi-Low-Dimensional Materials with Optical Reflectance Spectroscopy

Final Report

We propose to investigate the visible reflectance from blue bronze crystals as they undergo a metal-to-insulator transition around 180K.

Truman State University

  Left to right are -- Back: Charles Weaver III, Amenyedu Adovor, Christopher Cook, James Lloyd. Front: Kevin Haworth, Sarah Smith, Kibrom Tewolde. Far left: Dr. Mohammad Samiullah, faculty supervisor.

Building a Scanning Tunneling Microscope to Study Surface Properties of Thin Films

Final Report

Building the Scanning Tunneling Microscope (STM) will be a great learning experience, and will encourage a greater sense of community both within the physics department and among the various scientific disciplines here at Truman. After it is complete, the STM will become even more beneficial as we begin our research with it. We are very excited about this project. It's incredible to think that we can put together something that will give us atomic resolution of surfaces!

Northern Virginia Community College

  Students involved in the project are: Juan Velasco, Stacey Sude, Hoang Le, Soumitra Banerjee, Andy Chung, and Doug Goncz. The SPS Advisor is Dr. Walerian Majewski.

Cosmic Ray Muons: Detection and Muon Mean Lifetime Measurement

Final Report

The project consists in building for the first time at a U.S. community college an elementary particle detector to investigate the intensity of the muon flux at the classroom level and to measure muon's decay half-life into electrons and neutrinos. The basic detector will have a plastic scintillator, photomultipliers, and a storage oscilloscope to visualize and to count voltage pulses from decay electrons. Then an analog input A/D card in a computer will be added to count also muon pulses, and so to investigate the muon flux, and to measure large samples of decay events, to better determine the half-life. Optional second scintillator will permit to look for an anisotropy of the muon flux.

Students will learn the methods of fundamental particles research and will investigate the properties of the main component of cosmic rays at sea level—muons.

University of Missouri, Kansas City

Construction of a micro-Raman and the analysis of HfV207

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