Programs & Awards  
2010 Sigma Pi Sigma Undergraduate Research Awards

Sigma Pi Sigma, the national physics honor societyThe following six Society of Physics Students (SPS) chapters have received Sigma Pi Sigma Undergraduate Research Awards to fund chapter research projects. The awards provide calendar year grants to support local chapter activities that are deemed imaginative and likely to contribute to the strengthening of the SPS program. The program is funded through income from the Sigma Pi Sigma Trust Endowment Fund.
Recipients: 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 & Previous

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  Team DPX III: (from left to right) Aliya Merali, Chris Conniff, Darrick Jones, and Michael Baker.
  Team DPX III: (from left to right) Aliya Merali, Chris Conniff, Darrick Jones, and Michael Baker.
The College of New Jersey

Dust Particle Dynamics in a Varying Gravitational Field

Interim Report | Final Report

Abstract
While dusty plasmas are commonly found amongst astrophysical observations and within ground based fusion reactors and other devises, there is a relatively small amount of understanding regarding the dynamics and formation of the dust clouds themselves. There is a great amount of interest in the effects of these dusty plasmas on ground based research, creating the need to better understand the dynamics of the dusty plasma and how to manipulate and control its motion. The field is advancing rapidly, and in an effort to explain the properties of the dusty plasmas, many devices are being brought into microgravity, where results can be obtained that cannot be recreated within the laboratory.

The team Dusty Plasma Experiment will test the dynamics of a silica dust suspended in an argon DC-glow discharge plasma. The goal of bringing this research into microgravity is to eliminate the major force of gravity, hopefully allowing us to observe the effects of smaller forces on the dust particles, such as drag. Most experiments with dusty plasmas in microgravity have been performed using RF plasmas, so less is known about the dynamics and properties of a DC-glow discharge plasma in microgravity. Previous work on the ‘Weightless Wonder’ produced very successful, significant results. However, not all of our goals were reached, and our experience has allowed for major adjustments in the experimental set up and procedure, fine tuning the experiment itself and the data acquisition methods. By adjusting the experiment, the Dusty Plasma Experiment III should be able to obtain data in microgravity which will lead to an understanding of the dust cloud formation and dynamics.

Principal Proposers: Aliya Merali and Darrick Jones
Chapter Advisor: Dr. R. Ochoa

 
   
  A few of the radio telescope team assembling and wrestling with the new dish.
  A few of the radio telescope team assembling and wrestling with the new dish.
Utah State University

The SPS Milky Way Map: Radio Observations of the Milky Way Galaxy at 1420 MHz

Interim Report | Final Report

Abstract
The Utah State University SPS chapter has acquired a surplus C-band TV antenna from Utah Public Radio that it will refurbish and employ as a radio telescope. The first project will be to image the neutral hydrogen radio emission from the Milky Way galaxy. The telescope will provide continuing undergraduate research opportunities for years to come.

Principal Proposers: Thomas Martin
Chapter Advisor: David Peak

 
   
  Cudahy Science Building: location of the Physics Department at Loyola University Chicago.
  Cudahy Science Building: location of the Physics Department at Loyola University Chicago.
Loyola University of Chicago

Experimental Research on Granular Hydrodynamics

Interim Report | Final Report

Abstract
We intend to continue an ongoing research project in experimental granular hydrodynamics.  We currently have an experimental apparatus that allows us to make observations of the fluid-like nature of grains, although it is limited by the strength of its components.  Our goal is to improve our apparatus to handle stronger forces in order to explore further phenomena.

Principal Proposers: Dustin Kimble
Chapter Advisor: Prof. Jon Bougie
Chapter Faculty Advisor: Prof. John Cunningham, SJ

 
   
  Benedictine University
  Left to right: Alonso Valerio,  Alexander Seymour, Tricia Avanzado, and Swetha Sabu
Benedictine University

The Modification of an Optical Tweezers in Order to Study the Motility Strength of E. coli under Different Environmental conditions

Interim Report | Final Report

Abstract
Our chapter proposes using an optical tweezers to measure the strength of E. coli’s motility within different environments. This grant will be used to improve the trapping strength of the tweezers through the purchase of a stronger laser and improved optical components. Upon completion of this project the optical tweezers will be incorporated into our advanced labs and biological physics program.

Principal Proposers: Trish Avanzado, Swetha Sabu, Alexander Seymour
Chapter Advisor: Andrew Wig

 
   
  A view of the Illinois Tech McCormick Tribune Campus Center and the "Tube" above it through which the Chicago "El" passes.
 

A view of the Illinois Tech McCormick Tribune Campus Center and the "Tube" above it through which the Chicago "El" passes.

Illinois Institute of Technology

Observation of X-ray Emissions Resulting From Scotch Tape

Interim Report | Final Report

Abstract
It has been shown that if ordinary scotch tape is unrolled in a vacuum, it will emit x-rays and visible light. The proposed experiment will investigate this property by building a suitable vacuum chamber and observing the x-rays from various tapes, unrolled at different speeds and under different vacuum conditions.

Principal Proposers: Kevin Gullickson & Stephanie Harmon
Chapter Advisor: Carlo Segre

 
   
  Left to Right: Sajjan S. Mehta, Amanda White, Alyssa Wilson, Jerome Mlack, Vede Ramdass and Prof. Roberto Ramos (Adviser)
  Left to Right: Sajjan S. Mehta, Amanda White, Alyssa Wilson, Jerome Mlack, Vede Ramdass and Prof. Roberto Ramos (Adviser)
Drexel Unviersity

Dynamic 3D-Image Projection System

Interim Report | Final Report

Abstract
We propose to create a proof of principle prototype for a dynamic three dimensional projection system. Physics students will research optics, evaluate the properties of lenses and lasers, and apply programming skills to develop software. The skills obtained from this research project will give Physics students experience in the field of optics.

Principal Proposers: Kenneth Mui, Jerome Mlack, Amanda White, Sajjan Mehta
Chapter Advisor: Dr. Roberto Ramos

 
   
  Caption
  Left to right: Paul Weinand, Kyle Mead, Casey Brodsky, Zamin Husain, Michelle Cunningham, and Atcha Totachawattana.
Boston College

Kinetic Art: Merging Classical Physics and Visual Learning Opportunities

Final Report

Abstract
The creation of the kinetic art, based on the rolling ball art of George Rhoads, will instruct our chapter about classical mechanics, structural design and fabrication, and the ability to apply physics from their studies to a project. In addition, the project will serve as a teaching tool for the university as a whole once finished.

Principal Proposers: Karen Chen, Bridget Salna, Daniel Virgil, Jacob Svensson, Atcha Totachawattana
Chapter Advisor: Willie Padilla

 
   
  Chicago State University SPS chapter working on the Cosmic Ray program. Clockwise from top left Jamall Davis, Macario Cervantes, Sharif Onihale, Dr. Garcia (advisor), Melissa Rangel, Marianela Perales, QuarkNet detector.
  Chicago State University SPS chapter working on the Cosmic Ray program. Clockwise from top left Jamall Davis, Macario Cervantes, Sharif Onihale, Dr. Garcia (advisor), Melissa Rangel, Marianela Perales, QuarkNet detector.
Chicago State University

The Analysis of Cosmic Ray Detector Data at Chicago State University

Interim Report | Final Report

Abstract
We propose to enhance the data analysis capabilities of our Cosmic ray detector experiment with the purchase of LabView software and a portable computer. The data analysis is instrumental to the experiment, as it will be used to calibrate and finalize the design of the detector array. The cosmic ray detector experiment is also being used for physics outreach and the portable computer would allow us to share the data analysis capabilities with high school students.

Principal Proposers: Melissa Rangel
Chapter Advisor: Edmundo Garcia

 
   
  WIU's SPS research team: from left to right, Jim Rabchuk, P K Babu, Dustin MacDermott, Kishor Kapale. (Not pictured, Sean Crowe and Chris Fraser). Dustin is holding a simple homopolar motor, which was the inspiration for the WIU SPS research proposal.
  WIU's SPS research team: from left to right, Jim Rabchuk, P K Babu, Dustin MacDermott, Kishor Kapale. (Not pictured, Sean Crowe and Chris Fraser). Dustin is holding a simple homopolar motor, which was the inspiration for the WIU SPS research proposal.
Western Illinois University

Measurement of an Induced Electrostatic Field Above A Rotating Magnetic Disk

Interim Report | Resarch Poster | Final Report

Abstract
It is commonly understood that the rotation of the magnet in a Faraday generator is immaterial. We propose to conduct precise measurements of the electric field above a rotating magnetic disc and show whether or not the rotation of the magnet does induce an electric field.

Principal Proposers: Christopher Fraser, Sean T. Crowe and Dustin MacDermott
Chapter Advisor: James Rabchuk

 
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