Students open our fall 2012 colloquium series with talks describing their summer research.

Summer2012_025Thanks to the efforts of the Physics Club at this year's campus Discoverfest 2012, we had record attendence at our opening colloquium Friday September 7. Several students shared with us their summer adventures.

Junior George Balch worked in the lab of Morty Khakoo and Leigh Hargreaves and contributed to their ongoing electron-biomolecules research. George collaborated with two other physics majors Alex Gauf and Cris Navarro on elastic scattering from acetaldehyde and acetylene. His talk was entitled Low Energy Elastic Electron Scattering from Acetaldehyde.

Senior Heather Chilton worked at the SETI Institute June to August with mentor Dr. Cynthia Phillips, director of SETI's REU program and a specialist in Icy Moons and remote imaging analysis, as part of the CAMPARE (California-Arizona Minority Partnership for Astronomy Research and Education) program. Heather's research project involved analyzing data from CRISM images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which resulted in several opportunities to give her talk entitled Temporal Contrast Changes in Dark Slope Streaks on Mars. Heather regulary attended a variety of SETI colloquiums and meetings, and also spent a week at Hat Creek Radio Observatory and Lassen Volcanic National Park helping with a visiting science camp at the observatory. Heather is currently serving as Outreach Coordinator for the Physics Club.

Senior Brandon Grisanti traveled to Brazil for six weeks of collaborative research between Morty Khakoo's group and the group of Dr. Cristina Lopes at the Federal University of Juiz de Fora in Juiz de Fora. Brandon joined with Ph.D students there to build an electron scattering apparatus that will collect data important to our understanding of how electrons interact with biofuel. The two groups are working together to provide data which will lead to the design of more fuel efficient internal combustion engines. Brandon is the Physics Club president, the vice-president of the Society of Physics Students CSUF chapter, and continues to work in Dr. Khakoo's electron scattering laboratory.

Senior and former Physics Club president Cinthia Padilla worked in the Molecular Physics Lab at SRI International in Menlo Park near Stanford University with mentors Drs. Jason White and Ryan Leib. Her research project entitled Environmental Monitoring Using Mass Spectrometry involved identifying air-sample contamination and bio-markers linked to lung cancer from parking lots and automobiles. Cinthia lived in Palo Alto for 12 weeks this summer.

Senior Gabriela Serna spent the summer working at the University of Arizona in Tucson as part of the CAMPARE (California-Arizona Minority Partnership for Astronomy Research and Education) program.  The first half of the summer she was a counselor at Astronomy camp with mentor, Dr. Don McCarthy, Director of the camp.  Gaby was in charge of several projects helping some 100 campers learn astronomy, including visits to Kitt Peak National Observatory and the Large Binocular Telescope Observatory, the home of the world's largest telescope.  The second half of the summer, Gaby worked with three mentors, Dr. Ed Prather, Gina Brissenden, and Jeff Eckenrode of the Center for Astronomy Education (CAE) at the University of Arizona Steward Observatory.  There Gaby pursued a project in astronomy education research to study the correlation between how students answer lecture tutorial questions and how well they perform in introductory astronomy class. In the coming year, Gaby will work with Mike Loverude and Josh Smith to study similar correlations in our astronomy courses.

Sophomore Daniel Vander-Hyde worked this summer in Josh Smith's LIGO optics lab working with Fabian Magana-Sandoval, Cinthia Padilla, and Po-Feng Chen. Daniel measured light scattered from LIGO-optic samples and prospective test-samples.

Junior Bobby Wright working in Josh Smith's LIGO optics lab traveled to Syracuse University in August to work in the Advanced LIGO labs of Drs. Stefan Ballmer and Antonio Perreca. Bobby helped design and build there a mode-selective resonant delay line. Thermal noise has become a limiting factor in Advanced LIGO detection sensitivity. Currently, the laser is collimated as large as possible in order to average over a larger number of particles, and the resonant delay line was proposed to reduce the thermal noise. Their early results showed that the resonant-delay line configuration could be a viable option for future gravitational-wave detectors.