Student Achievements

Creative with a 3D-Printer: Building a Laser Harp

Posted by Physics

Jonathan Cuthbertson (Physics '15) is fascinated by lasers. Last year he build his own laser, this year he takes it up a notch. For his final project in Digital Electronics (also known as Computer Data Acquisition, an upper level elective course) he and his lab partner are building a laser harp, using the new 3D printer. "It's a very cool experience, it's just exciting that Wheaton has this, ... and that as students we can use this on a daily basis."

Morken and Moon Survive First Round of Shark Tank Competition

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Morken and Moon - RowAmp

Michael Morken (Physics ’15) and Young-Ho Moon (Engineering ’16) are among six student groups that continue to the second round of the Shark Tank Competition. The Wheaton College Shark Tank is an entrepreneurial competition where teams of students from all experience levels and backgrounds present their business ideas. After surviving the first round, including winning the crowd choice award, Morken and Moon will be mentored throughout the winter and spring, and their final idea will eventually be judged by investors with a critical eye for success.

The inspiration for his project came from Morken's involvement with the Wheaton Crew team. Morken and Moon developed RowAmp, a system that amplifies the coxswain’s voice through a chain of speakers. While there are commercial alternatives available, they are generally too expensive for high school teams. "The Wheaton College shark tank was a great opportunity to showcase a project that I had been working on. My project was an amplifier for rowing and was related to my work as the crew teams equipment manager during the previous year” said Morken. With high school rowing on the rise, a low cost amplification system will permit many schools to step into competitive rowing, as cost is less of a barrier.

Advancing to the second round was really exciting, and this would not have been possible without the skills that he acquired during his physics coursework, according Morken. "The process of construction, preparation, and presentation was very involved and I relied on skills that I had learned in the physics department at every step in the process.” Morken and Moon’s project highlights the sophisticated and cutting-edge techniques encouraged in the Wheaton College Physics and Engineering programs. "The prototype that I presented has a custom designed PCB board that was enclosed in a 3D printed shell. This design drew heavily from topics that I learned in my electronics class earlier this fall. For the presentation I used MATLAB to model data and produce figures for the presentation, much like I have used MATLAB to model data for various physics labs and homework problems."

With a functional prototype in hand and many opportunities to improve his design, Morken is optimistic about the future of his project.  "Among other things my experience with the Wheaton College Shark Tank showed me how the technical skills that I have learned in physics have wide applications to other fields."

Read more about the RowAmp on Morken's website: >>

Wheaton Students Present Plasma Research at APS Meeting in New Orleans

Posted by Physics
Maddie Baltzer at APS New Orleans

Maddie Baltzer, David Martin, and Dr. Darren Craig presented research results at the American Physical Society – Division of Plasma Physics meeting in New Orleans, LA on October 28-29, 2014. Maddie presented her work on developing robust calibration techniques for plasma flow measurements in the Madison Symmetric Torus (MST). David presented comparisons of magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) computation to experimental measurements of magnetic field fluctuations and velocity fluctuations in MST. Maddie won a student presentation award for her poster.

What Are Our Students Doing This Summer?

Posted by Physics
Summer Research

Every summer students from the Physics and Engineering department engage in a variety of research projects. Some of them stay here at Wheaton College and are part of the Wheaton Summer Research Program. Others get accepted into an REU program, which stands for Research Experience for Undergraduates, and participate in collaborative research often at a large state university or a national laboratory. While not exhaustive, the list below gives a glimpse of the research that our students are engaged in this summer.


Alex Armstrong (Physics ’15, Philosophy ’15)

Accepted into an REU at Kansas State University
“I will be doing research in High Energy Particle Physics. I am excited to get involved with the larger scientific community, practice my programming skills, and do a more in-depth look at a particular area of physics.”

Maddie Baltzer (Physics ’16)

Accepted into the Summer Research Program at Wheaton College
"This summer I will be working with Dr. Darren Craig to make localized velocity measurements of plasma. We will calibrate the Charge Exchange Recombination Spectroscopy (CHERS) system in order to find the absolute velocity of plasmas in the Madison Symmetric Torus (MST)."

Jonathan Cuthbertson (Physics ’15)

Accepted into an REU program at the University of South Florida
"I will be working on a project in Biophysics or Medical Engineering (I have not be assigned a specific project yet). Since I am currently planning on attending graduate school, this opportunity will present a sample of the kind of work I would be doing in the future. Also, who wouldn't like getting paid to have fun with physics?!"

Patrick Farley (Physics ’15)

Accepted into an internship at IBM at the Watson Research Center, Yorktown, NY
“I'll be working in a micro-fabrication lab building circuits and other hardware components. These will be special requests from various research teams. The lab is a kind of micro-business within the research center, with researchers as clients. I'm excited because I'll be able to work closely with experts in a variety of fields in science and technology. The Watson Research Center is comprised of many small specialized teams, and often teams reach across their fields of study to gain answers and solutions from each other. There's a lot of collaboration, and this results in more groundbreaking work being done.”

John Ginn (Physics ’15)

Accepted into the Summer Research Program at Wheaton College
“Dr. Heather Whitney and I will be looking into the evidence for radiation damping in magnetization transfer experiments. This is a phenomenon that disrupts the correct measurement of the exchange of magnetization between the free water and macromolecular pools in a semisolid. We will investigate this by both direct experimentation and through the building various models to describe the experiment. We hope to demonstrate through our investigations that radiation damping does affect these measurements and propose a method to compensate for this phenomena."

Spencer Hills (Chemical Physics ’16)

Accepted into the Summer Research Program at Wheaton College
"I will study with Dr. AJ Poelarends how stars behave near the end of their lives, specifically which stars become supernovae and which stars become white dwarfs. I am excited because I get to do research, learn how to use complex models and explore an exciting new field of physics."

David Martin (Physics ’15)

Accepted into a 10 week internship at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Denver, Colorado.
"My project investigates how electron transport affects the performance of thin film photovoltaic systems, potentially looking into energy storage. I am excited to work at NREL because it will teach me valuable laboratory skills for my future career, and exposes me to the renewable energy field about which I am passionate. I'm glad and blessed to have this opportunity and look forward to applying what I have learned at Wheaton, and learning more at NREL."

Michael Morken (Physics ’15)

Accepted into the Summer Research Program at Wheaton College
“I will be working on technical improvements to the Wheaton Impulsive Reconnection eXperiment (WIRX) under supervision of Dr. Darren Craig. I am excited about it because it will give me the chance to get exposure to an experiment in the design phase. I hope that I will be able to stay on the project long enough to see how the technical improvements lead to better data collection.”

Justin Provencher (Civil Engineering '16)

Accepted into an internship at LAN Associates, Midland Park, NJ
"I will be working on the creation and modification of AutoCAD drawings and plans, storm water and land calculations, on site construction administration, and any other aid to the civil engineering department. I'm excited to be immersed in the engineering field full time and to experience the different responsibilities of civil engineers both in and out of the office."

James Tarka (Physics ’15, Mathematics ’15)

Accepted into an REU at Louisiana State University Dept. of Physics & Astronomy
“I’ll be working on Loop Quantum Cosmology. I look forward to honing my programming skills and learning more about computational research in a field that it interesting, but is not really covered in undergraduate physics courses. I'm also excited to contribute to work on a significant project in physics, namely the unification of quantum mechanics and general relativity. Finally, I'm excited to discover what professional research is like at a large state institution."

Meryl Vannoy (Chemical Engineering ’17)

Accepted into an REU project at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the Chemistry Department.
"I will be doing a project with functional hybrid materials and the shape change in thermoplastics used in 3D printing. I am most excited to be able to learn about an area of research that I’m not familiar with and to experience working in a lab for the first time.”

Josh Winchell (Physics ’14)

Accepted into an REU at the Texas A&M Cyclotron Institute.
"I don't have a specific project yet, but it would probably be something related to nuclear physics. I'm excited to gain some real-world experience and see how I perform on a single weeks-long task, as opposed to working on a bunch of rather unrelated homework at once.”

Two Physics Majors awarded the Alumni Association Senior Scholarship

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Alumni Award 2014

Congratulations to Alexander Armstrong (Physics '15, Philosophy '15) and David Martin (Physics '15) for winning the Senior Scholarship awarded by the Wheaton College Alumni Association. Alex and David are two of the six students campus wide who received the award, based on their excellent campus and community involvement, academic interests and achievements, spiritual growth and insights, and future plans and goals. Both of them have been very involved in the department on various levels, including as a Teaching Assistant, summer researcher (Alex with Dr. Bishop and David with Dr. Craig), and in the Society of Physics Students. This summer Alex will do research at Kansas State University in High Energy Particle Physics, and David will do research at the National Renewable Energy Lab in Denver on photovoltaic systems. Congrats Alex and David!

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