Maddie Baltzer (BS Physics 2016) traveled to Savannah, GA along with research advisor Dr. Darren Craig to present her research at the American Physical Society – Division of Plasma Physics meeting in November 2015. Maddie has been doing research with Dr. Craig in plasma physics for about 2.5 years now and this is her second trip to the APS-DPP meeting. Her poster presented progress in making absolutely calibrated ion flow measurements in the Madison Symmetric Torus, a large magnetically confined plasma experiment at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Maddie has traveled to Madison several times to take data and has developed a custom calibration light source at Wheaton College that will be used in Madison. Flow measurements are made by observing small Doppler shifts of impurity emission lines and the new light source enables an accurate calibration of the spectrometer used for these studies. Maddie is completing an honors thesis this year in which she plans to use all of the hardware and software she has been working on to make the first absolutely calibrated and localized measurements of ion flow in MST.
Emily Willson (’16), a physics and mathematics major at Wheaton College, has presented nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) research at the 2015 meeting of the International Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (ISMRM) conference in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Emily is working with Dr. Heather M. Whitney on a project that seeks to predict the role of radiation damping in magnetization transfer (MT) measurements. The title of her poster presentation is “Initial Investigation into Effect of Radiation Damping on Magnetization Transfer Parameters Extracted From Inversion Recovery Experiments.”
“MT is a property of macromolecular systems – materials that are made up of semisolids – that can be measured by magnetic resonance experiments,” said Willson. “Measuring them is part of an effort in biomedical circles to make imaging measurements overall more quantitative, so that the actual measurement of a value can be associated with some state of a tissue, versus a qualitative comparison which points out that there are just differences that exist.”
“MT and the parameters that describe it, such as the ratio of protons in the liquid versus the semisolid state, have the potential of serving as biomarkers for certain disease states. Currently, one variation of an MT measurement serves to measure the presence of multiple sclerosis,” said Dr. Whitney. “Our research is part of a larger effort to investigate how robust these measurements are in the presence of imaging difficulties such as radiation damping, also known as RD. RD occurs when the measured signal is so strong that it induces a current in the coils that produce magnetic fields in an NMR system, which makes it more difficult to acquire quantitative information.”
Willson’s work uses a simulation of the different portions of protons that interact in magnetization transfer. She then simulates different levels of RD to see how it affects the ability to extract the MT parameters. “Emily’s work is a good example of interdisciplinary research at the undergraduate level. She is incorporating principles from physics, mathematics, computer science, and even a little chemistry. We’re excited to present her work at ISMRM, where Wheaton may be the only undergraduate institution represented there.”
Meryl Vannoy (Liberal Arts Engineering / Chemical Engineering '17) presents her poster during the Wheaton College Undergraduate Poster Competition, organized by the Buswell Library. Students from all academic discipline were able to participate. Meryl presented her poster on the research that she had done over the summer at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the Chemistry Department. Her research focused on hybrid materials (thermoplastics) and their shape change during 3D printing. Pictures from the event can be found on the library's facebook page >>.
Andrew Keeler (Physics ’13) has published research done with Dr. Heather M. Whitney. The article, “Characterization and suppression techniques for degree of radiation damping in inversion recovery measurements”, is in press in the journal Spectroscopy Letters.
“Andrew’s article reflects the first steps of a long-term research project I am engaged in to understand how magnetization transfer measurements of the states of protons in macromolecular systems are affected by experiment factors that can sometimes be nonideal, such as radiation damping,” said Dr. Whitney. “His work demonstrated that a method published previously in the literature that applied to one type of sample can be applied to samples of a range of longitudinal relaxation times. It is unusual for undergraduate students to work on quantitative nuclear magnetic resonance measurements, and Andrew has done well.”
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."