Emily Willson ('16) Presents Research at International Conference In Toronto

Posted July 13, 2015 by Physics

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Willson ISMR

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.”

Dr. Whitney given Young Alumnus Achievement Award at King University

Posted April 20, 2015 by Physics


Dr. Heather M. Whitney was given the 2014 Young Alumnus Achievement Award by her alma mater, King University >> in Bristol, Tennessee. The award is given to highlight exemplary work that reflects well on the principles of the institution.

“I am honored to receive this award from King, where I learned from many professors who had a love of the Christian liberal arts. I pass on their spirit of teaching every day to my students at Wheaton College and am proud to do so.”

Meryl Vannoy Presents Research Poster at Wheaton Undergraduate Poster Competition

Posted February 28, 2015 by Physics

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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 >>.

Dr. Whitney presents at national physics teaching conference

Posted February 2, 2015 by Physics


Whitney presentes at AAPT

Dr. Heather M. Whitney was invited to speak at the 2015 Winter Meeting of the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) conference in San Diego, CA. Her presentation, “Discourse Communities as a Framework for Writing in Physics” was prepared in collaboration with Dr. Jim Beitler of the Wheaton College Department of English.

“I was excited to share with the AAPT community the work we are doing in my classes to incorporate writing as a structure that supports the learning of physics, said Dr. Whitney. “Dr. Beitler and I worked to incorporate the principles of writing communities into the course I teach on Analytical Mechanics. Writing communities share domains of knowledge in content, rhetoric, writing method, and genre so that the writing process is more holistic and supportive of learning in many ways.”

Dr. Whitney incorporated the ideas of a discourse community, most practically through writing workshops, in PHYS341, the department’s Analytical Mechanics course. All students reported being satisfied or highly satisfied with the process, and all students reported that they believed it to be a strong support in their learning of mechanics. She looks forward to further incorporating discourse community principles in the department’s sophomore-level Modern Science Skills Laboratory.

Keeler publishes undergraduate research in Spectroscopy Letters

Posted January 21, 2015 by Physics

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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.”

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