NSF STEM Research Poster Session

YSU undergraduate students Kristen Hernandez, Nikki Rendziniak, Nick Ragan, Brian Stahl and Hannah Rebraca presented “Extraction and Characterization of Intermetallic Fe-Al particles from Aluminum Alloys” at the 4th Annual Success in Math and NSF STEM Research Poster Session. Together with Dr. Matt Zeller, YSU Research Staff Scientist at the College of STEM, the students analyzed an aluminum rich Al-Fe melt sample that was sent for analysis by Fireline, Inc., of Youngstown, OH. Fireline, a prime manufacturer of ceramic and refractory materials as well as ceramic-metallic composites, was interested in the exact composition of the melt which is used during the fabrication of metal matrix composite materials.

Optical microscopy of a polished piece of the solidified indicated the presence of two compounds, a silvery matrix with small black needles and plates embedded. Using X-ray diffraction, the students identified the silvery matrix as aluminum metal. To determine the nature of the black needles, the Al-Fe melt was cut into small pieces and the aluminum matrix was dissolved using a chemical extraction processes – an iodine tartaric acid method and a method using boiling phenol. The latter method succeeded in selectively dissolving the Al matrix. The students analyzed the extracted black needles and plates using powder and single crystal X-ray diffraction and were able to identify them as an Al-Fe alloy of the composition Al13Fe4. The alloy, which initially was thought to be potentially unstable over time based on the tables published by the American Society for Metals (ASM International), which would have had implications for the stability and strength of products containing this Al-Fe alloy, was confirmed to be the most stable Al-Fe alloy of this composition.

For their presentation, the YSU students were awarded one out of only two First Place Prizes from a total of 112 contributions from over 300 students from Case Western University, University of Akron, Cleveland State University, Kent State University, and Cuyahoga Community College.

YSU Materials students work with NSF Research Center through Case connection

A growing new research effort at YSU originates in the Photonic, Optical, and Electronic Materials (POEM) group, begun by YSU physics faculty and now including engineering and chemistry faculty. In physics, for example, the POEM group has been actively recruiting students for the past three summers in cutting-edge research supported by multiple National Science Foundation grants, as well as grants from the State of Ohio Third Frontier Program. Ongoing support for YSU student research into polymers as photonic and optical materials has been provided through YSU’s affiliation with the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Science & Technology Center for Layered Polymeric Systems (CLiPS). CLiPS is a multi-institution collaborative research and education Center begun in 2007 with now ten years of pledged NSF support at nearly $40M. Four YSU faculty members have participated in CLiPS, including Drs. Andrews, Crescimanno, and Oder in Physics and Dr. Price in Chemical Engineering. In addition to material support, research collaboration opportunities, and support for off-campus research experiences for YSU students, direct support to YSU as an affiliate of CLiPS is anticipated to total over $300k. Since 2008, YSU faculty has co-authored at least seven refereed publications partially supported through CLiPS with several more in preparation and many including YSU students as co-authors.

A major component of CLiPS programs is the training of undergraduate students at Affiliates Programs, like YSU, and the recruitment of undergraduates into summer research experiences and, eventually, graduate research in polymer science & engineering. In addition to their research at YSU, POEM students have participated each summer in research experiences for undergraduates (REUs) at nearby Case Western Reserve University, the lead institution for CLiPS. The REU program introduces students to CLiPS technologies, polymer science and STEM research and serves as an important pipeline for American students into CLiPS graduate programs. This year the first four American students accepted into the CWRU PhD program in Macromolecular Science & Engineering were REU alumni, including James Aldridge, graduate of Youngstown State University, who joined the prestigious research group of Dr. Eric Baer, Director of CLiPS, in June, 2011. As part of the REU experience, students work as members of CLiPS Layered Research Teams for ten weeks under the mentorship of a graduate student. In addition to daily research activities, REU students participate in weekly program meetings during which they hone their presentation skills, attend lectures in various areas of polymer science and engineering, and discuss professional ethics. The summer program culminates in the Northeast Ohio Undergraduate Polymer Symposium, an event showcasing the summer research work of undergraduates from CWRU, the University of Akron, Kent State University, and NASA.

Dr. John Feldmeier named to Portfolio Review Committee

Dr. John Feldmeier, Assistant Professor of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, was named to the portfolio review committee for the National Science Foundation’s program in Astronomical Sciences. The NSF funds a significant portion of the astronomy research across the country, in addition to its role as the leading funding agency for scientific research in the U.S.

Every ten years, astronomers across the nation make a list of research priorities called the Decadal Survey. However, this time, the survey was done before the global economic collapse. The portfolio review committee will advise the NSF on how to proceed with the planned projects.

Dr. Feldmeier said his involvement on the committee ensures that YSU STEM students have the opportunity to proceed with their scientific research at the university. He added that many large universities like Harvard and Princeton are involved in this process, and his position on the committee will raise YSU’s profile with those major research universities.

“I am greatly honored to be part of the NSF Astronomy Portfolio Review. We hope to find the best way for astronomy to move forward in a very difficult environment,” he said.

For more information about the portfolio review, visit the program website.

Physics & Astronomy – Summer 2011 Student REU’s

Sean Robinson (right), junior Physics major, completed an REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) at Case Western Reserve University this past summer. This National Science Foundation-sponsored REU was held in conjunction with the NSF-funded Center for Layered Polymer Systems (CLiPS) led by CWRU. YSU’s Photonic, Optical and Electronic Materials Group is affiliated with the CLiPS program and part of the Center of Excellence in Materials Science and Engineering.

Sean, who did research related to the “Optics of Multilayered Polymer Films,” was the fourth YSU student to be selected for this continuing research. He was preceded by YSU STEM students Jessica Shipman, James Aldridge and Kyle Comeau. William Hill (left), also a Physics junior, did research on “Mathematical Probabilities” through an REU at Clemson University.

Summary report on MathFest 2011

The Department of Mathematics and Statistics had nine undergraduate students attend the Annual Summer Meeting of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) and Pi Mu Epsilon (PME), commonly know as MathFest 2011 in Lexington, KY, August 3-6, 2011. All students gave oral presentations, and two students won awards for their talks. YSU students continued the tradition of being outstanding ambassadors of YSU, the STEM College and the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, and have won 27 best talk awards in the last seven years. Students attending and presenting:

Student Hometown Title of Presentation
Michael Coates Niles, OH Anomalous Cancellation
Jason Cooke Youngstown, OH Multiple Private Keys in RSA
* Mario Sracic Hermitage, PA Cryptology & Quantum Computing
Daniel Catello Youngstown, OH Using Eigenvalues and Eigenvectors
Tara Sansom Sandy Lake, PA Bacterial Growth and Metabolism of Toxins
Bradley Slabe Youngstown, OH Modeling Enzyme Kinetics in ABE Fermentation
Sarah Ritchey Sharon, PA Adding Harmony to the Harmonic Series
** Sepideh Khavari Howland, OH Time-to-Peak Response in Biological Systems
Matthew Alexander Espyville, PA Proof and Application of Leibniz’s Formula

* Award for excellence in student exposition and research sponsored by the American Mathematical Society and the American Statistical Association.
** Janet L. Andersen Award for outstanding exposition and research in Mathematical or Computational Biology sponsored by the MAA Special Interest Group in Mathematical Biology.

MathFest 2011, Lexington, KY. Left to right, Tara Sansom, Sarah Ritchey, Sepideh Khavari, Dan Catello (kneeling), Michael Coates, Bradley Slabe, Mario Sracic, Matt Alexander and Jason Cooke.

The real value of participating in this and other conferences is to expose our students to the variety of mathematics that occurs throughout society and to encourage interactions with students and faculty from other Universities. Another goal is to excite students about mathematics and involve them in professional activities that lead to a lifetime of learning.

Drs. Faires, Ritchey, Spalsbury, Wakefield and Yates also attended MathFest 2011. Thanks also to faculty who advised students on their projects. This included: Drs. Pollack, Ritchey, Smotzer, Wingler and Yates.

We are grateful for support from: The STEM College, the Department of Mathematics & Statistics, CURMath, Pi Mu Epsilon, Mathematical Association of America, and NSF grant DBI-0827205.

7th Annual ASM Summer Camp for Pre-college Teachers

The CTME along with the ASM Materials Education Foundation co-sponsored a “Materials Camp” for pre-college teachers the week of July 11– 15, 2011, which culminated in a luncheon hosted by Dr. Martin A. Abraham, Dean, College of STEM.  Joann Esenwein, CTME Director, Youngstown State University, served as the Materials Camp Coordinator for the first time. The master teachers included Mr. Thomas Glasgow, Ms. Georgia Peet, Mr. Eric Towers. Mathew Coppage, current YSU student and CTME Intern, and Jenifer Miller assisted the master teachers.

Twenty-five pre-college educators participated in this year’s camp and learned the basics of Material Science Technology with hands-on metal, ceramic, polymer and composite projects.  ASM workshop materials can be used as a basis for teaching a stand-alone MST course or infused into an existing science and technology course with the common goal of exciting students about science, technology and engineering.

The ASM workshop was developed at the University of Washington and Edmonds Community College and supported by the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technology Education program.