Transforming the Future: Professors Look to Harness the Power of Light

It’s pretty commonplace for each of us to have cell phones, a computer, and an internet connection. In order to get information to these devices at the user end, much of the information has to be sent through wires or wirelessly. But many people don’t realize that, even with wifi, most digital information is moved as light in fiber optics. Drs. Jim Andrews and Mike Crescimanno, both professors in the Department of Physics & Astronomy, are looking at new ways of manipulating that light.

“Transmitting information via light is more effective than transmitting it via electricity, but processing it as light has always been a challenge,” said Andrews.

Essentially, Andrews and Crescimanno are looking to control light with light, instead of another means of energy.

Crescimmano_Andrews story POEM 2014 zoom“It was one of those things that we came up with, and I really wanted to push it a bit further,” said Crescimanno. “When you pick up an old-fashioned telephone, there’s a wire that goes to the wall, and guess what happens? When the signal in the wire goes into the wall and goes to the bottom of the building, it gets converted to light and sent into fiber optics.”

Currently, information being transferred via light has to be converted into electricity and then converted back to light at every branch point along its path. Andrews and Crescimanno are working toward not having to convert the light to electricity, but instead having the light control other light directly by changing its polarization, that is, the direction of the light’s electric field, transverse to its propagation direction.

“So what we’ve done,” Crescimanno explained, “is thought very critically about how to change the polarization of light in a device more completely and efficiently. We’ve been looking rather critically at combining the existing methods of rotating the polarization of light by using wave interference in a process we call ‘coherent perfect rotation’.”

By harnessing the power of light and cutting out the middle step of converting the light to electricity, this makes for a more efficient and more cost effective way to transfer information.

Andrews and Crescimanno are working on this research with Dr. Chuanhong Zhou of the physics department and several students. They received support for this work from the National Science Foundation through a $129,750 Early concept Grant for Exploratory Research, or EAGER.

Teachers Experience The Flipped Classroom

On December 16, area high school chemistry teachers and several faculty of the STEM College were introduced to the concept of The Flipped Classroom as a part of Professional Day, which was jointly hosted by the Department of Chemistry and the Beeghly College of Education. The Flipped Classroom, pioneered by Aaron Sams and Jon Bergmann, provides a way for students to have a more hands-on learning experience.

“The basic idea of flipped learning is to present lecture material outside of the classroom. This is usually done through the preparation of videos that are then posted to sites like YouTube. Students are expected to view the videos before class,” said Dr. Mike Serra, an Associate Professor of Chemistry, and the principle organizer of the event . “Some teachers present students with an outline of the notes that students fill in during each presentation. During class the students can focus on other things such as problem solving or performing more experiments. It can be beneficial for the STEM disciplines that are more problem based.”

This year, there were 45 participants from local high schools, as well as some participants from the Department of Chemistry. Sams gave a presentation introducing all of the participants to flipped learning.

Dr. Rodabaugh is coming to town!

You better watch out
You better not cry
You better not pout
I’m telling you why!
Dr. Rodabuagh is coming to town!

During the holidays, the advertisements start rolling and without a doubt you see a picture of Santa and his never ending bag of gifts. You may have also seen Dr. Rodabaugh whisking himself down the hallways of Moser with his belt pack and wonder, “Is he Santa?” YSU STEM Social Media investigated to find out what exactly he keeps in that thing.

While Dr. Rodabaugh doesn’t have any reindeer to take him places, he does have a fancy outfit, just like St. Nick. With his Tony Soprano jacket and his beat-up, worn-out belt pack, Dr. Rodabaugh has some stories to tell. Just like Santa, that belt pack has been around for a long time and has visited many different countries, but no matter how many places it has been, it still calls the halls of Moser home.

So what’s in Dr. Rodabaugh’s belt pack? Well it’s not the same gifts and goodies that Santa delivers to good STEMians, but there is still a lot of laughs! Take a look at the wonders that have travelled the world below!

Whether you are mesmerized by the tinsel staples holding the belt pack together or amazed by the fact that it can carry all that stuff YSU STEM Social Media would like to wish you and your families a Happy Holiday Season!

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Astronomy professors receive Hubble time

hs-2009-07-h-large_webDrs. Pat Durrell and John Feldmeier, both astronomy professors at YSU, have received time to use the Hubble Space Telescope for their research. Drs. Durrell and Feldmeier will be working with three other astronomers from Case Western Reserve University, including Dr. Chris Mihos,  who is leading the project.

The astronomers will be focusing on the outer disk of the popular galaxy M101, which is a spiral galaxy located roughly 22.5 million light years away.

“It sounds like a lot, but for galaxies, it’s just down the block,” Durrell said. “So because it’s really near by, we can get a really good look at it. Some galaxies are so far away they look like just two pixels on an image. M101 is close enough that we can do a detailed study of it.”

The project will center around researching the individual stars on the outskirts of the galaxy, where the galaxy has an asymmetrical shape. The goal is to figure out why the galaxy doesn’t hold the classic spiral disk shape.

“The thing is, when we look at [the galaxy], it’s not nice and round. Spiral galaxies are shaped like a plate; they’re flat and often round,” Durrell said. “Well, we’re looking at this one straight down on it, and it’s not round. It’s actually very bowed out on one side.”

They will be able to study the galaxy for a total of 26 orbits of the telescope, which equates to roughly 20 hours.

In order to receive time to use the telescope, a proposal had to be written explaining what they would do with the time requested. Only about one in eight proposals get accepted.

“I know students work hard on writing their term papers and their final exams and stuff; well, we’re still doing that now. This is when we write our final papers. The only problem is that only one in eight passes,” Durrell said.

The project is slated to start September 2015, but the research team is still waiting to see if funding has been granted for the project.

After the data is taken and analyzed, the group plans on publishing a pair of research papers, and creating a new fulldome show for the Ward Beecher Planetarium based on the findings.

Dr. Feldmeier said that this a huge opportunity for YSU, and that he was extremely happy when they were informed they received the Hubble time.

“For YSU, this means three things: 1) Access to one of the most advanced and powerful telescopes in the world, 2) Being able to do world-class research, 3) Creating opportunities for students who want to do real astronomical research,” Feldmeier said in an email. “I was thrilled and grateful. Competition for the Hubble Space Telescope is very keen - less than 10% of the proposals receive time on the telescope, and many excellent proposals do not get time. In astronomy, getting Hubble time is like scoring a touchdown in football.”

Sturrus Named Interim Dean

SturrusThe College of STEM would like to extend congratulations to Dr. W. Gregg Sturrus, who was named interim dean of the college on Wednesday! Dr. Sturrus is currently serving as chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy and will assume the position of interim dean on October 8. Everyone is excited to have Dr. Sturrus as the interim dean, including our STEM students, who have often referred to him as a funny and great professor.

Sturrus joined YSU in 1991 as an assistant professor and became the chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy in 2004. During his time at YSU, Sturrus has received eight grants, totaling over $1.75 million.

“I am pleased that Interim Provost [Martin] Abraham asked me to step in as the interim dean of STEM. I am optimistic about the challenges facing the current leadership of the university and believe the new president and provost will make changes that will make YSU increasingly attractive to a broad student base and a stronger urban research university. I am happy to be called to lead the STEM College in these exciting times,” Sturrus said.

Dr. James Andrews will be serving as interim chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, replacing Sturrus.

The decision to appoint Sturrus as interim dean came after Dean Abraham was appointed as interim provost and vice president for academic affairs for the university on September 17. The appointment is still pending official approval by the Board of Trustees, who will meet on October 7.

“I’m saddened to be leaving the day-to-day operations, but I won’t be far away and am looking forward to participating in their activities in my new role as provost,” Dean Abraham said.

7 Days of STEM

The 7 Days of STEM Festival will be seven whole days of celebrating science, technology, engineering, and mathematics with OH WOW! The Roger & Gloria Jones Children’s Center for Science & Technology. The festival, which will be held September 15-21, will be an exciting hands-on, critical thinking celebration that includes ‘walking on water,’ STEM student for a day, and much more. All of these activities are in preparation for Silly Science Sunday!

YSU STEM is involved with many of the different activities this year. We are offering activities for more than just children though. One of our biggest events will be a Lecture Series with Dr. Thomas Serenko, who, just this last year, was awarded Outstanding Alumnus at the STEM Awards dinner. On Tuesday, September 16, 2020 at 6:00 p.m., Dr. Serenko will be speaking on the The Utica and Point Pleasant Shale industry from a geological and historical point of view. To register for this event, please contact Jenifer Miller at 330.941.4635.

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New Addition to the STEMian Social Media Team

cassieHere at YSU STEM we have been providing you with the news and campus happenings for some time, but now it’s time to introduce our newest STEMian Social Media Team. This month, we’ll focus on the newsletter and social media side.

Cassandra Twoey is a senior professional and technical writing student, who has not only worked hard as the editor-in-chief for the Jambar, but has also worked as a co-editor for the Yo* Magazine. She has been accepted into graduate school, here at YSU, for the professional and technical writing track of the English master’s program.

Starting with the September Newsletter, Cassandra will be bringing a new and interesting vibe to our STEM News! We hope that you will all take the opportunity to welcome her to the STEMian community, but we also want to let you know what the STEMian Social Media Team can do for you.

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Celebrate STEM Achievement with the STEM Showcase

The annual STEM Showcase provides students not only the opportunity to present their research, but to show the community and area high school students what they have been working on all year. On April 26th, 2014, the STEM College had over 50 student projects to present this year, including the Baja Car, the Concrete Canoe, and nanoflowers.

The Showcase has always been an opportunity for the community to come out and share in the excitement, but there was a new twist this year. The STEM College gave out two scholarships to incoming STEM students who attended the event, in an Continue reading

17th Annual Women in Science and Engineering Day

Youngstown State University College of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics is always finding ways to encourage young students, especially young women, to explore the endless possibilities of STEM careers. The 17th Annual Edward W. Powers Women in Science and Engineering Career Workshop (WISE) is one of those events.

On April 26th, 2014, young women from all around the Youngstown area explored several career options from forensic dentistry to dieticians to environmental Continue reading

Blowing fuses to blowing minds: Dr. Kaku’s YSU visit!

Youngstown State University and the College of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) got a real treat last month: a visit from world-renowned theoretical physicist, Dr. Michio Kaku. Dr. Kaku, who also hosts a blog called Dr. Kaku’s Universe, is known for working on Einstein’s Theory of Everything, in addition to his work in theoretical physics and authoring many books.

On Thursday, March 20th, 2014, Dr. Kaku participated in a question and answer session at Stambaugh Auditorium with YSU students and community members. He began by telling the audience about his childhood.  Continue reading

Bridging the Gap: The 7th Annual MVMBBC!

mvmbbcFor the last seven years, YSU, in conjunction with several Valley companies and sponsors, has held the Mahoning Valley Miniature Bridge Building Competition, where students apply different engineering principles to building small wooden bridges. Out of 31 teams from 16 different area schools, Lowellville High School Team B brought home a first place win on February 28th, 2014. This is the fifth time in seven years that a Lowellville team has taken home first place. Continue reading

Estee George Wins 2014 Professional Promise Award

Left to Right: Douglas Price, Estee George, Gisica Abdallah, Max Henderson, and Pedro Cortes.

Left to Right: Douglas Price, Estee George, Gisica Abdallah, Max Henderson, and Pedro Cortes.

Youngstown State Chemical Engineering Senior Estee George was the 2014 recipient of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers Professional Promise Award at the Pittsburgh Local Section of AIChE held at Carnegie Mellon University on February 18, 2020. Estee and fellow students Gisica Abdallah and William “Max” Henderson presented posters of their research at the event. Estee was recognized for her research in the mathematical modeling of the production of biofuels from carbohydrates. She has made three national conference presentations and is currently looking to pursue graduate study after graduation in May 2014.

Congratulations, Estee!

The 6th Annual STEM Awards Dinner

What makes a STEM College successful? Some may say it is the students, some may say it is the faculty, or the alumni, or the community partners, or the education partners, or the employers. At the 6th Annual YSU STEM Awards Dinner, all of our STEMians concluded that just one group will not make a STEM College successful; all of them work together to make YSU STEM the best it can be.  Continue reading

Spring Training: Six Sigma Green Belt Certification

sixsigmaWhen you first hear Six Sigma Green Belt Certified, you may be thinking about dojos and karate chopping, but the Six Sigma Green Belt Certification Program, which was held on January 24-26, 2013 at the YSU Metro Campus, chopped something a little different: numbers. This event was the first time YSU has participated with this program, which is offered by the Institute of Industrial Engineering.

Ted Mullan, a senior Industrial Engineering student and member of the Student Chapter of IIE, was appointed by Dr. Martin Cala as the Program Certification Liaison. His efforts, along with the teaching efforts of IIE instructor Doug Long, brought this new certification to campus to make our students and University more distinguished.

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The Penguin Bowl!

penguinbowl2014For the last 12 years, YSU STEM and Dr. Ray Beiersdorfer have hosted the Penguin Bowl in conjunction with the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium. No, penguins are not playing football, but high school students from Ohio, Western Pennsylvania, Western Maryland, and Kentucky are competing in a different way. Over one hundred students with their coaches and other volunteers participated in this academic challenge at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium with one team coming out on top.

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