Faculty Publication: Dr. Jim Andrews

Daniel Wehrung, Elaheh. A. Chamsaz, James H. Andrews, Abraham Joy, and Moses O. Oyewumi, “Engineering Alkoxyphenacyl-Polycarbonate Nanoparticles for Potential Application in Near-Infrared Light-Modulated Drug Delivery via Photon Up-Conversion Process,” Journal of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology 17, 4867-4881 (2017). 

This publication describes the results of experiments primarily done at NEOMED, but also at YSU’s Dept. of Physics & Astronomy, using nano-crystals to convert near infrared light to ultraviolet light. Typically, ultraviolet light is difficult to apply as a form of medical phototherapy due to its harmful effects to other tissues. Using the materials studied in this paper, the primary exposure would instead be to infrared light that is then converted to ultraviolet at the site of the phototherapy for localized treatment. This work was led by Daniel Wehrung as part of his successful PhD dissertation work at NEOMED under the supervision of Dr. Moses Oyewumi in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences. Dr. Andrews assisted with experiments at YSU as part of this study.


Photoresponsive delivery systems that are activated by high energy photo-triggers have been accorded much attention because of the capability of achieving reliable photoreactions at short irradiation times. However, the application of a high energy photo-trigger (UV light) is not clinically viable. Meanwhile, the process of photon-upconversion is an effective strategy to generate a high energy photo-trigger in-situ through exposure to clinically relevant near-infrared (NIR) light. In this regard, we synthesized photon upconverting nanocrystals (UCNCs) that were subsequently loaded into photoresponsive nanoparticles (NPs) prepared using alkoxyphenacyl-based polycar- bonate homopolymer (UCNC-APP-NPs). UCNC loading affected resultant NP size, size distribu- tion, colloidal stability but not the zeta potential. The efficiency of NIR-modulated drug delivery was impacted by the heterogenetic nature of the resultant UCNC-APP-NPs which was plausibly formed through a combination of UCNC entrapment within the polymeric NP matrix and nucleation of polymer coating on the surface of the UCNCs. The biocompatibility of UCNC-APP-NPs was demonstrated through cytotoxicity, macrophage activation, and red blood cell lysis assays. Studies in tumor-bearing (nu/nu) athymic mice showed a negligible distribution of UCNC-APP-NPs to retic- uloendothelial tissues. Further, distribution of UCNC-APP-NPs to various tissues was in the order (highest to lowest): Lungs > Tumor > Kidneys > Liver > Spleen > Brain > Blood > Heart. In all, the work highlighted some important factors that may influence the effectiveness, reproducibility biocompatibility of drug delivery systems that operate on the process of photon-upconversion.

Recent Student Events

YSU MathFest

YSU MathFest, the largest annual event hosted by the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, took place on Thursday, October 13. Each year, high school juniors and seniors from over 40 different high schools come to YSU to spend the day celebrating and learning topics in mathematics that are not typically seen in standard high school curriculum.

This year, 18 different workshops were offered by YSU faculty and students from the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. These workshops included titles such as Are you a Terrorist?, Discovering the STEM Behind Football, and The Mathematics of Brain Activity.

In addition to the workshops, students were given the opportunity to meet YSU students, interact with YSU faculty members, and explore what it’s like to get an undergraduate degree in mathematics or a STEM-related field at YSU.

The day concluded with guest speaker Dr. Chris Swanson from Ashland University giving a large group presentation on Mathemagic!

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Veterinary Science Expo

The first annual Youngstown State University Veterinary Science Expo was held on September 29 in DeBartolo Hall. The YSU Pre-Veterinary Society sponsored this event, which featured three professional veterinarians: Ric Berlinkski, Kelley Kilar, and Tina Costarella. Berlinkski, a vet at the Toledo Zoo, spoke about working with exotic animals, and said zoo medicine is the hardest field in veterinary medicine to get into.

Kilar discussed caring for small, usually domesticated, animals. Costarella, who takes care of large animals, talked about wanting to start a veterinary program with the biology department in which students could have the chance to job shadow her. Colleen Maskarinec, founder of the YSU Pre-Veterinary Society, said she was grateful to have the veterinarians there to interact with and inspire the students.

Most of the attendees were YSU students who are pursuing a degree in veterinarian medicine.

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Nucor Dollars and Tons

Nucor conducted their Third Annual “Nucor Dollars and Tons” event on Saturday, October 8, 2016, from 7:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The Dollars and Tons game is designed to simulate how Nucor manages its business and the competitive environment under which all Nucor divisions operate. Dollars and Tons will help the student develop an understanding of critical financial terms, present them with typical business issues, and allow them to make decisions in a fun, fast-paced game environment in which participants make strategic decisions like the management team at a real Nucor division.

Five teams from the following STEM student organizations participated in this year’s event: American Institute of Chemical Engineering: Chem-E-Car Team; American Society of Civil Engineering: Groups I and II; and the STEM Leadership Society. The teams not only competed to have an awesome experience, but they had the opportunity to network with Nucor representatives, to develop innovative methods to start a business and to apply their problem solving skills to deal with real world applications, and to foster their team building skills.

The American Institute of Chemical Engineering: Chem-E-Car Team aka MEATBALL held on for another year and upheld their reputation as being the winners of the Nucor Dollars and Tons event. Bridger Kowalczyk, Brandon Haldiman, Tom Kibler, and Nick Scoumis not only held on to their championship as “top dog” for the event, they also took home $500.00 for their organization and a steel trophy made by Nucor with the organization’s name engraved on it.

student group

Physics Students Presentations

Physics students presented at the 2016 Fall Meeting of the Ohio Section of American Physical Science (OSAPS) on October 7 and 8 at Bowling Green State University.

  • Brian Schubert presented a paper titled “Examination of Surface Treatments of Implant-Grade Titanium via X-ray Photoemission Spectroscopy”
  • Christopher Watenpool presented Condensed Matter Physics and Materials Research, “Circumventing Non Ergodic Dynamics in Anharmonic Atomic Chains”
  • David Bernard, Martin Strong, and Nicholas McGuigan also attended the conference
  • Dr. Snjezana “Snow” Balaz and Dr. Donald Priour provided faculty support on the projects


Cybersecurity Awareness Day

Since October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, ISEHA (Information Security and Ethical Hacking Association at YSU) and the NEOACM (Northeast Ohio ACM) sponsored a “Cybersecurity Awareness Day” at YSU on Tuesday, October 18 in Meshel Hall. The theme this year was “Personal Cybersecurity,” keeping yourself safe in cyberspace.

Wesley Stanton, President of ISEHA, spoke about “Password Cracking” and how to create a password that is difficult to crack. Jeremy Mio from the Cuyahoga County Department of Information Technology Security and Research Team, spoke about how to stay safe on the internet. He discussed what behavior you should avoid online in order to prevent identity theft and other cyber threats.

We should recognize the importance of being vigilant against any and all cyber threats, while recommitting to ensure that we use new digital tools and resources fearlessly, skillfully, and responsibly. That is why “Cybersecurity Awareness Day” is important and supported by ISEHA and NEOACM.

security demonstration



The STEM Internship and Co-op Expo has been transformed into the better-than-ever STEM Expo. Current students and alumni alike can come meet the employers who are now looking to fill full-time positions as well as internships and co-ops. YSU STEM welcomed more than 60 employers on October 6 for this first ever STEM Expo.

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Physics Olympics

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Fifteen high schools came together on March 7 in the Stambaugh gyms to participate in the 37th annual Physics Olympics.

This year, just like last year, Jackson Milton took home the first place trophy. Lisbon received the second place spot, and Lowelville came in third. Student’s individual scores in each of the twelve different events — including mousetrap racers, bridge building, music making, and quiz show, as well as many others — determine places.

Cynthia Smotzer, coordinator of the event, said the Physics Olympics is a great way for students to apply what they learn in class.

This year the House of Cards event was introduced, replacing the Mystery Question.

The day began with President James Tressel giving a welcome. Many of the teams were able to get photos with Tressel in their special Physics Olympics shirts. Teams made their own shirts to wear to the event with funny sayings on them, including, “Think like a proton and stay positive,” and, “It’s all about the pizza π in our domain.”

The day closed with the quiz bowl and the award ceremony.

Smith Receives Grant

Congratulations to Debbie Smith, a part-time faculty member in the YSU Physics & Astronomy Department, who was awarded an American Chemical Society Grant for $1,487. Ms. Smith, who is from Poland, was the sole principle investigator on the proposal. The grant is to purchase Vernier equipment for the Chemistry and Physics labs at Poland High School participating in the College-in-High-School Program at YSU in the STEM College. The equipment to be purchased includes Vernier interfaces, temperature probes, pH probes, conductivity probes, Colorimeter, Drop Counter, Light Sensors and Logger Pro3. With the new equipment, students will be able to perform experiments using extensive computer data collection techniques to help them interpret, analyze and draw conclusions in their laboratory classes.

Students present at Material Research Society Conference

Andrew B. Smith and Michael McMaster, students of Physics and Astronomy, presented a poster at the Material Research Society Conference in Boston the week of November 28, 2011.

Michael McMaster with his poster.

The poster Andrew and Michael presented involves research being done in the Department of Physics and Astronomy in Dr. Tom Oder’s Wide Band Gap Semiconductor Laboratory, which currently focuses on optimizing the production of smooth, very high purity Zinc Oxide thin films. They then dope these high quality films, that is, inject specific foreign elements into the ZnO to adjust its electronic properties. The subsequent semiconductor material can be used to make, in the case of ZnO, optoelectronic devices such as LEDs and transparent electrodes.

ZnO is an attractive semiconductor, at least concerning optoelectronic applications, because of its low cost and low toxicity compared to competing materials. The negative doping of ZnO is well-established in industry, but the essential next step for ZnO’s advancement as a competitive semiconductor is to unlock the key to positive doping, which has so far proven to be a real challenge for researchers including ourselves. Solving this problem would open the way for many new and more efficient applications and devices.

Travel funds for the trip were provided by the College of STEM and the Office of the Provost.

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.

The POEM group with staff and students.

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
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.

Feldmeier’s student

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

William Hill (left) and Sean Robinson (right) both completed an REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) at Case Western Reserve University this past summer.

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.