At the Rochester Academy of Sciences’ annual fall conference, eight Hobart and William Smith students presented research with potentially profound impacts on water quality, agriculture, public transportation, cancer prevention and the intersection of physics, computer science and engineering in the HWS curriculum.
HWS faculty mentors including Professor of Geoscience John Halfman, Assistant Professor of Physics Ileana Dumitriu, and Physics Lab Technician Peter Spacher, Ph.D., joined the students at Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester, N.Y., where hundreds of undergraduates, graduate students and college and university faculty gathered to share research on subjects spanning basic and applied sciences.
“It was an excellent opportunity for our students to present in front of professors and students from a wide-selection of institutions in central and western New York,” says Halfman.
Scott Calnan ’17, who is enrolled in the Colleges’ Joint-Degree engineering program with Dartmouth College, presented his ongoing work as part of the HWS team participating in the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition. Calnan’s work applies the principles of homopolar motors, which use direct current and two magnetic poles to produce rotational movement, to the acceleration and braking system for the SpaceX transportation project competition. Founded by Tyler Hanzlik ’17, the HWS team’s preliminary design was accepted to the competition in January 2016.
To detect muons (elementary particles similar to electrons) in the upper atmosphere, an HWS team integrated a detection device in a rocket, which was launched in June 2016 at the NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. At the RAS conference, Joseph Carrock ’17 presented the data collected during that flight. Coauthored with Frank Oplinger ’18 and Tyler Hanzlik ’17, the project showed trends similar to the data collected during the 2015 HWS RockSat-C flight, describing increases in muon count as the rocket ascended.
In his research on Multiple Myeloma, an incurable cancer of plasma cells that reside in bone marrow, James Cooper ’17 found that particular protein in one type of white blood cell can induce “metabolic fitness” in myeloma cells and prosurvival effect.
Chris Demas ’17, who is completing a physics Honors projects on two distinct topics, presented on both. In one, advised by Dumitriu and Spacher, Demas is examining Photodynamic Therapy (PDT), a technique for treating both cancer and acne, and the precise dosing of light needed to activate the chemical that destroys the unhealthy tissue. The other project, advised by Dumitriu, Spacher and Halfman, uses drone technology and spectroscopy to determine algae content in bodies of water.
Geoscience majors Harry Simbliaris ’17, Serena Bradt ’18 and Briana “Breezy” Swete ’17 presented the results of their summer research, which also explored water quality challenges of the Finger Lakes.
Investigating how annual changes in precipitation influence the concentration of total phosphate in Owasco Lake, Simbliaris showed that precipitation resulting in phosphorus loading along streams in turn impacts water quality in the lake.
Over the summer, Swete used drone technology to track blue green algae on Owasco Lake. Using that research, Swete, Bradt and Dumitriu co-authored a presentation, “Exploratory drone research on water quality of the Finger Lakes,” which detailed the results of monitoring the aerial extent of algal blooms and nearshore macrophytes.
Garrett Tongue ’17, who served as a Teaching Assistant in Dumitriu’s course on electronics, presented on the unique learning opportunities the course offers. Students develop practical skills in soldering, using oscilloscopes, reading electrical diagrams, troubleshooting circuit failures, and point to point wiring, as well as a deep understanding of the theories of electrical engineering.