Physics Department News Archive

June 18, 2008

Summer Research 2008

Sioux Falls -- Seven Augustana College physics students, along with two students from Sioux Falls Lincoln High School are involved in research this summer. The department views research experience as an essential part of a undergraduate physics education and encourages as many students as possible to participate in research during their careers.

Three students are doing atomic, molecular, and optical physics (AMO) work (faculty mentor Eric Wells), three are working on particle physics projects (faculty mentor Drew Alton), one is participating in the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program run by the University of Minnesota's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and one is doing chemistry research at Augustana.

Russ Averin, a junior physics major from Sioux Falls, is involved in particle physics research with Drew Alton. Alton and Averin are following up their work from last summer, which was recently named a "result of the week" by FermiLab Today. Joining them are two students from Sioux Falls Lincoln High School, Dan Parrott and Nathan Holman. Holman and Parrott are working on high-precision calibrations of the photon portion of the D0 detector at FermiLab.

Physics major Adam Broin (Sioux Falls) is enjoying an internship with PrairieGold Venture Partners, a Sioux Falls based firm that focuses on early stage investments in the Midwest.  Their interests include life sciences, alternative energy and other industry areas where strong growth opportunities lie. Adam is involved in researching prospective funding opportunities.

In AMO related work, Bethany Jochim (Pierre, SD) is involved with the completion of a study of bond rearrangement in small polyatomic molecules begun in 2006. She completed the data analysis and calculated potential energy surfaces of methane and ammonia cations as part of a theoretical analysis of the rearrangement process. The initial report of this work was presented at the DAMOP 2007 meeting and a publication is being prepared. The work will also be the subject of an upcoming invited talk at CAARI 2008.

Michael Todt (Moorhead, MN) is completing construction of an apparatus that will be used to selectively fragment molecules using shaped ultrafast laser pulses. This study, funded by the National Science Foundation, is expected to continue for the next few years. The experimental work takes place at KSU's Macdonald Laboratory, a large facilty for atomic, molecular, and optical physics research.

Bryan Kaemingk (Mitchell, SD) is spending part of his summer at Auburn University studying low energy electron scattering from hydrogen molecules. This work, which may have implications for studies of the early universe, is funded through a South Dakota NASA EPSCoR grant. Eric Wells and Allen Landers (Auburn) are the faculty mentors for this project.

Nate Jastram (Sioux Falls, SD) is at the University of Minnesota this summer. Jastram is participating in the electrical engineering REU program. He will continue his undergradute work at UM in the fall as part of the dual-degree engineering program.

Trent Anderson (Jasper, MN) is focusing on chemistry research this summer and is being mentored by Gary Earl and Duane Weisshaar here at Augustana. He is spending his time investigating the properties of ionic liquids.

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The 2008 summer research group. Top (left to right): Bethany Jochim, Dan Parrott, Michael Todt, Russ Averin, and Nathan Holman. Bottom (left to right) Drew Alton, Bryan Kaemingk, and Eric Wells.