Notes from the Department Head
Dean Zollman

The faculty, students and staff in our Department were spared any direct losses from the events of September 11. Since then I have been asked several times how the discipline of physics can contribute to assuring that such events do not happen again. One can give obvious answers such as all of airport security is based on fundamental principles of physics. However, I find myself focusing more on the human side -- the international community of physicists who work together to understand nature and each other better than we do now. As is reflected in the members of our Department these physicists come from all parts of the world. Their common interests in physics bring them here to work on fundamental research. But, the communications among our faculty, students and staff are not limited to discussions of research. We talk to each other about similarities and differences in our background, our beliefs, and our interests. Physics brings us together, but we gain much more than just an understanding of the physical world. This process affects all of us -- ranging from the faculty from Asia and the graduate students from Nepal to freshmen from Wamego. Hopefully, this mutual understanding, which only comes from face-to-face interactions that can occur at universities like KSU, can contribute a small part to a better and less violent world.

As you can see from the byline of this article some major transitions are occurring in our Department. For the first time in fifteen years Jim Legg is not writing an opening note for our annual newsletter. Jim retired in June after 34 years of service to KSU, including 15 years as Department Head. Under Jim's leadership the Department grew significantly in many ways. We added both high energy physics and cosmology to the areas in which we do research. Condensed matter research expanded greatly, and the Macdonald Lab went through a major upgrade. Our external funding for research and teaching increased from less than $2,000,000 to slightly more than $8,000,000. We also revised our undergraduate curriculum, and significantly changed the way that we teach Engineering Physics -- a change that has resulted in learning gains and positive reactions from engineering students and faculty. Clearly, our Department prospered under Jim's leadership. He deserves our thanks and the extended vacation that he and Marilyn recently started.

We are fortunate to have two new faculty join our Department during the past summer. N. Sanjay Rebello and Zenghu Chang bring new perspectives in research and teaching as well as the enthusiasm and energy of talented young physicists.

Sanjay Rebello comes to KSU from Clarion University of Pennsylvania. He received his Ph.D. from Brown University and then joined the KSU Physics Education Group as a research associate. During his three years here he was instrumental in the development of Visual Quantum Mechanics, a curriculum development project which is described elsewhere in this newsletter. After three years in a faculty position at Clarion, Sanjay was enticed to return to KSU as an Assistant Professor who specializes in research on the teaching and learning of physics.

Zenghu Chang is the newest member of the J. R. Macdonald Laboratory faculty. Zenghu received his Ph.D. from the Xi'an Institute of Optics and Precision Mechanics in China. Most recently, he was a senior research staff member at the Center for Ultrafast Optical Science at the University of Michigan. While at Michigan he gained an international reputation for his work on ultra-fast, high intensity lasers. He has come to KSU as an Associate Professor and is leading a new initiative in our atomic, molecular and optical physics program. Since arriving this past summer he has been extremely busy transforming part of the space in the Macdonald Lab from traditional beams lines into a room full of optical tables and lasers. The transformation is moving along quite rapidly. We expect him to be actively collecting data in the near future.

During the past fiscal year the Department once again increased its level of external funding for research and teaching. According to University records, our total funds exceeded $8,000,000. This amount is the largest grant income of any administrative unit on the KSU campus. The most recent tabulation of federally supported research in physics ( http://www.nsf.gov/sbe/srs/nsf01329/tables/b53.xls) places us in the top 50 physics departments for federally funded research. Only three other universities in the Big 12 and one other in our Regents-designated peer institutions are in this group. All of them have significantly larger physics faculties than K-State.

Our faculty individually garnered several important awards. Regina Demina was named an Outstanding Junior Investigator by the Department of Energy. She was cited for research and leadership on the D2 research team which conducts experiments at FermiLab. In addition, Regina contributes greatly to our instructional program by teaching General Physics. Talat Rahman was granted her second Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship. This highly prestigious award will enable Talat to continue her long-term collaboration with German physicists. She has also taken on the teaching of Concepts of Physics, our course aimed at future elementary school teachers. In the Spring Talat and I were named as University Distinguished Professors. Seven of KSU's 26 University Distinguished Professors are members of the Physics Department.

At the undergraduate level we are seeing a small increase in interest in physics. Our entering freshman class has remained relatively small. However, just in the past semester we have had about 6 second- and third-year students change their majors from other technical disciplines to physics. Most of these students have excelled academically. We are able to provide scholarships for these students because of the strong support that we receive from our alumni and alumnae. We thank all of you for the support that you continue to provide in the form of scholarship contributions.

Finally, we would like to hear from you. We like to know what our alumni are doing and how we helped or what we could have done better. Most importantly prospective students and, particularly, their parents always want to know what one can do with a physics degree. With concrete examples we can let our students know what to expect. Send an e-mail message to dzollman@phys.ksu.edu, and let me know about your activities. We would also like to collect e-mail address of our alumni. These addresses will be used only to send you information about the KSU Physics Department. To provide your e-mail address to us connect to http://www.phys.ksu.edu/alumni and complete the form on that page.


Editor's Corner
Mick O'Shea

Its just coming up to finals time here at Kansas State - this means its time to get our physics newsletter out!

Construction on the Alumni Center was begun this year at a location just south of Memorial Stadium on the K-State campus. This center will house the Alumni Association offices, and will provide public space for university and community events. I passed it yesterday and the building is definitely taking shape with major structural work completed.

According to Yahoo! Internet Life magazine this year Kansas State moves from 33rd to 31st place in the rankings of 'most wired' college. The KATS enrollment/information system, the Internet2 connections, and the use of information technology at KSU all contributed to this ranking. In a related story the 4th annual Digital State Survey sponsored by Compaq Computer Corporation, a survey of states, was reported on in the Topeka-Capital Journal. Kansas and Illinois tied for first in this survey that looked at the use of information technology in city and local government.

This fall representatives of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools accreditation team were on campus to evaluate Kansas State. Their preliminary recommendation was that Kansas State should receive full accreditation for another 10 year, 2002 to 2012. Several things were highlighted in their report. These included a leadership style that fosters a high morale and a sense of trust for faculty, staff and students. The report also mentioned the significant increase (126%) in extramural funding over the last 10 years - the physics department contributed significantly to this increase.


News from Surface and Nanostructure Physics Group
Talat Rahman

 In the past few years we have consolidated our efforts and developed a range of theoretical and simulational techniques which allow us to understand the characteristics of surfaces and nanostructures at different length and time scales with varying degrees of sophistication and accuracy. At the heart of this are first principles electronic structure calculations whose inherent accuracy lends well to their predicative power. This technique is essential for comprehending the microscopic details of the nature of the chemical bond between atoms in regions of low coordination and reduced symmetry, as is the case for atoms on surfaces and nanostructures. With this microscopic knowledge of the electronic structure we construct robust, model interaction potentials between atoms which in turn serve as the input for calculations of a variety of dynamical, thermal and thermodynamical properties of these novel materials. Using such semi-empirical interaction potentials we are carrying out extensive studies of metal surfaces and nanostructures, with standard techniques, while focusing on selective studies of systems of interest with the ab initio methods. The specific problems of interest to us range from developing an understanding of heterogeneous catalysis, of microscopic processes involved in epitaxial growth of thin films, of the stability criteria and thermodynamics of equilibrium shapes of surfaces and nanocrystals, of the unusual reactivity of nanocrystals, and of surface structural transitions brought about as a function of surface temperature.

We have been fortunate to attract several grants to fund our research. A multi-PI grant from NSF's initiative in Nanoscale Modeling and Simulation is responsible for our efforts in the area of "Evolution of Nanoscale Film Morphology." Dr. Abdelkader Kara is spearheading this effort together with graduate students Altaf Karim and Chandana Ghosh. Dr. Ahlam Al-Rawi is also a vital member of the team with her efforts in molecular dynamics simulations which allow her to follow her passion of integrating research and education. The package being developed by her for the latter purpose should become available on our web site ( http://www.phys.ksu.edu/~rahman) in the near future. Our partners in this multiscale modeling project are Professor James Evans, Iowa State University, Theodore Einstein, University of Maryland and Kristen Fichthorn, Penn State University. We are also involved in a fruitful collaboration with Professor Tapio Ala Nissilä's group at Helsinki Technical University, which is supported partially with funds from NSF-International Division. Our effort in "Theoretical Studies of Chemisorptions on Metal Surfaces" (funded by NSF) is led by Dr. Sergey Stolbov and graduate student Sampyo Hong who has benefited greatly from his summer in Karlsruhe, Germany, with Dr. Klaus Peter Bohnen. Our ongoing collaboration with Drs Bohnen and Heid from the Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe is keeping us very involved in ab initio electronic structure calculations.

We continue to find our research in the "Structure, Dynamics and Thermodynamics of Alloy Surfaces," funded by DOE, very exciting and challenging. Apart from Dr. Kara, graduate students Kevin Ball and Faisal Mehmood keep us engaged in tracing the unique features found for alloy atoms to the complexities in their local environments. Similar is the case for our on-going studies of the Manipulation of Atoms on Metal Surfaces and issues related to Nanotribology, which also enjoyed funding from DOE. Last, but not the least, Professor John Spangler keeps the group alive with his dedicated work on extracting the effects of surface anharmonicity on the temperature dependent behavior of solid surfaces.

The past year has been full of travel for several of us. Talat Rahman and Chandana Ghosh worked for five months at the Helsinki Technical University in Espoo and seven months at the Fritz Haber Institute in Berlin. Altaf Karim, Sampyo Hong and Abdelkader Kara spent the summer in research collaborations in various parts of Europe. The group members also presented a number of papers and talks at various conferences and institutions around the world, including several invited talks by Kader Kara and Talat Rahman. Talat Rahman continues to be involved in the organization of conferences and workshops including the annual International Nathiagali Summer College which has become an engaging event for scientists from US and the Developing countries.


The Semiconductor Group
Hongxing Jiang & Jingyu Lin


 
In the
last issue of Physics Newsletter, we (Hongxing Jiang and Jingyu Lin) reported that our group has successfully fabricated the first semiconductor blue microdisplay from micro-size light emitting diodes (LEDs) based on III-nitride wide bandgap semiconductor quantum wells. This work has drawn attention worldwide. News coverage about the work appeared in German, Russian, French, Italian, Indian, British, Mexican, Portuguese, and Chinese technology magazines and newspapers as well as in many US ones. Please see the News section of our group website for more details http://www.phys.ksu.edu/area/GaNgroup. Our group's research has evolved from pure basic physics studies to a comprehensive program that encompasses fundamental physics, state-of-the-art epitaxial material growth, as well as advanced micro- and nano-photonic device fabrication. In this way, our students are trained with cutting-edge technologies and are being well prepared for the changing technological world. We have also expanded our research effort into new areas. With new projects funded by NSF (Information Technology Initiative program) and DARPA, we are initiating research programs in the areas of III-nitride photonics for optical communications and for bio-threat detections.

With an equipment grant from DOD's nanotechnology initiative program, we are adding a near-field-scanning-optical-microscopy system to our existing deep UV femtosecond laser spectroscopy facility for imaging optical emission patterns from semiconductor micro-size light emitters. Currently, this is the world's only picosecond time-resolved nano-optical spectroscopy system for probing the optical properties of semiconductor materials and devices with a time-resolution of 2 ps, a spatial resolution of 50 nm, and wavelength range spanning from IR to deep UV (down to 195 nm).

The two home-built metal organic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD) systems are running very well and have produced device quality materials, from which we have made blue and near UV micro-size light emitters and high power transistor structures. A big thanks is owed to our mechanical and electronic shop staff members for their professional work. A third commercial MOCVD system is scheduled to arrive in our lab around the end of January 2002. This system has the capability of producing simultaneously 6 pieces of 2-inch III-nitride wafers and has a price tag of $1.2 million. Currently, there are only 2 systems of this kind that are located in a university research lab in the US. Our unique capabilities for semiconductor material growth, micro- and nano-device fabrication, and fundamental properties measurements have placed K-State in a unique position for III-nitride wide bandgap semiconductor research.


J.R. Macdonald Laboratory
Pat Richard

The biggest change in the Macdonald Laboratory AMOP program this year is the launching of a new research effort in ultra-short pulse, ultra-intense laser physics. The science is based on the interaction of matter with short pulses in the range of 10-100 fs with intensities in the range of 1015 to 1018 W/cm2. The program is off to a very fast start with the hiring of Associate Professor Zenghu Chang, who arrived in August 2001. He was formerly at the University of Michigan. The new Kansas State Light Source Facility has been constructed in the completely refurbished tandem long room. The system operates in the range given above with a pulse repetition rate of 1 kHz. It is anticipated that the system will be in full operation in January 2002.

 Dr. Bing Shan, research associate, also from Michigan is assisting Prof. Chang in the installation and testing of the system. The laser system will be used to study high harmonic generation, ionization mechanisms at high laser power as well as to study laser-ion/atom/molecule interactions using the KSU COLTRIMS apparatus. Open house ribbon-cutting ceremonies were held on Nov 15 (physics department session) and Nov. 16 (public session). Photos and information can be found at our website http://www.phys.ksu.edu/area/jrm/lasers.html.

Dr. Xavier Flechard has returned to GANIL in Caen, France in a permanent staff position upon finishing a research associateship at Kansas State University. Dr. Richard Bredy, also from France, has replaced him. Their research in the JRML is in Prof. Brett Depaola's group and concentrates on ultra-high resolution electron capture using a Magneto-Optical Trap to cool a target to the milliKelvin range. A description of this system can also be found on the JRML website.

Dr. Thomas Ehrenreich (Brett DePaola, major professor) and Dr. Ridvan Unal ( Pat Richard, major professor) received their Ph.D. degrees during ceremonies in December. Thomas has accepted a position at the University of Connecticut and Ridvan has returned to Turkey where he has accepted a position at Afyon Kocatepe University, Afyon, Turkey.

Dr. Manolis Benis accepted a research associateship in the JRML in August after having received his Ph.D. degree in May at the University of Crete. Manolis completed the greater part of his Ph.D. research in the JRML. He was Professor Theo Zouros' student.

Dr. Dag Hathiramani has joined the research program of Professor Itzik Ben-Itzak. Dag comes to us from our friends at the University of Giessen (KSU sister university), Germany.

Also new: Dr. Himadri Chakraborty has joined the theory group of Professor Uwe Thumm; Dr. Chien-Nan Liu, Dr. Tingyun Shi, Dr. Xiao Tong, and Dr. Thu Ahn Le have joined the theory group of Professor C. D. Lin; and Dr. Wei Guo has joined the theory group of Professor Brett Esry.

Research grant activity: The DOE review panel for the JRML has acted and we did receive a three-year renewal of our DOE operating grant ($2,350,000/yr for 3 years). This year, one umbrella grant covers all of the research in JRML, i.e. experiment and theory and includes the research of Prof. Brett Esry for the first time.


High Energy Physics
Tim Bolton

The times they are a' changin' for the KSU high energy physics group. Many years of detector design, electronics debugging, and C++ programming for the D0 experiment at Fermilab have finally ended; and data is rolling in at the 2 trillion electron-volt Tevatron collider. There is a buzz in the air in the D0 control room (even at 3 AM!) as physicist-shift takers gather data from the highest energy collisions ever produced on earth. Could some of the events seen on the continuous event display be examples of Higgs boson decays? See for yourself at http://www-d0online.fnal.gov/www/shift/event_pix.html.

Even though we're in the thick of one experiment, we must ready the next one. K-State is a leading institution in a project to upgrade the inner silicon tracking detector of D0 for future higher luminosity running. Regina Demina served as co-PI of a successful NSF Major Research Instrumentation proposal to get the project off the ground; and she is in charge of procuring sensors for the upgraded detector. Bill Reay co-leads the electronics sub-task, and Noel Stanton, Ron Sidwell and the KSU Electronic Design Lab's Russel Taylor are busy designing specialized readout boards and cables. Post-doc Flera Ritzatdinova co-leads the important simulation sub-task; and she, graduate student Sasha Khanov, and Tim Bolton are always on-call to produce feedback for detector designs and answer questions from the many review committees a project like this must endure.

Beyond the upgraded D0 lies the LHC, an accelerator with seven times the energy of Fermilab's Tevatron that will begin running in 2006. Demina serves as co-leader of the US group building a large silicon tracking spectrometer for the one of the two detectors (called CMS) that will operate at this machine. Post-doc Bill Kahl leads a team at Fermilab putting together an automated gantry machine that will be needed to assemble the large number of precision parts. Research technologist Sergey Korjenevski and undergrad Jesus Hernandez check out CMS sensors at the K-State silicon test facility in the Physics High Bay building. And everybody is trying to learn to parle a little Francais, as the LHC straddles the border between Switzerland and France.

The real changes in our group involve people. Bill Reay, who came to KSU in 1993 from Ohio State to start up high energy physics is retiring. In addition to his myriad efforts to put Kansas State on the particle physics map, Bill was instrumental in setting up the Electronics Design Laboratory and in creating the Physics High Bay Laboratory from the old KSU motor pool. We are also losing Kathleen Pierce, our superb administrator. Kathleen somehow managed to finish her accounting degree while sorting out all manner of HEP and EDL problems, running the Department's web page, and having a second child in her spare time. Fortunately, her assistant Staci Matthews will stay with us for a while to keep things from totally falling apart. Finally, two more graduate students left with PhD's in 2001, Max Goncharov and Patrick Berghaus; and our post-doc Todd Adams moved on to an assistant professor position at Florida State.



Bunny Clark

Bunny Clark, an Ohio State faculty member in the Department of Physics since 1981, received the Fowler award from the Ohio Section of the American Physical Society ( OSAPS) for distinguished research in nuclear physics. OSAPS concurrently honored Clark for her tireless efforts to promote research among undergraduates and to encourage underrepresented groups to pursue a career in physics

"She overcame fierce opposition to her approach, and convinced the international community of its merit by precisely fitting experimental data that withstood all previous efforts to explain," her nominator wrote.

The William Fowler Award for Distinguished Research in Physics honors those members of the American Physical Society with "appreciable connections to the State of Ohio, and who have done outstanding research in physics." OSAPS created the award in honor of William Fowler, an Ohio State graduate in Engineering Physics, who won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1983 for his work on stellar nucleosynthesis.

According to Clark's nomination for the award, her "contributions to physics ... affect the research of many individuals and changed the direction of research work in her area." Central to her nomination was her success at proving that the Dirac equation, which is used to describe electron scattering from the atomic nucleus and can also be used for the same type of reaction with protons or neutrons.

Clark and her collaborators have laid part of the groundwork of relativistic treatments of nuclear systems. The nuclear physics group continues to work or relativistic models which play a central role in understanding how the underlying theory of the strong interaction, quantum chromodynamics, can be used to understand atomic nuclei.

Information for this article was reprinted with permission from The Ohio State University Physics Department Newsletter.


Physics Education Newsletter
Dean Zollman

At present, much of the Physics Education Group's efforts is focusing on a new NSF-funded research project "Technology & Model Based Conceptual Assessment and Research: Students' Applications of Models in Physics and Mathematics." The research is concentrating on some aspects of how students build their models of the physical world and how those models change during the time that they study physics. Other parts of the study look at how the context of a situation is important in student learning and performance. For example, some students will very easily solve a conservation of momentum problem involving two billiard balls, but will seem to be clueless with an almost identical problem involving two ice skaters. We are even finding that the order in which the students solve the problems has an effect on their performance. Another part of the research is exploring the transfer of knowledge from math courses (primarily trigonometry) to physics. We hope to learn more about the level of reasoning that students use in a trig course and how (or if) that reasoning transfers to similar contexts in their physics courses. In addition to members of our group, this project involves Andy Bennett and his post-docs in the KSU Math Department, our former post-doc Lei Bao, who is now an assistant professor at The Ohio State University, and Manfred Euler at the Institute for Science Education in Kiel, Germany.

Our efforts related to teaching quantum mechanics by using interactive visualizations and hands-on activities have continued. Many physics instructors believe that quantum mechanics is a very abstract subject that cannot be understood until students have learned much of classical physics. We have been challenging this belief by creating instructional materials for quantum mechanics that can be integrated throughout the first physics course. In addition, we have transferred some of the materials and the basic approach to higher-level courses. The result, which we call Visual Quantum Mechanics, is a hands-on approach to learning and teaching quantum mechanics for a broad spectrum of students. The materials for high school and non-science college students will be published under the title Visual Quantum Mechanics - The Original by Ztek Co. in early 2002.

We have now expanded beyond the high school and non-science college students. A set of instructional materials for third semester physics and engineering students is nearly complete. We have also tested in one course some materials which are aimed at pre-professional students. The collection of instructional materials, tentatively called Modern Miracle Medical Machines, focuses on the basic physics underlying contemporary medical diagnosis methods such a magnetic resonance imaging and positron emission tomography as well as medical procedures such as laser eye surgery. We are also investigating the use of similar visualization and pedagogical techniques for advance undergraduate physics students.

The group has continued to be involved in the International Bicycle Project which arranges student exchanges with five European universites. The students study various aspects of the bicycle and work closely with physics education faculty at the host instructions. This year Alice Churukian, one of our graduate students, is spending a couple of months working at the University of Amsterdam, while Anne Hanzlick, an undergraduate in Biology, is in Vienna.

Many personnel changes have taken place in the Physics Education Group. Dean Zollman has vacated the small corner on the fifth floor and traded it in for the main departmental office in his new role as Department Head. In addition, Dean was recognized as a University Distinguished Professor this year. Dean still finds a few hours in his day to devote to his research.

N. Sanjay Rebello, most recently an Assistant Professor at Clarion University of Pennsylvania, has joined the Department as an Assistant Professor concentrating on physics education research. Prior to joining the Clarion faculty Sanjay was a post-doc with he KSU physics education group. Since his return to KSU, he has been keeping busy writing grant proposals and taught The Physical World I this Fall. He was recently named secretary/treasurer of the Arkansas-Oklahoma-Kansas Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers.

Salomon Itza-Ortiz joined the group as a research associate in July. Salomon was previously a graduate student at Tulane University under the direction of former KSU faculty member Jim McGuire. Salomon is originally from Mexico and is preparing for his first Kansas winter.

Kirsten Hogg, former postdoc, left the States in October of this year after spending two years with our group. She is currently working back at her alma mater, the University of Sydney. Kirsten and her husband, Damien Butler, spent the summer on a three-month tour of the United States, setting up camp in various national parks throughout the US. Kirsten scheduled her travels so that she was able to join the group at the AAPT Summer meeting and present a talk on the Contemporary Physics on-line course that she set up prior to her departure.

Rebecca Lindell, who has been our Director of Instruction Support, completed her PhD at the University of Nebraska in the summer. She has left KSU to accept an Assistant Professor position at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville.

Our graduate students are working steadfastly on their thesis or dissertation research. Wally Axmann, Alice Churukian and Seunghee Lee are getting close to finishing their PhDs while Zdeslav Hrepic is finishing up his Masters. Alicia Allbaugh is busy developing some research methods to tackle some of the more difficult questions that we are addressing in the new research project. Alice and Alicia still seem to have time to pursue their interest in music while Seunghee keeps busy with children and Zdeslav contemplates the change that a baby will bring to his life.

Additional information about the group is available at http://www.phys.ksu.edu/perg/.


Undergraduate Scholarships

Each year the Department is able to provide scholarships to a large fraction of its majors. These scholarships are a result of the generous contributions from alumni, friends and faculty of the Department. In addition to a general scholarship fund, the Department is fortunate to have many endowed scholarship funds that have helped support our students. The endowed scholarships, the type of students who are eligible for each, and the most recent recipient are listed below.

Name of Scholarship Student characteristics Most recent recipient
James A. Branson Memorial Undergraduate physics, chemistry or engineering major. Trent Coen
A.B. Cardwell Undergraduate physics major. Zack Casey
Kathryn and Charles Bearman Female physics major with a sophomore or above class standing Kara Gray
Clarence S. and Jane Clay Physics Undergraduate physics major whose primary goal is teaching at the secondary level. Jesus Hernandez
Basil & Mary Curnutte Undergraduate or graduate student in physics. Drew Bures, Tommy Reynolds, Adam Smith, Adrienne Olney & Kasper Schirer
Howard and Helen Doyle Science Scholarship Exceptional students who are from Bala and Fancy Creek Townships in Riley County, KS and are majoring in engineering or sciences. Laura Blecha
Dragsdorf Physics Scholarship Undergraduate or graduate student in physics. Jeffrey Stuhlman & Christopher Wyant
William Joe L. Dempsey Memorial Undergraduate student who is completing the junior year with a major in science and who is planning a career in medicine. Preference is given to students who indicate a special interest in physics.  
Louis Ellsworth Memorial Physics majors who are citizens of the United States and a Kansas resident. Preference shall be given to Riley County. Nathan Woody
J.O. Hamilton Memorial Scholarship Freshman engineering or physics majors Matthew Becker, Brandon Lohman & Jesse Noffsinger
John P. Giese Scholarship Undergraduate physics major who has contributed to the success of the Physics Club and who has participated in a research project. David Coblentz
James R. Macdonald Scholarship Undergraduate physics majors. Jonathan Kurche
Ronald D. Parks Memorial Scholarship Undergraduate or graduate student in physics. Undergraduate recipients shall receive the scholarship beginning the fall semester of their junior or senior year and may receive the award for a second year if they make adequate progress toward a degree. Graduate recipients of this award will be first or second year graduate students and may receive the award for a second year if they are in good academic standing. Christopher Long
Ralph and Ina Shenk Scholarship Awarded to a student who has a desire to teach physics; possibly with a combination of mathematics and/or chemistry at the college or pre-college level. The recipient must be a citizen of the United States with preference given to a resident of the state of Kansas. Cole Witham


Changes in Engineering Physics
Alice Churukian

The Department has embarked on a project to change the format of Engineering Physics 1 and 2, PHYS 213 and 214, our calculus-based introductory sequence. Prior to this major change, the only change in our format during the past thirty years was the introduction of computers into the laboratories. The components of the course were: Large lecture ~150 students per lecture for introduction of concepts; Recitation~40 students per recitation for problem solving; Laboratory~30 students per lab for experimental application of concepts and use of computers for data acquisition.

Several reasons had developed prompting the Department to consider a change in format: Quantitative research within the department showed that students were not doing as well as we would like on a standardized test of student understanding of mechanics concepts. Qualitative research within the department showed a consensus among students, faculty and lab instructors that the lab and recitation sections needed to be improved. Other items considered were student evaluations, research at similar institutions, and reports by physics education researchers.

An Ad Hoc Committee, chaired by Chris Sorensen, was formed that went through a two-year planning process. Various alternative formats that had been used in other institutions were considered. A format that uses strong points from other programs combined with what were considered strong points of the existing format was developed and unanimously adopted by the physics faculty. To help pay for some of the needed changes, Suzanne Maleki wrote and obtained a National Science Foundation grant. University funds allowed significant remodeling of the two rooms where the laboratories met under the old system. Chris, Suzanne, and Amit Chakrabarti then led the effort to implement the new format.

Our lecture/studio format borrows heavily from the studio physics format developed at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the Workshop Physics curriculum developed by Priscilla Laws at Dickinson College. It combined existing large lecture sessions with new studios that meet twice a week and replace both our former recitations and laboratory. The instruction in the studio includes a discovery approach with group activities. Students work on short experiments, homework problems, and quizzes in the studio environment. These activities are frequently integrated so that an experiment will be closely related to a homework problem and in turn to the previous or next days' lecture.

Each studio has an enrollment of 40 students. Most work involves small groups that are actively participating in their learning. Thus, the instructors are quite busy working with individual groups throughout the two hours. To provide sufficient guidance each studio is staffed by two instructors - one senior graduate student or faculty member and one junior graduate student or senior undergraduate.

Our new format was first used in Engineering Physics 1 in the Spring 2000 semester and was expanded to both Engineering Physics 1 and 2 beginning with the Fall of 2000.

Alice Churukian, a graduate student with the Physics Education Group, has been conducting a rather thorough assessment of the Studio course. She has been testing student conceptual understanding of topics in physics, investigating how those understandings change during the semester, conducting interviews with selected students throughout the semester, and collecting survey data on student attitudes about the new format.

As an example of the results we will present here some data on one standardized test, the Force Concept Inventory. The Force Concept Inventory was developed by the Physics Education Group at Arizona State University. It is a collection of thirty multiple choice questions which can be answered by applying Newton's Laws. All of the questions require a qualitative response. None of them involve calculating numbers or using equations. The Force Concept Inventory is thus a test of students' abilities to apply the concepts not plug numbers into equations.

Prior to the introduction of Studios at KSU, Engineering Physics 1 students completed the Force Concept Inventory at the beginning and end of the semester. For the first three semesters of the studio similar data were collected. Alice has analyzed the data using three different statistical tests.

Normalized Gains: The gain score is simply the end-of-semester score minus the beginning-of-semester score. These scores have been normalized by the maximum possible gain. Richard Hake reported the results of about 6,000 students on the Force Concept Inventory. For calculus-based physics courses, he reported normalized gains of 0.35 to 0.60 for course similar to our Studio course and 0.18 to 0.25 for traditional lecture-laboratory-recitation courses.

See http://www.physics.indiana.edu/~sdi/ajpv3i.pdf.

Effect size: This variable normalizes the gain by the standard deviation instead of the maximum possible score. An effect size of 1.5 indicates that the students' scores improved by 1.5 standard deviations. Typically an effect size greater than 0.8 is considered large and greater than 0.5, medium. Our analysis of the data reported in Hake's paper indicates that a typical effect size for a calculus-based physics course is 1.7 to 2.3 while the effect size for a traditional course is about 0.5.

For more on effect size, see http://web.uccs.edu/lbecker/Psy590/es.htm.

t-test: Standard statistical test.

The Table below shows the data for the first three semesters of operation of Engineering Physics 1 as a Studio-Lecture class.

Survey (Course) Semester Normalized Gains Effect Size t-Test Instructor
FCI (traditional) S99 0.170.90 0.46 04.64 A
FCI (studio) S00 0.420.31 1.53 16.73 B
FCI (studio) F00 0.410.25 1.71 26.44 C
FCI (studio) S01 0.390.26 1.59 15.21 B

As the Table shows, the results are quite striking. Students in the Studios are performing about the same as the previous students at the beginning of the semester, but much better at the end of the semester.

Studies of students' attitudes have also shown very positive results. Even faculty and advisors in the College of Engineering have remarked to us about the change in their students' attitude toward Physics.

The only negative feature seems to be an increase in teaching load for our faculty. We are now addressing that issue.

Overall, the Studio approach has addressed many of the concerns that both students and faculty had with the traditional teaching format. While implementing it required a significant amount of money and faculty time, it has paid off in terms of better learning and improved attitudes.


Alumni Update - Roger Facklam 1976

I thought I would let you know what I have been doing since graduating from KSU. I attended KSU 73-76. I currently work for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Pentagon Annex, Washington, D.C.

I still remember Dean Zollman telling me that lasers could never be used as weapons. I am still working on the Airborne Laser program for the Ballistic Missile Defense Office ( BMDO). We are installing a million-watt class laser on a 747 to kill ballistic missile hundreds of miles away from the aircraft.

After KSU I worked on the Voyager spacecraft team. Then I went into the Air Force and completed an MS in Engineering Physics ( Air Force Institute of Technology) and was a Ph.D. candidate in Laser Optics ( University of New Mexico). I am the sole inventor on three U.S. Patents. I invented the laser clock accurate to 1 second in 10,000 years! I also invented a laser line narrowing system and an optical dispersion controller. My Bio was included in 2000-2001 Who's Who Science and Engineering and will also be included in the next edition. I am married and have two boys 3 and 11 years old.


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If you wich to make a donation to one of the Physics Department scholarship funds, please make your check payable to the scholarship of your choice. To make your gift, send a check and a note to:

Department of Physics
116 Cardwell Hall
Kansas State University
Manhattan, Ks 66506-2601

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