Programs & Awards  
2009 Sigma Pi Sigma Undergraduate Research Awards

Sigma Pi Sigma, the national physics honor societyThe following six Society of Physics Students (SPS) chapters have received Sigma Pi Sigma Undergraduate Research Awards to fund chapter research projects. The awards provide calendar year grants to support local chapter activities that are deemed imaginative and likely to contribute to the strengthening of the SPS program. The program is funded through income from the Sigma Pi Sigma Trust Endowment Fund.
Recipients: 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 & Previous

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  The College of New Jersey

Left to right: Back row: Chaz Ruggieri, Russell Jones, Aliya Merali, Darrick Jones, and Chris Conniff.  Rront row: Justin Nieusma and Rachel Sherman. 

The College of New Jersey

Using Fluorescent Dust to Obtain a Three Dimensional Analysis of a Dusty Plasma Part II

Interim Project Report

To this date, the study of the relatively unknown substances termed ‘dusty plasmas’ is limited by the now antiquated method of two-dimensional laser sheet imaging.  Our goal is to prove the usefulness of a three-dimensional structural imaging system utilizing dust which fluoresces under ultraviolet light.  Ground based studies have shown the method’s potential, and our continued testing for optimization in the laboratory and application in data collection in microgravity environments will allow for strong and conclusive data.

Principal Proposers: Justin Nieusma, Rachel Sherman, Chaz Ruggieri,
   Darrick Jones and Aliya Merali
Chapter Advisor: Dr. Romulo Ochoa


Left to right-front row: Johann D'Souza, Catherine Lepel, Liam Collins, Elise Dinehart, Joe Edison. Second row: Dr. Richard Olenick, Adviser, Arthur Sweeney, Lab Director, Nickolas Wiseman. Back row: Jared Rovny, Eric Bechter, Andrew Bechter, Daniel Fiedorek, Michael Fiedorek, Forrest Statler. Photo by Peter McDonough.

University of Dallas

Extrasolar Planetary Search Using the Transit Method and the Gunnison Valley 30-inch Telescope

Interim Project Report

We propose to undertake searching for and monitoring extrasolar planets by the transit method. A team of ten freshmen physics majors, guided by the SPS Advisor and the Director of Laboratories will use a CCD camera, a dual channel high speed photometer, and the 30-inch Ritchey-Chrétien telescope at the Gunnison Valley Observatory in Gunnison, Colorado. Teams will take data on possible transit candidates during the period May 19 – May 31, 2009.

Principal Proposers: Liam Collins, Elise Dinehart, Johann D'Souza, Daniel
   Fiedorek, Michael Fiedorek, Catherine Lepel, Anthony Lococo, Jared
   Rovny, Forrest Statler and Nicholas Wiseman
Chapter Advisor: Dr. Richard P. Olenick

  Chicago State University
  From left to right: Erika P. Watkins Watkins, Dr. Edmundo Garcia, Dr. Samuel Bowen, Chaan Thomas, Sean Gallardo and Melissa Rangel.
Chicago State University

The Detection of Cosmic Rays at Chicago State University

Interim Project Report | Final Project Report

We propose to construct a detector to measure the rate of cosmic rays at Chicago State University. It will also be used to calibrate and finalize the design of a larger pyramid project to search for hidden chambers within Mesoamerican pyramids. The detector will also be used as an experiment in the advanced lab and for physics outreach.

Principal Proposers: Erica P. Watkins, Sean Gallardo, Melissa Rangel
   and Chaan Thomas
Chapter Advisors: Dr. Samuel Bowen and Dr. Edmundo Garcia

  Northern Virginia Community College

Left to right: Alison Hight, Amr Ibrahim, Douglas Goncz, Nicholas Saavedra, Joshua Handal, Esther Clark, Stephanie Sparks.

Northern Virginia Community College

Experiments in Inductive Magnetic Levitation

Interim Project Report

The aim of this proposal is to experimentally investigate the relative velocity dependence of the repulsive force between a magnetic configuration (a Halbach array) and a system of induction coils, and apply this principle to build a laboratory model of an inductionally levitating magnetic cart. Our goal will be to achieve measurable levitation at the minimal relative speed of the magnetic cart and inductors.

Principal Proposers: Joshua Handal and Stephanie Sparks
Chapter Advisor: Dr. Walerian Majewski

  Augsburg College

Left to right: Tom Lopez, Nate Johnson, Andrew Nguyen and Nick Hudson.

Augsburg College

Development of "Ground Truth" Data Sets for Live Cell Imaging Using Physarum Polycephalum

Interim Project Report

We will digitally record the growth patterns of physarum polycephalum (a common slime mold) in response to different physical stimuli. These measurements will: 1, investigate recent observations suggesting that physarum undergoes chemotaxis in response to vapor phase signaling. 2, contribute to an ongoing collaboration between Drs. Stottrup (Augsburg College) and Halter (NIST) to develop “ground truth” data sets for live cell imaging.

Principal Proposers: Andrew Nguyen, Justin Gyllen, Carl Benson and
   Joe Rossetter
Chapter Advisor: Mark Engebretson
Project Advisor: Ben Stottrup

  Augsburg College

From left to right: Rowan Physics Students working on the system:  Amanda Biggers, Emma Cortes, Maria Garzon, Jimmy Applegate, and Dan Piwowar.

Rowan University

Reconfiguration of a four-cathode sputter deposition chamber for use in an undergraduate research environment

Final Project Report

A thin film deposition system transferred to Rowan University from Argonne National Laboratory will be upgraded to allow high temperature synthesis and deposition of insulating materials making it a more valuable asset to the undergraduate research environment at Rowan. We will test the system by growing Nb2AIC, a material that requires a synthesis temperature of 850 degrees Celsius.

Principal Proposers: James Applegate and Maria Garzon
Chapter Advisor: Sam Lofland
Project Advisor: Jeffrey Hettinger

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