Science & Technology

Resor, Seixas ’10 Co-Author Paper on Structural Mapping of Hualapai Limestone

Phil Resor, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, and Gus Seixas ’10 are co-authors of “Constraints on the evolution of vertical deformation and Colorado River incision near eastern Lake Mead, Arizona, provided by quantitative structural mapping of the Hualapai Limestone,” published in the February 2015 issue of Geosphere, Vol. 11, pages 31-49. The paper includes research from Seixas’s honors thesis at Wesleyan.

In this study, the authors quantify the structural geometry of Hualapai Limestone, which was deposited in a series of basins that lie in the path of the Colorado River. The limestone was deformed by by a fault pair known as the Wheeler and Lost Basin Range faults.

Steinberg ’16 Studies Effects of Artificial Feeders on Hummingbird Diversity, Interactions in Costa Rica

Hannah Steinberg '16 studied hummingbirds in Monteverde, Costa Rica  through the School for Field Studies.

Hannah Steinberg ’16 studied hummingbirds in Monteverde, Costa Rica through the School for Field Studies.

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In this Q&A, we speak with Hannah Steinberg from the Class of 2016.

Q: Hannah, you studied abroad through the School for Field Studies’ (SFS) Costa Rica program in Spring 2014. Why did you choose this program and why did you decide to conduct research during your study abroad experience?

A: I chose SFS Costa Rica because I wanted to go to Latin America to improve my Spanish skills and get practical hands-on experience in biological science. Another cool part of the program was that it was situated on a sustainable orange and mango farm in central Costa Rica, but also took us on field trips around the country, and even to Nicaragua for a week.

Q: You were one of six students to receive SFS’s Distinguished Student Research Award this month. Please tell us about your research project, “Effect of Artificial Feeders on Hummingbird Diversity and Level of Interactions in Monteverde, Costa Rica.”

A: My research project was part of an ongoing study of the ecology of hummingbirds

Singer’s Caterpillar Defense Studies Published in Ecology, Entomology Journals

In a recent study, Associate Professor Mike Singer compared 41 caterpillar species to show the link between dietary breadth and vulnerability to predators.

Mike Singer

Mike Singer, associate professor of biology, associate professor of environmental studies, is the co-author of several recently-published papers. They include:

Thee struggle for safety: effectiveness of caterpillar defenses against bird predation,” is in press and will appear in the April 2015 issue of Oikos. This article shows how the camouflaged or bold appearance of a caterpillar can protect it from predatory birds in Connecticut forests. Former BA/MA student, Isaac Lichter-Marck ’11, ’12, is the first author of this article.

Defensive mixology: Combining acquired chemicals toward defense,” is published in Functional Ecology, 2015. This article proposes a conceptual framework to study the use of natural drug cocktails by animals and plants. Peri Mason Ph.D. ’12 is the first author of this article.

The global distribution of diet breadth in insect herbivores,” is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 2015. This article reports a common mathematical distribution that describes the range of dietary specificity of plant-feeding insects around the world. This research is an international collaboration among many ecologists.

Ecological immunology mediated by diet in herbivorous insects,” published in Integrative and Comparative Biology 54, pages 913-921, 2015. This article proposes a conceptual framework to study how diet influences the immune system in plant-feeding insects, such as caterpillars. Peri Mason Ph.D. ’12 co-authored this article.

Enemy-free space for parasitoids,” published in Environmental Entomology 43, pages 1,465-74, 2014. This article uses three case studies to argue that parasitic insects show a signature of adaptation to predation pressure, which has been an overlooked agent of evolution for parasites.

And “A mixed diet of toxic plants enables increased feeding and anti-predator defense by an insect herbivore,” published in Oecologia 176, pages 477-486, 2014. This article shows evidence that woolly bear caterpillars benefit in two ways from a diet that includes multiple toxic plant species. First, the caterpillars eat more food overall so they grow larger. Second, they become more deterrent to their predators. Peri Mason Ph.D. ’12 is the first author of this article.

Northrop Co-Authors Paper with Middletown Student

Brian Northrop, assistant professor of chemistry, is the co-author of several new papers including:

Preparation and Analysis of Cyclodextrin-Based Metal-Organic Frameworks: Laboratory Experiments Adaptable for High School through Advanced Undergraduate Students,” published in Journal of Chemical Education 92, pages 368-372, 2015. Samantha Angle, a Middletown High School student working in Northrop’s lab, co-authored the paper. (See cover at left.)

Rational Synthesis of Bis(hexyloxy)-Tetra(hydroxy)-Triphenylenes and their Derivatives,” published in RSC Advances 4, pages 38,281-392 in 2014;

Vibrational Properties of Boroxine Anhydride and Boronate Ester Materials: Model Systems for the Diagnostic Characterization of Covalent Organic Frameworks,” published in Chemistry of Materials 26, pages 3,781-95 in 2014;

And “Allyl-Functionalized Dioxynaphthalene[38]Crown-10 Macrocycles: Synthesis, Self-Assembly, and Thiol-Ene Functionalization,” published in Chemistry—A European Journal 20, pages 999-1,009 in 2014.

Novick’s Papers Focus on van der Walls Complex, Trifluoroanisole Water

Stewart Novick

Stewart Novick

Stewart Novick, chair and professor of chemistry, is the co-author of several papers published in 2014. They include:

“The microwave spectra and structure of the argon-cyclopentanone and neon-cyclopentanone van der Waals complexes,” published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry A 118, pages 856-861;

“The shape of trifluoromethoxybenzene,” published in the Journal of Molecular Spectroscopy 297, pages 32-34;

“Fluorination effects on the shapes of complexes of water with ethers: a rotational study of trifluoroanisole-water,” published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry, A 118, pages 1,047-51;

“Measurement of the J = 1 – 0 pure rotational transition in excited vibrational states of X 1Σ Thorium (II) Oxide,” Journal of Molecular Spectroscopy, 302, 1-2;

And “H2 AgCl: a spectroscopic study of a dihydrogen (metal halide complexes with hydrogen) complex,” published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry, 141, 114306.

Frisch Published in Multiple Chemistry Journals, Publications

Michael Frisch

Michael Frisch

Michael Frisch, research professor of in chemistry, is the co-author of many articles published in 2014.

They include: “Analytical harmonic vibrational frequencies for the green fluorescent protein computed with ONIOM: Chromophore mode character and its response to environment,” published in the Journal of Chemical Theory and Computation, 10, pages 751-766;

“Quantum calculations in solution for large to very large molecules: A new linear scaling QM/continuum approach,” published in the Journal of Physical Chemical Letters, 5, pages 953-958;

“Density of states guided Møller-Plesset perturbation theory,” published in the Journal of Chemical Theory and Computation, 10, pages 1,910-14;

“Practical auxiliary basis implementation of Rung 3.5 functionals,” published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry, 141, 034103;

“A computational protocol for modeling thermochromic molecular crystals: salicylidene aniline as a case study,” published in the Journal of Chemical Theory and Computation, 10, pages 5,577-85;

“Assessment of low-scaling approximations to the equation of motion coupled-cluster singles and doubles equations,” the Journal of Physical Chemistry, 141, 164116;

“Quantum, classical and hybrid QM/MM calculations in solution: General implementation of the ddCOSMO linear scaling strategy,” published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry, 141, 184108;

“Ab initio non-relativistic spin dynamics,” published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry, 141, 214111;

And “How far do electrons delocalize?,” published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry. 141, 144104.

Wesleyan’s “Observatory Nights” Featured on Local Media

The Van Vleck Observatory on Foss Hill.

The Van Vleck Observatory on Foss Hill.

The Hartford Courant and WNPR both featured stories on Wesleyan’s “observatory nights,” which began this month. Every Wednesday night at 8 p.m. during the Spring semester, the Van Vleck Observatory will open its doors to the public, rain or shine, for viewing of the sky through telescopes and presentations on the latest space-related research.

According to the Courant, Research Assistant Professor of Astronomy Roy Kilgard said the department is seeking to supplement its outreach to groups already interested and involved in science with new sessions for people who may not have a high level of knowledge about space and astronomy.

“We’re really trying to grow it beyond looking through the telescopes,” Kilgard said.

Meredith Hughes, assistant professor of astronomy, works with students on a small radio telescope, located on the roof of the Van Vleck Observatory.

Meredith Hughes, assistant professor of astronomy, works with students on a small radio telescope, located on the roof of the Van Vleck Observatory.

Assistant Professor of Astronomy Meredith Hughes told WNPR:

“It’s actually pretty amazing that in the middle of a city, we can see a ton of beautiful things in the night sky.”

“For example, tonight,” Hughes said, “our list of cool objects to observe — if the weather is good enough — includes Jupiter; the Orion nebula, which is a million years old — which sounds old, but is actually very young in stellar terms — a stellar nursery where stars are being born; we have the Beehive Cluster, which is a cluster of stars that is relatively recently formed; and the Andromeda Galaxy, the closest neighbor galaxy to our own.”

Beginning Feb. 20, there will also be special “Kids’ Nights” on the first and third Friday of every month where topics will be tailored for children, according to the Courant. Graduate student Jesse Shanahan will run the kids program, which will cover topics including the life cycle of a star, black holes, comets and an introduction to our solar system.

Wesleyan Physics Lab, U.S. Air Force Partner on Groundbreaking Research

Graduate student Eleana Makri and Tsampikos Kottos, the Douglas J. and Midge Bowen Bennet Associate Professor of Physics, work on reflective optical limiter research Feb. 3. (Photo by Hannah Norman '16)

Graduate student Eleana Makri and Tsampikos Kottos, the Douglas J. and Midge Bowen Bennet Associate Professor of Physics, work on reflective optical limiter research Feb. 3. (Photo by Hannah Norman ’16)

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Graduate student Eleana Makri and Tsampikos Kottos, the Douglas J. and Midge Bowen Bennet Associate Professor of Physics, work on reflective optical limiter research Feb. 3. (Photo by Hannah Norman '16)

Makri and Kottos review their power limiter research.

For many years, pilots in the Air Force, scientists conducting research with high-powered lasers, and others have struggled to protect their eyes and sensitive equipment from being damaged by intense laser pulses. In many cases, this was achieved by intense power filters, which offered protection, but self-destructed. Now they have a solution, which provides protection without damaging the filters themselves, thanks to a research collaboration between the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and a team of researchers in Wesleyan’s Physics Department.

The research, led by Tsampikos Kottos, the Douglas J. and Midge Bowen Bennet Associate Professor of Physics, is included in the just-released U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research 2014 Technical Strategic Plan. The document is published on the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) webpage.

Previous attempts at a solution focused on creating gradually darkening sunglasses to protect the wearer’s eyes when s/he steps into bright sunlight, but return quickly to their normal state when indoors. However, no version could darken quickly enough to protect the wearer from short laser pulses.

As described in the Technical Strategic Plan,

CS Major Gansley ’15 Hopes to Use Programming Skills to Help with Good Causes

As a service-learning project, Alicia Gansley '15 helped create a web application for the Green Street Teaching and Learning Center. Gansley enjoys writing programs from the comfort of the Science Library. "This is where you're usually find me," she said.

As a service-learning project, Alicia Gansley ’15 helped create a web application for the Green Street Teaching and Learning Center. Gansley enjoys writing programs from the comfort of the Science Library. “This is where you’ll usually find me,” she said.

#THISISWHY
In this Q&A meet Alicia Gansley from the Class of 2015. (Story by Rosy Capron ’14, civic engagement fellow at Wesleyan’s Allbritton Center.)

Q: Alicia, what are you majoring in?

A: I’m majoring in computer science and I’m also completing the economics minor and Civic Engagement Certificate.

Gansley discusses her recent programming project with Kristie Cruz '15.)

Gansley discusses her recent programming project with Kristie Cruz ’15.)

Q: Last fall, you brought your programming knowledge to COMP 342: Software Engineering, a service-learning course where groups of computer science majors develop special projects for local organizations. Tell us more about your project.

A: My group made a web application for Green Street Teaching and Learning Center to use to sign students up for one of its after school programs. Our system will allow Green Street to collect students’ contact information and course preferences, as well as allow the staff to keep track of this information throughout the semester.

Q: How did the experience of working on a project for an organization differ from working on a project for a typical academic course? Were there unexpected rewards and challenges that came with having a client?

A: It was a real pleasure working closely with Sara MacSorley at Green Street and learning more about their facility and programs. Part of what struck me about working on a project for a client was the fact that you can never just say “90 percent is enough.” We needed to always figure out some way to meet their specifications, which I think pushed the team to really learn and work together.

Huwel, Morgan Investigate Dynamics of Laser-Induced Sparks in Helium

Lutz Huwel, professor of physics, and Thomas Morgan, the Foss Professor of Physics, are the co-authors of an article titled “Investigating the dynamics of laser induced sparks in atmospheric helium using Rayleigh and Thomson scattering,” published in the Journal of Applied Physics, Volume 117 in January 2015.

The paper describes the use of two laser systems to prepare and study a helium plasma, and draws on an extensive international collaboration. The electron density and temperature of the plasma are measure as a function of time and space with high precision. The work has important impact in the area of laser induced breakdown spectroscopy and to the spectral line shape scientific community.