Sunday, April 11, 2010

ACS - San Francisco

I've been a bit busy for the past three weeks, and am only now getting the photos from our visit to San Francisco off my camera.  In late March, a group of students and faculty from the Chemistry department attended the National American Chemical Society meeting.  I think this year we might have had the largest group ever from CSU to attend a national meeting, with 5 students giving poster presentations and seven faculty along for the ride.  Dr. Rivas and I were able to break our travel curse, and we are thankful for that.  (For those of you who don't know, all of American Airline's MD80 planes were grounded on the day we were to return to Chicago from the 2008 ACS meeting in New Orleans.  It turned out to be quicker to drive back, so Dr. Rivas and I did our own Blues Brothers road trip with a few of the students in the back seat.)  In any case, here are a few shots from the poster sessions:

Quiana presented our recent work on making a new copper based photosensitizer for Dye Sensitized Solar Cells.
Rachel begging Dr. Rivas that he make sure I don't choose the restaurants anymore.  (Rachel loves spicy Thai.)
Amanda and Latris had some good foot traffic during their poster session, and they made it very clear they wanted me to do something other than take pictures while they were talking shop... did Dr. Kanis, when I spotted him speaking with CSU alum Alan, who is currently working in Robert Grubbs' group at Cal Tech.
Gilbert didn't even notice I was taking his picture, as he was too focused on speaking about his molecular modeling of cobalt catalysts.  All in all, it was pretty clear that I was no longer needed and that our students were doing a great job representing CSU and showing off what our school has to offer.  So, I played hooky the last day and visited the aquarium, where I could hang out with other ... stars.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

On Physics students and conferences....

In February, the Chicago State Group made the trip from the snow and cold of Chicago to the snow and cold of Washington, DC to attend the 2010 Joint meeting of the American Physical Society and the American Association of Physics Teachers.  Six students, and two faculty members from CSU attended the meeting and presented their work in SPS Outreach (Erica), Nuclear High Energy Physics (Neli and Macario) and Physics Education Research (Virginia, Sean and Geraldine).  This was the largest group CSU had ever brought to the meeting.  Professors Garcia and Sabella made arrangements for flights and hotel rooms and remarkably everyone arrived in DC, in the snow, without a glitch – kind of. 

The entire CSU group stayed at the Normandy Hotel which had espresso machines and provided great opportunities for exercise that involved hiking over mounds of snow, and sliding along icy paths on the bridge over Rock Creek Park to get to the conference.   

Sunday was the first big day with all the students sleeping late and missing Dr. Garcia’s Sunday morning APS talk.  Later in the afternoon, Sean and Virginia missed the bus to their workshop with the Physics Education Group from the University of Washington but got there in time by trekking through the snowy streets of DC.   Sunday night was Erica’s poster about the work she completed last summer during her internship at SPS.  Monday was a big day with Macario and Neli presenting their research during the SPS research session.  Their work, partially funded by two SPS research grants involved detecting cosmic rays at CSU.  On Monday night, Virginia presented her poster on a new Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) course we did last summer for Chicago area teachers.   Tuesday, Sean presented his work on assessing the effectiveness of new instructional techniques CSU is using in our introductory physics classes.  CSU’s last talk was Wednesday morning with Geraldine driving 5 hours on Tuesday night, presenting her talk Wednesday morning on collaboration in the physics class, getting back in her car and driving another 5 hours to get back to her job at the Science House in NC.

 It was fun to bring a big group to the meeting.  We believe that going away to a conference is one of the ways you can instill excitement and help students appreciate the life of scientists and science educators and help them understand and appreciate the diverse work being done by the physics community.  Once we all got back to our homes it was back to classes and work … until the next conference.  (CSU Physics, photos taken by Sean Gallardo)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Spreading the word about Solar Science

This past Friday, Quiana Moore ('09) participated in CIMBY's Environmental Leadership Workshop.  CIMBY (Calumet Is My Back Yard) is a result of community advocacy in the late 1990's that promoted the use of extracurricular programming to increase awareness of and responsibility for the fragile beauty of the Calumet area.  Today, CIMBY combines leadership training, ecology, and stewardship into environmental restoration projects that City of Chicago high school students can participate in as part of their 40-hour service learning requirement.

Quiana spent the morning with three groups of 15 students each and discussed with them her research on designing dye sensitized solar cells (DSSCs).  Funded by the Department of Defense, Army Research Lab, Quiana's research is part of a bigger solar cell collaborative between Chicago State and American Science and Technology to develop flexible solar cells for portable power generation.  When Quiana told the students that the work she is doing may one day allow for solar-cell fabrics to be woven in to clothing and apparel, the students became excited about being able to charge their cell phones while walking down the street.

After learning a bit about the components of the DSSC, the students broke up in to smaller groups to discuss how the devices are made now, and what advances need to be made to reach our goal of flexible solar cells.  They quickly learned that a lot of improvements need to be made, and only through collaboration between multiple research groups can these advancements be achieved in a reasonable amount of time.

Kudos to Quiana for showing off Cougar Science and at the same time getting local high school students interested in their education!