Spring 2011 Newsletter

In this issue:

From the Editor

johnWelcome to the Spring 2011 Newsletter of the New York State Section of the American Physical Society (NYSS-APS). In this issue you will find information about the upcoming Spring 2011 section meeting in Albany and reports on our Spring and Fall 2010 symposia and executive committee meetings at Union College and Hofstra University. Other newsletter articles summarize the history of our past 100+ symposia and list alternative presentation opportunities for undergraduates similar to what our symposia provide. We also report on some summer physics research opportunities for high school students, and LaserFest participation in New York State. Unless otherwise noted all photographs that accompany these articles were taken by your editor. The final section of this newsletter provides information about the 2011 NYSS election, including the biographies and statements of the candidates. Section members will have received an email in late February with instructions on how to record their vote.

For the first time this newsletter has been formatted in html in a way similar to that now used by many other APS units, including DAMOP, DLS and FED. Use the hyperlinks in the table of contents above to navigate to the various sections, and the "back" button on your browser to return to the contents. Alternatively, of course, you can just scroll through the entire document. For those who prefer to read a printed copy, one can be easily obtained by following the "Print" link in the little blue box below the menu at the left. Once you see the printable version, use your browser's command menu to print as much of it as you wish.

We hope that you will take the time to read through the newsletter and that the material in it will prove informative and useful. Please feel free to contact me with any suggestions, comments, questions, or items for inclusion in the next newsletter. Last but not least, I wish to thank the many colleagues who provided material for the newsletter or otherwise assisted with its preparation.

Best regards,

John Noé
Stony Brook University

From the Section Chair

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

Sunil LabrooGreetings! 2010 was another great year for the NY State Section. Our section has grown steadily in the past five years with the membership increasing from 2167 in year 2006, to 2502 as of April, 2010. This makes us the second largest section in APS, comprising about 5.2% of the total APS membership. Having a healthy membership is important because this is what generates our funding, with which we are able to support our biannual symposia, student travel, and outreach grants. There are approximately 4000 APS members who live in NY State but are not affiliated with the NY Section. So we have room to grow even more and I need your help. If you or one of your colleagues is an APS member who has not signed up for the NY Section, please urge them to do so. It does not cost anything and it can be done with the click of a button at: http://aps.org/units/nyss. Please join now!

The New York State Section of the American Physical Society promotes the latest physics and scientific research by bringing together physicists from industry, government laboratories and academia for topical symposia twice a year. Students are welcome and encouraged to attend, for each symposium is intended to be tutorial in nature. We provide travel support for students up to a maximum of $100 per student. Each symposium has a contributed poster session and awards are given for best students' posters. The Section supports outreach activities through grants awarded twice a year.

Two excellent symposia were held in 2010. The spring symposium was held jointly with the New England Section at Union College in Schenectady, NY, on April 23rd and 24th. The topic was "Modern Nuclear Applications." The fall symposium was held at Hofstra University with the theme of "Origins — The Universe, Solar System, and Life". You will find highlights of these meetings elsewhere in the newsletter.

I would also like to draw your attention to our future meetings. The Spring 2011 meeting is scheduled for April 8th and 9th at Albany Nanotech. The topic is "Carbon Electronics". You will find the details of the meeting at nyssaps.org. The fall 2011 meeting will be held jointly with the NY Section of AAPT at SUNY College at Oneonta on October 7th and 8th. The topic is "Interdisciplinary Physics". We look forward to welcoming you at these meetings. Lastly, this is an election year for us. We are looking to fill six members-at-large positions in addition to the Chair and Vice Chair. Included in this newsletter are the CV's and statements of the candidates. I urge you to exercise your right and vote!

Thanks and Best Wishes,

Sunil Labroo
SUNY College at Oneonta

Spring 2011 Symposium and Other Upcoming Meetings


The 104th NYSS Topical Symposium on the "Physics of Carbon Electronics" will take place Friday and Saturday, April 8 and 9, 2011 at the Albany Nanotech Center, Albany, NY. The meeting is hosted by the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) in conjunction with the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights. The organizers are Jim Hannon from IBM and Ji-ung Lee and Carl Ventrice from CNSE. Keynote speakers are Phillip Kim (Columbia University) and Manish Chhowalla (Rutgers University), who will speak on graphene based electronics and the physical and chemical properties of graphene oxide, respectively. There will be several other invited talks on various aspects of graphene and carbon nanotube-based electronics on both days of the meeting. Contributed poster presentations from both undergraduate and graduate students in any area of physics are welcome. A tour of the CNSE complex will be offered during the meeting.

The College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) is a unit of the University at Albany, one of the four University Centers of the State University of New York (SUNY). Its mission is to provide the infrastructure needed to make the Albany area a world-class center for nanotechnolgy research and manufacturing. CNSE granted its first PhD degree in 2004. It now has 48 faculty members and 184 students in a variety of BS, MS and PhD level nanoscale science and engineering programs. The College is a close partnership between academia, state and federal government, and private industry. Its "campus," the Albany NanoTech Complex, is situated on the western side of the main University at Albany campus. The complex contains several state-of-the-art buildings with a total of 800,000 SF of floor area. These facilities provide R&D and prototype manufacturing infrastructure for nano/microelectronics, nanophotonics and optoelectronics, nano/micro systems (MEMS) and nanopower science and technology. Several semiconductor companies have a major presence at the CNSE, including IBM, Tokyo Electron, and Applied Materials. The semiconductor consortium SEMATECH is also headquartered at the CNSE. The entire complex represents a $7 billion investment and supports more than 2,500 R&D jobs on site.

The venue for the meeting is the Nanofab South (NFS) building of the CNSE complex. Several nearby hotels will have rooms reserved for attendees, and there is free parking near the meeting site. The location is close to Exit 24 on the NYS Thruway. Further information about the program, travel and housing, registration, etc will be posted on the NYSSAPS.ORG web site.

Other upcoming meetings. The Fall 2011 Symposium will be held at SUNY College at Oneonta on October 7th and 8th. This will be a joint meeting with AAPT with the theme "Interdisciplinary Physics." The Spring 2012 meeting will be at SUNY at Binghamton, on an energy-related topic. Possible locations for the Fall 2012 meeting are Stony Brook or western NYS.


Fall 2010 Topical Symposium at Hofstra University


The 103rd NYSS Topical Symposium took place at Hofstra University on October 15th and 16th. Hofstra University was pleased to host and help support the meeting as part of its 75th Anniversary celebration. The organizing committee was headed by Harold Hastings, chair of the physics department. Student interest and participation was very high, with 57 students attending. Many of these were part of large groups that traveled from upstate and far western New York and from Worcester, MA, with financial support from the Section. Total attendance of 94 included several local high school teachers.

The theme of the symposium was "Origins — The Universe, Solar System, and Life." Five speakers, including the Banquet and Public Address Speaker, Marcia Bartusiak (MIT), explored the origin of the universe. Bartusiak, an internationally recognized science writer, discussed our understanding of red shift and the expanding universe under the title "The Day We Found the Universe — The Little Known History of How We Came to Recognize the Modern Universe." David Cassidy and Donald Lubowich of Hofstra University spoke about "The Discovery of Black Holes: A Historical Approach" and "Big Bang Nucleosynthesis," respectively. Mei Bai and Raju Venugopalan, both from BNL, gave complementary presentations on the RHIC heavy-ion collider accelerator there and the exciting discoveries it has produced regarding the quark-gluon plasma. Finally, the origins of our solar system was explored by Arlin Crotts (Columbia) and Deane Peterson (Stony Brook) in talks titled "New Light on a New Moon" and "Early on: Eight Planets from Mercury to Uranus ... Uranus?!" The final component of the Origins theme, the origins of life, was discussed by Brett Bennington (Hofstra) and Daniel Wolf Savin (Columbia), who spoke on "Searching for Early Life in Ancient Rock" and "The Genesis Projects: Laboratory Studies in Molecular Astrophysics."

An unrelated invited talk recognized the importance of motivating our best high school students to pursue physics. Peter Guastella of Manhasset High School spoke on his inspiring astronomy research work with such future scientists. His title, and others not given here, can be obtained from the program archive at http://nyssaps.org/Fall2010.

The lively poster session on Friday afternoon featured thirteen presentations, some involving several students. The following three posters were recognized with awards of $100 per student.

  1. Search for Viable Thermoelectric Materials, Anthony Frachioni (Soph), Binghamton University.

  2. Sensitive Dependence on "Conditions" in an Oscillating System: How the "Flap" of a Butterfly's Wings Changes Outcomes, Scott Minchenberg (Sr), Nicole Spinelli (Sr), Keith Zauderer (Sr), Hofstra University.

  3. The Effects of Ambient Processing Conditions on the Exciton Lifetime of Poly 3-hexylthiophene Using Femtosecond Upconversion Flourescence Spectroscopy, Lindsey Klinge (Sr), SUNY College Purchase.

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Large student groups traveled from Oneonta (left) and Fredonia (right).







Poster session at the Hofstra meeting

Fall 2010 Executive Committee Meeting

As usual, the fall 2010 topical symposium was preceded by a meeting of the NYSS Executive Committee, which commenced at 9:00 AM in a second-floor room in the Hofstra student center. The meeting was presided by Sunil Labroo (Chair) and Gianfranco Vidali (Secretary/Treasurer). At-large members present were John Noe, Bruce White, Jay Newman, Jim Hannon, Erica Snow, Jill Linz, and Stacie Nunes. Most of the members absent (Bigelow, Kotlarchyk, Rogers, Galvez, Trauernicht, Cardoso, Pompi) have terms that end February 2011. Harold Hastings, organizer of the Hofstra meeting, was also present.

What follows is a summary of the minutes of this meeting recorded by Gianfranco Vidali and distributed January 2010 to the committee. They have not yet been approved.

  1. The meeting opened with a motion to approve the minutes of the Spring 2010 meeting at Union College. The motion was approved unanimously.
  2. Next Harold Hastings, chair of the Hofstra organizing committee, was introduced. He reported that there were currently 92 registered attendees of which 8-10 were high school teachers, and that 70 banquet tickets had been sold and 13 posters submitted. Hofstra is supporting the meeting by making the facilities in the Student Center available and by subsidizing high school teachers' participation. Some of the travel costs incurred by some of the speakers will also be picked up by Hofstra University. The Symposium is expected to nearly break even.

  3. Bruce White reported on travel grant requests. Twenty students so far asked for support for an estimated total of $1600. There were 10 requests from students from WPI (Mass). Other large student groups from Fredonia and Oneonta also requested and received support.

  4. Poster presentations were next discussed. According to the policy passed October 15, 2004, the judging committee may award up to $600 in all, with not more than $100 to any one person, categories at the discretion of the judges. Given the large number of posters, two ad hoc judging committees were formed, for posters by graduate students and undergraduates, respectively. The graduate posters were judged by Erica Snow and Harold Hastings; the undergraduate posters by Stacey Nunes, Jay Newman and Hofstra representative Christina Lacey.

  5. Gianfranco Vidali reported on finances. Funds on deposit with APS are more than sufficient to cover future meetings, if past trends continue. Our financial situation is better this year than last due to an increase of returns on investments, better control on spending for Symposia, and a decrease in outlays for outreach grants due to fewer proposals submitted.

  6. The nominating committee composed of Bruce White, Jim Hannon, Stacey Nunes, and external member David Kraft, gave its report, which is summarized elsewhere in this newsletter.

  7. The status of the upcoming Albany Symposium and other future meetings was next discussed. This information is summarized elsewhere in the newsletter.

  8. The newsletter was discussed, and it was agreed to publish one newsletter a year, in February. The newsletter was previously handled by Kiko Galvez, whose term ends February 2011. John Noé agreed to assume this responsibility, with assistance from George Cardoso and Erica Snow.

  9. Stacie Nunes and Jill Linz reported that two proposals for outreach grants were received. After some discussion both proposals were approved for the requested amounts. The first was "Optics Suitcase Presentations in Classrooms" by a group from the University of Rochester, $500. The grant would enable an existing program to be extended to additional schools, including inner-city Rochester ones. The second proposal was "The Physics of Hockey-Science Night at the Islanders," by Peter Takacs and others from the Long Island Science Center in Riverhead and Brookhaven National Lab, $998.

  10. Jay Newman gave a final accounting for the Spring 2010 meeting at Union College.

  11. Jill Linz reported that she has videos of the Spring 2009 Rochester Symposium that she is willing to have converted to DVD format.

The meeting adjourned at 12:30 PM.

Spring 2010 Topical Symposium at Union College


Our 102nd Topical Symposium took place at Union College in Schenectady on April 23 and 24, 2010. This was a joint meeting with the New England Section of APS, and it attracted over 120 participants. There were eight invited talks on various aspects of the conference theme Modern Nuclear Applications: Medicine, Power, and Non-proliferation. The after dinner speaker was Mark Walker of the Union College History Department, who discussed ``The German Physical Society and National Socialism.'' The complete meeting program is available at http://nyssaps.org/Spring2010. The local committee was headed by Samuel Amanuel of Union College.

Union College has a famous undergraduate physics department and also a long history of hosting NYS Section meetings. The very first meeting of the Section, well before the current format of topical symposia, took place there in spring 1938. The event is commemorated with a marker in the hallway of the physics department. Union hosted topical symposia related to biophysics in spring 1963 and spring 1978; in spring 1988 the theme was superconductivity. There have also been two past NYSS symposia elsewhere in Schenectady, at the General Electric R&D Laboratory. See the complete list of past NYSS symposia for details.


Plaque commemorating the founding of the NYS Section of APS

There were 13 contributed presentations at the Friday evening poster session. The following posters were recognized with awards of $100 each.

  1. Quartz Detectors for PREX at TJNAF. Aimee Shore, Smith College.

  2. Detecting Single Krypton Atoms. Benjamin Miles, Union College.

  3. Construction of a Pyroelectric Crystal Accelerator. Kevin Bright and Ronald Edwards, USMA West Point.

Poster presentations at the Union College meeting. (Photo by Jay Newman.)

The Symposium was preceded by a meeting of our NYSS Executive Committee; see the following section of this newsletter for a summary of the minutes. Saturday afternoon a few meeting participants stayed on for a tour of the Union College physics department led by department chair Michael Vineyard. The department has a small Van de Graaff accelerator and many interesting hallway exhibits.







Facilities and hallway exhibits in the Union College physics department



Spring 2010 Executive Committee Meeting

The Spring 2010 Executive Committee meeting began at 9:00 AM on April 23rd, presided by Sunil Labroo (Chair) and Gianfranco Vidali (Secretary/Treasurer). At-large members present were David Trauernicht, George Cardoso, John Noe, Bruce White, Jay Newman, Jim Hannon, Erica Snow, and Jill Linz. Members absent were Stacie Nunes, Nick Bigelow, Michael Kotlarchyk, Michael Rogers, and Enrique Galvez.

What follows is a condensed summary of the minutes recorded, and later amended, by Gianfranco Vidali.

  1. The meeting opened with a motion to approve the minutes of the Executive Committee meeting at the 2009 Fall Symposium at Ithaca College, with an amended budget. The motion was approved unanimously.

  2. Next guests Harold Hastings of Hofstra University, and David Kraft and Peter Parker of the New England Section were introduced.

  3. Sunil Labroo announced that Donnell Walton, the vice-chair, had resigned because his workload and schedule didn't allow him to spend the needed amount of time on committee matters. The duties of the vice-chair are taken up by the Executive Committee, as per Bylaws.

  4. Jay Newman (Union College) reported that the meeting had 121 registered attendees; 102 banquet tickets were sold and 13 posters submitted. Union College contributed $2,000 and did not charge for the venue.

  5. Bruce White reported that six students from Oneonta and Syracuse had asked for travel support for an estimated $300. The final amount awarded after verification was $523.

  6. After a brief discussion of the current policy an ad hoc committee comprised of John Noe (Chair), Seyffie Maleki (local representative) and Jill Linz was set up to judge the posters.

  7. Gianfranco Vidali reported on finances. Funds on deposit with APS have increased in the last year due in part to fewer outreach proposals submitted.

  8. Plans for future symposia through spring 2012 were discussed. Harold Hastings reported on preparations for the upcoming meeting at Hofstra University.

  9. The newsletter was discussed, and it was agreed to publish one newsletter a year with reports and pictures from the symposia and outreach programs, and other news relevant to the NYSS membership.

  10. The two outreach proposals received were both approved unanimously after discussion. The Canisius College proposal related to the Pinewood Derby is reported on elsewhere in this newsletter. It received $500. The Committee made the request that the results of the Canisius students' work be disseminated to the general public in as many venues as possible, and that the Cub Scouts be fully involved. The Union College proposal ("Encouraging a Passion for Physics and Astronomy Early on in Schenectady's Youth") was awarded $775.32. Some concerns were expressed about safety issues with the solar telescope, and the proposers were later made aware of them.

  11. The final report on the Fall 2009 meeting at Ithaca College has the total registration at 100, of which 43 were students, 2 retired, and 13 guests. Banquet attendence was 70.

  12. The following individuals are up for re-election in February 2011: the chair, the vice-chair (currently vacant), Nick Bigelow, Kiko Galvez, Jill Linz, Jay Newman, Bodhi Rogers, and Dave Trauernicht. The nominating committee (Bruce White, chair, Jim Hannon and Stacey Nunes) was asked to come up with a list of persons willing to serve.

  13. Committee assignments were reviewed. The Newsletter will be handled by John Noe (chair), George Cardoso, and Erica Snow. Student Support is handled by Bruce White, and Outreach Grants by Stacie Nunes (chair), Jill Linz and Mike Kotlarchyk. Regarding the nyssaps.org webpage, the local host has the option to handle this. Diana Moseman at Oneonta set up the current Web page and can assist.

  14. A motion on the symposium fee structure was made and passed unanimously. Advanced registration: $35 with a deadline a couple of weeks before the meeting; late registration and onsite fee: $45. First come first served method for banquet tickets.

The meeting was adjourned at 11:45 AM.

History of the NYSS-APS Meetings

The semi-annual meetings of the NYS Section of APS date from 1938, when a Spring 1938 meeting at Union College was followed by a Fall 1938 meeting at the University of Rochester. These meetings continued until Fall 1959, when the first meeting with the current Topical Symposium format was held, again at the Univesity of Rochester. A list of all 104 Topical Symposia to date with their locations and themes has been provided by Jill Linz, our NYSS archivist. In formatting this record your editor has shortened some of the titles to make the list more easily viewable and printable. Please send any corrections to Jill Linz and/or John Noé.

Outreach Grants - Physics of the Pinewood Derby

An important NYSS-APS activity is the support we provide for projects that "increase public understanding and appreciation of physics" particularly for K-12 students. Grants are available up to a maximum of $1,000 with some additional funds available for personal expenses. Grant applications are considered at the semi-annual Executive Committee meetings and are due two weeks in advance of these meetings. For furher information visit the APS web page for our unit or contact Stacie Nunes (nuness@newpaltz.edu), chair of the outreach committee.

What follows is a report by Michael Wood from Canisius College, Buffalo, NY, on the Physics of the Pinewood Derby outreach project that he organized and directed. The project received a $500 grant from our section in 2010. Look for a poster by the Canisius College students involved at the upcoming April 2011 section meeting. You can learn more about the Derby from this wiki article or by visiting the official pinewoodderby.org web site.

The Pinewood Derby is an annual Cub Scout event where boys in first through fifth grade race model cars that they design and build themselves. The car kit contains a pine block with four plastic wheels and four nails for axles. The cars can have any shape but cannot exceed 5 oz in weight or 7 inches in length. The cars run down an inclined track and can only be powered by gravity. To a physicist, the Pinewood Derby is a classic, introductory physics problem of gravitational potential energy and kinetic energy with advanced Newtonian mechanics topics of friction and aerodynamics.

The four Canisius College students involved (Michael Lanighan, Robert Makin, John Peterson, and Nicholas Tyler) started by studying the physics of the Pinewood Derby. The group bought a single 35-foot track, about a dozen car kits, and miscellaneous tools to assemble the cars. They placed photogate timers at 1-meter intervals along the track. Two students studied the effect of mass on the speeds of unshaped cars. Their result is that 5 oz (142 g) is the optimal weight. Lighter cars are slowed by air resistance while heavier ones suffer from more friction on the axles. The second two students studied the effect of car shape on performance. They carved various shapes such as a teardrop and wedge (figures below) and compared these cars to an unshaped block. Not surprisingly, the more aerodynamic teardrop is fastest. The wedge suffers from turbulence at its back edge, and the block is slowed by both turbulence at the back and air drag at the front.



Teardrop and wedge shaped test cars. Cars run left to right.

The primary goal of the project was to engage the public. This was done at two events, a meeting of Cub Scout Pack 456 in Amherst, NY and at the Greater Niagara Frontier Council derby on January 29, 2011. At the pack meeting, the students discussed their tests and results with the boys and their parents. They introduced topics of gravity, forces, friction, and aerodynamics on the elementary school level. They passed around their test cars and answered questions. Finally, they set up the track and showed the crowd each test car. The second event was the actual competition between Cub Scout packs from all over the Buffalo area. We set up two posters describing the project and explaining our findings (picture). Numerous parents and scouts read the posters and questioned us. The best questions were those that probed for information beyond our studies, like the best placement of the center of mass or whether three wheels would have less friction than four, thus making a faster car. We explained that experiments lead to new ideas, which lead to new experiments. All in all, we achieved our goal of highlighting and explaining the science in an everyday activity.


Posters by Canisius College physics students on display at the recent Buffalo-area Pine Derby.

Opportunities for Undergraduates

Our NYSS Topical Symposia provide a wonderful opportunity for regional undergraduate physics students to be exposed to a wide range of current physics topics and to meet and network with a variety of physicists and physics teachers who have pursued diverse careers. But there are other related opportunities within New York State that can be just as rewarding, and we describe three of them here.

1) The Rochester Symposium for Physics Students (RSPS) has been sponsored by the department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Rochester for three decades. This Northeast regional undergraduate research conference is held each year, typically in the latter half of the Spring semester. Beginning in 2006 the event has been (and will be) hosted at other regional colleges every third year. Symposia participants have come from a wide range of regional institutions, including: the SUNY Colleges at Albany, Brockport, Binghamton, Fredonia, Oswego and Plattsburgh; Allegheny College; Canisius College; Colgate University; Houghton College; RPI; Union College, and West Point. Presentations have covered topics in condensed matter physics, atomic physics and optics, computational physics, astronomy, high-energy physics, instrumentation and techniques, and environmental physics.

The thirtieth (XXX) RSPS symposium will be held Saturday, April 9, 2011 on the University of Rochester campus. The deadline for submitting a 200-word abstract is March 17th. For further information, visit the RSPS web site or contact Janet Fogg-Twichell at (585) 275-6679 or janf@pas.rochester.edu.

Note that this year's RSPS coincides with the second day of our NYSS meeting. Our poster session will be late Friday afternoon, so in principle undergraduates could participate in both events.


Sixty students participated in the 2009 RSPS at West Point (photo from RSPS web site)

2) The Syracuse University Physics Department holds an "Undergraduate Research Day and Open House" each fall. The event provides a forum for regional undergraduate physics majors to present their research, meet other physics undergraduates, and learn about the Syracuse graduate physics program. There are student talks and poster sessions, presentations from Syracuse faculty on their research, and lab tours. Student participants enjoy a complimentary lunch and dinner, and pay no registration fee. Some support is also available for overnight lodging. Unlike the other two opportunities described here, at the present time participant abstracts are not published.

The 2010 Research Day on October 30th was the fifth such annual event. It attracted twenty-three students and two faculty from nine institutions across NYS. (This attendance was down from the record sixty students the previous year, probably due to the choice of date.) The event opened with a talk by Carolina Ilie from SUNY College at Oswego, who discussed career opportunities for physics majors and the decisions they face upon moving into the next phase of their career. Contact Matt LaHaye for information about future events.


Research Day at Syracuse University (photo by Matt LaHaye)

3) The Symposium on Undergraduate Research is held in conjunction with the annual Frontiers in Optics (FiO) joint meeting of the Optical Society of America (OSA) and the Division of Laser Science of the American Physical Society (APS-DLS). The events are organized by Harold Metcalf at Stony Brook University, who was DLS chair for 2005–2006. The tenth annual Symposium was held at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center in Rochester, NY on Monday afternoon, October 25, 2010. Forty-five undergraduates and one high school student participated in a poster session and two consecutive oral sessions. The afternoon began with a participants' box lunch at which several well-known scientists spoke informally with the students. Students and mentors also had an opportunity to network at buffet dinners on Sunday and Monday evenings.

The Symposia provide a valuable opportunity for undergraduates to present their optics-related research to an audience of peers in the context of a professional conference. The relatively late (early September) deadline for submitting an abstract allows recent summer research to be included. Abstracts are distributed to all FiO conference participants and are also archived online. For the forseeable future the events will take place in Rochester on even years and at a west-coast location (San Jose) on odd years. Pictures and programs from past symposia are available at the DLS and LTC web sites.


Group photo (courtesy H. Metcalf) from the tenth annual Symposium on Undergraduate Research

Opportunities for High School students

We should not forget that research and presentation opportunities for high school students are also important for promoting physics. See below for several full-time summer physics research programs available to NYS high school students. There are many other opportunities for shorter experiences — please let your editor know of them so they can be included in the next newsletter.

  • The Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE). The LLE has an annual eight-week summer research program for Rochester-area high school students who have just completed their junior year. Students work on projects related to the laboratory's powerful fusion lasers, supervised by a staff scientist. At the end of the program they present their results at an LLE symposium and in written reports. Students receive a stipend but must commute to the program. There were 16 participants in both 2009 and 2010.

  • The Albany Nanotech Center. CNSE offers summer internships for high school students on a case-by-case basis. Contact Diana Dumisnil (dmartin@uamail.albany.ed) for further information.

  • The Simons Summer Research Program. The Simons program at Stony Brook provides a wide range of research opportunities for about thirty high school students who have just completed their junior year. Students receive a $1000 award and may elect to live on campus during the seven-week program. The mid-January application deadline has already passed for this year. Contact Karen Kernan, program director, for further information.

  • The Stony Brook Laser Teaching Center (LTC). The LTC provides summer research opportunities for a few high school students both within the Simons program and otherwise. Students create individualized projects related to lasers and optics and describe them in online journals and reports. Contact John Noé for further information.

  • Brookhaven National Laboratory HSRP. BNL offers a six-week High School Research Program open to students who have completed 11th grade. It is a non-residential program, and preference is given to Suffolk County residents. This year's application deadline is April 15, 2011. See the web site for further information.

LaserFest in New York State

LaserFest was the year-long celebration throughout 2010 to mark the 50th anniversary of the birth of the laser in 1960. The effort was a collaboration between the APS, OSA, SPIE and the IEEE Photonics Society. The LaserFest web site at http://LaserFest.org will remain in operation for the next several years.

The Faces in Laser Science portion of the LaserFest web site has fascinating and inspiring profiles of twenty individuals who contributed to the development of laser science. The stories of their varied careers are a must-read for today's physics students, especially women and minorities. Those profiled include two individuals currently based in New York State, Enrique (Kiko) Galvez from Colgate University and Harold Metcalf from Stony Brook. The LaserFest technical advisory committee also had one member from New York State, Robert Boyd of the University of Rochester (and now also the University of Ottawa).

One of the main LaserFest projects at APS was LaserFest on the Road, in which 38 teams from around the world received up to $10,000 each for laser-related outreach. One of these teams was led by Stephen Jacobs from the OSA Rochester Section, who is affiliated with the Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE). Their effort titled "Laser Experiments, Addition to the Optics Suitcase" added simple laser activities to the well-known Optics Suitcase outreach kit. [An unrelated outreach project based on the traditional Optics Suitcase is supported by a grant from our NYS Section, approved at the Fall 2010 meeting.]

As described in this article in Photonics Online LaserFest activities included running a video show about lasers on a 520-square-foot screen in Times Square, New York City. According to the article more than 1.5 million people were expected to see the display during its month-long run in December.


LaserFest display in Times Square (photo provided by James Roche, APS)

Other LaserFest events in New York State included a Workshop on Optics and Photonics Education at Monroe Community College in Rochester in February, a LIGO-on-View event in New York City in June, and a public outreach event at Stony Brook University on the afternoon and evening of November 9th.

The Stony Brook LaserFest celebration was organized by Harold Metcalf, former chair of APS-DLS, and Abhay Deshpande, undergraduate program director for Physics and Astronomy. It was supported by the Simons Foundation through the Laser Teaching Center and by the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Nineteen posters on laser-related research by high school, undergraduate and graduate students were on display for the duration of the event, and detailed abstracts of the posters were published in a booklet given to attendees. A related afternoon event at a nearby location was a physics colloquium by Stony Brook faculty member Dominik Schneble on Bose-Einstein condensation, one of many fields of research made possible by lasers.

While the "bright spots" of the Stony Brook LaserFest were the two laser light shows by a professional team from Prismatic Magic, its "stars" were honored guests Rebecca (Becky) Thompson-Flagg and Samuel (Laser Sam) Goldwasser. Thompson-Flagg heads a public outreach group at APS that creates, among many other things, educational comic-books for pre-teen students. The 2009 series featured a female super-hero, Spectra, that the comic-book artist modeled after her. Becky took advantage of this to appear at numerous public events dressed as the Spectra character. Laser Sam Goldwasser is the creator of Sam's Laser FAQ, a well-known internet resource. He collaborated with Alex Triano, a Stony Brook freshman and laser hobbyist, on a display of lasers and laser-based devices that operated for the duration of the Stony Brook LaserFest. Goldwasser and Triano have both been quoted in two recent New York Times articles on laser safety. They are shown in the picture below with Becky Thompson-Flagg, in her Spectra costume.


"Laser Sam" Goldwasser, Spectra, and Alex Triano at Stony Brook's LaserFest event

Spring 2011 Election

The current makeup of the Executive Committee is as follows. Terms of office expire on May 1st of the year indicated. The outgoing Chair serves as APS Council Observer for a two-year term.

Sunil Labroo (SUNY Oneonta) [2009–2011]

(Currently vacant)

Gianfranco Vidali (Syracuse University) [2009–2013]

Council Observer
Robert Pompi (SUNY Binghampton) [2009–2011]

Nicholas Bigelow (University of Rochester) [2007–2011]

George Cardoso (XEROX Webster Research Center) [2009–2011]

Enrique (Kiko) Galvez (Colgate University) [2007–2011]

James Hannon (IBM TJ Watson Research Center) [2009–2013]

Michael Kotlarchyk (Rochester Institute of Technology) [2009–2013]

Jill Linz (Skidmore College) [2007–2011]

Jay Newman (Union College) [2007–2011]

John Noé (Stony Brook University) [2009–2013]

Stacie Nunes (SUNY New Paltz) [2009–2013]

Michael (Bodhi) Rogers(Ithaca College) [2009–2011]

Erica Snow (SUNY Fredonia) [2009–2013]

David Trauernicht (Kodak R & D) [2007–2011]

Bruce White (Binghamton University) [2009–2013]

The nominating committee includes three section members-at-large: Bruce White (chair), Jim Hannon and Stacey Nunes. There is an additional, external member, David Kraft, who was nominated by the Executive Director of APS, Kate Kirby. Kraft is past chair of the New England Section and a current member of the NYSS.

There is an unusual situation this year due to the resignation of vice-chair Donnell Walton (Corning) last year. Normally the vice-chair would move up to the chair position, but this cannot occur this year. Fortunately Sunil Labroo has agreed to serve an additional term as chair, and Michael (Bodhi) Rogers, currently a member-at-large, has agreed to run for vice-chair. Secretary-treasurer Gianfranco Vidali was elected in 2009 to a four-year term that ends Feb. 2013.

There are a total of seven candidates for the six at-large positions to be filled. Current members Jill Linz (Skidmore), Jay Newman (Union College), and David Trauernicht (Kodak) have agreed to stand for re-election. The new nominees are Harold Hastings (Hofstra University), Scott Heinekamp (Wells College), Carl Ventrice (SUNY-Albany), and Michael Wood (Canisius College).

You will have already received an email announcement from Gianfranco that contains a link to the APS election site. The same biographies and statements from the candidates given there can also be reached by clicking on their names below. Use the "back" button on your browser to return to the newsletter. The election will be open until March 26th. Please take the time to become familiar with the candidates and cast your vote.

Candidates for Chair and Vice-chair (unopposed)

Candidates for Member-at-Large († denotes current member)

The articles found in this issue of the New York State Section of the American Physical Society Newsletter represent solely the views of the editor and authors and not necessarily the views of the APS.