Spring 2013 Newsletter

In this issue:

From the Section Chair

Sunil Labroo photoDear Colleagues and Friends,

Greetings! It has been two years since the publication of our last newsletter. How time flies! The NY Section has had another two outstanding years, the highlights of which we hope to bring to you in this issue. First, the membership. APS maintains statistical data related to its units at http://www.aps.org/membership/units/statistics.cfm. The chart below shows how our membership has held steady in the past five years, almost tracking the national trend. Our section makes up approximately 5.2% of the APS membership, thus making us one of the four largest sections.

Having a healthy membership is important because this is what generates our funding, with which we are able to run our biannual symposia, support students, teachers, and retirees, and fund outreach grants. We have room to grow however. There are approximately 4000 APS members who live in NY state but only 2500 of those are affiliated with the NY section. If you or one of your colleagues is an APS member who has not signed up for the NY section, please do this, or urge them to do so, now. Joining a section is free and it can be done with the click of a button at: http://www.aps.org/units/nyss. Please join now!

Bar chart how NYSS membership has held steady in the past five years, almost tracking the national trend

The New York Section promotes the latest physics and scientific research by bringing together physicists from industry, government laboratories and academia for topical symposia twice a year at a variety of locations around New York State. Students at all levels are most welcome and are strongly encouraged to register and attend, for each symposium is intended to be tutorial in nature. Students can register for a modest fee and we provide travel support for students up to $100 per student. Each symposium has a contributed poster session and cash awards are given for the best student posters; the amount of these awards has recently been increased. The Section also supports outreach activities through grants awarded twice a year. We now offer three outreach grants for a maximum of $1000 per grant. More information can be found on the APS-NYSS web site.

Several excellent symposia were held in the last two years. You will find highlights from each elsewhere in the newsletter. I would also like to draw your attention to our spring meeting. It will be hosted by Wells College in the beautiful Finger Lakes region on April 19th and 20th. The topic is “Recent Advances in Physics.” Please register early. We look forward to seeing you there.

This year is once again an election year for us. We are looking to fill seven Executive Committee member-at-large positions in addition to the Secretary Treasurer and Vice Chair (Chair Elect). One of the open positions was caused by an early resignation. Our nominating committee has worked hard to put together an excellent slate. I urge you to participate and vote! Please also consider running for a position on the executive board at our next election two years from now.

Lastly, my tenure as chair of the NYS Section ends after the spring symposium. The Section remains in the hands of some very capable and dedicated people. Serving as chair was a great learning experience for me and I have enjoyed working with this group immensely. I would like to thank all of you who I have had the privilege of meeting and working with, and I look forward to continuing to serve our section in other ways.

Best Wishes,

Sunil Labroo
SUNY College at Oneonta

Spring 2013 Symposium

NYSS Recent Advances in Physics banner

Our 108th Topical Symposium will be hosted by Wells College in Aurora, NY on April 19th and 20th. Aurora is located on the east shore of Cayuga Lake about mid-way between Auburn and Ithaca, and around 25 miles south of the NYS Thruway. Physics has enjoyed some major breakthroughs of late, both evolutionary and revolutionary, and so the conference organizers have chosen the theme “Recent Advances in Physics.” The meeting will feature a session on the recent experimental confirmation of the Higgs boson, with a keynote talk by Carl Hagan of the University of Rochester, who with two other theorists predicted the Higgs boson in a famous 1967 Physical Review Letter. There will also be talks on advances in materials physics and medical/health physics, and on careers and outreach.

Further information about the program, travel and housing, registration, etc will be posted on the NYSSAPS.org web site as it becomes available.

Past meetings

A complete list of past NYSS meetings, which in their current form date from 1959, was compiled for our 2011 Newsletter and may be found on the APS web site at www.aps.org/units/nyss/meetings. It is interesting to see how the themes of the meetings have evolved over more than five decades! Also available at the same APS web page is a map of past meeting locations from 1977 to 1999.

Since Fall 2009 the upcoming meetings have been announced on the Section’s “unofficial” web site at NYSSAPS.org. These announcements have been archived on the same web site as NYSSAPS.org/Fall2009 etc. Follow the links below to access this archived information - which includes the complete programs of talks presented - for the most recent past four Symposia.

Gray Arrow 104th Symposium, Spring 2011, CNSE, Albany

Gray Arrow 105th Symposium, Fall 2011, SUNY College at Oneonta

Gray Arrow 106th Symposium, Spring 2012, Binghamton University

Gray Arrow 107th Symposium, Fall 2012, Canisius College

Spring 2011 Meeting

Our 104th Topical Symposium on the “Physics of Carbon Electronics” was held April 8-9, 2011 at the Albany Nanotech Center. The meeting was hosted and supported in part by the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) in conjunction with the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights. The organizers were Ji-ung Lee and Carl Ventrice from CNSE and Jim Hannon from IBM. Keynote speakers were Phillip Kim (Columbia University) and Manish Chhowalla (Rutgers University), who spoke on graphene-based electronics and the physical and chemical properties of graphene oxide, respectively. The lively Friday evening talk featured Alain Kaloyeros, CEO of CNSE. The high point of the meeting for many was the tour of the $7 billion nanotech fabrication facility on Saturday.

CNSE nano-fabrication facility

CNSE nano-fabrication facility

Student poster event
Student poster event


Fall 2011 Meeting

Our 105th Topical Symposium was held October 7-8, 2011, at SUNY College at Oneonta. The theme “Superconductivity and Applications” was chosen to celebrate the 100th year of the discovery of superconductivity. This was a joint meeting with the NYS Section of AAPT, and AAPT conducted a PTRA workshop for high school teachers on Saturday. The symposium was attended by approximately 120 students, academics, high school teachers, engineers, and physicists from around the state. Nine distinguished speakers delivered talks on the history, recent advances, and many applications of superconductivity. The highlight of the symposium was the after-dinner lecture by the 1973 Physics Nobel Laureate Dr. Ivar Giaever. There were seven student poster presentations and three of those won cash awards. The symposium was supported in part by funds from the SUNY Oneonta Provosts office and SuperPower Inc., a Schenectady based company.


Erika Snow once again brought a large group of Fredonia students

Keynote speaker: Dr Ivar Giaever (1973 Nobel Prize)

Student poster award winners (L to R):Phillip Arndt (SUNY Fredonia) Anthony Frachioni (SUNY Binghamton) Scott Suriano (SUNY Oneonta)

Student poster award winners (L to R):Phillip Arndt (SUNY Fredonia) Anthony Frachioni (SUNY Binghamton) Scott Suriano (SUNY Oneonta)

Keynote speaker: Dr Ivar Giaever (1973 Nobel Prize)


Spring 2012 Meeting

Following a fall that saw devastating flooding in upstate New York, the 106th Topical Symposium of the NYSS-APS took place at Binghamton University April 20-21, 2012. Over 110 people participated. The symposium topic was Energy Materials and it featured invited talks on materials issues associated with energy generation, storage, and transmission. (See below for a summary of the talks provided by Bruce White, the symposium organizer.) The keynote lecture was by Prof. Max Zhang (Cornell University) on energy policy. Twenty undergraduate and graduate students from around the state presented their research at the poster session. Graduate students Jun Yin, Debbie Williams, and Siva Adusumilli, and Binghamton undergraduate Mikell Senger, received best poster awards along with a cash prize of $200. Thanks to a generous donation from the Dean of Harpur College at Binghamton University, this exciting conference was revenue neutral for the New York State section.

Prof. Stan Whittingham (Binghamton University), inventor of the lithium ion battery, discussed the physics and materials science involved in producing next generation battery technologies for the transportation sector. In the area of high temperature superconductors, Dr. Qiang Li (Brookhaven National Laboratory) discussed prospects for using these materials for energy transmission as well as energy storage. Photovolatics were discussed with Prof. Eric Schiff (Syracuse University) focusing on light trapping technologies for photovoltaics and methods for exceeding the Shockley-Queisser limit for efficiency while Dr. Oki Gunawan (IBM) discussed emerging thin film photovoltaics and progress towards generating terawatt scale photovoltaic energy generation using earth abundant photon absorbers. Prof. Louis Piper (Binghamton University) discussed the use of synchrotron based spectroscopy techniques to shine light on the physical mechanisms that currently limit solid oxide based fuel cells. Dr. Manisha Rane-Fondacaro (CNSE -University at Albany) discussed novel ionic liquid electrolytes and their use in supercapacitor based energy storage. Dr. Mark Soulierre (Corning Incorporated), discussed the prospects and issues associated with the use of thermoelectric materials in automobiles to reduce CO2 emissions and improve fuel efficiency. Finally, Mr. Anthony Frachioni, an undergraduate at Binghamton University, discussed opportunities for using Anderson localization of phonons in thermoelectric thin films to greatly improve their energy generating efficiency.

Conference dinner and poster session

Conference dinner and poster session

Bruce White and Sunil Labroo

Bruce White and Sunil Labroo


Fall 2012 Meeting

The Physics of Water was the topic of the 107th Topical Symposium, which was held on October 19-20, 2012 at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY. The symposium was attended by about 90 participants from NY state and neighboring Pennsylvania. They included students, academics, high school teachers, engineers, and physicists. There were nine distinguished speakers that gave talks on such diverse topics as hydrology, cloud formation, hydrophobic surfaces, physical chemistry, and a quantum mechanical treatment of water. Dr. Robin Bell of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University gave the keynote lecture on changes to the ice sheet in Antarctica. The Friday afternoon talks were held in the Montante Cultural Center, a 74-year-old landmark Byzantine-Lombardic church that had been repurposed as a performing arts facility and campus auditorium. Seven students presented posters on their various research activities, with four receiving cash awards. The symposium was supported in part by the colleges Dean of Arts and Sciences and by TeachSpin, a Buffalo company that designs and markets innovative apparatus for advanced laboratory courses. After the conference, TeachSpin provided tours of their headquarters and factory.

Montante Cultural Center at Canisius College

Montante Cultural Center at Canisius College


Outreach Grants

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 Harold Hastings (Harold.M.Hastings@hofstra.edu), chair of the outreach committee.

In the following we describe an exemplary outreach program in Buffalo, NY, supported in part by a recent NYS Section grant. The program was conceived and run by two graduate students at the University at Buffalo, George Lindberg and Justin Perron. (Perron is currently at the Joint Quantum Institute in Maryland.) The following description is the abstract for a talk entitled "Science Days: Graduate Student Run Outreach on a Budget" that they will present at the March APS meeting.
We will describe a new and ongoing program at the University at Buffalo (UB) aimed at exposing underrepresented K-12 students to the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields. This program has been an entirely graduate student run effort, from idea to inception and finally through implementation. Graduate students, under supervision from faculty members, received a grant from NYSS-APS and matching funds from Physics, Chemistry, and Biology departments at UB. Graduate students set up an outreach program that buses students from inner city Buffalo to UB campus to participate in STEM-based activities. We have held two three-hour events so far. Each event involved ~30 students, 99% of which are from underrepresented demographics. Their responses to brief questionnaires showed overwhelming positive views of the event and their genuine interest in science. We will discuss what has made this program a success including what faculty members have done and can do, to support the effort while still leaving it entirely in the graduate students' hands.

George Lindberg will give a similar presentation at our upcoming Spring 2013 Section meeting, and has provided this picture from one of the outreach events.

Outreach event

Student Research and Presentation Opportunities

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. There are similar opportunities within New York State that can be just as rewarding, and we described three of them in detail in our 2011 newsletter. Here we update this information.
  1. The 32nd annual Rochester Symposium for Physics Students (RSPS) will take place on Saturday April 6th at the University of Rochester. For further information, visit the RSPS web site or contact Janet Fogg-Twichell at (585) 275-6679 or janf@pas.rochester.edu.
  2. The Syracuse University Physics Department holds an “Undergraduate Research Day and Open House” each fall. The 7th annual URD took place on December 1st, 2012. We hear that the event “was a great success with 60-plus students and faculty from 8 institutions in New York State attending. The programformat_pdf included 12 student research talks, 16 student poster presentations, four research seminars from Syracuse faculty, a tour of Syracuse physics research laboratories, and a lecture on career options for physics majors delivered by a faculty member from the Physics Department at SUNY Oswego.” The date of the 2013 URD has not yet been set. Contact Matthew LaHaye, physics chair at Syracuse, for further information.
  3. The Symposium on Undergraduate [Optics] Research is held in conjunction with the annual Frontiers in Optics (FiO) joint meetings of the Optical Society of America (OSA) and the Division of Laser Science of the American Physical Society (APS-DLS). The 12th annual Symposium with over 40 student presentations took place in Rochester on Monday, October 15th, 2012. The Symposium began with a box lunch at which plenary speakers from the conference spoke informally with the students. The 2013 Symposium will be in Orlando on October 7th. Contact Harold Metcalf at Stony Brook for further information.
Research and presentation opportunities for high school students are also important for promoting physics. A number of such summer opportunities were described in our 2011 Newsletter. Two further opportunities are:
  1. The Institute for Ultrafast Spectroscopy and Lasers (IUSL) at the City College of New York (CCNY) runs photonics training programs for young students from middle school through college.
  2. The Army Educational Outreach Program funds summer apprenticeship programs for high school students and undergraduates in a variety of fields. Physics opportunities in New York State are available at the University of Rochester and the City College of New York. See the summer apprenticeship programs web page for further information.

We hope that APS members will help disseminate this information to their local high schools and high school physics teachers.

Spring 2013 Election

The current makeup of the Executive Committee is shown below. Jill Linz (Skidmore College) was a member-at-large but has resigned for personal reasons. The committee thanks her for her past efforts and wishes her the best. Terms of office expire on May 1st of the year indicated. Michael Rogers will become Chair on May 1st, 2013 and the outgoing Chair will serve as APS Council Observer for a two-year term.

Chair Sunil Labroo (SUNY Oneonta) [2011–2013]
Chair-Elect Michael Rogers (Ithaca College) [2011–2013]
Secretary/Treasurer Gianfranco Vidali (Syracuse University) [2009–2013]
Member-at-Large James Hannon (IBM TJ Watson Research Center) [2009–2013]
Member-at-Large Michael Kotlarchyk (Rochester Institute of Technology) [2009–2013]
Member-at-Large John Noé (SUNY Stony Brook) [2009–2013]
Member-at-Large Stacie Nunes (SUNY New Paltz) [2009–2013]
Member-at-Large Erica Snow (SUNY Fredonia) [2009–2013]
Member-at-Large Bruce White (SUNY Binghamton) [2009–2013]
Member-at-Large Harold Hastings (Hofstra University) [2011–2015]
Member-at-Large Scott Heinekamp (Wells College) [2011–2015]
Member-at-Large Jay Newman (Union College) [2011–2015]
Member-at-Large David Trauernicht (Kodak R & D) [2011–2015]
Member-at-Large Michael Wood (Canisius College) [2011–2015]


Candidates for the 2013 election were selected by a nominating committee that initially included three section members-at-large: Bodhi Rogers (chair), Jill Linz, and Harold Hastings. An additional, external, member, Jim Owens, was selected by the Executive Director of APS, Kate Kirby. Owens is a past NYS Section chair.

The election slate is given below. The resignation of Jill Linz created another 2 year opening for a member-at-large. Bruce White (SUNY Binghamton) will run for Chair-Elect and Gianfranco Vidali (Syracuse University) will run again for Secretary-Treasurer. There are a total of seven candidates for the seven at-large positions to be filled. Current members Sunil Labroo (SUNY Oneonta), John Noé (SUNY Stony Brook), and Erica Snow (SUNY Fredonia) have agreed to stand for re-election. The new nominees are Carl Ventrice (CNSE Albany), Mike Hennessy (MTECH Laboratory), Ken Podolak (SUNY Plattsburgh), and Natalia Connolly (Hamilton College).

You will have already received an email announcement from Gianfranco that contains a link to the APS election site. If you have not already done so, please study the biographies and statements from the candidates given there carefully and cast your vote for up to six of the candidates. (As we have done in the past, the candidate with the lowest vote count will serve the two year term.) The election will close on March 22nd so please cast your vote soon. The statements from the candidates can also be reached by clicking on their names below.

Candidate for Chair-Elect (unopposed) Candidate for Secretary-Treasurer (unopposed) Candidates for Member-at-Large († denotes current member)

This newsletter has been compiled and edited by John Noé (Stony Brook University), who is solely responsible for its content.