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Department of Physics & Astronomy

Instructor wins American Chemical Society Grant

Debbie Smith, part-time faculty member in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, received a competitive grant from the American Chemical Society for $1,487 to purchase Vernier equipment for the chemistry and physics labs at Poland High School that are participating in the College-in-High-School program. The program is sponsored by YSU and the STEM College.

An alumna of YSU. Ms. Smith was the sole principal investigator. The equipment to be purchased includes Vernier interfaces, temperature probes, Ph probes, conductivity probes, colorimeter, drop counter, and light sensors and the software Logger Pro3. With the new equipment, students will be able to perform experiments using extensive computer data collection techniques to help them interpret, analyze and draw conclusions in their laboratory classes.

What happens to the frequency (related to pitch) in an open tube when the length of the tube gets larger?
Is it higher? Lower? Same?

Dr. Balaz has the answer.

This year's meeting schedule is available on the YAPA page.

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William G. Sturrus, Chair, Department of Physics & Astronomy
Youngstown State University
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What is physics? Physics is the foundation of science. It is the scientific study of matter and energy and how they interact with each other. But because everything around us is made up of matter and energy, then physics really explains how things work, from the smallest particles to the structure of the universe.

If you have to ask "why study physics," then you don't get science. But if you want to truly understand the world around you, then welcome to our universe. You'll enjoy it here.


Dr. W. Gregg Sturrus, chair of the Department of Physics & Astronomy since 2004, has been named interim dean of the College of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. He and will assume the position on October 8

Sturrus joined YSU in 1991 as an assistant professor and became the chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy in 2004. During his time at YSU, Sturrus has received eight grants, totaling over $1.75 million.

Students have described Sturrus as laid back, funny, and a great professor.

“I am pleased that Interim Provost [Martin] Abraham asked me to step in as the interim dean of STEM. I am optimistic about the challenges facing the current leadership of the university and believe the new president and provost will make changes that will make YSU increasingly attractive to a broad student base and a stronger urban research university. I am happy to be called to lead the STEM College in these exciting times,” Sturrus said.

Dr. James Andrews will be serving as interim chair of the Department of Physics & Astronomy, replacing Sturrus.

The decision to appoint Sturrus as interim dean came after Dean Abraham was appointed as interim provost and vice president for academic affairs for the university on September 17. The appointment is still pending official approval by the Board of Trustees, who will meet on October 7.

“I’m saddened to be leaving the day-to-day operations, but I won’t be far away and am looking forward to participating in their activities in my new role as provost,” Dean Abraham said.

The position of chair of the Department of Physics & Astronomy is not changed often, but when it does, it does so with the ritual of the Passing of the Pen. The Passing the Pen Ceremony was held with much solemnity on the morning of Friday, September 26, in the department office, as Dr. Gregg Sturrus passed the official $1.99 Bic pen to Dr. Jim Andrews, who will serve as interim chair. Please note that this photo has not been altered; the wearing of the Moustache of the Chair is an intergral part of the ritual.

Making a YSU First

Dr. Tom Oder continues to make good news for the department and YSU with the announcement that he has been awarded the first patent in the university's history for a method he devised to improve the performance and reliability of semiconductor devices.

The formal announcement was made on September 18 at a news conference at Ward Beecher Hall on the YSU Campus.

For the complete story, go to the YSUNews center at www.ysunews.com/physics-professor-awarded-ysus-first-ever-federal-patent.

Another article appears in the Youngstown Vidicator at www.vindy.com/news/2014/sep/19/prof-awarded-first-federal-patent-ysu-history

Plasma etching is on its way, thanks to NSF grant

Research related to the science and engineering of materials at Youngstown State University spans a broad spectrum and includes semiconductors, polymers, carbon nanotubes, ceramic-metallic composites and functional materials.

To meet the challenge in studying the diversity of these types of materials, researches from the STEM College have teamed up with industrial partners such as Fireline Inc. and Materials Research Laboratories, Inc. A major requirement in processing and studying these materials is the ability to remove unwanted layers of the material in order, for example, to fabricate a microelectronic device.

This “subtractive manufacturing” is best accomplished using high density plasma, which can etch materials as soft as polymers or as hard as ceramics. To etch, you need an etcher.

YSU will soon have its own etcher. A grant award in the amount of $307,422 was won by YSU by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to acquire a plasma etching equipment for conducting research on these materials.

The lead investigator of this grant was Dr. Tom Oder, Professor of Physics, assisted by co-investigators Dr. Pedro Cortes, Assistant Professor of Civil/Environmental and Chemical Engineering; Dr. Ruigang Wang, Assistant Professor of Chemistry; Dr. Virgil Solomon, Associate Professor of Department of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering; and Klaus-Markus Peters, General Manager Fireline TCON, Inc.

 Dr. Oder, who led this grant proposal, is the Director of the Wide Bandgap Semiconductor Research at YSU. He has successfully won previous major grant awards, including:

(a) NSF award for $224,500 (2010-2015),

(b) NSF award for $171,046 (2006-2010),

(c) Research Corporation for Science Advancement grant for $43,470 (2006-2008).

 Dr. Oder is also a co-principle investigator of several major grants in the STEM College.

Oder picture from Jambar

Jambar photo by Alyssa Pawluk


Read more about the grant in a story in The Jambar.


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