Science Round-up from UMass Amherst

Alumnus Lauded for Dissertation in Nuclear Physics

AMHERST, Mass. - Yury G. Kolomensky, who earned his doctorate in nuclear physics at the University of Massachusetts in 1997, has received the Dissertation in Nuclear Physics Award from the American Physical Society’s division of nuclear physics.

The award includes a $1,000 prize, plus travel to the annual spring meeting of the society’s division of nuclear physics. While at UMass, Kolomensky worked with Gerry Peterson of the physics and astronomy department and was awarded his Ph.D. at the age of 23. He is now the Robert A. Millikan Post-Doctoral Scholar in Physics, with the high-energy physics group at the California Institute of Technology.

Research on Glacial Lake Hitchcock Garners Honorable Mention for Geosciences Graduate Student

AMHERST, Mass. - University of Massachusetts graduate student Tammy Rittenour has received one of two honorable mentions for the 1998 Howard Award of the Geological Society of America’s Quaternary Division. Rittenour, who is pursuing a master’s degree in geosciences, is examining glacial deposits and landforms in the Connecticut River Valley to determine how and when Glacial Lake Hitchcock drained.

Glacial Lake Hitchcock formed in the Connecticut River Valley approximately 15,600 years ago when a plug of glacial debris was deposited at Rocky Hill, Conn. Glacial Lake Hitchcock extended in the Connecticut Valley from central Connecticut to northern Vermont, more than 200 miles. "The Howard Award is the most prestigious award given in the U.S. to master’s-level students in the discipline of geology," said Raymond Bradley, department head. "The competition is at a national level, including Canada. So this award places her among a very select group of young scholars."

Rittenour, of Appleton, Minn., will be honored at the Quaternary Division reception during the Geological Society of America meeting, to be held in Toronto, Canada, later this year. She earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of Minnesota, Morris.

Students Win New England Engineering Competition;
Team Designs a Better Chalkboard

AMHERST, Mass. - Engineering students from the University of Massachusetts have won the Tau Beta Pi design competition for New England. Vishad Patel of Methuen, and twins Dave and Tom Sturgis of Boxboro, all sophomores in chemical engineering, defeated teams from six other engineering schools in the region. Teams from Boston University and MIT tied for second place. This 12th annual competition was held at Yale University during the regional convention of Tau Beta Pi, an engineering honor society. Participants were asked to design a better chalkboard using modern-day multimedia technology. Teams were given five hours to work out a solution and 15 minutes to present it to a panel of judges. The competition is open to first-year and sophomore engineering majors.

The UMass team offered the idea of an electric pen on a small electric notepad, which would allow a teacher’s notes to be shown on a screen, via an overhead projector, said Tom Sturgis. The notepad would be wireless, enabling a teacher to move around the classroom. The system would be able to show images using the computer, for special demonstrations, he said. The team’s solution is realistic in terms of cost and available technology; easy enough for elementary school students to use, but sophisticated enough to meet the needs of college students; has the ease of using a chalkboard; and eliminates the problem of an instructor blocking students’ view of the board, according to Sturgis.

Polymer Science and Engineering Department Wins
Two Faculty Awards, Two Student Awards

AMHERST, Mass. - The University of Massachusetts polymer science and engineering department was recently presented with two faculty awards and two graduate student awards. The awards were given by GenCorp, a technology-based manufacturing company based in Ohio. The faculty recipients were Jacques Penelle and department head Richard J. Farris, each of whom received $5,000. The student award winners were Kristi L. Kiik-Fischer of Alpharetta, Ga., and Gustavo Carri of Buenos Aires, Argentina, who each received awards of $2,500.