HomepagePhysics and AstronomyPhysics Majors Participate in 2022 REU & Summer Fellows Programs

Physics Majors Participate in 2022 REU & Summer Fellows Programs

Ursinus Physics majors explored a wide range of research topics through the Summer Fellows and REU programs.

Throughout the summer months, several physics majors had the opportunity to participate in the Ursinus Summer Fellows and the REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) programs.  Through faculty mentoring with Dr. Lew Riley, Dr. Tom Carroll, Dr. Kassandra Martin-Wells and Dr. Casey Schwarz, these students expanded their research skills and dove deeper into their areas of interest.

Dr. Riley visited Dylan Simms ’23 and Mill Heinze ’24 at the Florida State University Fox Lab.  Through the FSU REU program, Dylan and Mill were able to collect neutron transfer data utilizing the Split-Pole Spectrograph and, according to Dr. Riley, Dylan already has a useful measurement for his honors project.

In addition, several physics majors presented their 2022 Summer Fellows research at the Ursinus College Summer Fellows Twenty-Fourth Annual Research Symposium on July 22, 2022.  Congratulations to the following Summer Fellows for all of their hard work!

Alan Okinaka ’24 and Samantha Grubb ’24

Resonant Energy Exchange in Ultracold Rydberg Atoms

Mentor: Thomas Carroll

Ultracold Rydberg atoms serve as good systems in which resonant dipole-dipole interactions can be observed. The goal of our work is to design a simulation in which energy exchange among many nearly evenly spaced energy levels is observed. These observations are useful for understanding the time evolution of complicated quantum systems, and have applications in quantum computing and simulating. We are utilizing a supercomputer to run our simulation as well as studying the system experimentally. Once we obtain simulated results, we plan to compare them with the results obtained in a lab.


Liam Powers ’23

Automatic Data Aggregation to Assist in the Systematic Classification of Small Lunar Craters

Mentor: Kassandra Martin-Wells

Crater counting has been one of the dominant methods of characterizing surfaces of planetary bodies in the absence of material samples. Unfortunately, counts often rely on the subjective expertise of the counter, which limits the volume of reliable data that is accessible to researchers. Our work seeks to develop a quantifiable method of classifying individual craters within a count population to better determine a given crater’s age and origin. Recommendations are then generated in order to increase the accuracy of human counters, and improve the efficiency of the counting process. Preliminary work on the Moon uses LRO LOLA elevation data, Clementine UVVIS Optical Maturity data, Diviner Rock Abundance data, and Arecibo Green Bank Telescope ground-based 13cm circular radar polarization data to construct our recommendation model. This work will be presented at the 13th Planetary Crater Consortium in Boulder, CO, this August, as well as the 2022 Physics Congress in Washington D.C. this October.


Marie Sykes ’24

Applying Bioactive Glasses to Long-Term Drug Delivery

Mentor: Casey Schwarz

Ever since bioactive glasses were discovered in 1969, they have traditionally been used for bone repair and regeneration. However, they carry other useful purposes as well, and have shown they have potential in long-term drug delivery. I have characterized Mo-Sci’s OL-GL 1756B and proven that with their porous structure they can both absorb solution and release it over a period of a few days.


Annalyse Dickinson ’25 and Tyler Ways ’24

Counting and Characterizing Lunar Craters

Physics & Astronomy
2022 Andrews Fellow (Dickinson)
Mentor: Kassandra Martin-Wells

The study of extraterrestrial surfaces relies on crater identification to evaluate the age and history of planetary bodies. We use Jmars, a geospatial information system, to gather data from maps of the region surrounding the Tycho impact crater on the moon, to better understand and study impact mechanics and the history of the lunar surface. We are using this program to identify craters in twenty-four different regions around Tycho. This process comes with a significant amount of statistical uncertainty. As such, we are using repeatable methods to reduce this uncertainty and make our quantitative results as transparent and reliable as possible. We are developing an automated program using GDL to assist us in data collecting. This program reads in our crater identification data from the twenty-four regions, sorts craters into different bins based on their diameter, and creates cumulative and relative size-frequency distribution graphs. The shape of these graphs reveals how ejecta was spread during the initial impact, helping us to better model impacts and reliably identify and separate primary versus secondary craters in the future.

Annabella Orsini ’23

Creation of Solution-Based Chalcogenide Thin Films Using As2S3 and As2Se3

Physics and Astronomy
Mentor: Casey Schwarz

Chalcogenide glasses (ChGs) have a wide range of multidisciplinary applications. In industry, ChGs are used to vastly improve infrared sight abilities. There are, however, improvements that can be made to the films’ stability, cost, and flexibility. Our project seeks to produce thin films that have these advantages, with capabilities comparable or better than what is widely used in the field. Thin films created through solution-based processes have proven to be much more flexible in comparison to bulk glass versions. Here we will report a solution-based method for the creation of ChG thin films. Previous research conclusions regarding solution creation were referenced and adapted in these experiments. Both bulk As2S3 and As2Se3 compounds in combination with an ethylenediamine (EDA) solvent were used in these experiments. Varying solution concentrations as well as improved substrate preparation methods were tested. Substrates were now prepped with acetone to improve adhesion. Spin coating procedures were utilized during the film making process. The spin-coating technique has been successful in comparison to thermal deposition in producing homogeneous thin films that can be adjusted in thickness by altering spin speeds. A vacuum oven was used to lessen the chance of impurities during the baking of the thin films. The finished products were then tested for their transmission capabilities into the infrared using the FTIR.

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