Advanced Lab (PHY311) in Spring 2019

This coming spring (2019), the “Advanced Lab” course will be offered.  This will be the second time I have taught the course, the last time being 2015.  This course stresses professional experimental skills, such as:

  • Maintaining a lab notebook
  • Rigorous error propagation and uncertainty analysis
  • Non-linear fitting with Minuit (via a Python interface)
  • Utilization of equipment documentation and independently performing lab with minimal supervision/guidance
  • Creating lab reports in the style of publications using LaTeX
  • Peer review publication
  • Reading primary literature
  • Designing experimental investigations

Labs include nuclear spectroscopy, superconductivity, measuring the universal gravitation constant, microwave scattering, measuring the index of refraction of air, and others!  I hope to have a new experiment involving cosmic ray muons available this year.  Students choose the majority of the labs they do, and design their final lab.

This is one of our “Advanced” courses (along with PHY361 and PHY371) that require Modern Physics (PHY210) as a pre-requisite.

ASC Observatory Tour for Tenzin Gyatso Scholars

On Sunday, March 25th, we invited the Tenzin Gyatso scholars to have dinner at Prof. Lovell’s house and then tour our campus Observatory.  The Tenzin Gyatso scholars are monastics in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition who study science at Emory for two years.  The current cohort includes 4 monks and 2 nuns, many of whom I first got to know in India.   While the faculty types provided dinner (largely South Indian food!), the monks helped make Chai at the end of the dinner.  After dinner, everyone saw the historic Beck telescope – though the sky was cloudy so we didn’t get to see any stars through it.  Prof. Lovell then treated us all to a great planetarium show.

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A Teaching Haiku

Agnes Scott College just hosted Cathy N. Davidson for our Founder’s Day Event. There was a workshop for faculty afterward, where she asked us to introduce ourselves with a Haiku that captured our teaching pedagogy. While we were encouraged to share it on Twitter with #AgnesScott #NewEducation, I’m not on Twitter. I want to post – and discuss it – here:

Most physics is hard
The real world is challenging
Team work in Quantum

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My Recommendation Letter Guidelines/Policies

Many students ask me for recommendation letters and I take the responsibility very seriously.  A recommendation letter should showcase a student’s strengths and convince the selection committee that this student will be excellent for the summer program, scholarship, or graduate program.  In order for my letters to do this, I’ve established a few policies to ensure that I have the information and time required to have each letter be as strong as possible.

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Speaking at the International Conference on Monte Carlo Techniques for Medical Applications

I am very pleased to be presenting work at the International Conference on Monte Carlo Techniques for Medical Applications (MCMA2017), October 15- 18 in Naples, Italy.  I am speaking in the “Monte Carlo applications in microdosimetry” section on Tuesday (full presentation info below).  This is my first time attending this conference, but the research topics are a great match to my interests.

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Published: Radioluminescence from Tc-99m in glass predicts local dose

My second article, from my research leave in Italy, has just been published online.  The link below will allow you to read the article for free, until November 4, 2017.

Physica Medica Volume 42, October 2017, Pages 112–115

Radioluminescence from Tc-99m in glass predicts local dose

Nicole L. Ackerman, Federico Boschi, Antonello E. Spinelli

Abstract

The widely-used gamma-emitter Tc-99m has been shown to lead to optical emissions in mice and glass. We investigated the possibility that these emissions are due to the Cerenkov effect and whether the light emitted is proportional to local dose. By using a Geant4 Monte Carlo model matched to an experimental measurement, we show that the light detected by a small animal optical imaging system provides a 2D map of the dose throughout a glass sample. We conclude that radioluminescence from Tc-99m can be used to quantitatively measure dose in transparent materials, which could have applications in dosimetry and quality assurance.

Second Paper Accepted!

My second paper, from my leave in the spring, has been accepted at Physica Medica.  A link will be posted to the article when it is in press, but the title is “Radioluminescence from Tc-99m in Glass Predicts Local Dose”.  I’m glad that my 3-month research leave resulted in two papers, and I am very grateful for the support I received from Agnes Scott: the Julia T. Gary Science Fund and Dorothy Travis Joyner Faculty Innovation Fund.