APS Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics
January 16-18, 2015
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

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This page lists the abstracts for the conference's keynote address, four plenary lectures, and 16 research talks given by undergraduate participants, as well as the titles of the 29 undergraduate research posters that will be displayed on Saturday, January 17th.

Keynote address

Dr. Gabriela González (Louisiana State University):
   "Opening the Gravitational Wave Window"

Gravitational waves are "ripples in space time" produced by violent astrophysical events such as core-collapse supernova and collisions of neutron stars and black holes, as well as by other continuous phenomena as rotating stars and the early Universe. These waves have never been directly detected on Earth yet, but a network of ground-based interferometric detectors including the LIGO detectors in the US is expected to do this very soon. These detectors have operated with record sensitivity in the recent past, and are now being upgraded to begin operating with good prospects of observations in a few years. I will present a brief introduction to the nature and detection of gravitational waves, and present the current status of the international network of detectors.

Plenary lectures

Dr. Suzanne White Brahmia (Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey):
   "From Papergirl to Physicist — The Road Less Traveled"

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
- Robert Frost

My professional journey started as an entrepreneurial paper deliverer in Washington State, and has led me to the equatorial forest of Africa, to the Ivy League, to being a teacher of everything from walking to tying shoes to soccer to kinetic theory. Adventure, creativity, humanity, and achievement are the essential ingredients of me that play off of each other and continue to unleash my potential. This talk is less of a story of my life, and more a reflection on important and often unconventional decisions and how they played out for me ten and twenty years down the road, for better and for worse. I will share my process of uncovering my passion and building a professional path through relatively uncharted territory that has left me with no regrets and a continued zeal for everything I do.

Dr. Kathryn Johnston (Columbia University):
   "Where's the Matter? — Mapping the Dark Matter Halo of our Galaxy"

The galaxies that we see in our Universe are surrounded by much more massive and extended dark matter halos. These dark matter halos are a major contributor to the process of "galactic cannibalism," during which large galaxies can grow by accreting and disrupting smaller galaxies. In this talk I will discuss my own research on the cannibalistic history of the our own galaxy — the Milky Way — and review how debris from dead and dying dwarf galaxies can be used to trace its dark matter halo.

Dr. Luz J. Martínez-Miranda (University of Maryland):
   "Liquid Crystal Nanocomposites for Photovoltaics: Interaction of the Local Structure Due to the Presence of Nanoparticles and the Bulk Structure"

We investigate how liquid crystals order in the presence of diverse nanoparticles. We have found that the liquid crystal in the immediate vicinity of the nanoparticles is fairly disordered, and the disorder depends on the functionalization of the nanoparticle, or lack of it. This disordering is observed as short range order X-ray peaks, where the coherence length of the peaks is close to the molecular spacing of the liquid crystal and persists into the nematic phase as a function of temperature. This disordered structure is still in the smectic phase, and seems to reflect the faceting of the nanoparticle, or the self-assembly of the nanoparticle into a faceted structure. Understanding the structure the liquid crystal assumes in the vicinity of the nanoparticles, and how it compares to the bulk structure of the liquid crystals gives us an idea of how electrons, or light are transmitted from the liquid crystal to the nanoparticle and vice versa, and how strong this transmission is. This transmission can be understood by a simple electronic model consisting of two diodes and resistors.

Dr. Rhiannon Meharchand (Institute for Defense Analyses):
   "A Hundred Tacks: How Following a Traditional Track Can Lead to an Alternative Career"

Physics degree — check. Grad school — check. Postdoctoral fellowship — check. Next comes professor, right? Not necessarily.

From a distance, it seems like the path to a successful career in Physics is straightforward. Zoom in, however, and one sees the straight-line path from undergraduate Physics major to a scientific career is actually composed of a hundred tiny tacks — course corrections, or adjustments made along the way. In this talk, Rhiannon will discuss her path from grad student to post-doc to IDA analyst, discussing past and present research areas and highlighting choices made along the way that helped steer her to her current position.

Student research talks

Session 1 (BSC room 116) — chair = Sarah Simon

Session 2 (BSC room 120) — chair = Emily Grace Session 3 (BSC room 122) — chair = Meng Ye Session 4 (BSC room 117) — chair = Maryam Taherinejad

Student posters
Number Presenter Title
8 Maya Amouzegar
University of Maryland
Detector Development for LHC Upgrades
9 Rose Blanchard
Ursinus College
Inverse-Kinematics Proton Scattering and Analysis of 54Ti and 56Ti
1 Jacklyn Bradli
Rutgers University
Analyzing Star Formation Properties in Dusty Early Universe Galaxies Using Gravitational Lensing
2 Sarah Marie Bruno
Cornell University
Investigating the Effect of Refractive Optics on the Polarization of CMB Radiation
3 Cam Buzard
Barnard College
Classification of L Dwarfs by K Band Linear Fitting
4 Yssavo Camacho
Lehigh University
A Comparison of Radio-Loud and Radio-Quiet E+A Galaxies
22 Doralia Castillo
Montclair State University
Observations on the Transition to Equilibrium of Hinged Bodies in a Flow
10 Sarah Chamberlain
State University of New York — Fredonia
Spectroscopy of High Angular Momentum Rydberg States of H2
11 Heather Garland
Gettysburg College
Detector Calibrations for Fragmentation Reactions with Relativistic Heavy Ions at the NSCL
23 Delilah Gates
University of Maryland
Exploring the Off-Shell Problem Using 1D Supermultiplets Using Representation Theory and Computational Methods
12 Julie Gillis
Duquesne University
Saturated Absorption Laser Spectroscopy of Potassium-39 Vapor as a Preliminary to Achieving Bose-Einstein Condensation
15 Madeline Greenier
Binghamton University
Free Energy of Confined DNA
16 Danielle Holz
Drew University
Phase Transitions in a Model of Y-Molecules
17 Davneet Kaur
Queens College, CUNY
Proton Pumping Mechanism of Complex I of Mitochondrial Membrane
13 Amanda Lewis
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Data Analysis for Neutron Capture Measurements in Lead Slowing Down Spectrometer
★ poster prize winner ★
18 Hope Murphy
Utica College
How Bad Is It Doc? The Varying Predictions of ODE Cancer Growth Models
14 Anastasia Newheart
St. Mary's College of Maryland
SIDE Spectra and Ion Cyclotron Wave Activity
24 Jaynise Perez
University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez
WRF Wind Model Validation
★ poster prize winner ★
5 Brean Prefontaine
Drexel University
Classifying Dwarf Galaxies
6 Melissa Quinnan
Pennsylvania State University
Developing High Voltage Electronics for PINGU Extension of IceCube Neutrino Observatory
★ poster prize winner ★
19 Erin Reagan
Fordham University
Stabilization of Light-Harvesting Complexes from Rhodopseudomonas acidophila in Dipeptide Gels
7 Rachel Salmon
University of Scranton
Analyzing Mass Loss and Tidal Circularization as a Source for Sustained Eccentric Orbits in Hot Jupiters
20 Stephanie Schneider
Susquehanna University
Connecting the Dots: Creating an Algorithm to Mimic Human Visual Grouping
★ poster grand prize winner ★
21 Krishna Sheth
The College of New Jersey
Mapping Neuronal Connectivity with Calcium Imaging and Laser Photostimulation
25 Katerina Simons
Binghamton University
Testing Student Misconceptions on the Photoelectric Effect
26 Ma. Karina Soriano
Montclair State University
Observations on the Transition to Equilibrium of Hinged Bodies in a Flow
27 Claire Weaver
Hofstra University
Synthesizing New, High-Temperature Superconductors
29 Kielan Wilcomb
Towson University
When You Dance, You Dance with the Universe
28 Caroline Zhang
Drexel University
Interface Behavior in LaSrFeO/Nb:SrTiO Perovskite Oxide Heterostructures


The 2015 CUWiP meetings are supported in part by the National Science Foundation (PHY-1346627) and by the Department of Energy Office of Science (DE-SC0011076). Further details are available on the APS conference website.