Welcome to the Kansas NSF EPSCoR (KNE) news and announcements blog. Stay up-to-date with all the happenings, discoveries, events and funding opportunities associated with KNE. Enter your email in the "Follow by email" box below an to the right to stay notified of new posts. Feel free to leave comments.

Monday, November 21, 2016

2016 Kansas EPSCoR Physics Teacher Workshop Participants' Collaboration results in Kansas High School Acquiring Access to Cosmic Ray Detector

   Molly Bovos,  Basehor-Linwood High School Physics Teacher met James Deane, Ottawa High School Physics Teacher at the 2016 Kansas NSF EPSCoR Physics Teacher Workshop, "Modeling the Unseen in the Physical Sciences," held at Kansas State University this past summer.  At the workshop, teachers toured the James R. Macdonald Laboratory, discussed cutting edge Atomic, Molecular and Optical (AMO) research with Kansas EPSCoR Physicists and brainstormed how to connect the laser research to their high school physics classroom.  
   At the end of the workshop, Deane invited Bovos to join QuarkNet, a project supported in part by the National Science Foundation, the Office of High Energy Physics, the Office of Science and the U. S. Department of Energy. QuarkNet is a website dedicated to high school students, teachers and physicists working together on physics research that involves the exploration of the nature of matter, energy, space and time. 
   Through the QuarkNet program, Bovos attended a workshop on the study of cosmic rays and cosmic ray muons.  She became very interested in QuarkNet's initiative to make Cosmic Ray Detectors available to high schools students, so she applied and was granted a detector, on loan, from Chicago's Fermilab.  There are nine such Comic Ray Detectors that are registered to Kansas teachers at this time. As an added bonus, QuarkNet provides information collected from around the world allowing other schools with the same equipment to compare data collected. 
HS Senior Alex Teeter
   Already she has students engaged in studying the process that creates cosmic rays, which is a nuclear reaction. One student, Alex Teeters, a Basehor-Linwood High School senior is interested in nuclear physics and is taking an independent study course in Modern Physics with Bovos.  Together they are working on a project involving a time-of-flight study. The study involves measuring how fast a comic ray muon is traveling by spacing several detectors at different heights, then calculating their time of flight from the atmosphere to Earth.  Muons are very unstable particles and they decay in 2.2 micro seconds, so theoretically they should not be able to travel from the atmosphere to the Earth, but they do. According to Bovos, “This is one piece of evidence we have for Einstein’s theory that time slows down for objects moving at speeds close to the speed of light.” 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Kansas EPSCoR AMO Physics Researcher Delivers Words of Encouragement to Hispanic STEM Students

Dr. Carlos Trallero
   Si  Se Puede Hacer Ciencias y Matematicas is an outreach program that invites 6th-8th grade Hispanic students to the Emporia State University (ESU) campus to participate in four hands-on workshops taught by Hispanic professionals from all over the state of Kansas. This year, Si Se Puede Hacer Ciencias y Matematicas was held on October 29, 2016, and Dr. Carlos Trallero, Associate Professor of Physics at Kansas State University and Kansas NSF EPSCoR researcher, delivered the keynote address to 70 Hispanic middle school students as well as a number of parents and teachers in attendance.  Dr. Trallero discussed the many hardships he faced as a student, how he over came them to reach his goals, and how it is so important to never stop trying no matter what obstacles students might face.  Last year Dr. Trallero led a workshop on "How the Internet Works." 
   The Si Se Puede Hacer Ciencias y Matematicas Saturday experience is an outreach program at Emporia State University (ESU) designed to increase Hispanic youth’s interest in science and mathematics, foster awareness of career opportunities in mathematics and science related fields, and provide an opportunity for students to interact with professionals working in STEM fields. Hispanic students in 6th-8th grade are invited to the ESU campus to participate in four hands-on workshops taught by Hispanic professionals from all over the state of Kansas. These workshops are designed to allow students to explore STEM topics such as: engineering, physics, medicine, chemistry, and veterinary medicine. This year, "students attended workshops where they built moon landers, excavated dinosaur bones, made ice cream, watched and participated in Chemistry and Physics experiments, and viewed X-rays of animals."
Students conduct a chemistry experiment using charcoal filters (right) and
students put the finishing touches on their moon lander (left). 
   Parents and teachers are also encouraged to attend adult sessions that focus on how to encourage Hispanic students to study STEM subjects and advice on how to support their students as they pursue and succeed in attaining a college degree.
  “We were very pleased with this year’s record attendance,” said Dr. Betsy Yanik, the program’s director. “The teachers, students and parents were highly complimentary of this year’s activities.”

Associate Professor Carlos A. Trallero participation in the Si Se Puede Hacer Ciencias y Matematicas as part of the outreach initiatives included in the Kansas-Nebraska EPSCoR Track 2 grant:  Collaborative Research: Imaging and Controlling Ultrafast Dynamics of Atoms, Molecules and Nanostructures.

Monday, November 7, 2016

University of Kansas EPSCoR Track-2 Student Investigates Behaviors of Heterogeneous Catalytic Materials

Amy Jystad
   Amy Jystad, a graduate student in the department of Chemistry at the University of Kansas, is conducting simulations to study behaviors of heterogeneous catalytic material. Her research is part of the collaborative EPSCoR RII Track-2 FEC between the Center for Environmentally Beneficial Catalysis (CEBC) at the University of Kansas and the University of South Carolina. The project is titled Catalysis for Renewables: Applications, Fundamentals and Technologies (CRAFT). The overall goal of this EPSCoR project is to improve catalysts that convert the biomass, lignin, into commodity chemicals.
Amy's model
    Specifically, Amy's research focuses on "simulating the acidity behavior of the metal centers in metal-doped KIT-6 mesoporous silicates." There is a strong correlation between this acidity behavior and the catalytic activity of metals, such as zirconium, tungsten and niobium. Therefore, by using density functional theory simulations, Amy wants to better understand what determines this behavior. The long term goal of her research is to simulate the reaction mechanisms for the catalytic conversion of lignin into commodity chemicals that "may provide insights and guidelines for developing a renewable source of feedstock that can be used to manufacture plastics and other products currently made from petroleum crude." Her research could also provide beneficial insights for the other EPSCoR RII Track-2 FEC researchers.  Marco Caricato, Assistant Professor of Chemistry at the University of Kansas, is Amy's faculty mentor and is part of a core group at the CEBC using computer modeling methods to understand and optimize chemical processes.

The CEBC is a unique multi-scale, multidisciplinary research and education enterprise recognized as 
an international leader in the field of catalysis. Major companies—like Archer Daniels Midland, 
Chevron Phillips, DuPont, INVISTA, Reliance, Solvay, and UOP—choose to partner with the CEBC to leverage the center’s novel research and faculty expertise.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

2016-2017 Community College Innovative Challenge Announced

picture from the NSF website
Attention Community College Students 

The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) have teamed up to present the third annual Community College Innovation Challenge (CCIC).

To participate, community college teams of three to five students, a faculty mentor and a community/industry partner are required to collaborate on an innovative STEM-based solution to a real-world problem.  Issues can range from local to global concerns.  Teams will submit projects in one of three theme areas: Maker to Manufacturer, Energy and Environment, and Security Technologies. Each theme also list resource links to assist teams in the developing their project. An official entry consists of a written presentation and a 90-second video.

Winning teams will receive the following prizes:

  • First place: $1,500 per student team member.
  • Second place: $1,200 per student team member.

All entries must be received during the competition submission window from Oct. 14, 2016, to 11.59 p.m. EST, Feb. 15, 2017.  

Consult the Eligibility & RulesEntry Guidelines, Participant Guidelines, Getting Started TipsCompetition Process and Registration for more details related to the competition as well as visit the Promotional Toolkit, where you can download posters, postcards and more .