Student Achievements

Emily Willson ('16) Presents Research at International Conference In Toronto

Posted by Physics
Willson ISMR

Emily Willson (’16), a physics and mathematics major at Wheaton College, has presented nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) research at the 2015 meeting of the International Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (ISMRM) conference in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Emily is working with Dr. Heather M. Whitney on a project that seeks to predict the role of radiation damping in magnetization transfer (MT) measurements. The title of her poster presentation is “Initial Investigation into Effect of Radiation Damping on Magnetization Transfer Parameters Extracted From Inversion Recovery Experiments.”

“MT is a property of macromolecular systems – materials that are made up of semisolids – that can be measured by magnetic resonance experiments,” said Willson. “Measuring them is part of an effort in biomedical circles to make imaging measurements overall more quantitative, so that the actual measurement of a value can be associated with some state of a tissue, versus a qualitative comparison which points out that there are just differences that exist.”

“MT and the parameters that describe it, such as the ratio of protons in the liquid versus the semisolid state, have the potential of serving as biomarkers for certain disease states. Currently, one variation of an MT measurement serves to measure the presence of multiple sclerosis,” said Dr. Whitney. “Our research is part of a larger effort to investigate how robust these measurements are in the presence of imaging difficulties such as radiation damping, also known as RD. RD occurs when the measured signal is so strong that it induces a current in the coils that produce magnetic fields in an NMR system, which makes it more difficult to acquire quantitative information.”

Willson’s work uses a simulation of the different portions of protons that interact in magnetization transfer. She then simulates different levels of RD to see how it affects the ability to extract the MT parameters. “Emily’s work is a good example of interdisciplinary research at the undergraduate level. She is incorporating principles from physics, mathematics, computer science, and even a little chemistry. We’re excited to present her work at ISMRM, where Wheaton may be the only undergraduate institution represented there.”

Meryl Vannoy Presents Research Poster at Wheaton Undergraduate Poster Competition

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Meryl Vannoy (Liberal Arts Engineering / Chemical Engineering '17) presents her poster during the Wheaton College Undergraduate Poster Competition, organized by the Buswell Library. Students from all academic discipline were able to participate. Meryl presented her poster on the research that she had done over the summer at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the Chemistry Department. Her research focused on hybrid materials (thermoplastics) and their shape change during 3D printing. Pictures from the event can be found on the library's facebook page >>.

Keeler publishes undergraduate research in Spectroscopy Letters

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Andrew Keeler (Physics ’13) has published research done with Dr. Heather M. Whitney. The article, “Characterization and suppression techniques for degree of radiation damping in inversion recovery measurements”, is in press in the journal Spectroscopy Letters.

“Andrew’s article reflects the first steps of a long-term research project I am engaged in to understand how magnetization transfer measurements of the states of protons in macromolecular systems are affected by experiment factors that can sometimes be nonideal, such as radiation damping,” said Dr. Whitney. “His work demonstrated that a method published previously in the literature that applied to one type of sample can be applied to samples of a range of longitudinal relaxation times. It is unusual for undergraduate students to work on quantitative nuclear magnetic resonance measurements, and Andrew has done well.”

Creative with a 3D-Printer: Building a Laser Harp

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Jonathan Cuthbertson (Physics '15) is fascinated by lasers. Last year he build his own laser, this year he takes it up a notch. For his final project in Digital Electronics (also known as Computer Data Acquisition, an upper level elective course) he and his lab partner are building a laser harp, using the new 3D printer. "It's a very cool experience, it's just exciting that Wheaton has this, ... and that as students we can use this on a daily basis."

Morken and Moon Survive First Round of Shark Tank Competition

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Morken and Moon - RowAmp

Michael Morken (Physics ’15) and Young-Ho Moon (Engineering ’16) are among six student groups that continue to the second round of the Shark Tank Competition. The Wheaton College Shark Tank is an entrepreneurial competition where teams of students from all experience levels and backgrounds present their business ideas. After surviving the first round, including winning the crowd choice award, Morken and Moon will be mentored throughout the winter and spring, and their final idea will eventually be judged by investors with a critical eye for success.

The inspiration for his project came from Morken's involvement with the Wheaton Crew team. Morken and Moon developed RowAmp, a system that amplifies the coxswain’s voice through a chain of speakers. While there are commercial alternatives available, they are generally too expensive for high school teams. "The Wheaton College shark tank was a great opportunity to showcase a project that I had been working on. My project was an amplifier for rowing and was related to my work as the crew teams equipment manager during the previous year” said Morken. With high school rowing on the rise, a low cost amplification system will permit many schools to step into competitive rowing, as cost is less of a barrier.

Advancing to the second round was really exciting, and this would not have been possible without the skills that he acquired during his physics coursework, according Morken. "The process of construction, preparation, and presentation was very involved and I relied on skills that I had learned in the physics department at every step in the process.” Morken and Moon’s project highlights the sophisticated and cutting-edge techniques encouraged in the Wheaton College Physics and Engineering programs. "The prototype that I presented has a custom designed PCB board that was enclosed in a 3D printed shell. This design drew heavily from topics that I learned in my electronics class earlier this fall. For the presentation I used MATLAB to model data and produce figures for the presentation, much like I have used MATLAB to model data for various physics labs and homework problems."

With a functional prototype in hand and many opportunities to improve his design, Morken is optimistic about the future of his project.  "Among other things my experience with the Wheaton College Shark Tank showed me how the technical skills that I have learned in physics have wide applications to other fields."

Read more about the RowAmp on Morken's website: >>

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