High-tech fluids lab attracts waves of research partners

Roberto Camassa’s research is very fluid. The Kenan Distinguished Professor of Applied Mathematics actively engages in collaborative projects ranging from oil spills to marine sciences to human disease.

Click here for more on the story.

Date: April 17, 2017

Greg Forest Honored for Mentoring

The Carolina Women’s Leadership Council honored Michele Tracy Berger, Mark Fraser and M. Gregory Forest with 2017 Faculty Mentoring Awards.

The council established the awards in 2006 to recognize faculty who mentor undergraduate students, graduate stu- dents and junior faculty.

Each award recipient receives a $5,000 stipend.

Michele Tracy Berger, associate professor in the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies, won in the faculty to undergraduate category.

Since coming to Carolina in 2004, Berger has taught a variety of courses ranging from large-enrollment undergraduate classes, required courses, upper-level seminar style courses, first-year seminars and graduate courses, as well as supervised interns in the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies.

One nominator praises Berger as “the epitome of professionalism; always prepared for her classes, going the extra mile, performing her role for all her students to see what can be done, so they can follow in her footsteps and at the same time take minority women seriously.”

Mark Fraser, the John A. Tate Distinguished Professor for Children in Need at the School of Social Work, received the faculty to graduate mentoring award.

According to one nominator, Fraser’s student mentoring starts “soon after their enrollment, treating them as colleagues and friends from the first encounter,” adding, “his own enthusiasm and creativity inspire his students to greater efforts.” Another nominator wrote, “Dr. Fraser is a great scholar, a wonderful teacher, and more important, a very kind person…Dr. Fraser is my role model and will continue to be my role model.”

M. Gregory Forest, the Grant Dahlstrom Distinguished Professor in the Department of Mathematics, received the faculty to junior faculty mentoring award. Forest holds joint appointments in the departments of Biomedical Engineering and Applied Physical Science, and is also director of the Carolina Center for Interdisciplinary Applied Mathematics. In his 20 years at Carolina, one nominator wrote, Forest has “worked tirelessly to promote the excellent interdisciplinary research of these faculty, bringing in experts from other departments and schools across campus.” Another nominator described Forest as “a powerful force” in increasing the number of female faculty in the department through both regular hires and the Provost’s diversity faculty hiring program.

 

Date: April 10, 2017

Zeliha Kilic earns 2017 University Teaching Award

Twenty-four faculty members and teaching assistants have been named winners of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s 2017 University Teaching Awards.

Zeliha Kilic and Dan Harris

Zeliha Kilic and Dan Harris

Date: April 5, 2017

Snake Pendulum fuses art and science

A giant snake pendulum that will be on display in front of Phillips Hall for Arts Everywhere Day April 7 is a perfect mashup of art and science.

The 8-by-11-foot kinetic sculpture is the brainchild of mathematics department chair Rich McLaughlin and physics and astronomy department chair Christian lliadis in the College of Arts & Sciences. The weights at the end of the pendula are 6-pound Carolina blue shotputs.

“The motion they make together is the artistic part, but underlying that, it’s all science,” Iliadis said. “It’s gravity, tension, energy, linear momentum, air drag, friction. You see symmetry, but where is the symmetry coming from? It’s all equations.”When the 17 pendula of different lengths are released simultaneously, they create an undulating pattern that looks like a slithering snake. The pendula then disengage and swing in separate patterns before coming together again in a large wave. The cycle — which is hypnotic to watch — takes about a minute.

The faculty members had the idea to scale up a small tabletop snake pendulum (with Carolina golf balls as weights) that sits on McLaughlin’s office desk. He has used that smaller version for several years in his Chancellor’s Science Scholars Summer Bridge class.

On a recent Friday afternoon in the physics and astronomy shop on the first floor of Phillips Hall, Francesca Bernardi, a Ph.D. candidate in mathematics, and Dan Harris, a postdoctoral fellow in mathematics, worked to tune the pendulum. They used a metronome to help coordinate the release of the pendula, and iPhone and iPad cameras to examine the video of the wave movement frame-by-frame and make the proper adjustments. They drafted the plan several weeks ago, and shop manager Phil Thompson built the pendulum. Funds from Arts Everywhere supported the project.

Combining art and science has been a focus of his research throughout his graduate career, Harris said.

“Anyone who walks by and sees the pendulum will be intrigued by it, and that opens a door to a conversation about what makes it work — how changing the length of the pendula changes the frequency, for instance,” he said.

Bernardi agreed, and recounted an experience using the 3-D printer in the Hanes Art Center makerspace recently that led to a conversation about art and science.

“One of the people who worked there asked me details about our experiment. Art can be a way to make science more accessible to everyone,” she said.

One of the components of Carolina’s new “Creating Scientists” Quality Enhancement Plan focuses on integrating the arts and humanities with science courses to provide critical thinking skills and an understanding of the myriad ways in which science and culture are intertwined.

Duane Deardorff, director of undergraduate laboratories in physics and astronomy, said faculty members in the department uses all kinds of visual elements as teaching tools.

“These things draw people in to ask: How does that work? I suspect we will be showing videos of the snake pendulum as well.”


Story by Kim Spurr, photos by Kristen Chavez, College of Arts & Sciences; video courtesy of department of mathematics 
The snake pendulum will also make an appearance at Phillips Hall at the UNC Science Expo on April 22.

Paul Cornwell Wins Student Paper Prize

Paul Cornwell

Paul Cornwell was invited to give a talk at a minisymposium from March 29 – April 1 and on March 30, Paul was awarded the Student Paper Prize at the IMACS Nonlinear Waves meeting in Athens, GA.

Huge Congratulations to Paul!!

Dr. Saray Shai Received the Postdoc Award for Research for Excellence

Each year, the Postdoctoral Awards for Research Excellence are given in recognition of the research promise demonstrated by individual postdoctoral scholars. The awards are open to postdoctoral scholars in all disciplines and are designed to assist postdoctoral scholars in their continued professional development by supporting the recipients in conference travel, purchasing books, lab materials, or engaging in other scholarly activities that directly enhance the individual’s professional growth. Each recipient receives a monetary award of a $1,000 along with a plaque.

 

shai-mucha2

Professors Camassa & McLaughlin, Postdoc D. Harris, and Grads M. Aminian and F.Bernardi

UNC Mathematicians publish new result at Science showing how boundaries affect chemical deliver in microfluidics