From March 21-26, JMU physics students Nora Swisher, Ben Foltz, and Alex Burant, along with physics faculty member Brian Utter, headed to Dallas, Texas to attend the American Physical Society's annual March Meeting.
Nora Swisher presented a poster titled "Particle trajectories in 2D granular avalanches with imposed vibrations," which focused on particle tracking measurements in the avalanching flow of granular materials. This non-linear, complex system exhibits unpredictable behavior, such as avalanching and jamming, which requires statistical approaches to develop general equations of flow for these materials. Nora's work was completed through the Materials Science REU last summer in the lab of Dr. Brian Utter.
Ben Foltz's poster, "Submerged granular flow of hydrophobic and hydrophilic sand," described experiments on shearing and avalanching in granular flows of hydrophilic and hydrophobic grains submerged in fluid. Surface chemistry can be important in both soils and industrial processes, leading to aggregation and changes in shear strength as the chemical properties of the grains in the slurry are changed. Ben's work was also completed through the Materials Science REU last summer in the lab of Dr. Brian Utter and represents preliminary data that contributed to an NSF-funded grant.
Alex Burant presented a poster on "Fabrication and Characterization of High Aspect Ratio Membranes and Microporous Filters made from PMMA." In this work, he described experiments which show a new way to create high aspect ratio membranes and microporous filters by curing a liquid monomer, methyl methacrylate (MMA), into poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) structures. Alex's work was done through the REU under the supervision of Dr. Chris Hughes and Dr. Brian Augustine (JMU Chemistry).
Dr. Utter presented a talk at the conference on "Shear strength of vibrated granular/granular-fluid mixtures."
In addition, to presenting their own research, the JMU contingent saw a variety of talks, including one by Konstantin Novoselov, co-winner of the 2010 Nobel Prize in physics, a talk on the efficiency of M&M packings, and the newest results on the granular robot gripper. Oh, that and lots of good food, 80-degree weather, and a legitimate excuse to miss classes for a week!