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WSU astrobiologist contributes to Smithsonian blog

Dirk Schulze-Makuch
Dirk Schulze-Makuch

Dirk Schulze-Makuch, a professor in the School of the Environment, explores the mysteries of methane on Mars in his latest post on the Smithsonian Air & Space blog, The Daily Planet.

Read this and other posts by Schulze-Makuch, including “Life Raining Down from Space?” and “The Fermi Paradox Revisited.”

The tractor beam has arrived

Phil Marston. Photo credit Robert Hubner
Phil Marston. Photo by Robert Hubner.

WSU physicist Phil Marston was intrigued by the way an acoustic beam is scattered by a sphere.

“Basically, it goes into the category of a problem you solve because it would be curious to see what the answer is and whether there is something there that you didn’t anticipate,” he says. “That was true.”

In the serpentine path from abstract musing to basic science to demonstrated phenomenon, he sowed the seeds for a small-scale but real-life tractor beam that could have applications in both nanotechnology and medicine.

Read more in Washington State Magazine

Superconductor created from solvent

From WSU News:

Ranga Dias
Ranga Dias
Choong-Shik Yoo
Choong-Shik Yoo

A study led by Washington State University researchers has turned a fairly common nonmetallic solvent into a superconductor capable of transmitting electrical current with none of the resistance seen in conventional conductors.

“It is an important discovery that will attract a lot of attention from many scientific communities – physics, chemistry and materials science,” said Choong-Shik Yoo, a professor in chemistry and in the Institute for Shock Physics. The National Science Foundation-funded discovery, which grows out of research by Yoo doctoral student Ranga Dias, appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Read more at WSU News about the power and transport implications

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Shafei earns international scholarship for optics research

Shoresh Shafei
Shoresh Shafei

Shoresh Shafei has been awarded a 2012 scholarship from the International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE) for his potential contributions to optics, photonics, or a related field.

Shafei is a graduate student of physics at Washington State University. Under the supervision of professor Mark Kuzyk and in collaboration with adjunct professor Rick Lytel, he is working on nonlinear optical properties of nanoscale quantum graphs as the molecules for future optical device materials.

Shafei is a reviewer for several journals, including the Journal of the Optical Society of America B and New Journal of Physics and was a founding member and president of the SPIE and OSA student chapters at WSU. Based on his leadership and research accomplishments, he received the 2012 President’s Award for Leadership at WSU.

SPIE awarded $350,000 in scholarships to 140 outstanding individuals. SPIE has distributed more than $3.3 million dollars in scholarships, reflecting the society’s commitment to education and to the next generation of optical scientists and engineers around the world.

Faculty members named to state academy of science

By Eric Sorensen, WSU science writer

Five Washington State University scientists have been elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences, including:

  • Sue Clark, regents professor of chemistry and staff scientist, WSU Nuclear Radiation Center. Clark has developed ways to quickly identify radioactive materials in environmental samples. President Barack Obama appointed her last year to the U.S. Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board, which advises Congress on the technical aspects of the management and disposal of the nation’s high-level radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel.
  • Kelvin Lynn, professor in both the Department of Physics and Astronomy and the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, director of the WSU Center for Materials Research, George and Diane Conniff distinguished professor, and Boeing chair of advanced materials

They will be inducted during the academy’s fifth annual meeting in Seattle in September.  Continue story →