MO and AdMU scientists join NASA’s Cloud, Aerosol and Monsoon Processes Philippines Experiment (CAMP2Ex) 2018

by Genie Lorenzo and Quirino Sugon Jr

A team of scientists from the United States an the Philippines will perform an airborne and ground-based field campaign (The Cloud, Aerosol and Monsoon Processes Philippines Experiment:  CAMP2Ex) from July to August 2018 to study tropical weather and aerosols in the South East Asian Region.  The CAMP2Ex project was initiated by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of the United States of America. The operations will be based in Subic Bay in the Philippines.

The CAMP2Ex Mission Management Team is composed of 6 scientists: Hal Maring (Program Science), Vidal Salazar, and Jhony R. Zavaleta (CAMP2Ex Project Manager) of NASA; Jeffrey Reid (Mission Science) of Naval Research Laboratory; and Gemma Teresa Narisma (MO Science) and James Bernard Simpas (MO Project Manager)  from Manila Observatory. Dr. Narisma is the Program Manager of the Regional Climate Systems (RCS) and Associate Director of Research at Manila Observatory. Dr. James Bernard Simpas, on the other hand, is the Program Manager of Urban Air Quality and Instrumentation Technology Development (UAQ/ITD) of Manager. Both scientists are faculty members of the Department of Physics of the School of Science and Engineering of Ateneo de Manila University.

The other members of the Manila Observatory Team are composed of scientists and staff of Manila Observatory’s Urban Air Quality, with some students from Ateneo de Manila University: Dr. Obiminda Cambaliza (Co-Principal Investigator), Sam Ajoc (Collaborator), Paola Bañaga (Student), Grace Betito (Student), Melliza Cruz (Collaborator), Genievieve Lorenzo (Collaborator).

The Philippines and the South East Asian region are at high risk to Climate Change and hydro-meteorological hazards.  More studies are needed to shed light to the meteorological processes that are affecting the region, but these have been limited because of the persistent cloud cover in the region that makes satellite-based investigations difficult. So CAMP2Ex wishes to study clouds and the regional atmosphere in South East Asia where Philippines belong.

Clouds are fluffy cotton-like puffs in the atmosphere in warm sunshine; but they can also become heavy with water, darkening our days with heavy rain. The formation of clouds, particularly the cumulus and congest clouds, are affected by aerosols—fine solid particles or liquid droplets from fog, dust, air pollutants, and smoke. CAMP2Ex wishes to examine how aerosol particle concentration and composition affect the optical and microphysical properties of these cloud types, and how these in turn impact the three dimensional heating rates and fluxes that serves as feedback on the evolution of aerosols, clouds, and rain.

According to Dr. Obiminda Cambaliza, Dr. Jeff Reid and Dr. Hal Maring (principal investigator of CAMP2Ex) will be in the Philippines from December 4 – 9, 2017.  They will go to Subic to check out the hangar, accommodation, and other things. Dr. Reid already visited the country before when he gave talk entitled, “Introspection on the past, present, and future of aerosol remote sensing,” last 20 Sep 2016 at Heyden Hall, Manila Observatory. He also gave a talk on “Biomass Burning Observability and Predictability in the Maritime Continent” last 10 August 2015 in celebration of Manila Observatory’s 150th anniversary.

Below is the global simulation of clouds and aerosols by NASA for 2005-09-01 to 2005-12-31.

 

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MO and AdMU organized the Philippines Grants Workshop 2017 with speakers from US funding agencies

The participants of the Philippines Grant Workshop 2017 held last August 26, 2017 at the Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria Hotel in Ortigas, Quezon City. The workshop was organized by Manila Observatory and Ateneo de Manila University. The speakers are from the US Department of State (DoS) and Department of Defense (DoD).

by James Bernard Simpas

The Manila Observatory and the Ateneo de Manila University organized the Philippines Grant Workshop 2017 which provided researchers in the Philippines an overview of international grant opportunities from the US Department of State (DoS) and Department of Defense (DoD). It was held at the Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria Hotel in Ortigas, Quezon City on August 26, 2017. The workshop presented tips on how to write successful grants and introduced the participants to some of the administrative requirements such as registering their university in required systems, and how to submit grants to the US grants.gov system. Most importantly, the workshop provided an opportunity for researchers to meet face-to-face with points of contact within the US DoS and DoD so that they would feel comfortable reaching out with research ideas.

There were 44 participants in the workshop. Of the total number of participants, nine were speakers and representatives from the US DoS and DoD as well as from the US Embassy. The thirty five local participants were from Philippine universities, Philippine government agencies, and research institutions. The academic sector was represented by participants from the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU), De La Salle University (DLSU), University of Santo Tomas (UST), and University of the Philippines Diliman (UP Diliman). Of the 35 local participants, a number was also from the Manila Observatory. The Philippine Department of Science and Technology (DOST) was also represented, as well as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources? Environmental Management Bureau – Cordillera Autonomous Region (DENR EMB-CAR).

The speakers and resource persons from the US DoD and DoS provided information about their grant opportunities for Philippine researchers. The welcome remarks were delivered by Dr. Antonio La Viña, Executive Director of the Manila Observatory. He underscored the importance of the workshop as a means for initiating and strengthening engagements and collaborations. The Introduction from the US Embassy was given by Mr. Walter Nightingale, Vice Consul of the US Embassy in the Philippines. A presentation on the grant opportunities from the Office of Naval Research Global (ONRG), and briefly from the US Army International Technology Center Pacific (ITC PAC) were provided by Dr. Jason Wong, the Science Director of ONRG. CDR Joseph Martin, the incoming ONRG Science Director, was also introduced during the workshop. The grant opportunities from the US Air Force Office of Scientific Research Asian Office of Aerospace Research and Development (OARD), were presented by Lt. Col. Scott Robertson, program officer of OARD. They emphasized that they find, fund, and manage innovative science and technology studies that are relevant to their missions, and that they fund researchers outside the United States, mostly universities and non-profit scientific institutions.

Several presentations on funding opportunities from the US DoS were also provided by speakers from the Public Affairs Section of the US Embassy in Manila. These grant opportunities were (1) STRIDE – Science, Technology, Research, and Innovation for Development; (2) YSEALI – Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative, and (3) the opportunities managed by the Philippine American Educational Foundation (PAEF) such as the Fulbright Scholarship Program, Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program, and the Fulbright Graduate Student Program, among others.

(See original article at Manila Observatory for more photos.)

Jaren Ryan Rex (BS APS/ACS): Magna Cum Laude and Physics Program Awardee for 2017

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From left to right: VP for Loyola Schools Dr. Maria Luz P. Vilches, Physics Department Chair Dr. Raphel Guerrero, SOSE Awardee Jaren Ryan Rex, and SOSE Dean Dr. Evangeline Bautista at the SOSE Recognition Program for Distinguished Students held at Leong Hall Auditorium last 24 May 2017, 10:00 a.m.

by Ellice Dane Ancheta and Quirino Sugon Jr

BS Applied Physics with Applied Computer Systems student Jaren Ryan Rex is one of the students recognized by School of Science and Engineering (SOSE) of Ateneo de Manila University in a Recognition Program for Distinguished Students held in Leong Hall Auditorium last 24 May 2017, 10:00 a.m. Jaren finished Magna Cum Laude and was chosen as the Program Awardee of the Department of Physics. He finished his elementary at Multiple Intelligence International School and his high school at Philippine Science High School Main Campus where he graduated with Highest Honors. Upon entering Ateneo de Manila University for his undergraduate studies, Jaren was given the Fr. Thomas B. Steinbugler, SJ Academic Scholarship, a 100% tuition and fees scholarship for valedictorians from Jesuit and science high schools.

Below is an interview with Jaren Ryan Rex by Ateneo Physics News.

1. Why did you choose Ateneo in college?

It is an interesting piece of information. I was diagnosed with mild Asperger’s syndrome, which means my social and physical skills were underdeveloped. So when deciding where to study for college, my parents and I were discussing whether I would go to UP or Ateneo. We weighed the pros and cons, and we decided that Ateneo would be a more friendly and nurturing environment to help me overcome my challenges better. And I think it did. And also, my choice of a double major course, BS Applied Physics/ BS Applied Computer Systems is only offered here.

2. What was your BS Applied Physics thesis?

In my undergraduate thesis, I simulated typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) several times using the weather model called WRF, short for Weather Research and Forecasting model. The WRF model has many different physical parameters that represent physical assumptions made by the model, such as the amount of air that flows between atmospheric columns, the mixing ratios of different states of water in clouds, and the interaction between the air and the ocean. These are just a few parameters that can be varied in the WRF mode. In my thesis I tried varying all of these to see which parameters caused Haiyan to be most intense. I hoped we would be able to understand more the physics of how Haiyan became so destructive.

For each of these parameters there are different schemes that we set for the parameters, and each parameter affected a different part of the simulation. Some parameters affected the typhoon’s track. Some affected the minimum sea level pressure. Some affected the wind speed. For each parameter, there were settings that produced the most intense typhoon in the simulation: that’s what I assumed to be closest to the actual state of the atmosphere and the ocean during the typhoon. Some settings would make the track very accurate, but the sea level pressure would be too high. It would not be as intense as observed—in fact, very far away from observed intensity. On the other hand, there were settings of the same parameters that made Haiayan more intense but also caused it to deviate far away from its observed track. The model itself could use some improvements.

3. What was your BS Applied Computer Systems thesis?

I got concrete blocks and dropped weights on them so they would crack. I dropped the weight repeatedly and took a picture of the block after I dropped the weight. A new crack would form, and would appear in the picture. I would then have a series of pictures that show how the crack propagates after each impact. Then I would run different image processing operations on the pictures to analyze the properties such as the length and the branching patterns of the cracks. For image processing, I used OpenCV (CV stands for Computer Vision) for Python, which I learned on my own. I did not simulate. All the experiments were actual physical experiments.

I had experiments where I varied the height from which I dropped the weight, to measure the rate at which the crack propagates in relation to the energy of impact. I have another set of experiments where I had different compositions of the concrete. They are mixtures of cement and sand. I varied the ratio of cement to sand by volume. For the experiments where I varied the mixture, I found that pure cement is much weaker compared to mixtures of cement and sand, meaning it cracks with much fewer impacts. The cement-sand mixtures crack after about three times as many impacts as pure cement. But on the other hand, for the cement-sand mixtures, it does not seem to matter how much sand is there. The strength of the block is relatively constant with respect to the amount of sand. For the experiments where I varied the height, I got the obvious results. The blocks crack faster when the weight is dropped from a higher distance, since more energy is input into the block for each impact. And also actually what is interesting is, for the higher impact distance, the crack forms more branches than with lower heights.

Actually I was supposed to predict quantitatively how cracks propagate but my thesis was submitted in a somewhat unfinished state based on the results I was able to produce. My plan was to use the image processing techniques to get a measure of the crack length, crack area and even the speed of propagation. But what I ended up doing was trying so many image processing techniques to isolate the crack in the image. It was hard to find a good algorithm because usually there was a lot of black noise in the image background, making it hard to see the cracks.

I eventually found an image processing technique that makes the crack stands out from the background much more compared to the other image processing technique. It is called bottom-hat filter. I just put in the recommendations that the results of applying the bottom-hat filter can then be analyzed further to extract those quantitative parameters, such as crack length and area. There were a lot of previous studies about image processing of cracks where I found out about the suitability of this kind of image processing. I did not exactly base it on quality control. The intent of this thesis was more of studying how cracks propagate for computational fracture mechanics. I deduce the theory from what is observed.

4. Do you have extra-curricular activities?

I was part of the Ateneo programming varsity team. We competed in programming contests like the ACM-ICPC (Association for Computing Machinery – International Collegiate Programming Contest) among other various local contests. There is also a programming contest hosted by UP Diliman called Algolympics. There are many contests with a similar nature. In programming contest we are usually given problems that have a certain specification and given input. We need to do some computations and process data in some way to produce a certain output. Our goal is to write programs to solve those problems such that whenever you input anything into the program, it will produce the correct output. Most of the time the programming languages we use are limited to C++ and Java.

This semester, I have won two champion titles. One of them is the UP ACM Algolympics. This is by team. (We usually compete in teams.) The other contest was the HP Code Wars. It was hosted by HP (Hewlett-Packard), the company. The way we’re teamed up depends on the circumstances. Most of the time we have the same team for most of our contests, but in some circumstances some members are not available, so teams are shuffled a bit. Sometimes, some members are ineligible, e.g. the HP Code Wars was only for graduating students. So instead of my usual team I was teamed up with other graduating students in the Programming Varisity. The members of the programming varsity are mostly Computer Science majors. I was the only Physics major there. At some point there were two physics majors there, but one of them shifted to Computer Science as well. He was also from my course, BS Applied Physics with BS Applied Computer Systems.

5. Do you have a blog?

I write for leisure but I don’t write regularly for any organizations or school publications. I have a blog on Blogspot, entitled Overcoming. I’ve been posting on this blog since 4th year high school. I’ve written over one hundred posts–mostly just personal reflections.

6. What can you say being in the last batch taking BS APS/ACS program? (Note: the program is still listed in the Registrar and may be offered again.)

I would say it is a little sad. I met freshmen who said this is their dream course. It would have been the course they would take if it was still offered. I believe it was mistake on the part of the Registrar or so I heard. Since last semester, when Dr. Guerrero talked to our batch, he mentioned something about making curriculum for something that could be a replacement for this course. I hope it would be similar or even better.

7. What are your plans after graduation?

One thing I really enjoyed doing apart from studying physics itself is tutoring physics. I have given a lot of tutorials for my block mates in Physics and Math that I have lost count. I even tutored other students in Ateneo who have asked for help in Physics and Math. The tutoring has helped me understand the topics even more and deepened my appreciation for them. Because of this experience in tutorials, I planned to someday return to Ateneo and teach Physics.

After Ateneo, I may take a vacation for a year before working here in RCS (Regional Climate Systems Program of Manila Observatory) where I did my thesis. I have talked to Dr. Gemma Narisma about this already. I shall work there for maybe one or two years to have good working experience. After this, I shall go to graduate school either in Europe or Japan because I want to specialize in Particle Physics. My dream is work with CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research). I don’t know how many years I would spend there, but I plan to return to Ateneo to teach physics.

8. Any parting words?

Maybe I would say if anyone asked us for advice about how to being in a Physics major, I think the best I can say is to keep reading not just the lessons you are taking up, but anything that interests you within physics, because that’s how you keep yourself motivated. Practice makes perfect. You develop an intuition on how to solve or approach problems even if you have never seen the problem before.

Ateneo SOSE honors distinguished Physics students of 2017

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The School of Science and Engineering (SOSE) of Ateneo de Manila University held a Recognition Program for Distinguished Students last 24 May 2017, 10:00 a.m., at the Leong Hall Auditorium. According to Dean Evangeline P. Bautista, PhD, the program was made to recognize the students who truly personifies the spirit of magis in the diverse fields of academics, research, leadership, competition, and sports. She hoped that these group of scientists, mathematicians, and engineers would be successful in their fields, so that they can help the country appreciate the value of science and engineering. Jaren Ryan M. Rex, BS Applied Physics with Applied Computer Systems and Magna Cum Laude, gave the response for Honor Students.

Below is the list of awardees from the Physics Department.

A. COMPETITION WINNERS

Paul Ivan B. Ceralde

  • BS Applied Physics with Materials Science and Engineering
  • EAGE Student Awardee, European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers (EAGE), Barcelona, Spain, September 2016
  • 3rd Place, Ateneo Team, national Collegiate Olympiad 2017, Materials Science and Engineering SUMMIT 2017, University of the Philippines

Jansen Keith L. Domoguen

  • BS Applied Physics with Materials Science and Engineering
  • APS Distinguished Student Awardee, American Physical Society (APS), Salt Lake City, Utah, April 2016
  • 3rd Place, Ateneo Team, national Collegiate Olympiad 2017, Materials Science and Engineering SUMMIT 2017, University of the Philippines

Jaren Ryan Rex

  • BS Applied Physics/BS Applied Computer Systems
  • Champion, Team Mobiuchsia
  • UP ACP Algolympics 2017 competitive programming contest, 11 February 2017 at UP Diliman
  • 1st Place, Team Mobius Trips, HPE Code Wars programming competition, 27 February 2017, HP Enterprise office, Eton Centris

Socorro Margarita T. Rodrigo

  • BS Physics
  • Best Student Oral Presentation/Best Student Paper award, 13th Philippine Association of Marine Science (PAMS) National Symposium on Marine Science, General Santos City, 22-24 October 2015
  • 2nd Prize, Undergraduate Basic Research
  • SOSE Outstanding Student Research awards, 2015-2016
  • Youth Delegate, Philippine Delegation, 21st Conference of the Parties (COP2), Paris, France, 30 November to 12 December 2017

B. COUNCIL OF ORGANIZATIONS OF THE ATENEO (COA)

Jomel U. Maroma

  • BS Physics
  • Vice President for Organization Strategies and Research, Executive Board (2016-2017)

C. SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY CLUSTER (STC)

League of Physicists

Paulo Gonda

  • BS Physics
  • Tesla House Head (2016-2017)
  • AVP for Human Resources (2013-2014)

Joseph Thomas Miclat

  • BS Physics
  • VP for Internal Affairs (2015-2016)
  • VP for Finance (2013-2014)

Kira Lok

  • BS Physics
  • VP for Marketing (2013-2014)

James Hernandez

  • BS Physics
  • VP for Academic Affairs (2014-2016)
  • AVP for Organizational Development (2013-2014)

Jaren Ryan M. Rex

  • BS Applied Physics/BS Applied Computer Systems
  • AVP for Academic Affairs, Services Manager (2013-2014)

Carlex Jose II

  • BS Physics
  • AVP for Internal Special Projects (2013-2014)

Christabel Bucao

  • BS Physics
  • AVP for Academic Affairs, Project Overseer (2013-2014)

D. HONOR STUDENTS

Magna Cum Laude

Jaren Ryan M. Rex

  • BS Applied Physics/BS Applied Computer Systems

Cum Laude

Paul Ivan B. Ceralde

  • BS Applied Physics with Materials Science and Engineering

Jomel U. Maroma

  • BS Physics

Jansen Keith L. Domoguen

  • BS Applied Physics with Materials Science and Engineering

E. DEPARTMENTAL RECOGNITION

Department of Physics

Jaren Ryan M. Rex

  • BS Applied Physics

Novel Applications of Nanomaterials through Material Chemistry and Engineering: a talk by Dr. Joselito Razal of Deakin University

by Marienette M. Vega

The Department of Physics would like to invite you to a talk on the Novel Applications of Nanomaterials through Material Chemistry and Engineering by Dr. Joselito Razal Deputy Director, ARC Future Fibres Hub and Associate Professor, Institute for Frontier Materials, Deakin University, Australia to be held on 22 June 2017, Thursday, 2:30 pm to 4 pm at CTC 118.

Abstract. Material chemistry aims to engineer nanomaterials to perform novel functions that do not exist in its bulk form. With this engineering framework, nanomaterials have the potential to behave and function differently or more superior than that of conventional macroscopic materials. Recent efforts to implement engineering of surfaces or chemical structure and composition particularly of low-dimensional nanomaterials have provided evidences that this approach can facilitate the design and assembly of novel architectures into useful devices and cater for a wide range of applications in energy, catalysis, sensing, to name a few. In this talk, our recent efforts in developing nanomaterials with tailored properties and functions will be presented. In particular, an emphasis will be placed on our recent developments on two dimensional nanosheets with unique solution behaviour for advanced applications in energy storage and conversion.

About the Speaker. Joselito Razal (Joe) is the Deputy Director of the ARC Future Fibres Hub and an Associate Professor at the Institute for Frontier Materials, Deakin University. He is best known for his research on novel functional nanomaterials for flexible and wearable energy storage and energy harvesting applications. Joe developed the toughest synthetic fibres using carbon nanotubes during his PhD studies at the University of Texas at Dallas, which have led to the development of many types of strong and tough nanomaterial-based fibres. These fibres are also multi-functional. They can store and convert energy, and sense external stimuli such as movement and pressure. These fibres have the potential to be integrated into wearable devices, portable electronics, and smart textiles. More recently, he has studied other types of low-dimensional materials including graphene, for which he discovered that achieving large aspect ratio nanosheets allows for fine-tuning of solution behaviour. This discovery has direct implications on solution-based processing of novel 3D materials produced by 3D printing and fibre spinning technologies. This research has helped many other scientists take advantage of this unique behaviour to improve processability of many nanosheets. For his pioneering works, he was awarded a Future Fellowship by the Australian Research Council in 2013. Since then, he has been leading a team of research fellows and graduate students, and working with several industry partners alongside his collaborators in Australia and overseas.