Response of Jaren Ryan Rex (BS APS/ACS) at SOSE Recognition Program for Distinguished Students of 2017

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Jaren Ryan Rex, Magna Cum Laude and Physics Program Awardee, makes a response in behalf of the Honor Students during the SOSE Recognition Program for Distinguished Students at Leong Hall, 24 May 2017, 10:00 a.m. Photo by Maria Anna Acejas-Asis.

Dr. Vilches, Dr. Bautista, esteemed faculty, and fellow students, good morning.

It is an honor to be with you all here today. I am sure we are all delighted to have performed as well as we did to receive our hard-earned grades. At the same time, we are humbled to be blessed with the passion for learning and the cognitive capabilities that have enabled us to excel in our fields. We are also humbled to be in each other’s presence, to see others who have excelled, and to celebrate our collective achievements as a community.

As science majors, we can perhaps all agree that reaching this level of excellence has required a great deal of discipline. Reading our textbooks and other references again and again, until we finally understood the lessons; solving problems late into the night to practice for the upcoming exam; working long hours in the lab to accomplish only a small step in our theses—we’ve all learned how hard work pays off through these experiences.

Sometimes, though, we felt it didn’t pay off—we may have been discouraged from time to time with a substandard performance in a test, a difficult concept we couldn’t understand, or a failed experiment. And many of us have been in a love-hate relationship with our theses, recalling those times when we wanted to scream in utter frustration whenever our programs weren’t running properly, or our simulations produced bad results, or our circuits weren’t working, or the reagents didn’t react as expected, or we didn’t see what we wanted to see under the microscope, or the math simply didn’t check out. At one point, we may have given up on doing our best, and settled for “OK, good enough.” But eventually we would get back on our feet and renew our resolve to excel, no matter what challenges we face.

And here we are now! We’ve hurdled four or five years of hardship and trials, and reaped the best rewards: those flashes of insight when we connect two lessons together, the sweet feeling of winning a champion title in a competition, and the extraordinary experience of getting 100% in a long exam and seeing your raw grade decrease because your previous exam was a 137.5/100.

But as Ateneans, we’ve learned not to let all these achievements get to our head, but rather to share our blessings with others and use our talents to help others in the best way possible. We’ve tutored our block mates and other students who needed help understanding the lessons. We’ve organized projects to spread love and appreciation for the sciences: amazing race-type games with stations demonstrating practical applications of science, talks and fora for experts to share their knowledge and experience, and many, many more. Some of us have even gone out and presented our theses or other projects to various audiences, reminding them of the importance of science in our lives.

This brings us to now. After celebrating our achievements, we ask ourselves: What now? Some of us have well-laid plans as to what to do next. But some of us are still unsure, still exploring our options (and doing feasibility checks on them). And what are we to expect from the outside world? I don’t know. Perhaps we will be continually frustrated by people who refuse to believe in the usefulness and relevance of our fields. Perhaps we will be discouraged by the lack of scientific interest in our own country, or the blatant disregard of it elsewhere in the world.

But as scientists and as Ateneans, we know how to respond. We know the truth about how science is ever-present in life, how science shapes our understanding of nature, our technological developments, and our worldview. And we can assert the importance of our careers, whether they be creating products that put science to good use, or doing research that deepens our understanding of the universe, or inspiring the next generation of scientists. We will not be discouraged by the evils of the world; rather, we shall commit to serving God and the world by continuing to excel in our fields.

Once again, we thank the Ateneo for giving us this opportunity to excel. Wherever we go, we shall inspire others to do the same.

Thank you all.

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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

Decision support system using near cloud for disaster and risk management: an interview with Dane Ancheta (BS APS-ACS 2017)

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“Design and development of decision support system using near cloud for disaster management and risk reduction” by E. D. Ancheta (right), J. A. Dela Cruz, and A. J. Domingo. Advisory committee: N. Libatique, PhD, G. Tangonan, PhD, D. Solpico, and D. Lagazo. Department of Electronics, Computer and Communications Engineering, Ateneo de Manila University.  Interlinks 13.0 was held last 5 May 2015, 1:00-5:00 p.m., at Convergent Technologies Center (CTC) Rm 413.

by Dane Ancheta and Quirino Sugon Jr

Dane Ancheta is a graduating student of BS Applied Physics and Applied Computer Systems (BS APS-ACS) of the Ateneo de Manila University and is one of the four last BS APS-ACS majors taking this course. After graduating High School from Ateneo de Zamboanga University in 2012, she went on to Ateneo de Manila University on a 100% financial aid scholarship, and a DOST merit scholarship. She worked at Manila Observatory (MO) for her physics thesis entitled “Temporal variability of localized rainfall events in metro manila over 2 years (2013-2014).” She also worked in Ateneo Innovations Center (AIC) for her Applied Computer Systems (ACS) thesis entitled “Design and development of decision support system using near cloud for disaster management and risk reduction.” Her co-workers are April Domingo (BS Computer Engineering) and Jane Dela Cruz (BS Electronics and Communications Engineering). They presented a poster of their work last 5 May 2017 at Interlinks 13.0, an annual research poster exhibition organized by the Ateneo Innovation Center for the School of Science and Engineering (SOSE) of Ateneo de Manila University. The abstract of their poster reads as follows:

In disaster scenarios, the lack of wireless internet or weak cellular network signal poses a very real threat to crucial information gathering and sharing. Using Near Cloud to store, load and upload information, this project has designed and developed decision support nodes that is able to to gather and distribute intelligent information before, during, and after disasters. These nodes are cached in with key information and data needed for disasters, i.e. maps, message reports, and images. The nodes serve as the command and control in early warning and disaster management systems. Key capabilities featured in for the decision support node include: broadcast mode that is broadcasting message via RF, mapping and visualization, data mining, near cloud, and the medical decision support system. A decision support node architecture is then developed and proposed as the main command and control as mobile kiosks. This mobile kiosk architecture is developed with a number of Raspberry Pi 3‘s, each of which are connected to perform and handle one application in a grid pattern.

Below is an interview with Dane Ancheta by Ateneo Physics News:

1. Why did you choose physics?

I could not imagine myself not taking physics.  I chose physics in all colleges that I applied. I don’t want to live my life wondering, “What if I had taken physics?”  

I love science. When I was a little girl, I would watch National Geographic. I’m naturally inquisitive. My teachers were great and supportive, but it was generally my curiosity that drove me to take physics.

2. Can you tell us about your your physics thesis?

I worked at the Manila Observatory for my thesis entitled “Temporal variability of localized rainfall events in metro manila over 2 years (2013-2014)”. My thesis adviser is Dr. James Simpas and Ma’am Genie Lorenzo. The data comes from the, at the time, newly installed dense network of weather stations around Metro Manila. For my thesis, I used at around 24 stations that are at a 5 km radius apart each. Basically, what I did was characterize localized rain events such as thunderstorms and precipitation; bigger events such as monsoons and typhoons are not included. We found out that the most amount of rainfall is experienced in Tayuman, Manila, though Makati City and Quezon City also experience high amounts of rainfall. The probability of rainfall is highest in middle and western Metro Manila, while it is lowest in southeastern Metro Manila. The study characterizes for the first time the areas of likelihood, rainfall and temporal correlation for the localized rain events in Metro Manila. It does not, however, explain such behavior, so we are still looking for an explanation  This work will definitely be continued or taken over.

For this thesis, all data were being sent to Manila Observatory. It is hard work to make sure that the data we are preparing are usable. We don’t get the data “clean”, that is why we have to check if they are healthy or anomalous. The data come from the weather stations that are exposed to the elements. But I did not have to go out as data from these stations were directly received by MO. I used QGIS and a little Python. I had learned many things working on this project.  This August 2017, we shall go to Singapore for the Asia Oceania Geoscience Society ( AOGS) conference. I shall present a poster of my physics thesis there. A good number from the research team is going because we have both the AQD-ITD (Air Quality DynamicsInstrumentation and Technology Development under Dr. Obiminda Cambaliza and Dr. James Simpas) and RCS (Regional Climate Systems under Dr. Narisma) researchers presenting.

3. Can you tell us about our Applied Computer Systems thesis?

In our 5th year, we start working on our ACS thesis under a thesis group with the ECCE (Electronics, Computer, and Communications Engineering) Department. I got involved in Ateneo Innovation Center where I became part of a big research team. On-going projects were laid out and discussed for us. The bigger research team is currently working on Multi-platform ICT Decision Support System UAVs , Vehicle Hubs, Ubiquitous Computing for Disaster Risk Reduction. We settled on the mission control end of the system. There are three of us in the thesis group- April Domingo is from CoE (Computer Engineering) and Jane Dela Cruz is from ECE (Electronics and Communications Engineering). Basically what we do is we receive all information from the responders and UAVs, and develop a system for this flow of information.

In the event of a disaster scenario, communication lines may be cut off due to damages to infrastructure, making information sharing difficult. Information that may be crucial for damage assessment and rescue operation would be lost or would not be transmitted effectively. In the research, we used the near cloud to store, load and upload information, this project has designed and developed decision support nodes that is able to gather and distribute intelligent information before, during, and after disasters.

We built upon the thesis of those who worked on near cloud before us. The previous team used Ionics plug computer, however, since this product was discontinued, we decided to make our own near cloud using Raspberry Pi 3 and terabyte hard drives. Our architecture is as follows: there is a raspberry pi node which serves as a serve/gateway. All other Raspberry Pi units with their corresponding applications are connected to this node. The architecture itself is an enabler: it enables all the applications to run in the same network.

The system also has near cloud capabilities. It acts as a cloud storage, but for a local network. This is done by configuring a Raspberry Pi for hotspot capabilities, while connecting the terabyte hard drive storage to it. Therefore, anyone can connect to the Raspberry Pi network and access all the files stored in the hard drive. Devices such as phones and laptops can access, download or upload (with permissions) files into the hard drive through this network as long as they are connected to the hotspot. The system also has drop box capabilities. This technology will be useful in evacuation centers. Given that communication lines could be cut off and there might not be enough power, it is hard to get information through. But the Raspberry Pi is low maintenance and low power, but powerful enough to make information available for access via the preloaded data in the hard drive. We tried to test this system by connecting about 10 devices, and it can work well in accessing files and streaming videos.

Another capability is our war room display with multiple screens where the interface is shown. This is how it works: responders and UAVs are on the ground send data to the mission control. The communication is done by radio frequency module at 900 MHz, which reach about 5km point to point without walls. If the messages from a responder is being sent, the message will be relayed to the different phones until it reaches mission control. For the responders sending a message to the mission control, the message and location of the responder will show up in the Google Maps API, so it will be easier to visualize where the responders are. This is how information will be received and instructions will be sent out from the mission control.

The most difficult part of the thesis are the times we have to learn the language then and there. We try to solve problems not encountered in class. We used a lot of different languages for different functions, such as C#, HTML, PHP and mySQL. We used Raspbian for the Raspberry pi the Windows 10 IoT (Internet of Things) core, Visual Studio for the interface, PHP for the chatroom, and Google API for the mapping. We have to learn using internet and the kindness of people.

4. Were you under a scholarship?

I am a Financial Aid scholar. Our kind benefactor is a BS APS-CE (Applied Physics / Computer Engineering) graduate and he gives scholarships to students who are pursuing the same course. I am lucky to have a benefactor like that who is passionate about supporting students interested in physics.

I am also a DOST scholar ever since sophomore year. So that makes three or four years. My failure in one class did not impact my scholarship that bad. It had to be put on hold for a time until I passed, but I did eventually get it back. The failure in that class is just a bump. I did study and did well in my other classes, so I did not feel like I was in danger. My QPI was 2.89 even with the failed class. I survived.

5. What are your plans for the future?

I am not sure yet if I want to take engineering or masters. I am thinking of going to China to do my masters, but I still have to consider the requirements, e.g. fixing papers and submissions. I am very nervous, since it is really an open field.  There is no one direct path to go to. There is so much freedom to choose from. So I have not decided yet on what to do.

6. Any parting words to our Physics majors?

The most difficult part of being a BS Physics/Computer Engineering major is the rigor that comes into the work. It is both a difficulty and a blessing. Not everybody undergoes that kind of rigor that is required of physics. We had to learn a lot: even failure is a learning process. I learned to shift focus from just getting good grades to learning something and growing in the course. I did fail one class: Electromagnetics. I try to look on the bright side and say it was not that bad because it pushed me to do better in my studies.

Physics and Computer systems go very well together. As a physicist, it is really important to work with computers and use them for your advantage. It was sad that the course had to be discontinued. We do learn to program using C++ in PS 130 Computational Physics; however I think it is not enough programming for physics. Even if the course does create excellent and competent students, after college they get into web develop or work in IT related fields. Now, there’s no ACS. It is a shame. Programming is so useful.  In today’s age, if you can program, you can hold the world on a string.

Stay curious. Be inquisitive. Never stop asking questions.

 

 

Ateneo Physics alumnus Jude Salinas is now a PhD student in Earth Systems Science at National Central University, Taiwan

Jude Salinas, PhD Student, Taiwan International Graduate Program - Earth Systems Science Program, Academia Sinica, National Central University, Taiwan

After finishing his BS Applied Physics degree at Ateneo de Manila University in 2012 , Cornelius Csar Jude H. Salinas went on to take his PhD studies at the Taiwan International Graduate Program-Academia Sinica of the National Central University, Taiwan.  Last December 2016, his paper entitled, “Impacts of SABER CO2-based eddy diffusion coefficients in the lower thermosphere on the ionosphere/thermosphere,” was published at the Journal of Geophysical Research-Space Physics. SABER stands for Sounding of the Atmosphere using Broadband Emission Radiometry (SABER) instrument is one of four instruments on NASA’s Thermosphere-Ionosphere-Mesosphere Energetics and Dynamics (TIMED) satellite. To scan the atmosphere, SABER uses a 10-channel broadband limb-scanning infrared radiometer with spectral range of 1.27 µm to 17 µm. Different gases–O3, CO2, H2O, [O], [H], NO, OH, O2, and CO2–have different absorption properties at different electromagnetic wavelengths. This allows the bulk properties of these gases to be measured, such as kinetic temperature, pressure, geopotential height, volume mixing, volume emission rates, and cooling and heating rates–all across different atmospheric heights.

The atmosphere is the layer of the gas molecules surrounding a planet–or even a star like the sun. For the earth, the dominant atmospheric gases are Nitrogen (N2) at 78%, Oxygen (O2) at 21%, and Argon at 0.9%. Different gases have different masses, and the way these gases mix result to different layers of the atmosphere: troposphere (6-20 km), stratosphere (20-50 km), Mesosphere (50-85 km), thermosphere (85-590 km), and exosphere (590-10,000 km). At the thermosphere, the molecules become very hot due to absorption of ultraviolet rays from the sun, with temperatures reaching 2,500 deg Celsius, though it would still feel cold below O deg Celsius since the gases are sparse. Some of these hot molecules gets ionized, i.e. they shed off electrons, transforming the molecules into positive ions. These electrons and ions define the ionosphere. The density of the ionosphere may be determined by the frequency of radio waves that they reflect, which are usually from 2 to 25 MHz. The ionosphere is essentially a plasma, which is affected by the earth’s magnetic field and by the internal electric fields generated by the separation of positive and negative charges. Thus, the motion of the ionosphere is coupled with that of the thermosphere–and even with the lower parts of the atmosphere through wave motion, which makes the problem difficult to observe and model, except through satellite measurements and computational methods, such as those used in Jude Salinas’ work.

Below is an interview with Jude Salinas by Ateneo Physics News.

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Jude Salinas with a snowman during an extremely rare event of snow in Taipei in 2016. The last time that it snowed in Taipei was almost 50 years ago.

1. What made you choose to take BS physics in AdMU? 

I chose to take BS Applied Physics with Applied Computer Systems in Ateneo because my particular fascination for airplanes inspired me to understand the physics behind our atmosphere especially turbulence. It definitely helped that I enjoyed my physics class during my highschool, PAREF Westbridge School for Boys in Iloilo City.

2. How were you able to enter the doctoral program at Academia Sinica? Was it through connections or did you pass some tests?

The application procedures didn’t require any tests but it did require recommendation letters and proof of research skills. In my case, I believe showing that I had at least 5 conference presentations (4 international) helped. Indeed, the skills that I learned from my undergraduate research helped me a lot in both course-work and research.

3. What research you currently working on? 

My PhD research specialty is under the fields of atmospheric and space physics. I do research on the coupling of our lower atmosphere (less than 15 km) and our upper atmosphere (greater than 110 km) via the interaction of numerous atmospheric waves (e.g. Rossby/planetary-scale waves, gravity waves, etc.) with the background atmosphere occurring in our middle atmosphere (15 to 110 km). Our middle atmosphere is not in a state of radiative equilibrium everywhere and at all times. For example, in the mesopause (at roughly 90 km), the summer hemisphere is much colder than the winter hemisphere. In fact, the summer mesopause is the coldest point in our atmosphere. The interaction of atmospheric waves with our background atmosphere drives this. This is actually pushed further in that these waves which originated in the neutral atmosphere also affect our ionosphere, a region of our atmosphere that is dominated by charged plasma. Understanding the physics behind the coupling of our atmospheric regions is important in satellite operations, communications and space exploration. My research utilizes physical models to understand and consequently simulate observational data from satellites.

My current research is specifically about understanding the physics and chemistry behind the coupling of our lower atmosphere and our upper atmosphere by looking and explaining the variabilities of CO2 in the middle atmosphere. My JGR Space Physics paper lays the foundation for the rest of my PhD work. It aimed to calculate eddy diffusion coefficient profiles in the Mesosphere and Lower Thermosphere region (80 – 110 km) using satellite observations of CO2 and a one-dimensional photochemical and transport model. Eddy diffusion coefficients are a model parameterization for sub-grid scale motions like mixing due to breaking gravity waves. Calculating this is difficult because it is like calculating the diffusion that occurs when a wave crashes on a sea-shore or the diffusion due to turbulence. Only a few ground-stations have done this but of course, ground-stations don’t give a global coverage which is important. So far, no satellite-derived temperature nor wind dataset can be used to calculate this. Chemical species profiles and a one-dimensional model can also be used to calculate this but the chemistry of the utilized tracer must be well-known or it should be chemically inert. Our work used a CO2 as tracer because it is chemically inert in the Mesosphere and Lower Thermosphere region. We utilized recently retrieved CO2 profiles from the Thermosphere-Ionosphere-Mesosphere Energetics and Dynamics (TIMED) satellite’s Sounding of the Atmosphere using Broadband Emission Radiometry (SABER) instrument. Our work provides the longest dataset on satellite-based eddy diffusion coefficient profiles derived from CO2. We hope to start an effort to calculate these coefficients using other satellite-derived chemical species. After calculating these profiles, we saw that they were very similar to eddy diffusion coefficients calculated by certain models that explicitly parameterizes breaking gravity waves with eddy diffusion coefficients. This led us to think that we may have just indirectly derived eddy diffusion coefficients that could parameterize breaking gravity waves. We are still doing more work to more robustly show this. Noting this though, we set these coefficients as a lower boundary condition in our electrodynamics general circulation model. This checked a recent suggestion that breaking gravity waves was the missing forcing that could completely drive the seasonal variations in thermospheric neutral density and ionospheric electron density. Similar to the aforementioned cold summer mesopause, the ionosphere and thermosphere is also not solely controlled by solar activity (Chapman mechanism) and in this case, geomagnetic activity. There are a lot of phenomena in our upper atmosphere that is found to require additional forcings from lower and middle atmospheric waves. Our work finally showed that our derived eddy diffusion coefficients cannot simulate the seasonal variations in the ionosphere and thermosphere. The first paper to cite our work further supported our suggestions by presenting a different dynamical mechanism centered on first-principles that they showed simulated the seasonal variations in the ionosphere and thermosphere.

4. How is your work in Academia Sinica related to your work at Manila Observatory and the Department of Physics in Ateneo de Manila University?

My current work is related to my undergraduate work at MO and Ateneo in that I utilized satellite data and did a lot of time-series analysis in both works. Interestingly though, I found out that the rainfall data from TRMM (Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission of NASA) that I used for my undergraduate work was an instrumental observational evidence to the theory that ionospheric plasma bubbles are caused by convective activity in the troposphere via the vertical propagation of convectively-driven atmospheric waves through the middle atmosphere.

5. What is your normal day or week like? Are you a member of a Laboratory? Do you work alone or with a group?

I am a member of a laboratory under the Graduate Institute of Space Science in National Central University and also a laboratory under the Research Center for Environmental Change in Academia Sinica but we all do our research alone. It is our program’s policy that we should belong to two labs. In a normal week, I have one day for our lab meeting. The rest of the week is spent in the lab. On a normal day, I go to the lab and do the most important work from 9 am till 6 pm. It really depends, sometimes this could mean spending an entire day doing observational data analysis or modeling calculations or just reading and writing.

6. Can you describe the physical models and data sets that you use? How much computational power do you need for your models or to analyze your data? What is the computational infrastructure that allows you do such kind of research?

For my work, the data sets that I mostly use are satellite observations. I work with satellite-observations on temperature, CO2, electron density and neutral density. I also work with reanalysis datasets. Reanalysis datasets are datasets formed via complicated interpolation of numerous observations from ground-based stations to satellites. However, for my work, my methodology dictates I prioritize satellite data.

The physical models that I use include one-dimensional models and three-dimensional models. For the one-dimensional model, it is a photochemical and transport model that solves the continuity equation. The model includes the chemistry of the major non-nitrogen chemical species in the altitude range 0 – 130 km.

For the three-dimensional models, they are electrodynamics general circulation models developed by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in the US that solve the fully coupled, nonlinear, hydrodynamic, thermodynamic and continuity equations of neutral gas with the energy, momentum and continuity equations of ions in the thermosphere and ionosphere (from ~97 km to ~500 km). The external forcings accounted for are solar irradiance; geomagnetic energy; ionospheric convection; a specified upward and downward plasma flux at the upper boundary representing the interaction of the system with the plasmasphere; and perturbations at the lower boundary of the model by waves representing the interaction between the ionosphere-thermosphere region and the lower atmosphere.

The datasets that I have are all stored on our lab’s servers because of their massive sizes. The models that I use are also all ran on these servers. While my data-processing work are all done in either MATLAB or IDL, the models are all coded in FORTRAN for efficiency. An entire year’s worth of model run requires two days to finish. I also do decade-long model runs that require roughly a month to finish. In order to do this kind of research, one needs a powerful Linux cluster-system.

7. What are your five-year plans? Are you coming back to the country, pursue postdoctorate, or work in the industry?

My five-year plans include, of course, finishing my PhD and then, I’ll look for opportunities that can allow me to practice my training on atmospheric and space physics.

8. Any parting words for our Physics majors?

Whether you guys immediately opt to work or go to graduate school, understand that you guys will be starting your lives when you graduate. This is particularly difficult to understand for those considering graduate school. Some make the terrible mistake of thinking that graduate school postpones the reality that they are already starting their lives. This hinders them from always keeping in mind the more important things in life like being professional, being disciplined, being humble and thoroughly figuring out what they want in their lives. They’ve become blinded by the pleasure of finding things out (c.f. Richard Feynman). Doing advanced physics is cool but don’t ever lose sight that you have to juggle this with the advanced responsibilities of life. I’ve met numerous top-gun scientists and I’ve seen how their successes were founded not on how amazing they did their calculations and experiments but on how happily they lived their lives with their families. I credit my undergraduate adviser, Dr. Nofel Lagrosas, for constantly reminding me of these things when I was still in Ateneo.

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Left: Jude Salinas with his lab-mates and boss (left-most) on their way to an observatory in Taiwan’s Mt. Lulin. They were are setting up a telescope system for observing airglow emissions in the upper atmosphere. Right: Jude Salinas with his poster that won second place under the Mesosphere-Lower Thermosphere division of the Student Poster Competition during the Coupling, Energetics, Dynamics of Atmospheric Regions Workshop in Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA.