BS Physics-MSE student Aliena Miranda of AdMU receives award at MSE Summit 2018 research fair in UP Diliman

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Aliena Mari P. Miranda (BS Applied Physics-Materials Science Engineering, 2nd from the left) during the awarding ceremonies at the Materials Science & Engineering Summit 2018 at University of the Philippines-Diliman

by Quirino Sugon Jr.

Aliena Mari P. Miranda (5 BS Applied Physics with Materials Science Engineering) of Ateneo de Manila University was awarded Best in Oral Presentation (undergraduate cluster) at the Materials Science and Engineering Summit 2018 Research Fair held last 16-17 March 2018 at the Engineering Theater of the University of the Philippines-Diliman. Miranda’s research was entitled, “Green synthesis of Fe2O3/graphene and MnO2/graphene nanocomposites for supercapacitor electrodes,” under the supervision of Dr. Erwin P. Enriquez of the Department of Chemistry of Ateneo de Manila University. Of the five participants in the Research Fair,  four are from Ateneo de Manila University. The two-day summit, with the theme “Sinagtala: A Focus on the Innovations of Philippine Materials,” has four events: Olympiad, ProdExpo, Career talks, and Research Fair.

Below is an interview with Aliena Mari P. Miranda by Ateneo Physics News:

1. How did you arrive at Ateneo de Manila University from high school?

I’m from Pasig City Science High School. I entered the Applied Physics/MSE program because I was interested in working on nanotechnology. Studying in a science high school helped cultivate my interest in the sciences, and luckily I was granted a scholarship to the Ateneo so I could pursue this interest.

2. What is the significance of your research?

With rampant pollution and limited resources, there is high interest in producing energy storage using environmentally-friendly methods and abundant materials. One device of interest is the supercapacitor, which, unlike the conventional dielectric capacitor, makes use of an electrolyte separated by a porous membrane. The electrodes have to be conductive, and have to have a high surface area to increase the energy it stores. Metal oxides such as iron oxide and manganese oxide have high specific capacitances but they suffer from low conductivity and low surface area. To address this, these metal oxides can be deposited in nanoparticle form onto graphene to increase their surface area and conductivity. The research shows that effective supercapacitor electrodes made of metal oxide-graphene nanocomposites can be created using green synthesis methods such as direct exfoliation and microwave-assisted hydrothermal synthesis, addressing the need to replace energy-intensive methods and toxic reagents. It also shows that iron oxide and manganese oxide increase the specific capacitance of graphene as the nanocomposites had higher specific capacitances compared to plain graphene.

3. Is this research a continuation of your BS Applied Physics thesis?

This research isn’t a continuation of my BS Applied Physics thesis, so the toughest part was getting used to the lab protocols for working in a chemistry laboratory. Working in a chemistry laboratory taught me to be more meticulous with my work especially since the reagents and tools we were using could be expensive.

I did my Applied Physics thesis under Dr. Christian Mahinay at the Vacuum Coating and Plasma laboratory where I worked on the characterization of DC-magnetron argon plasma using a Langmuir probe that I designed. I decided to start a different study for my MSE thesis because I was interested in Dr. Enriquez’s work on supercapacitors. Luckily, Mark Cabello, a previous graduate student, had been working on creating metal oxide graphene nanocomposites but they were designed for dye-sensitized solar cells, so Dr. Enriquez advised me to work from there to develop supercapacitor electrodes.

4. What motivated you to join the contest?

I was motivated to join the contest because my friends and I joined the quiz bee in the same summit two years ago. Our professor in an MSE class, Dr. Jose Mario A. Diaz, told us we’d get bonus points if we won the quiz bee. Unfortunately, we didn’t win then, so I kept my eye on the summit and decided my MSE thesis was good material for the research fair. A block mate, and an org mate joined the research fair as well so we cheered for each other during the oral presentations.

Students should be encouraged to talk about their work with others so that they can get feedback from people other than their peers and teachers in their school. We got to interact with students from different universities and learn about their work, and it helped build this sense of community knowing that science is alive and well all around the country, although it could be better if more support was given and more resources were shared. One of the professors commented that I could approach them to use their facilities since I was having difficulties with characterization. Events like this MSE Summit gives me hope that science can flourish as a field in the Philippines.

5. Were you able to make it to the BPI-DOST awards?

Yes, I am one of the two awardees from the Ateneo to the BPI-DOST Science Awards. They decided to cut the nominees from three last year down to just two this year so the competition was tougher. I thought I wouldn’t make it because one of the panelists commented he didn’t understand my methodology, but somehow it worked out in the end. The results have not been announced online but we were emailed letters last week. The other awardee is Kariz Bautista, a fourth year BS Chemistry/MSE student who worked on modified nanocellulose derived from hyacinths under Dr. Jose Mario Diaz. The awarding ceremony is on 5 June 2018.

6. What are your future plans in 5 years?

I’m currently waiting for the results of my application for the Japanese Government (MEXT) Scholarship. My blockmate and I have passed the second screening, which was under the university we’re applying to, and now we’re waiting for the results of the third screening under the Japanese Government. In the meantime, I plan to finish my reading list and pick up a few online classes. If I don’t get into the scholarship, I plan on working in the construction industry.

7. Was your paper already published?

No, my paper has not been published yet. I haven’t had the time to make my work suitable for publication, and there’s still a lot to do.

8. Any parting words?

Getting started seems tough but it’s a crucial step. Don’t let your inhibitions get the best of you. I started studying physics not really knowing what I got myself into, but I braced myself for the ride. I can’t say I’ve always been passionate for physics, but sometimes you just have to grit your teeth and work through it.

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Certificate of Recognition of Aliena Mari P. Miranda for winning the Best in Oral Presentation (Undergraduate Cluster) at the MSE Summit 2018 Research Fair in University of the Philippines-Diliman last 16-17 March 2018.

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Erasmus+ ARTIST project for science teaching innovation at AdMU: An interview with Mr. Ivan Culaba of the Physics Department

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The ARTIST partners during the kick-off meeting at University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany on January 2017. In the photo are Dr. Joel Maquiling (back row, 3rd from the left) and Mr. Ivan Culaba (back row, 2nd from the right) of the Department of Physics, School of Science and Engineering, Ateneo de Manila University. Source: Action Research To Innovate Science Teaching (ARTIST)

by Quirino Sugon Jr

Ateneo de Manila University and De La Salle University-Manila were chosen by the European Union’s Erasmus+ Program as its two partner universities in the Philippines for the ARTIST (Action Research To Innovate Science Teaching) project. The other eight partner universities are University of Bremen (Germany), Ilia State University (Georgia), Alpe-Adria-University (Austria), University of Limerick (Ireland), Gazi University (Turkey), Batumi Shota Rustaveli State University (Georgia), The Academic Arab College of Education (Israel), and Oranim Academic College of Education (Israel). The project coordinators are Prof. Dr. Ingo Eilks of the University of Bremen and Prof. Dr. Marika Kapanadze of Ilia State University.

The ARTIST project aims to innovate science education through classroom‐based and teacher‐driven Action Research–a cycle of innovation, research, reflection and improvement–by forming networks of higher education institutions, schools and industry partners in each partner country. The ARTIST project allows the partner universities to acquire state-of-the art audio-visual and science equipment for teacher trainings and instructions. Training materials on action research will be developed and used in workshops and courses.

Below is an interview with Mr. Ivan Culaba, manager of the ARTIST project in Ateneo de Manila University.

1. What is your role in the project?  Are there other AdMU faculty involved here? 

I am the manager of the ARTIST project in Ateneo. In the Department of Physics, Dr. Joel T. Maquiling and Ms. Johanna Mae M.  Indias are also involved in the project. Joel has accompanied me in the meetings and helped in the presentations. Joel and Johanna helped in the identification of possible industry partners. Johanna also visited the high schools for evaluation as possible network partners. Ms. Via Lereinne B. Chuavon of the Office of Social Concern and Involvement assisted us in the networking with high schools and communications with the Schools Division Office of Marikina City. I also had very constructive discussions with Mr. Christopher Peabody of the Department of Chemistry. Mr. Tirso U. Raza, of the Office of Facilities and Sustainability has assisted us in finding the source of the audio visual equipment and in the preparation of the rooms for their installation. Our technicians, Mr, Numeriano Melaya, Mr. Colombo Enaje, Jr. and Mr. Ruel Agas have been working on making the ADMU ARTIST Network Center and Physics Education Resource Center (F-230, Faura Hall) become functional.

 

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Action Research for the Reflective Practitioner workshop at Ateneo de Manila University, 7 April 2017

3. How did you get involved in the project?

 

This project was conceived by Prof. Eilks and Prof. Kapanadze after their successful implementation of TEMPUS project SALiS. I met Prof. Kanapadze during the Active Learning in Optics and Photonics workshop at Ilia State University, Tbilisi, Georgia in 2014, where she was the organizer. She invited me into the ARTIST project and I extended the same invitation to Dr. Lydia Roleda of the De La Salle University-Manila.

I became interested in the ARTIST project since we had just started with the NSTP activity wherein our Physics majors were assigned to Sta. Elena High School for the area engagements. While our students were facilitating in the high school students’ physics activities we were also engaged in the Physics training of the science teachers in the same school. We thought that the high schools would immensely benefit from the ARTIST project in line with the university’s thrust for greater social involvement and service learning.

The ARTIST project was approved by the EU commission on October 2016 but the first tranche of the budget was released on January 2017.

4. What were your ARTIST meetings in Europe all about? 

The kick-off meeting was held at the University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany on 18-20 January 2017. It was the first time that we met our collaborators in the project. The objectives of the project, deliverables, work plans, and financial management among other topics were discussed. The second meeting was held at the Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt, Vienna, Austria on 14-15 September 2017. Progress reports on the networking with schools and industries, financial status of each partner university, scheduling of the workshops, planning of the e-journal ARISE and other matters were discussed in the meeting. The EU officials were not present in the meeting.

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Physics Education Resource Center (PERC) and ARTIST Network office Room F-230, Faura Hall

5. How is the Physics Education Resource Center in Faura Hall?  

I am very happy that we now have a Physics Education Resource Center (PERC) where the Physics Education group can meet and hold meetings and where the valuable lecture demonstration experiment set-ups can be displayed and made accessible to the faculty of the Department. A number of the demos have been transferred from F-229 and SEC C labs to PERC. Acquisition and development of lecture demonstration experiments will be a continuing process. The next step is the documentation of the resources so that the faculty may know what demos are available and how to use them.

The room will also serve as the office of the ARTIST project. The science equipment which will be purchased under this project will be placed in this room. We have ordered Physics equipment which are aligned to the Physics topics in Grades 7-10, although they may also be used for senior high school Physics. The list covers mechanics, heat and thermodynamics, waves and sound, optics and electromagnetism. There will also be materials which will be locally fabricated like ticker taper timers, circuit boards and Plexiglass lenses.

6. What are upcoming activities of the ARTIST project for this year?

We have held two seminar-workshops on Action Research. The first one was held on August last year in Ateneo de Manila. Prof. Maricar S. Prudente, who is an expert in Action Research, was the main speaker. The facilitators were Dr. Lydia S. Roleda, Dr. Minie Rose C. Lapinid and Dr. Socorro C. Aguja. They are all from the Science Department, Bro. Andrew Gonzales, FSC College of Education, De La Salle University. There were about ten participants from Roosevelt College, Inc. and some graduate students.

The second seminar-workshop was held recently on 7 April 2018 at Faura Hall, Ateneo de Manila. It was organized by the ARTIST team of Ateneo and De La Salle. The same team of speaker and facilitators from De La Salle University ran the seminar-workshop. A total of 31 participants from the ARTIST network of high schools – Parang High School, Sta. Elena High School, Marikina High School, Colegio de San Agustin, and graduate students in MS Science Education attended the workshop.

Another workshop on Action Research will be held on 15-18 May 2018 at De La Salle University-Manila. The ARTIST partners from Germany, Ireland, Austria, Georgia and Israel will facilitate the workshop. The first three days will be spent on understanding AR and writing AR proposals by selected teacher-participants. There will be an AR symposium, open to other teachers, on the fourth day where AR case studies will be presented.

Come October 2018 the workshop on Action Research and a meeting of the collaborators will be held in Haifa, Israel.

7. Any parting thoughts?

We hope that this project will have a positive impact on the way science is taught in the partner high schools and the lessons learned from these experiences may be adapted by other schools in the country.

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Participants of Action Research for the Reflective Practitioner workshop at Ateneo de Manila University, 4 August 2017

Satellite systems and space development programs: a talk by Prof. Motoi Wada of Doshisha University

 

The Department of Physics of Ateneo de Manila University cordially invites you to

Art of Science and Engineering III: A Talk on Satellite Systems and Space Development Programs

by Prof. Motoi Wada (Applied Physics Laborary, Doshisha University)

  • Date: 16 January 2017
  • Time: 1:00-3:00 p.m.
  • Venue: SOM 211 (John Gokongwei School of Management)

Abstract: The previous talk covered a story of gravitational wave detection. It is a science supported by an advanced technology. We go out to interstellar space this time. There, sophisticated control systems determine trajectories of explorer satellites solving Newtonian mechanics problems that you learn in your classroom. Mathematical formulations visualize images of photon signals in invisible wavelength range from dark deep space. This talk will cover status of space development programs at both USA and Japan

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Ateneo Physics faculty Clint Dominic Bennett attends two ionospheric research workshops in ICTP, Italy

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by Quirino Sugon Jr

Ateneo Physics faculty Clint Dominic G. Bennett  attended two workshops at the Abdus Salaam International Center for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), Italy. The first was the Workshop on the use of Ionospheric GNSS Satellite Derived Total Electron Content Data for Navigation, Ionospheric and Space Weather Research last 20-24 June 2016. The second workshop was the International Beacon Satellite Symposium 2016 last 27 June to 1 July, 2016.

GNSS is the Global Navigation Satellite System, a term which encompasses the Global Positioning System (GPS) of US and the GLONASS of Russia. GNSS satellites send positioning information to receivers on Earth via radio waves which pass through the ionosphere, where their propagation directions are bent or reflected in the same way as light beams pass from air to water. Comparing the satellite positions from the transmitted and received values provides information on the density of electrons in the ionosphere, positions of ground-based receivers, and the effects of solar activity on the ionosphere.

The Beacon Satellite Symposium 2016, on the other hand, was organized by Beacon Satellite Group of the International Union of Radio Science (URSI) Commission G. The symposium provides an opportunity for international ionospheric scientists to meet and collaborate on the study of ionospheric effects on radio propagation for science, engineering, and research applications.

Below is an interview with Mr. Clint Bennett by the Ateneo Physics News:

1. Where did you go to in Italy?

I went to the Abdus Salam International Center for Theoretical Physics to the attend the Workshop on use of Ionospheric GNSS Satellite Derived Total Electron Content Data for Navigation, Ionospheric and Space Weather Research last 20 – 24 June, 2016 and the International Beacon Satellite Symposium 2016 last 27 June to 1 July, 2016. The workshop focused on training the participants in using existing TEC calibration software and explaining the results in terms of Space weather events as indicated by indices such as Kp and Dst. The symposium on the other hand was actually a conference with plenary and parallel sessions. It was organized by the Beacon Satellite Studies Group of URSI Commission G, an interdisciplinary group, servicing science, research, application and engineering aspects of statellite signals observed from the ground and in space. There were around 200 participants in the symposium.

2. Who invited you to go to the conference?

I was invited by Dr. Endawoke Yizengaw from the Boston College Institute for Scientific Research. He is one of the Principal Investigators of the AMBER (African Meridian B-field Education and Research) project. The Manila Observatory is hosting two of the magnetometers for this project and Dr. Yizengaw has been here in Manila Observatory. My transportation and accommodation were shouldered by the conference organizers and sponsors: ICTP, ICG, Boston College and EGU.3. Did you present something?

A lot of us were invited as students and were not required to make a presentation. This is their way of encouraging Space weather research in third world countries. We were instead required to do exercises on TEC calibration and make a group report.

4. What are the talks that you found interesting? How are they related to your work at Manila Observatory and the Department of Physics? 

There were a lot of interesting talks. One of them was about the direct forcing of the thermosphere and ionosphere by small-scale gravity waves originating from the lower atmosphere. In the upper atmosphere gravity waves directly affect the thermospheric circulation by energy and momentum deposition and an interesting result is that gravity waves cool the upper atmosphere at a rate of -150 K per day.

Another one was about the detection of tsunami driven events in the ionosphere via occultation. They reported the ionospheric response to the great Tohoku earthquake and tsunami which occurred together with a minor magnetic storm. It was nice to learn that tsunamis can drive gravity waves to the ionosphere.

5. What are the interesting places and landmarks you visited? 

The Beacon Satellite Symposium included an excursion to Aquileia. It is listed by UNESCO as a world heritage site. It is an ancient Roman city in Friuli Venezia Giulia. It was one of the worlds largest cities during the Roman times and is now a major archaeological site with so much still to be excavated.

6. What are some key insights that you learned after the conference? 

The Beacon satellite symposium is evidence of growing interest in the study of Sun-Earth interaction. It has attracted a wide variety of international researchers from over 40 countries, a lot of them from non-academic institutions, to study the earth’s ionosphere and thermosphere and I think the Philippines can be part of this. It would be a big step forward if I could encourage students to be involved in this field of research.

7. Do you have any parting message to our physics students?

There are so many ways for students to get involved in the study of Space Weather. The international community makes an effort to direct funding towards problems that face the world as a whole, such as space weather effects and monitoring of natural hazards. These creates the availability of financial support for students from third world countries.

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Excavations in the ancient Roman city Aquileia in Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy

Art of Science and Engineering II: A talk on gravitational wave detection and nuclear fusion by Prof. Motoi Wada of Doshisha University

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The Department of Physics of Ateneo de Manila University cordially invites you to a talk entitled, Art of Science and Engineering II, by Prof. Motoi Wada of the Applied Physics Laboratory of Doshisha University. The talk will be held on July 14, 2016, Thursday, 10:00 a.m., at the 5th floor of the Rizal Library. Light snacks will be served.

This talk is Prof. Motoi Wada’s second talk at Ateneo de Manila University upon the invitation of Dr. Christian Mahinay, Head of the Vacuum Coating Laboratory of the Department of Physics. Prof. Wada’s previous talk was entitled, Art of Science and Technology, which was held last November 27, 2015, 1:30-2:30 p.m. at the Social Science Lecture Rooms 3 and 4He talked then about  Japan’s research in the fields particle accelerator physics and semiconductor industry–all with references to art and history.

Now, in Art of Science and Engineering II, Prof. Motoi Wada shall dazzle us once again with his breathtaking slides and videos as he talks on the latest updates on the LIGO experiment for gravitational wave detection and the engineering precision required to make such detection possible in Astronomy. Prof. Wada shall also talk about the cosmic recycling process–about how some stars die a violent death as supernovas, and how the dust and fragments from the nebulous smoke pull themselves together again through the force of gravity, forcing hydrogen atoms to combine to form Helium, resulting in nuclear fusion reaction that gives birth to new stars. But on Earth, the Hydrogen atoms that we generate do not have enough cumulative mass to form a star through nuclear fusion. So the only way perhaps is to force the fusion of Hydrogen by some other means aside from gravity, as Dr. Otto Octavius (Dr. Octopus) tried to do through the magnetic fields from his tentacles, before he plunged into the depths of the sea, holding the newborn star that could have destroyed the human race.

Is man-made nuclear fusion already possible with today’s technology?  How far are we before we can ditch fossil fuel, such as coal and crude oil, in favor of clean energies like nuclear fusion? Let’s ask Pro. Motoi Wada when we attend his talk on ARt of Science and Technology II this July 14, 2016. See you there!