2003 JR Macdonald Lab
Departmental Newsletter Article

Note that no attempt has been made to maintain the links in older newsletters.


News from the J.R. Macdonald Laboratory
Pat Richard, Lab Director

Faculty, staff and students working in the JRM Laboratory were prominent in the news this year. Following are some bits of information, which may or may not be in the rest of the newsletter.

Faculty in the News

University Distinguished Professor Lew Cocke, Associate Lab Director for JRML, was elected to the position of Secretary/Treasurer of the Division of Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics (DAMOP). If you are getting the DAMOP newsletters, they are coming from Lew. Two members of the group, Professors Brett DePaola, and Itzik Ben-Itzhak, were awarded fellowship status in the APS (See also below). Brett's citation reads "For developing and applying technologically advanced experimental methods for studying basic atomic collision processes." Itzik's citation reads "For his creative experimental studies of molecular dissociation dynamics via fragment coincidence and 3D imaging techniques; and for his studies of the creation and decay of long-lived metastable molecular ions." Uwe Thumm was promoted to Professor of Physics in Fall 2002, and Brett Esry recently has been awarded tenure and promoted to the position of Associate Professor of Physics at KSU. Congratulations to all.

Staff in the News

Al Rankin, assistant scientist, who has been a staff member in JRML since 1985, was recently recognized for his efforts in founding the A-3 Skywarrior aircraft website. The website allows former pilots and crewmembers to communicate. In an effort to expand his efforts, he organized a group that created a board of directors for the A-3 "Skywarrior" association. The association purchased and now maintains a commercial website, www.A3skywarrior.com. Al says there have been many rewards for his efforts. The association has received e-mails from kids of Vietnam veterans whose fathers were killed in the war. Finding people who knew their dads -i.e. squadron mates of their fathers, has helped them. The association celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the first flight of the A-3, in Van Nuys, California in October 2002. Approximately 500 were in attendance, including Al and his wife, Mary.

Students in the News

We have just learned that Hai Nguyen, physics GRA working on his Ph.D. with Brett DePaola has been awarded the "Upward Bound Achiever of the Year" award. At this writing the official announcement has not been made. To be nationally recognized by this organization is quite an honor. Upward Bound provides fundamental support to participants in their preparation for college entrance. The program provides opportunities for participants to succeed in pre-college performance and ultimately in higher education pursuits. Upward Bound serves high school students from low-income families, high school students from families in which neither parent holds a bachelors degree, and low-income, first-generation military veterans who are preparing to enter postsecondary education. The goal of Upward Bound is to increase the rates at which participants enroll in and graduate from institutions of postsecondary education.


Max Sayler, one of our undergraduate research assistants, working with Itzik Ben-Itzhak, was selected to present a talk at the DAMOP 2002 meeting in Williamsburg, Va in the "undergraduate student research session." It is an honor to be selected to make such a presentation. His work was on "Ionization and fragmentation of water by fast ion beams". Max is presently a graduate student in our AMO physics program. Jesus Hernandez, an undergraduate working with Brett Esry, has been selected this year to present a talk at the DAMOP-2003 meeting in Boulder, CO in the "undergraduate student research session." His work is on "a new theoretical description of atoms in intense laser fields." See also below.


New Faces in the Lab

We have hired two new research associates in the Macdonald Lab.

Dr. Ali Alnaser has joined Lew Cocke's group. Ali received his Ph. D. in physics from Western Michigan University working with Professor John Tanis. Ali is working on "electron rescattering phenomena," which is important in describing intense laser - atom/molecule interactions. Dr. Jiangfan Xia has joined Itzik Ben-Itzhak's group. Jiangfan was a research associate working with Professor Donna Strickland at the University of Waterloo, Canada. Jiangfan is working on an experiment to study the interaction of intense laser beams with molecular ion beams. Dr. Bernold Feuerstein joined the group of Professor Uwe Thumm. Bernold is on a fellowship from the Max Planck Institute in Heidelberg, Germany. He is working on theoretical models for molecular fragmentation in a strong laser field.


Research in the Lab

Please check our website www.phys.ksu.edu/area/jrm to see the latest in our research efforts. One of the main thrusts in the lab is to use the ultra-short pulse, ultra-intense laser beams, which have been developed during the last one and one- half years by Professor Zenghu Chang's group.


We are in the process of interviewing for a new faculty member in AMO Physics. Five candidates have been selected for interview.

Funding in the Lab

Last year (FY02) the AMO group received six grants totaling $2.95 Million. We have just received our renewal grant ($2,350,000) for the third year (FY03) of our latest 3-year grant from DOE. We will be submitting a proposal to DOE this summer for the next 3-year period.

K-State Professors Elected Fellows in American Physical Society

Three Physics faculty members have been selected as fellows in the American Physical Society. Itzik-Ben-Itzhak, Brett DePaola and Bharat Ratra were among the less than one-half of 1 percent of the international society's members to be recognized with fellowships this year. The fellowship program was created to recognize members who have made advances in knowledge through original research, made significant contributions in the application of physics to science and technology or made contributions to the teaching of physics or to the society.

Ben-Itzhak, who joined K-State in 1988, is a member of the J. R. Macdonald Laboratory, an atomic physics group operation under a Department of Energy grant researching ion-molecule collisions.





DePaola was one of the first physicists to travel to Japan as part of a cooperative research program between K-State and a Japanese physics laboratory, RIKEN. His experiements involved linear acceleration attempts to characterize electrons. He came to K-State in 1986.





Ratra is in the middle of a five-year, $300,000 National Science Foundation grant to study experimental data generated by deep-space experiments to help determine the shape of the universe. He recently co-authored an article in the Reviews of Modern Physics on his research. Ratra joined K-State in 1996.



Physics Undergraduate Invited to Give Talk at 2002 APS Meeting

It is not common that one of our undergraduate students is invited to give a talk in the APS meeting, in this case the DAMOP meeting of 2002.

Max Sayler, one of our undergraduate students is conducting research in the James R. Macdonald Laboratory on "Ionization and fragmentation of water by fast ions" under the supervision of Professor I. Ben-Itzhak. His research on isotopic effects in bond rearrangement and bond breaking have been discovered and have resulted in a few publications and an invitation to present his research in the "undergaraduate student research session" of the Annual Division of Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics ( DAMOP) Meeting of American Physical Society that was held in Williamsburg, Virginia during May 2002.

Only four to five students are selected each year to present such talks. The title of his talk was "Ionization and fragmentation of water molecules caused by fast proton impact; an isotopic effect in bond rearrangement." In addition to his talk, he presented a poster focusing on "Bond rearrangement during molecular dissociation; a sudden or slow process?" along with J.W. Maseberg, D. Hathiramani, K.D. Carnes, B.D. Esry, and I. Ben-Itzhak.


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