Wake Forest Physics
Profiles in Wake Forest Physics Archives
Former undergraduate student Sarah Klyap, an upperclass Carswell Scholarship recipient, worked with Professor Eric Carlson on searching for self-consistent wormhole solutions to the semi-classical Einstein equations. A wormhole is a connection between distant points in space time, but all known wormhole solutions require the existence of negative energy density, which can be realized in semi-classical gravity due to fluctuations of background quantum fields in curved spacetime. The main barrier to finding such solutions has been the difficulty of efficiently computing the expectation value of the stress-energy tensor in an arbitrary metric, particularly one that is derived from a table of values, rather than from an analytic formula. Sarah worked on developing efficient code that can work from an arbitrary metric and swiftly compute the resulting stress-energy tensor, which can then be used to compute the resulting metric due to Einstein’s equations, easing the search for such a solution. Sarah presented her work as an honors thesis to the Physics Department and was awarded the Speas award, the top honor for graduating physics majors. After graduation, Sarah participated in Teach For America in California.
Andrew Wall worked in the ultrafast laser laboratory of Professors Richard Williams and Burak Ucer. His research focused on pulsed light emission and transient absorption in zinc oxide. The work was conducted in collaboration with the Center for Radiation Detection Materials & Systems at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and was aimed at optimizing the composition of ZnO as a scintillator for use in detection of dangerous materials. Andrew co-authored a paper to appear soon in IEEE Transactions on Nuclear Science. He presented his senior honors thesis on “Absorption and emission of light by electrons and holes in ZnO” as part of the April 24 WFU Physics Colloquium. Andrew visited Oak Ridge National Laboratory along with Profs. Williams, Ucer and two other students for discussions of the results of the collaborative work. Andrew graduated in May, 2008, and has entered graduate study at the Optical Sciences Center of the University of Arizona.
Cam Mateus is a former undergraduate chemistry student, who worked in the Computational Biophysics research group, organized by Professors Jacquelyn Fetrow and Freddie Salsbury, at Wake Forest. One focus of this research group is in understanding how different members of protein families recognize their substrates. Ultimately, group members would like to be able to design inhibitors or drugs that are specific to individual members of a given protein family using only computer tools. Cam worked with Professor Fetrow on classifying the active site of members of the serine hydrolase protein family. This family is of interest because there has been much recent work on using chemical proteomics to identify the members of this protein family involved in diseases such as cancer. Cam has presented his work as a poster at the Keystone Conference on Computer Aided Drug Design in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
Eric Sparks is a physics department alumnus. As an undergraduate student, Sparks studied the mechanical properties of fibrin fibers in the laboratory of Associate Professor Martin Guthold. Fibrin fibers are the major structural components of blood clots and, thus, their mechanical properties are extremely important for physiological function of clots, which is stemming the flow of blood in an injury. Eric’s research used a combined Atomic Force Microscopy/Fluorescence Microscopy technique to study these fibers and his work will advance our understanding of the behavior of blood clots, which has medical applications in wound healing, heart attacks and strokes. Eric is a co-author of three peer-reviewed research papers, one of them in the prestigious journal Science. In 2007, Eric won the Physics Department Speas award, an award given to a physics major who best exemplifies former Professor Speas' spirit and enthusiasm for physics. Eric is now a medical student at UAB.
100 Olin Physical Laboratory
Wake Forest University
Winston-Salem, NC 27109-7507
Phone: (336) 758-5337, FAX: (336) 758-6142