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Research

The faculty in the Department of Physical Sciences are active in research and expanding their respective specialties and fields:

ASTRONOMY

Chad Young is involved in several areas of research in astronomy. Primarily, he is interested in the processes involved in the formation of low-mass stars and planets. As a result, he is currently working in two areas:

He is modeling data from the Spitzer Space Telescope in collaboration with the Spitzer Legacy Program Cores to Disks. The data obtained from such telescopes tells a great deal about the area of star formation observed. However, detailed modeling of the physical processes must be completed in order to make certain conclusions about the nature of the objects.

Dr. Young is also interested in determining the distances to star-forming cores. Most cores have great uncertainty in their distances, which causes difficulty when trying to describe exactly what is happening within these cores. He and several students have been using observations from the Hipparchos Space Observatory to more accurately determine the distances to these cores.

CHEMISTRY

Ms. April Dupre is currently conducting research focused on the “lab-on-a-chip” initiative. Work in this field strives to accomplish two main goals: fabrication/engineering of both microfluidic devices and instrumentation on which to study them as well as development/optimization of conventional chemical/biological assays for compatibility with the microchip platform. Her work is focused on assay development and optimization. Migration of conventional assays to the microchip is not always a trivial matter that deals only with the reduction in scale. While the reduced reagent amounts are desirable in terms of waste generation and required sample amounts, they present unique challenges in terms of suitable detection methods and limits of quantitation. Her doctoral work attempts to address these issues in order to perform protein-ligand binding studies using capillary electrophoresis with fluorescence detection. These studies have implications in both the medical and pharmaceutical fields as the binding of proteins to various cell receptors and drug compounds are critical in these areas.

Ms. Cindy Lamberty, in Summer 2007, joined the community of Green Chemistry ( http://greenchem.uoregon.edu/gems.html) and is currently implementing Green Chemistry principles in Intermediate Organic Lab and soon in the sophomore Organic Chemistry and the lab. She is researching ways to modify experiments to utilize more environmentally friendly (benign) chemicals, processes, or techniques in Organic reactions.

Mercury contamination of waterways and soils in the area surrounding Nicholls State University and the Mississippi River have been previously documented, Ms. Lamberty is investigating whether those levels have remained the same or are changing. Also, the use of shellfish (crawfish and crabs) to determine their ability to remove mercury from water samples and were the mercury accumulates in these animals.

GEOLOGY

Dr Graziela Miot da Silva is a marine geoscientist/coastal geomorphologist with a Masters and Ph.D in Marine Geology from UFRGS ( Brazil ) and a BsC from UNIVALI ( Brazil ) in Oceanography. Her research topics include wind and wave data analysis and modeling, coastal geomorphology, nearshore-surfzone-beach processes, beach-dune interactions, sediment transport in the surfzone and on the inner shelf and aeolian sediment transport over beaches and dunes. She obtained an Advanced Open Water Diver certificate in 1998, and is responsible for the courses Geol 101 (Physical Geology), Geol 102 (Historical Geology) and Geol 300 (Oceanography).

PHYSICAL SCIENCE

PHYSICS

Chad Young is interested in promoting the teaching of physics at Nicholls State University, Thibodaux, and Louisiana. As a result of this interest, he is pursuing several projects:

Einstein in Hollywood. Dr. Young and his students have been collecting movie clips that demonstrate some principle of physics. These clips are then used in the classroom, tested, and disseminated to other physics teachers.

For more information, visit http://www.nicholls.edu/phsc/movies/

Scientists of Louisiana. Dr. Young and his students have been interviewing scientists at Nicholls and around the state. These interviews cover the life and work of these scientists and will soon be available on a website where teachers can download K-12 activities that accompany the interviews and explore the same scientific principles investigated by the scientist.

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