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Department of Energy Awards Grant to Michael Wood

Neutrons – you either love them or you hate them.

The neutron is the neutral cousin of the electrically-charged proton in the atomic nucleus.   Without the strong binding of neutrons to protons, the nucleus would blow apart by the repulsive forces of the positively-charged protons.  Without the neutron, there would be no nuclei, no stable atoms, and no molecules.  The universe would be a very different place.  As a form of radiation, the neutron creates serious problems.  Without that electric charge, it ignores electric and magnetic fields.  This makes it difficult to stop and usually requires large amounts of lead and concrete.  Standard equipment like plastic scintillators or gaseous ion chambers are inefficient at detecting neutrons.  In experiments searching for dark matter, a dark matter particle is discovered when all other particles are accounted for.  Because of the neutron’s low detection efficiency, it is common for it to mimic the dark matter signal.

Dr. Michael Wood, a Physics Professor and chair of the Department of Quantitative Sciences, has been awarded a Department of Energy Small Business Innovation Research grant to test a novel material to efficiently detect neutrons.  The grant, titled “Gadolinium-Loaded Plastic Scintillators for Dark Matter Search”, is a $12,777.00 subcontract with Radiation Monitoring Devices, Inc. (RMD) in Watertown, MA and collaborators from Lamar University and Occidental College.  RMD will manufacture samples of a plastic scintillator loaded with gadolinium.  The gadolinium is special due to its ability to absorb neutrons and emit gamma rays that can be detected by the scintillator.   Dr. Wood will study the characteristics of the sample in his lab in Science Hall followed by a measurement of the detection efficiency with a dark matter detector at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA.  If the gadolinium-loaded scintillators have a high detection efficiency, they will be utilized to remove the neutron background and eventually lead to a discover of a dark matter particle.

Submitted by: Dr. Michael Wood, Physics Professor and Chair, Department of Quantitative Sciences

Dr. Fox Invited to the “Trees in Many Contexts” Conference

Dr. Nathan Fox, assistant professor of mathematics, has been accepted to the American Mathematical Society’s Mathematics Research Communities Conference titled ”Trees in Many Contexts.”  

A tree is a mathematical structure that can be analyzed as either a data structure or a graph.  A data structure is defined by its elements while a graph is concerned with the links between the elements.  Trees are applicable in many fields including biology, chemistry, physics, data science and, of course, mathematics, to name a few.  

The conference will give Fox an opportunity to explore the field deeply and build up his research network.  The conference will be held June 5 – June 11, 2022 in Java Center, NY.

Submitted by: Michael H. Wood, chair, Quantitative Sciences

Canisius Community Mourns the Passing of Dr. Daniel Dempsey

The Canisius College community and the Department of Quantitative Sciences mourns the passing of Daniel Dempsey ‘52, PhD. Dan was the embodiment of what it means to be a Griffin.  Graduating with a degree in physics, he went on to earn his PhD from the University of Notre Dame.    

After his graduate work, Dan returned to Canisius and rejoined the Physics Department as a faculty member and instructor.  He taught physics at the college for 51 years (over a third of as long as the college has been in existence).  As Isaac Newton said, “If I have seen farther, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants”.  Thank you, Dan, for being a giant to so many Canisius physicists.

The full obituary can be found here –

Submitted by: Michael Wood, professor of physics, Department of Quantitative Sciences