A pair of undergraduate physics students at UPEI were awarded top honours at the 2013 Science Atlantic Physics & Astronomy Conference, held recently at the Université de Moncton. Logan Montgomery won the Science Atlantic Science Communication Award, and Taylor Dunn won the ACEmat Award in Computational Modeling of Materials.
Dunn’s award is for his project, titled Polymer translocation dynamics through a nanopore, which he worked on last summer as an NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award-winner. Dunn used computer simulation methods to study the dynamics of a polymer as it squeezes through a tiny hole in a barrier, a process called polymer translocation. He says this type of research could lead to improvements in DNA sequencing.
“I was thrilled to receive the award from ACEmat,” said Dunn. “Receiving the award has given me even more motivation to continue my research, and to pursue more projects in computational modeling in the future.”
Dunn’s supervisor is Dr. James Polson, associate professor of physics at UPEI.
“There are various competing theories of polymer translocation dynamics, and it’s not yet clear which provides the correct physical picture for the experimental context,” said Dr. Polson. “Taylor’s work will help resolve this theoretical problem, and this, in turn, will guide the development of the DNA sequencing technology.”
Logan Montgomery’s winning project was titled Analyzing the effects of phaseless CT images on cancer treatment plans. It was based on his co-op work last summer at the Prince Edward Island Cancer Treatment Centre.
“The centre uses a CT simulator to develop radiation treatment programs for cancer patients on P.E.I.,” explained Montgomery. “A small number of the images created by the simulator had errors in them, and we were having trouble understanding why. I was able to help discover that a part of the program originally designed to compensate for irregular data was, in fact, over-compensating and creating errors.”
“I’m really proud of Logan and the work he did at the cancer centre as part of his co-op work term,” said Dr. Bill Whelan, physics co-op director. “Here is one of our top physics students making a real difference in how cancer treatments are delivered on Prince Edward Island."
Science Atlantic (formerly APICS, the Atlantic Provinces Council on the Sciences) is a charitable association of 18 post secondary and research institutes in Atlantic Canada with a mandate to advance science education and research at the undergraduate level.