Research

GOLDEN, Colo., July 23, 2015 – The development of affordable and efficient ceramic fuel cells that could be used to power homes, the culmination of five years worth of work by Colorado School of Mines researchers, is featured in the July 23 issue of Science magazine.

The research, led by Mines Professor Ryan O’Hayre, would enable more efficient use of natural gas for power generation through the use of fuel cells that convert the chemical energy of a fuel source into electrical energy close to where it is used.

GOLDEN, Colo., June 23, 2015 – A team led by a Mines research professor of physics has been awarded $3 million by the Department of Energy to study the deterioration of canisters used for storing spent nuclear fuel.

Primary investigator Zeev Shayer’s team includes faculty from the Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering: Professors David Olson and Stephen Liu, and Assistant Professor Zhenzhen Yu.

Meet Sam Spiegel, the director of the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (CITL) at Colorado School of Mines. The center—started by Applied Mathematics and Statistics professor Gus Greivel and Physics professor Pat Kohl—is part of Mines’ Strategic Plan initiative to further the school’s STEM reputation, expand research opportunities and increase graduation rates.

Spiegel sees the CITL as a way to enhance faculty connections, provide them with resources and form an active learning community at Mines.

“The pieces that get me excited are real and rich conversations about teaching and learning,” said Spiegel. “I am looking forward to getting involved in the design aspects and supporting faculty and students in changing, growing and enhancing their experiences at Mines.”

The CITL will offer resources in coaching, course review, curricula design, grant support, learning communities, teaching observations and teaching professional development.

“There are quite a number of Mines faculty trying new things and the center is here to be a resource to support them,” Spiegel said. “CITL can provide support and guidance to refine instruction. For those faculty that want more intensive support, we will be offering one-on-one coaching.”

An example of support around course design will happen this summer when Spiegel will work with Department of Chemistry and Geochemistry professors Renee Falconer and Allison Castner to redesign a freshman course with a more active learning style, focusing on furthering student engagement on conceptual learning.

On April 21, Spiegel presented a pedagogy seminar with Chief Information Officer Michael Erickson on how CCIT and CITL plan to collaborate to support faculty and advance teaching and learning at Mines. The CITL will offer seminars this summer on producing educational videos and the science of teaching. The center will also meet with the Office of Academic Affairs to examine student data in efforts to produce consistencies in student learning experiences.

“If you were to put a GoPro on a student and watch them across a week, would their experiences be consistent—particularly at a freshman and sophomore level?” asked Spiegel, who will see the freshman experience firsthand when he serves as a faculty mentor for CSM101 in the fall.

Visit the CITL’s website for information on pedagogy seminars and updates at citl.mines.edu.

Spiegel comes to Mines with 15 years specializing in science education and transforming systems—his past experiences ranging from middle school to university graduate levels. Prior to Mines, Spiegel served as Chair of the Disciplinary Literacy in Science Team at the Institute for Learning and Associate Director for the Swanson School of Engineering's Engineering Education Research Center at the University of Pittsburgh.

 

Contact:
Kathleen Morton, Communications Coordinator / 303-273-3088 / KMorton@mines.edu
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations / 303-273-3541 / KGilbert@mines.edu

With plenty of humor, Physics Professor Reuben Collins shared insights into the world of academic publishing, particularly the challenges it is facing, via his Faculty Senate Distinguished Lecture on March 26.

Collins opened with the story of how he came to be editor-in-chief of Applied Physics Letters. A year-and-a-half ago, “I was interested in trying something different,” he said. He’d always enjoyed writing, so he took up an offer to update a textbook. Then a colleague called and asked him to apply for the APL post.

“I didn’t know what that was,” Collins said. “So I said ‘yes.’”

He was offered the job last summer and – because he was new to editing a large journal – started as an associate editor, reviewing papers. He then took over as top editor in September. “That’s when I realized what I had said ‘yes’ to,” Collins said.

As editor-in-chief, Collins is responsible for setting the direction of the journal, defining standards and maintaining ethics, hiring and managing staff, and overseeing the process of reviewing papers. But his favorite duty, Collins said, is “I get to pick the cover art.”

Above all, Collins’ job is making sure Applied Physics Letters “services the community represents.” And that comes with plenty of challenges.

“We live in a metric-happy world,” Collins said. “We want to reduce everything to one number.” He shared the story of a friend whose work for the past year – papers, conferences, lab accomplishments – was summed up in one phrase that would determine her pay: “2-plus.” For colleges and universities, that might be ranking in U.S. News and World Report.

In the field of scientific journals, that all-important metric is “impact factor,” determined by the average number of citations received for each paper a journal published in the previous two years.

Unfortunately, some journals are rejecting most of the papers they receive even before sending them out for review, in an effort to increase their impact factor, Collins said. He implied that this was a disservice to the scientific community, given that out of all these rejected papers, surely some were worthy of publication.

But some journals have found a balance, Collins said – publishing many papers, which is good for the community; earning many citations, which benefits both the author and the community; and rating a high impact factor, which benefits the journal and authors.

Collins calls these “Good Science Citizen Journals,” a group he doesn’t put Applied Physics Letters in just yet. He said APL is still publishing too many papers, and many that don’t receive citations. “I want to move us into the good citizenship zone.”

Competition from the big science publishers is another challenge, with so many new journals being launched on what seems like a monthly basis. There’s also the push for open access – where the public can read and use publicly funded scientific research for free. Collins has also seen plagiarism, double-publishing, and other ethical issues crop up as editor-in-chief.

One current problem that will eventually turn into a boon for publishers is globalization, Collins said. In recent years, China has become a leading producer of scientific papers, though most of them end up unpublished. He sees this changing in the future, much like Japan changed its reputation from producer of cheap goods to leading manufacturer of electronics and cars.

“China will do the same thing,” he said. “Publishers have to hitch their wagon to that.”

The Faculty Senate Distinguished Lecturer Award, established in 1990, is an opportunity for faculty to honor outstanding colleagues. Recipients are selected from faculty nominations, and are invited to present on a topic of their choice. They also receive a plaque, and a gift to their discretionary account.

In addition to serving as professor and APL editor-in-chief, Collins is associate director of the Renewable Energy Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, and director of the Center for Solar and Electronic Materials.

Contact: 
Mark Ramirez, Communications Specialist, College of Applied Science & Engineering | 303-383-2622 | ramirez@mines.edu
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations, Colorado School of Mines | 303-273-3541 | kgilbert@mines.edu
Kathleen Morton, Communications Coordinator, Colorado School of Mines | 303-273-3088 | kmorton@mines.edu

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