Applied Physics Institute (API) is a multidisciplinary research center. API researchers
use fundamental physics principles to address research issues of technological importance
at the frontiers of science and engineering. Research areas include nuclear physics,
nanoscale physics, material science, and cyber physical systems.
The API team performs research in non-desctructive measurements of the elemental content
in bulk compounds using neutrons, x-ray diffraction and x-ray fluorescence studies
of materials, surface analysis, computational physics, and artificial olfactory using
The Institute has about 15,000 sq. ft of laboratory space at the WKU Center for Research
Students are actively involved in these projects while gaining useful experience in
research environment. We are extremely proud of the involvement of our undergraduate
students in research, and their commitment to their discipline.
For additional information contact Dr. Vladimir Dobrokhotov, Dr. Phil Womble, Dr. Doug Harper, Dr. Ivan Novikov, Dr. Edward Kintzel or visit the Applied Physics Institute web site at http://www.wku.edu/api/.
Students and professors at the Applied Physics Institute.
Astronomy and Astrophysics
The department operates the Bell Astrophysical Observatory, located in a dark sky site 11 miles southwest of campus. The observatory contains
a fully automated 24" research-grade telescope and state of the art CCD camera. This
facility is used by faculty and students studying the brightness variations in quasars,
searching for transits of extra-solar planets, and morphological studies of extended
regions in the Milky Way and other galaxies. In addition, faculty and students make
use of ground-based telescopes in Arizona and Hawaii, as well as observatories in
Earth orbit such as the Hubble Space Telescope. The Institute for Astrophysics and Space Science is also a member of the University's Program of Distinction.
For additional information contact any of the astrophysics faculty members (Dr. Mike Carini, Dr. Richard Gelderman, Dr. Charles McGruder, Dr. Louis-Gregory Strolger, Dr. Steven Gibson) or visit http://astro.wku.edu.
The main emphasis of Dr. van der Meer's research is Resonance Energy Transfer, also
called Fluorescence (with) Resonance Energy Transfer. This is a spectroscopic technique
to measure distances in the 10 to 100 Angstrom range (1 - 10 nanometer). It is widely
used in Biophysics and Biophysical Chemistry.
George Coker III who graduated in 1994 participated in the publication of the book,
"Resonance Energy Transfer. Theory and Data", Wiley-VCH. This book came out in 1994,
and the authors were B.W. van der Meer, G. Coker III, and S.-Y. Chen. George did an
extensive literature search for the book. He basically wrote Chapter 7, which is full
of tables containing relevant data from the literature.
Students who are interested in theoretical work will have opportunities to do simulations
and calculations about the so-called kappa-squared, which is an orientation factor
(see the recent publication: "Kappa-squared. From nuisance to new sense." by dr. van
der Meer, Reviews in Molecular Biotechnology 82(2002)181-196.
The Cyber Defense Laboratory conducts research to solve cyber security and counter
cyber terrorism problems for both civilian and military customers. The CDL also works
on the protection and encryption of digital data, identities, finances and transactions,
and intrusion detection and prevention methodologies. The Cyber Defense Laboratory
works to enhance the nation’s security from external threat via computer intrusion,
and contributes to the region’s economic development by creating a highly-educated
cyber defense workforce. As part of this effort, the CDL strives to provide educational
experiences in cyber security for students. For additional information contact Dr. Keith Andrew or visit the CDL web site at http://orgs.wku.edu/cdl/.
Physics Education Research
Physics teaches problem-solving and fundamental understanding of the world around
us. This skill and knowledge is increasingly important in our technological society,
but many students find physics quite difficult. Physics Education Research seeks to
uncover the root of these difficulties and to develop effective teaching methods that
enable all students to develop a better understanding of the most basic of sciences.
At Western Kentucky University the active areas of work are: using technology to support
effective teaching practices, using the world-wide web and Java for homework and other
applications, and teaching good problem-solving methods. Facilities include a state-of-the-art
active learning classroom equipped with networked laptop computers and projection
system, and a web server with several different web-homework systems. Projects that
students can be involved in range from interviews and classroom observations to advanced
web programming. For more information, please see Dr. Scott Bonham.