Physics major Michael Mroz ’13 presented his research at the American Physical Society (APS), Ohio Region, 2012 Fall Meeting held at Wayne State University in Detroit on October 5-6. The title of Mroz’s presentation was, “Phase transitions and helix formation of a fused square-well-sphere chain”. This theoretical and computational research explores the spontaneous formation of highly ordered folded structures in simple model polymer systems, analogous the ordered structures found in bio-macromolecules.
Mroz carried out this work last summer as a research assistant with associate professor of physics Mark Taylor, and the work was funded by Taylor’s research grant from the National Science Foundation, Division of Material Research. The broad goals of this research project are to understand the details of phase transitions and structure formation in simple polymer systems. This knowledge has applications to both conformational transitions of biomolecules and in the development of new types of environmentally responsive or “smart” materials which can spontaneously change physical, optical, or mechanical properties in response to variations in local conditions (such as temperature, pH, or pressure).
Also attending this Physics Conference was physics professor Laura Van Wormer, who is currently secretary of the Ohio Section of the APS.