As was the case for many, Professor Allen invested huge amounts of time and energy into moving his courses online in 2020. He taught half of his Spring courses (EMA 545 and EMA 610) and all of his Fall 2020 classes (EMA 542 and ME/EMA 540) online. This was not only a necessity but a tremendous learning experience. Prof. Allen learned to maximize the benefits for the students, by pre-recording lectures that were condensed and optimized for that format, or replacing lectures with self guided study. Some of those lectures have already been shared with international collaborators and others. Class times were then used as office hours where the students worked together in small groups on the homework assignments. The students were observed to thrive in this environment, with many students mastering the material to a very significant extent; there appeared to be more high achieving students than in a typical semester. Unfortunately, there was also a population of students who struggled very significantly with the online format and did more poorly than usual. Prof. Allen also learned a lot about how to maximize opportunities to build community among the students in his classes, and his has helped as he has taken the lead in helping to organize for the Society for Experimental Mechanics’ International Modal Analysis Conference.
Allen’s research group continued to thrive in spite of COVID restrictions. Professor Allen’s research group submitted more than 14 journal papers for publication in 2020. His group has begun to be recognized as experts in the area of dynamic environment reconstruction and multi-input-multi-output random vibration control, and Dr. Allen is now helping to lead a Community of Practice in the area of Smart Dynamic Testing. The UW-Madison Structural Dynamics Research Group has continued to be highly recognized for their work on quasi-static methods for predicting the dynamics of structures with joints. NASA contracted to Quartus Engineering to use the methods developed by Prof. Allen and his students to speed up nonlinear analysis of the Multi-Purpose-Crew Vehicle, which is expected to be part of the Space Launch System and launch in the Artemis I test flight mission in 2021. Allen’s research group has also presented several advances on modeling, simulating and testing nonlinear dynamic systems both in journals and at international (online) conferences.
Prof. Bonazza’s group performed the first experiments for a new NSF grant involving shock acceleration of a vortex ring. The design, fabrication, testing of the system for the production, and release of a vortex ring inside the shock tube facility was a major accomplishment.
Prof. Bonazza, his graduate student Alex Ames, and two undergraduate students nearly completed a major upgrade of the wind tunnel facility. The operation of the facility and the data recording are now much more efficient, and data acquisition time for the EMA522 students is much shorter than it used to be. Full completion is expected by the end of May 2021.
Prof. Bonazza recorded all the lectures for EMA523 Flight Dynamics and EMA524 Rocket Propulsion. Very important as they can be used by anyone who will replace Prof. Bonazza in a few years.
In 2020, Jen Choy’s research group continued building experimental capabilities in quantum sensing and shared their preliminary results on developing chip-scale atomic sensors in contributed and invited presentations at conferences, workshops, and seminars. In addition, Jen has published a review article on photonic components for atomic sensors in Photonic Spectra and co-authored an article in Nanophotonics on using adjoint optimization approaches to improve light extraction from color centers in diamond. Jen acquired funding and recruited personnel to support research directions in photonic-integrated atomic sensors, submicron imaging of current flow in materials via quantum magnetometry, and the generation of novel solid-state quantum emitters towards the study of cooperative effects. The Choy group is currently being supported by funding from the Department of Energy, Office of Naval Research, National Science Foundation (under the MRSEC and QLCI programs), and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.
As the instructor of NE 427 (Nuclear Instrumentation Lab) in the Spring semester of 2020, Jen re-designed the course to an online format during the pivot to remote instruction due to the pandemic. In the Fall semester, Jen developed and taught a new special topics course on quantum engineering (EMA 601 / NE 602), which covered the relevant atomic and optical physics and engineering approaches for quantum applications in sensing, computing, and communications.
Prof. Couet has developed a new course on materials degradation in advanced nuclear reactors and that course is now an elective in the NE curriculum.
The Ion Beam Laboratory funding is now sustainable thanks to new grants/projects awarded in 2020
Prof. Couet submitted his tenure dossier this year
Introduction to Engineering Research
Crone’s new book, Introduction to Engineering Research, was released by Morgan & Claypool
Publishers in 2020 and has quickly risen to their top 50 most read titles list. The book spans
the topics of finding a research position and funding, to getting the mentoring needed to be
successful while conducting research responsibly, to learning how to do the other aspects of
research associated with project management and communication. It provides novice
researchers with the guidance they need to begin developing mastery. Being prepared for
what’s to come and knowing the questions to ask along the way, allows those entering
research to become more comfortable engaging with not only the research itself but also
their colleagues and mentors. The book is available to all UW-Madison students through the
library, and is benefiting both first year graduate students and undergraduates engaged in
Image Analysis for Cardiac Muscle Cells
The Journal of Applied Physics featured a 2020 publication from the Crone research group on
“The scanning gradient Fourier transform (SGFT) method for assessing sarcomere
organization and alignment” [127, 194701, 2020]. The sarcomere structures within the
muscle cells of the heart produce the contractions necessary for pumping blood throughout
the body. When these cells are observed with special staining and microscopy techniques
the organization of these sarcomere structures can be visualized. Prior image analysis
methods were quite good at quantifying relatively well-organized cells and tissues, but were
not capable of handling more poorly organized sarcomere structures that can be seen as a
result of cell culture technique, immaturity, or some types of heart disease. The new SGFT
algorithm has also been shown to have application beyond heart cells and has been used to
characterize breast cancer tissue and early neuron development.
BREWing Better Broader Impacts
As co-lead of the education and outreach efforts of the Wisconsin Materials Research
Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC), Crone works with colleagues to engage all center
members in education content development and outreach activities. One key aspect of this
engagement is the annual Breakthrough Research and Education Workshop (BREW). This
annual event begins with research highlights from graduate student, postdoctoral and faculty
members of the center, which is then followed by a collaborative, hands-on education
workshop that involves all center members. Over the last several years these workshop
activities have included: developing hands-on activity ideas, evaluating prototype activities,
and brainstorming new content ideas for future development. Based on the success of the
BREW, Crone and colleagues published an article in the MRS Bulletin describing how to
conduct this type of event so that leaders of large research groups and centers can similarly
engage their members in broader impacts efforts [45(2), 84-86, 2020].
Prof. Diem joined the EP department as an Assistant Professor in February of 2020 and has been building a research program focused on radiofrequency heating and current drive in magnetically confined fusion plasmas. Additionally, at the end of 2020, she was named the new PI of the Pegasus-III Experiment. The Pegasus-III Experiment studies innovation in plasma startup techniques in an effort to reduce cost and complexity of future fusion reactors. The Pegasus-III Experiment is currently undergoing a major facility upgrade and will be operational in 2021. As the instructor for NE 427: Nuclear Instrumentation Laboratory for Fall 2020, Prof. Diem adapted the lab stations to simultaneously allow students to participate both remotely and in-person for lab experiments during the COVID-19 pandemic and adapted lectures with synchronous and asynchronous components to support students during these challenging circumstances. Diem continued to be an active member in the plasma physics and fusion energy community, serving on the APS-DPP Executive Committee, the APS-DPP Committee on Women in Plasma Physics (WiPP), and was elected to the APS-DPP Sherwood Executive Committee. Additionally, she was a featured presenter for the APS-DPP WiPP webinar on faculty positions, trained in the APS-DPP Allies Program, and created the APS-DPP Sponsored Visual Science Communication Award to be awarded annually at the APS-DPP meeting for visual and video communication of research presented at the annual conference, and gave several STEM outreach presentations to the general public and co-led/created an APS-DPP Teacher’s Day Workshop.
Professor Franck obtained two new federal grants this year, one from NSF to investigate the flow physics around the whiskers of seals, and another collaborative grant from ARPA-E on improving the performance and control of hydrokinetic turbines in confined rivers and channels. Her research continues to investigate mechanisms of bio-inspired flows, in which she has two Journal publications in 2020. An article in Ocean Engineering describes the fluid flow wake mechanics of bio-inspired propulsion, and an article in Plos One outlines important geometric parameters that change the flow response of seal whiskers. Two additional publications, one published in Journal of Fluids and Structures and one forthcoming in AIAA Journal are on the kinematics and fluid dynamics of renewable energy hydrokinetic turbines. The following research was performed by the 4 graduate students and 3 undergraduate researchers in the Computational Flow Physics and Modeling group, led by Prof Franck.
Hegna continues to raise visibility to the UW stellarator program as evidenced by several presentations in national and international forums by members of his group. Importantly, Hegna has been selected to give a theory overview talk at the “2020” IAEA Fusion Energy Conference --- there is only 1 theory overview talk given at this conference. This was to be given in Oct, 2020 bur reschedule for May, 20201.
As of 2020, Prof. Hegna serves as a co-founder and co-owner Type One Group. This is a company aiming to bring stellarator fusion to fruition.
Tyler Cote successfully defended his thesis in 2020. Torrin Bechtel will be completing his thesis in early 2021.
Prof. Henderson continued in the position as Associate Dean for Faculty Development for the College of Engineering. His initial tasks are the development of strategies for faculty recruitment of individuals from under-represented groups.
Ben Lindley joined the department in August 2020. He had two proposals successfully funded this year in Integrated Energy Systems (as PI; in collaboration with Profs. Wagner, Anderson and Albert at UW-Madison, along with NREL and Westinghouse); and in automation control for SMRs (as co-PI; the project is led by UMich, with UTK, INL and NuScale also collaborating). He looks forward to collaborating further with his colleagues in Engineering Physics in the coming 12 months and working with more students and scientists. Ben has updated the NE550 Advanced Nuclear Power Engineering course taking on board active learning principles while retaining the successful inclusion of guest lectures from previous years.
Dr. Notbohm’s research program is gaining broad exposure, with Dr. Notbohm being invited to give several lectures and keynote talks. The most prominent is the Springer/Nature Publishing Young Investigator Lecture at the Society for Experimental Mechanics, which is Dr. Notbohm’s primary technical society.
Prof. Carl Sovinec has conducted and mentored numerical simulation-based research on disruptive events in the tokamak magnetic confinement configuration. These events terminate plasma discharges on sufficiently short timescales that the stored thermal and magnetic energy can damage expensive hardware in large tokamaks, such as the ITER experiment that is under construction in France. Sovinec’s group has conducted and published research on the dynamics and modeling of vertical displacement events and on the de-confinement of high-energy “runaway” electrons.
In his duties as Director of the Officer Education Program, Sovinec helped the University’s AFROTC, AROTC, and NROTC units navigate temporary changes for the pandemic. An example is coordinating between the units, the Provost’s Office, and Recreation and Wellbeing to continue physical training programs without posing health risks. As the Department’s Director of Graduate Studies, Sovinec helped develop new policies to improve the climate for graduate students. He also performs regular professional service as an associate editor the for the journal Physics of Plasmas.
Selection as Fellow of American Nuclear Society (ANS): Prof. Sridharan was selected Fellow of American Nuclear Society for “major research contributions in materials corrosion and degradation processes in nuclear energy systems, and for impact on the nuclear industry through the development of improved fuel cladding concepts as well as education and mentorship of undergraduate and graduate students”.
Receiving a patent: Prof. Sridharan received a joint patent with Westinghouse Electric Company entitled “Cold Spray Chromium Coatings for Nuclear Fuel Rods”, U.S Patent, No. 10,566,095 in 2020. A graduate student and an undergraduate student working in his group at UW-Madison are also authors on this patent.
Participating in CoE’s Inclusivity, Diversity, and Equity in Engineering (IEDE): Prof. Sridharan represents the department in the CoE’s IEDE committee. IEDE is working towards measures for creating a more welcoming climate for all members of the CoE community and interacts with similar committees in other colleges across UW-Madison. The committee will submit its recommendations to the Dean for the formulation of policies that promotes inclusivity, diversity, and equity across the College.
Publications and funding: Prof. Sridharan co-authored 14 journal publications in 2020, and along with scientist in his group received over $1.5M in research grants.
Developed and taught the course “Surface Engineering for Structural Applications”: Prof. Sridharan developed and taught the course “Surface Engineering for Structural Applications” in the MS&E department based on his over 30-years of research in this area. This course has not been taught at UW before. His instructor rating was 4.83/5.00.
Professor Thevamaran’s lab, regardless of the significant challenges posed by the pandemic, remains competitive on a steady growth trajectory. With last year, his lab has secured two million dollars in funding to advance its research mission from the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation. He has published several high-impact journal publications last year, including their research on the microballistic testing of polymer thinfilms that appeared as a cover of the Nano Letters—a prestigious materials science journal. Lab team also continue to grow and currently has two postdoctoral research associates, 3 PhD students, 2 Master’s students, and 3 undergraduate research scholars. An undergraduate research student mentored by Professor Thevamaran, Kyle Seledic, received NSF REU support and additionally won the prestigious Hilldale Fellowship for his research. In addition to the current research on the hierarchical, non-Hermitian, and nanostructured materials for extreme engineering applications, Thevamaran Lab expanded its research in two new directions last year: microscale wave dynamics of parity-time symmetric metamaterials and investigation of failure in nuclear fuel particles. Besides the state-of-the-art experimental techniques and instrumentations developed in Thevamaran Lab for carbon nanotube synthesis, broad-band dynamic testing of structured materials, laser-induced microballistic testing, high-speed imaging, and in-situ nanoindentation, it acquired an Instron ElectroPulse E3000 dynamic testing system as well as developing a novel microscale wave dynamic testing apparatus with laser interferometry to develop superior sensors. Thevamaran Lab is excited to continue its commitment to advance the science and engineering of structured materials and support the educational mission of the Department of Engineering Physics and the College of Engineering of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Wilson’s research in nuclear security has brought an increased focus on data science methods, with one student exploring methods to determine the origin of interdicted nuclear material (forensics) and another student using different methods to analyze environmental radiation
detector counts to determine anomalies (non-proliferation). This latter effort has spurred a collaboration with Rob Nowak (ECE) who is an expert in the fundamental mathematics
of machine learning algorithms and their application to a variety of problems. Research in fusion neutronics has pivoted away from high-fidelity and computationally intense shutdown dose rate simulation to methodologies that support more rapid design iteration earlier in the
As chair of the Fusion Energy Division of the American Nuclear Society, Wilson had the opportunity to participate as an ex-officio member of the Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee at an important time when adopted a strategic plan for the Office of Fusion Energy Sciences, based on a multi-year effort to collect and align the interests of the plasma physics and fusion communities.
As department chair, much of Wilson’s time was devoted to facilitating the Engineering Physics Department’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, beginning with an urgent transition to online instruction in March 2020, and through a Fall semester that began with strong in-person elements only to face a 2 week pivot to full remote instruction. A host
of administrative tasks were necessary to facilitate a rapid return to research through the summer of 2020, and ensure smooth campus operations throughout the remainder of the
In his second year as a faculty member, Dr. Yongfeng Zhang has remained to be productive in building research programs, exploring new research areas, and improving teaching skills. His continues to advance the understanding on irradiation effect in nuclear fuels and materials, particularly thermodynamics, kinetics, and self-organization of defects in crystalline alloys under irradiation. He is expanding his research portfolio to new areas such as TRISO fuel particles and corrosion. His research group has grown into a size of two postdocs, three graduate and one undergraduate students, and will continue to grow. He received two new federal research grants from the DOE NEUP program, one as the lead-PI and the other as a co-PI. In 2020, he has sixteen peer-reviewed journal articles published/accepted. He has also remained to be active in professional service by serving as the Vice President of the TMS Nuclear Materials Committee, organizing/co-organizing two symposiums for TMS 2021 annual meeting, and guest-editing a special issue for the journal Frontiers in Materials.