Societally relevant outcomes of the work done by Prof. Walker are given here. These are not comprehensive; but, examples of the broader impact that address: a globally competitive 21st-century science and technology workforce; underrepresented demographics in science; improved societal well-being; and advanced research tools and facilities for scientific research and education.
Laser Science – Career Examples
The future of optics has been evaluated by a National Research Council to encompass no less than seven major areas of national need including information technology, health care, optical sensing, optics and manufacturing, national defense, manufacturing of optical components, and optics research. Alumni from the research group range in their positions from graduate programs (U. Penn Medical Physics, University of Colorado Boulder Physics PhD) to industrial positions including startups specializing in laser processing of materials, laser engineering positions with medium size manufacturing companies (VEECO), and large aerospace and national defense companies (RAYTHEON, LOCKHEED MARTIN). The group has graduated accomplished, well cited (h-indices > 20) PhDs who have gone on to national laboratory (LANL, ANL) and university positions (The Ohio State U., U. Nebraska Lincoln). Mentoring and apprenticeships are a proven approach for training new workers. The research focuses on delivering fundamental science advances with transferable skills to prepare students for jobs that meet the needs of businesses for a highly skilled workforce. In analogy with a ``pipeline'' the research experience from this proposal has to deliver the students to the competitive workplace with transferable job skills. Examples of specific skills in five major categories are included in the Table.
|Lasers & Optics||High power cw, ns to fs pulsed lasers; Precision optical alignments; Laser safety and engineering; Interfaced CCD and imaging technology; Diffracting optics; Optical coatings; Laser maintenance and repair; Optical assembly and design|
|Computer, Electrical & Mechanical||High voltage techniques and measurements; High current power; Fast GHz electronics; ACAD / SolidWorks design; Machining for mill, lathe, 3D printing; closed loop controls for mechanical systems; Interfacing; High vacuum hardware practices and fabrication.|
|Theory and Modeling||Low and high level programming, e.g. C++, Fortran, Mathematica; Graphics and analysis software; Cluster operations; Troubleshooting code and working with code packages; Collaboratively modifying code and software|
|Research Laboratory||Research skills in identifying and resolving recurring problems; Ability to perform statistical data analysis; preparing scientific graphs, summaries, presentations, and manuscripts; Knowledge of hardware, software, and control systems.|
|Personnel & Management||Scheduling flexibility; Collaboration within and between experiment and computer groups; Post-graduate management and training; Work relationships without regard to race, politics, religion, or gender identity; Interpersonal skills with co-workers at entry to advanced levels|
Nobel Prize in Physics – Donna Strickland
Donna Strickland (pictured above) was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2018. She was the second woman to ever receive this prize (the first was Marie Curie in 1903).
Today’s issues require fresh contributions that leverage all of our abilities for 21st-century scientific advances. It is important to honor pioneers who have overcome problems in our everyday life, the trappings of the historical and made enormous strides in physics and modern science. Prof. Walker first met Donna Strickland and her advisor Gerard Mourou in graduate school. Donna and Gerard had come to discuss their new technique with lasers called chirped pulse amplification (CPA, see Wiki on CPA). Donna gave her presentation in the small lunchroom off the first floor of the Chemistry Building at Brookhaven National Laboratory. It was down the hall from Barry's alcove desk and research lab. (Foreshadowing, two more doors down the same hall was Ray Davis' office, who received the Nobel Prize for detecting neutrinos emitted from the Sun.) The laser technique Donna and Gerard invented Barry was also incorporating into a new laser design; hence, the interest for her initial visit. Their laser research has continued to overlap to this day. "Donna's hard work and innovation made modern ultrafast laser science possible. Her invention opened up the entire field of time-resolved spectroscopy and allow us to measure, for example, chemical reactions as a function of time. Personally, Donna's contribution has made my career possible." – Prof. Walker
Global Perspective – Engineers Without Borders
We live and survive as one world. Science recognizes we are now all connected; for example, the collapse of ocean fish populations cannot be solved by one country. Engineers without borders is a student organization addressing our global problems. Growing from a handful of members in 2002 to over 12,000 today, Engineers Without Borders has 400+ projects in more than 35 developing countries around the world including clean water, renewable energy, and sanitation. These projects, in partnership with local communities, strive to create a more stable and prosperous world by addressing basic needs. There are over 200 student chapters in the United States.
The University of Delaware chapter of Engineering Without Borders has worked on many projects in locations around the world. Previously, the group has worked in Cameroon, where they worked on making clean water more accessible to the community, and Guatemala, where they constructed a bridge that connected a community divided by a river that experienced heavy flooding. Their current projects are based in Malawi and the Philippines, where their main focuses are water quality, water supply infrastructure, and ensuring that these structures can withstand the region’s weather patterns.
The Chapter of Engineers without Borders hosted an Inaugural Engineers without Borders 5k as a benefit for their work in Cameroon and Guatemala. Prof. Walker did his best and placed 40th overall, 4th place in the division at a time of 22:55 for a 7:24 pace 🙂 "It was not an easy race, the first place time was 15:53 for a 05:07 / mile pace, which is rocket fast." – Barry Walker. A record of 4:00 minutes/mile for a 5k set by Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia.
Delaware's Inaugural Scientist – Annie Jump Cannon
Annie Jump Cannon (December 11, 1863 – April 13, 1941) accomplished herself as one of the first women in science. She discovered hundreds of variable stars and, with Edward C. Pickering, she is credited with the first serious attempt to organize and classify stars based on their temperatures. She was nicknamed "Census Taker of the Sky" for classifying 230,000 stellar bodies, more than any other person. In 1922, the International Astronomical Union formally adopt much of Cannon's stellar classification system, which is still being used for classification today.
Her story is an inspiration to anyone facing the difficulties of being your best. The picture of Annie Cannon (2nd row) with her colleagues speaks to the underrepresentation of women in science prevalent in the early 1900s. Cannon had to also overcome a physical disability of being left nearly deaf by scarlet fever.
To highlight her legacy at Delaware, Prof. Walker worked with Mt. Cuba Observatory to create a named conference room in her honor. He designed and renovated from space within Sharp Laboratory at the University of Delaware. The room features her portrait, brief story, and audio-visual equipment for remote meetings and astronomy. "Used daily by students and faculty at the university the space brings me happiness as it places Annie Cannon's name and accomplishments into our everyday." – Prof. Walker.
The Annie Jump Cannon room is pictured above.
Encouraging New Scientists – Science Olympiad
The National Science Olympiad is a widely recognized competition for some of the best elementary, middle and high school students in the country. Testing the knowledge of various science topics and engineering ability across 15,000 schools from 48 U.S. states each year. The Science Olympiad is one of the leaders in the revolution for science education in America.Beginning with (and still involving) a grassroots assembly of science teachers, the Science Olympiad is now one of the premiere science competitions in the nation, providing rigorous, standards-based challenges to nearly 6,000 teams in 50 states. Science Olympiad's ever-changing event lineup provides a variety of career choices and exposure to practicing scientists and mentors. Prof. Walker served as a judge when UD hosted the Nationals for Science Olympiad and has contributed to the Delaware State Competition. The picture is from students involved in the optics section of a Science Olympiad at a Delaware State Competition.
Health Flexibility – Yoga
Large shifts in the US and globally required a new level of flexibility. Success will be defined by learning to do what we need to by adapting and embracing new ideas rather than relying on previous conventions. A reduction in carbon footprint due to global warming, new and radical responsibility in government budgets, and worldwide changes in how information is created and shared all require an adaptable and open mind.
Prof. Walker has enjoyed the practice of yoga in centers from Philly (Dhyana Yoga), Boulder (Yoga Loft), New York, and San Diego (Yoga One). The discipline of yoga has improved his ability to adapt. As a scientist, approaching and solving problems in the future will certainly require an openness to creativity, new ideas, and solutions that border on what would be viewed as science fiction only a few years ago.
Intramurals – Physical Connections
A normal scientist's 'pop-culture' hyperbole/stereotype does not encompass athletic prowess. (If you need a refresher, watch an episode of The Big Bang Theory 🙂 ) However, we like to play just as much as work. The health benefits are clear and sport helps balance the cerebral inclination of our discipline. The sports Prof. Walker and his group have played in the past include beach volleyball, court volleyball, indoor badminton, Chicago softball, ultimate, tennis, dodgeball, and yoga. All sports are co-ed since science and life run that way as well.