CLAS Acts October 2009

October 2009
Volume 3, Issue 2

Our Mission: The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is a student-centered and diverse learning community that engages in critical inquiry extending knowledge to enrich and enliven individual and public life.

CLAS College Office Monthly Newsletter for Faculty  

Campus Premier of Up From the Bottoms: The Search for the American Dream October 20th, 4 pm and 7 pm at Cook Dewitt Center Co-produced and directed by CLAS's own Jim Schaub of the School of Communications' Film & Video Production Program.  

Have you checked your media profile on the Sources Guide lately?  Might be time to update News & Information Services on your expertise.  

Wondering How Your Favorite Fund is Doing?  Check out the Faculty and Staff Campaign Web Page

Homecoming 2009
Saturday, October 17 CLAS will hold a silent auction of art and photography in Alumni House from 2:00-6:00pm    

WORKSHOP FOR FACULTY:  The Art of Writing Compelling Letters of Recommendation.  A Panel discussion of faculty colleagues with letter writing expertise. Bring your questions and concerns. Tuesday, October 20, 2009. Two convenient times:  12:00 - 1:00 pm OR 1:00 - 2:00 pm.  Meeting in C-1-130 MAK. Sponsored by the CLAS Academic Advising Center. Look for a flyer with more details next week.  

West Michigan Undergraduate Science Research Conference Date: Saturday, October 31 (costumes optional) Time: about 9am to 3pm What: A conference for all undergraduate science research. Students will present posters in one of two sessions. There will also be oral presentations by local faculty scientists and a national key-note speaker. This is a great venue for our students to present their research and for other scientists and academics in West Michigan to see the good work of our students. Cost: Free (including lunch and coffee) Location: Van Andel Institute, Grand Rapids Registration: Mandatory free online registration. Details will be coming. Questions:  stavesm@gvsu,edu  

Grants Workshop --
Be Quick! Grants Development & Administration is hosting a Grants Resource Center (GRC) workshop on October 7-9, 2009.  The sessions will be offered free of charge, and held on the Allendale Campus:   Opening Reception on Wednesday, 10/7/09, 4-6:00pm, Alumni House.  Workshop and one-on-one consultations on Thursday, 10/8/09, 8:00am-5:30pm, 2250 Kirkhof Center, and One-on-one consultations on Friday, 10/9/09, 8:30-12noon, 2250 Kirkhof Center.
The Grants Resource Center is a non-profit-service of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, located in Washington, D. C.  GVSU is an active member of GRC and works closely with their staff to assist GVSU faculty and staff with external funding opportunities. We hope you are able to attend.  Please is limited.  We encourage you to RSVP by Friday, October 2, 2009 to Shirley Dilworth in the Grants Office 331-6826.  Questions regarding the GRC or the workshop may also be directed to Shirley.                                    

Frederick J. Antczak, Dean, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

"I long for the bulbs to arrive, for the early autumn chores are melancholy, but the planting of bulbs is the work of hope and is always thrilling."
-   May Sarton

With the help of our Fall Arts Celebration (and fascinating speakers like Rashid Kahlidi) and ArtPrize, even as we slouch our way out of recession, it's not hard to be optimistic about the bulbs we are planting for the future. This month, our Grassroots Inclusion Taskforce is consulting on the draft CLAS Inclusion Plan with representative groups including our Associate Deans, our Student Advisory Committee, our Staff Advisory Committee, our Faculty Council, and our Alumni Board.  Even before the CLAS Inclusion Plan is finalized, some of the ideas are already being implemented.  For instance, for those with dietary needs, the CLAS Office will provide labeling of food at our events and whenever possible, advanced notice on our website.  You'll see greater coverage of diversity events and resources on our website too.  Several of us are undertaking Inclusion Advocate training.   It's a good start. Faculty Council is also conducting consultations with the faculty on the draft CLAS Standards for Tenure and Promotion through Blackboard discussions and a set of three Out-of-the-Box events.  In addition to providing a reality check on the Standards and their utility as a mentoring document, these events are a great opportunity to meet faculty outside of one's own department.  I laud the Faculty Council for devising a fresh and stimulating approach to these consultations, which upholds the Out-of-the-Box philosophy. Congratulations are in order to our Chemistry Department for the Michigan Green Chemistry Governor's Award for the integration of green chemistry in the university curriculum.  Hats off too to AWRI for a particularly bountiful harvest of grants this year-I know that you'll do a wonderful job of converting these into first-class educational opportunities for our students and benefits to our environment.   And take a bow, Mary Schutten (of our office and Movement Science), for the 2009 MAHPERD University Health Educator Award.   I'm also very proud of the work going on in every unit to bring the benefits of your courses and your expertise to the community in so many different ways.   This month I'll start with Poetry Night, and look forward to the Mystic India show in the Art Gallery, and Puncinella to conclude Fall Arts.  On October 3 we meet with the CLAS Alumni Board, and later on with the Student and Staff Advisory Boards.  I'll also attend two Healing Racism workshops.  Two accreditation teams will visit.  I'll draft a response to the School of Communications review and externals' visit, mindful of their responses to the visit.  Mid-month, I'll participate in the Distinguished Alumni-in-Residence program and a new faculty seminar.  Toward the end of October, I'll be supporting our students at the West Michigan Undergraduate Research Conference.  And to ensure a happy Halloween, I'll end the month prioritizing budget requests. AD Mary Schutten will participate in various off campus recruitment activities, attend a regional board meeting for leadership in Health and Physical Education, attend academic advising events (group and individual), serve on two hiring committees as Inclusion Advocate, participate in the Athletic Training (MOV SCI) accreditation site visit, continue with student welfare by convening the CLAS Student Advisory Committee and meetings with others involved in student welfare, implement data collection for a survey to K-12 teachers, align course syllabus and K-5 health education standards for the elementary minor.  AD Gary Stark will assist faculty with Digital Measures, monitor scheduling for 2010-11, conduct personnel process orientations for new faculty, facilitate Fall work of the CLAS Personnel Committee, and assist Faculty Council with approval process of proposed college standards and criteria for personnel evaluation.    AD Jann Joseph will be working on a prospectus for the new major for special education teachers as well as a proposal for the capstone for the major, and will be running new faculty orientation.  
I hope that you'll have the opportunity to harvest some of the autumn arts bounty:  the Shakespeare Festival, Pulcinella, Arts-at-Noon, the upcoming film campus debut of Up From the Bottoms: The Search for the American Dream, and the big sound of the it-wouldn't-be-fall-without-them Laker Marching Band.   Literally hundreds of our students and colleagues are responsible for bringing us these rich and diverse offerings.  Enjoy them along with the other delights of fall--changing colors, apple cider, midterms!      

Faculty Feature

Frustrated magnets and the groundwork for quantum computers

by Monica Johnstone, Dir. of CLAS Communications & Advancement 

Some offices speak eloquently of what goes on within.   When you walk into 138 PAD, an uncluttered office in the Physics Department, you have to listen carefully.  Few books, a little paper, feet of unused shelf.  And then you notice the two oversized computer monitors and a husky CPU under the desk that probably started its life intended as a server.  And, poised almost alone on a shelf, a six-inch plastic Albert Einstein action figure (abstraction figure?) looks down on the proceedings like a patron saint. In the midst of this quiet sits Kingshuk Majumdar whose focus is on research that takes him to a minute and interior place at a scale of 10-9 of a meter.  His interest lies in a nano world and where the structures of materials promise to enable physicists and computer scientists and material scientists to come together to create a leap forward to the as yet theoretical quantum computer.  This particular scientific grail would enable much faster processing because it would not be constrained by the contemporary chip design and the binary basis of current computers.  Instead of just 1 and 0, or "on" and "off", a quantum computer would be able to multitask in new ways.  There are, roughly speaking, two schools of thought.  the first, as explained in the Introduction to Quantum Computers by Berman et al. (World Scientific), involves making use of structures at the nano scale in traditional digital computers to make them work faster.  The second school, known as quantum computation, isn't about accelerating so much as using new quantum algorithms which aren't possible to run on traditional computers.  The information in such a computer would have its information loaded in strings of "qubits" (imagine atoms in different states).  These superpositional states are infinite rather than merely binary.  In other words, instead of just 1 and 0, we suddenly have many, many additional possibilities.  This could allow computation addressing problems which are now considered intractable. Kingshuk explains that factoring a very large integer could take thousands of computational years  for computers as they are now, working on each potential factor in turn, making such operations wildly out of scale with human lifespans.  A quantum computer could work on many numbers at the same time.  In his own work, Kingshuk is looking at two areas, both of relevance to quantum computing.  First, he is exploring what it takes to "localize" qubits, that is, keep them from interacting with their surroundings.  Interactions lead to what is known as decoherence and a loss of usefulness for the desired computer.  Second, he is investigating the magnetic properties in the structures of materials.  The charge and spin of atomic electrons allow us to think of atoms as small magnets.  Some materials, depending on their structural arrangement, have magnetic properties.  There are two kinds:  ferromagnets in which the spin of the atoms lines up, and antiferromagnets in which the magnetic moments alternate.  Kingshuk suggests thinking of these antiferromagnets as being made up of structures in which the spin points alternately in one direction and then the opposite direction. Systems try to minimize energy.  Antiferromagnets are at their minimum when the directions line up neatly in up and down pairs.  When you have an odd number of up and down, the technical term is frustration. In his latest article ("Non-linear spin wave theory results for the frustrated S=1/2 Heisenberg antiferromagnet on a body-centered cubic lattice", Journal of Physics:  Condensed Matter, 2009) Kingshuk explores the way frustration operates in a particular lattice structure.  Understanding lattice structures, which are characteristic of various materials, will provide the underlying physics so that material scientists can work toward building actual quantum computers.   Kingshuk is starting with the simpler lattices and working toward the more complex ones. Though clearly not the relevant part of the story to Kingshuk, when pressed for what sort of materials his latest lattice structure describes, he replies, "garnets."  His work is analytical, computational, model based, and the physical materials-even if they are glittering jewels-just remain a bit beside the point. Some of the computational work can be shared with his student researchers.  It is early days for this professor and his students operating on the lower level of Padnos and the ground floor of a search to understand the behaviors of the structures of materials that will someday revolutionize the way we attack our most sophisticated scientific problems.