OSWEGO — SUNY Oswego’s Dr. Carolina Ilie, who in five years with the physics faculty has compiled what her department chair called “an extraordinary record of mentoring students in research,” received the college’s new Provost’s Award for Mentoring in Scholarly and Creative and Activity.
Dr. Dale Zych, the chair, attached to Ilie’s award nomination a list of dozens of student projects Ilie has co-authored or mentored. Her students have had interests that include basic science, women in science and engineering, and physics education, Zych said.
For Quest on April 17 — SUNY Oswego’s annual day to celebrate scholarly and creative activity — Ilie is listed as primary adviser for 10 student research presentations. Among the projects were a study of thrill-ride dynamics with a student who built a precision model of a roller coaster, the mechanics of rocket motion and an investigation of the reasons for failure of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge (“Galloping Gertie”) in 1940.
Katharyn Christiana, a senior physics major who wants to move on from her roller coaster studies to graduate school and an eventual career as a Disney Imagineer, called Ilie “an incredible mentor.”
“When I mentioned my roller-coaster study for my senior thesis, she said, ‘Let’s do it. I’m going to help you get the money for it.’ She is so enthusiastic,” Christiana said.
With Ilie’s assistance, nearly a dozen students have won grants from college scholarly and creative activities funds to encourage undergraduate research, student-faculty collaboration, conference presentations and publications.
‘Time and energy’
In nominating Ilie for the award, Zych shared the SUNY Oswego undergraduate research experiences of Shawn Gray, who graduated in May 2010 and now teaches biology, chemistry and physics in Beijing as part of an internship with the International Institute of Nanotechnology at Northwestern University.
While at Oswego, Gray worked with Ilie to present a poster titled “The Effects of Water Absorption on the Lattice of Ferroelectric Polymers” at a conference at Quinnipiac University, gave several presentations at Quest, including “When Bio Meets Nano or Recent Nano-Biotechnology Applications,” and another at a Sigma Xi Student Conference titled “Searching for Biological Sensors.”
“Shawn Gray … is typical of the time and energy Dr. Ilie invests in all her students,” Zych wrote.
Edward Mykytyn, a senior physics major, said Ilie constantly gave him encouragement. He called Ilie’s talent in conveying complex physical principles and working with students “unique.”
“The theoretical knowledge imparted to me and the other students along with a practical approach to get very abstract/elusive theory across is a very unique attribute that Dr. Ilie embodies so well,” Mykytyn wrote in support of Ilie’s nomination.
Ilie, originally from Bucharest, Romania, joined the Oswego physics faculty in 2008 after receiving her Ph.D. from University of Nebraska-Lincoln.