This award provides partial funding for an advanced study institute (ASI) on complex systems in physics to be held in Shanghai, China, in June 2012. A team of 12 senior researchers and 24 assistants from the U.S. will join colleagues at Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) to offer a two-week hands-on course demonstrating table-top experiments in complex non-linear physical systems. About 70 participants, primarily junior faculty members, will be selected from underdeveloped regions of Central and Southeast Asia. The objective is to demonstrate that interesting and productive experiments can be conducted with relatively inexpensive and available materials. This ASI is a successor to similar programs that have been held in Africa, India, and Brazil. The local expenses will be supported by SJTU, and participant expenses as well as administrative costs are sponsored by the International Center for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Trieste, Italy. This workshop will engage leading researchers and well qualified post-doctoral fellows and graduate students with participants from underdeveloped regions in Asia to conduct the table-top experiments as well as to introduce useful computer software to the participants. As has already been demonstrated by the previous Hands-on ASIs, these activities stimulate the curiosity of the participants and raise a variety of interest research questions that they can pursue on their own and in continuing collaborations. In addition to raising research issues in the study of complex phenomena the institute demonstrates useful and effective methods of scientific education. This experience is beneficial to the young U.S. assistants as much as to the Asian participants.

Project Report

This project supported Advanced Study Institutes (ASI) on Complex System Hands-on Research (which we refer to as Hands-On Schools (HOS)). The two-week HOS seek to introduce early career scientists (advanced graduate students, postdocs, and young faculty) to tools and techniques of table-top experimental science that have the potential for addressing cutting-edge scientific questions using modest financial resources. As a result, the HOS provide examples of sustainable experimental research that refute the widely held misperception that modern experimental science is restricted to wealthy nations, which have access to large, expensive instrumentation that is out-of-reach for scientists in many developing countries. The project exceeded expectations in that two HOS Advanced Study Institutes were supported by this project. (One was originally proposed.) In Summer 2012, a HOS in Shanghai, China was held on the main campus of Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU). A special emphasis was placed on recruiting applicants from underserved regions of Central, East and South Asia.; 70 participants were selected from more than 400 applicants. The participants were from 18 countries: Bangladesh, China, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestinian Territories, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Uzbekistan, Vietnam. In Summer 2013, a second HOS was held for 60 participants on the main campus of the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Trieste, Italy. 44 participants were selected from 231 applications and 16 participants were recruited from visiting faculty and students already present on the ICTP campus---in all, the participants were from 32 countries: Argentina, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Brazil, Cameroon, China, Columbia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Lebanon, Macedonia, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Nepal, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland, Senegal, Slovak, Tanzania, Togo, Turkey, the United States, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe. In three-hour laboratory sessions, the particpants worked together with senior researchers, post-doctoral fellows and graduate students from the US on a variety of problems from the physical and biological sciences. these activities stimulated the curiosity of the participants and raised a variety of interesting questions for future research that participants can pursue on their own and in continuing collaborations. Additionally, to promote the development of participants’ scientific careers, tutorial sessions and extended Hands-On sessions were offered on five afternoons. The tutorials covered a wide range of topics, including poster preparation, oral presentation, scientific writing, scientific ethics, electronic digital design, computational modeling, lecture demonstrations, experimental design, and writing research proposals. During these sessions students could also choose to return to a favorite Hands-On session for a more in-depth experience. Some participants commented that they found the tutorials to be the most valuable part of the Hands-on program. The participants also had the opportunity to present their scientific work via a poster and an oral "snapshot" of their research. Each participant attended an afternoon tutorial session on poster preparation and oral presentation prior to submitting their poster for printing. At each of three poster sessions 1/3 of the participants gave a one minute oral presentation (snapshot) of their work to entice the audience to come visit their poster. The posters and snapshots were judged by their peers and the faculty and 13 awards were given for the best entries. Both HOS (in China and in Trieste) contributed to the long-term sustainability of the Hands-on concept. In particular, the second school was the first of series of HOS that will be hosted annually by the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP)---the prospects are good that the Schools will become a permanent part of the ICTP program.

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Georgia Tech Research Corporation
United States
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