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Ohio Wesleyan 2008 Graduate Earns Physics Research Award
Rachael Roettenbacher Selected to Represent U.S. at International Conference

May 12, 2008

DELAWARE, OHIO – For the second consecutive year, an Ohio Wesleyan University student has been selected as one of three college students nationwide to earn the Society of Physics Students’ “Outstanding Student Award for Undergraduate Research” and to represent the United States at the International Conference for Physics Students.

Rachael M. Roettenbacher of Nazareth, Pa., will represent the Society of Physics Students at the international conference Aug. 6-13 in Cracow, Poland. She is a May 2008 Ohio Wesleyan graduate with a double major in astrophysics and mathematics. This fall, she will begin graduate studies in physics at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa.

In 2007, Ohio Wesleyan graduate Yun Kyoung “Claire” Ryu was selected for the dual honor. A native of the Republic of Korea, Ryu graduated magna cum laude in May 2007 with five majors: biophysics, chemistry, microbiology, pre-medicine, and zoology with a concentration in genetics. She currently is pursuing a graduate degree in biophysics at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

Roettenbacher’s award-winning research sought to map the surface of the star II Pegasi. To accomplish this, she used a technique called light-curve inversion. The technique allowed her to create images of dark “starspots” on the star’s surface. The starspots on II Pegasi are similar to sunspots, but much larger. Roettenbacher used the starspots to study how the star’s rotation rate varies with latitude on its surface. Such differential rotation plays a crucial role in the generation of magnetic fields.

Previously, Roettenbacher earned a superior ranking and cash prize at the 2006 Sigma Xi Annual Meeting and Student Research Conference for similar research involving the star LO Pegasi. A superior ranking is the highest distinction awarded to undergraduate presenters at this conference. She also presented results of the project at the 2007 national meeting of the American Astronomical Society.

The Society of Physics Students, formed in 1968, is a professional organization created specifically for students. A part of the American Institute of Physics, the Maryland-based society has more than 700 chapters on college campuses across the country.

Ohio Wesleyan University is an undergraduate liberal arts college that transforms the lives of its students through a combination of rigorous academics, mentoring relationships, and real-world experiences. Featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” the private university’s 1,850 students come from 40 states and 45 countries. Visit www.owu.edu for more information.