Highlanders in the News: Week of May 30
Every week, our Highlanders are using their education to do extraordinary things. Here, we’ll highlight some notable mentions from local, regional, national and international news media. Whether our students, alumni, faculty and staff are featured as subject matter experts in high-profile stories or simply helping make the world a better place, we’ll feature their stories.
New, clear physics
Helping younger students learn about physics, then delivering a presentation about that experience, was in itself an education, according to a recent essay written by two Highlanders.
The account, by physics majors Kaleb Martin and Sam Williams, was published earlier this year in the winter 2022 edition of the SPS Observer, the magazine of the Society of Physics Students. It’s available online and appears on page 16.
In the article, Martin, a junior from Newport News, and Williams, a senior from Virginia Beach, talk about how their local chapter of the SPS conducted Zoom meetings in 2020 and 2021, during which they taught local high schoolers how to build their own AM radios.
That effort was designed to encourage young scholars to pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) curriculum.
Afterward, their chapter advisor, Rhett Herman, Ph.D., encouraged chapter members to give a presentation about the experience during the April 2021 meeting of the Chesapeake section of the American Association of Physics Teachers.
“Giving a talk was daunting. Several dozen physics teachers from across Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and the D.C. area … were also presenting,” Martin and Williams wrote. “It was the first time many of our members had presented their work in a professional setting.”
Even so, at the end of their account, they called doing the presentation “an insightful experience … a pinnacle of accomplishment for our chapter.”
Their work extends beyond the magazine’s pages as well. A photograph taken by Herman graces the issue’s cover. It depicts Martin using Helmholtz coils to generate a magnetic field as part of an experiment to measure an electron’s charge-to-mass ratio.
A wartime view of Belarus
As the Russian invasion of Ukraine moves steadily past its third month, a geography professor who knows the territory well recently examined how the conflict has affected Belarus, which sits adjacent to and shares borders with both countries.
An analysis by Grigory Ioffe, Ph.D., titled “The Ailing Belarusian Economy And Lukashenka’s Plea On Big Brother’s Behalf,” was published in the May 25 Jamestown Foundation’s Eurasia Daily Monitor and posted May 26 on Eurasia Review’s website.
Born in Moscow, Ioffe graduated from its state university before emigrating to the United States, where he joined Radford’s faculty in 1990. Over the past 20 years, he’s been active in Belarusian studies and has written or co-authored books and other pieces on the country, its economy and its politics.
In 2015, he visited the country and met its president.
Ioffe’s latest article looks at Belarus’ relationship with Russia and the toll recent sanctions have taken.
For example, Ioffe writes, “The World Bank … predicts that Belarusian exports will shrink by 14.2 percent and imports will fall by 18.8 percent.”
“Because the Belarusian economy is much more open (i.e., export-oriented) compared to Russia’s, this projected decline is nothing short of cataclysmic,” he concludes.
Among other points, Ioffe also looks at Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka (also transliterated as Alexander Lukashenko), his stance on the conflict and the sanctions during his appearance at last month’s summit of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) in Moscow, which included Russia as well as Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
While Russia remains Belarus’ primary trading partner, the United States in 2021 ranked No. 10. Belarusian exports to the U.S. included particle board, pipes for oil and natural gas, X-ray equipment, furniture and optical fibers and lenses, among other goods.