Florida Tech Researcher Among 36 ORAU Award Recipients

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A Florida Tech researcher has received a prestigious Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award that will go toward furthering our understanding of the physical property of matter and the motion of its particles.

Florida Tech Mathematical Sciences assistant professor Stanley Snelson was one of 36 recipients of Oak Ridge Associated Universities’ competitive research awards. The recipients, each of whom is in the first two years of a tenure-track position, will be awarded $5,000 in seed money for current research. The College of Engineering and Science will match the award amount.

“Oak Ridge Associated Universities’ selection of Dr. Snelson as recipient of a 2019 Powe Award acknowledges his research potential and will enrich the professional growth of this outstanding early career faculty member,” Florida Tech Associate Vice President for Research Tristan Fiedler said. “Florida Tech proudly recognizes ORAU’s seed funding as a segue into major research grants.”

Specializing in looking at the mathematical theory underlying physical models, Snelson will examine the kinetic theory of gases. Part of the project will deal with the physics behind plasma.  The research findings could lead to a greater practical understanding by those in industrial areas such as metallurgy and fluorescent lights.

The main calculations that govern the systems behind the kinetic theory are what are called the Boltzmann and Landau equations. However, developing a full mathematical theory has been difficult, so Snelson is looking to bridge the gap between theory and application by developing a mathematical framework to understand the equations – and in turn the physics of gases – properly.

The journey behind Snelson’s award started during his post-doctorate work at the University of Chicago from 2014 to 2017.

“My post-doc mentor around the time I arrived there was doing some interesting work on kinetic theory, so through him I got involved,” Snelson said. “My colleagues, who were also in temporary post-doc positions, became interested, too, through casual conversations at first, and now my main collaborators on this project are my two friends from Chicago; one currently at LSU, one at the University of Arizona.”

In the future, Snelson would like to study related topics, as well as collaborate with researchers regarding the work’s rich mathematical theory and practical relevance.

Snelson has been at Florida Tech for two years and has been pleased with the work of his department. He looks to further the research of the college through this award.

“I find there’s a culture of serious research, but also a very nice commitment to high-quality teaching, so I’ve been very happy,” he said.

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I write and record video about research at Florida Tech. For any inquiries, contact me at 321-674-8937 or rrandall@fit.edu.

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