Intercom Online......October 29, 1998

Research


In this nighttime photograph, the LAPS lidar green laser beam is scattered by
molecules and aerosols in the lower atmosphere. The lidar equipment from
Penn State and the Applied Research Laboratory was in the desert
northeast of Los Angeles in September 1997 as part of a research project.
The signal from the beam provides profiles of density, temperature,
water vapor, ozone and aerosol properties.

Technology lighting the way
for a variety of disciplines

That mysterious green light cutting through the night sky at University Park isn't really all that mysterious. The beam, emanating from lidar equipment at the Applied Research Laboratory, will someday allow for more accurate weather forecasts and better pollution monitoring.

Lidar is similar to radar, except that it uses light waves instead of radio waves for detection. The lidar equipment sends out a beam of light in extremely short pulses, each 7-billionths of a second long. The way the light waves are scattered -- from as far as 50 miles away -- allows engineers to measure properties of the air such as water vapor, temperature or pollutants, since the sensing equipment can detect the wavelengths scattered by various molecules in the atmosphere.

Russell Philbrick, professor of electrical engineering, and his team of researchers are currently developing lidar technology for three remote sensing purposes:

* Meteorology: Lidar will one day provide a more accurate and economical operation for collecting meteorological data for weather maps and predictions than we have today. Lidar equipment uses a few cents of electricity to produce a profile of conditions, compared to the $200 per disposable weather balloon that each station must release several times a day.

* Pollution monitoring: Lidar can measure pollution levels and fine particles in the air, such as ozone, aerosols or industrial emissions. Philbrick is the principal investigator on a new, $3 million research grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to measure pollution along the East Coast. The goal is to better understand the relationship between pollution and atmospheric conditions, in order to improve predictions of unhealthy or hazardous levels.

* Electro-optical propagation: Researchers are studying light scattering particles to advance knowledge in this field. The optical scattering by clouds and aerosols changes the solar energy reaching the earth's surface, as well as our ability to see through haze. Developing ways to describe optical scattering is important in aviation, military surveillance, and a wide range of activities.

By measuring the atmosphere, sensors such as lidar monitor changes in weather or pollution conditions that influence our daily activities.


Balancing act just as tricky
for those in higher education

Juggling a career and family responsibilities always has been a major challenge and it is no less so in higher education, according to a book co-edited by a faculty member at Penn State Erie.

"Many women we've talked to were exhausted with the effort to balance work and family as members of the first generation of women to be it all and have it all," Diana Hume George, professor of English and women's studies, said.

"We also discovered that a great many men in higher education were struggling with the same challenges of balancing family and career in ways that make sense."

George co-edited The Family Track: Keeping Your Faculties While You Mentor, Nurture, Teach and Serve with the late Constance Coiner, associate professor of English at SUNY-Binghamton, who died in the crash of TWA Flight 800 in 1996. The book is published by the University of Illinois Press.

"Because the university in America is the kind of job that's not nine to five," she said, "a faculty position combines a high degree of flexibility with a high degree of demands and a sense of company loyalty in which you're expected to live your work.

"But the problem goes well beyond academe. Balancing work and family is probably the biggest issue facing American workers after their bills are paid."

The Family Track contains essays and poems from 50 faculty members at a wide range of institutions. Many essays examine the problems presented by the "sandwich generation," in which women in their prime earning years are more likely to have to deal with both elder care and child care.

"The book is driven by the conviction that women should not be forced to choose mothering over professional achievement and that men should not be coerced into emphasizing professional achievement at the expense of involvement in the lives of their children," George said.

The book also offers practical policy suggestions for development of family friendly campuses.

Penn Staters represented in the book are Ursula Wood Davis, assistant professor of communications, and Sharon Dale, associate professor of art history, both at Penn State Erie; Alan Parker, former assistant professor of English at Penn State Erie, now a faculty member at Davidson College; Charlotte Holmes, associate professor of English; David Chin, assistant professor of English, Penn State Wilkes-Barre; Claudia Limbert, campus executive officer at Penn State DuBois; and alumni April Salzano and Thom Dworsky.


Anesthesia, pain medicine
shouldn't interfere with breastfeeding

The use of general anesthesia or pain-relief agents given during labor, delivery or the post-partum period should not interfere with breastfeeding.

That conclusion was reached after a thorough review of published literature during the annual meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Dr. Cheston M. Berlin Jr., professor of pediatrics and pharmacology in the College of Medicine, is a member of the Committee on Drugs for the AAP. He said the purpose of the session is to enable pediatricians to understand how these drugs might affect the process of lactation and how to support nursing mothers at the same time.

"There is no reason a mother should not be given medications for pain relief such as an epidural. The effects of the anesthesia on the ability to nurse should be managed with knowledge and patience," said Berlin. He also said that some of the published literature shows that the anesthesia may cause the infant to have a delayed latch-on time and may be uncoordinated at suckling, but Berlin said those effects last only a few hours to perhaps a day. There appears to be no long-term problems with anesthesia and breastfeeding.

Berlin said the review of the current literature was conducted so that physicians will understand when anesthesia can be used.

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