The University Record, May 8, 2000

Four recognized for dissertation work

By Rebecca A. Doyle

Delphine Lewis (left), product manager, UMI Dissertations Publishing, Bell & Howell Information Learning, with Dissertation Award recipients Nicolas H. Bonadeo, Elena Rebeca Gutiérrez, Jennifer Ferol Trimble and Jeng-Horng Chen. Rackham Dean Earl Lewis is at right. Photo by Rebecca A. Doyle
Four recent graduates were honored for their doctoral dissertations at a ceremony April 27. Elena Rebeca Gutiérrez, Jeng-Horng Chen, Jennifer Ferol Trimble and Nicolas H. Bonadeo received this year’s Distinguished Dissertation Awards. All received their doctorates in 1999.

Gutiérrez, who received her Ph.D. in sociology, combined “several disciplinary methods and theoretical traditions to pursue how and why the reproductive fertility of Mexican-origin women came to be defined as a ‘social problem’ that could yield to particular sorts of social knowledge and remedy.” Her resulting dissertation, “The Racial Politics of Reproduction,” converges numerous empirical and theoretical trajectories.

Her work brought together the racialized politics of reproduction and fertility with immigration and assimilation issues and formed a “fascinating and highly readable history of mid to late 20th-century sociological thought in the United States on a range of issues,” noted Paul A. Anderson for the Michigan Society of Fellows in recommending her dissertation for the award. Gutiérrez’s work also explores issues of anti-immigration activism, the Zero Population Growth movement in the 1970s and legal cases that addressed the coerced sterilization of Mexican-origin women in the early 1970s.

Chen, who received his Ph.D. in naval architecture and marine engineering, first had to design and build a nine-meter wind tunnel before he could begin his research on turbulence generation. “Turbulence Generation in Homogenous Dilute Particle-Laden Flows,” the result of his research, is “likely one day to be viewed as the seminal contribution that motivated a great deal of later work,” wrote Linda Ivany of the Society of Fellows.

“We have a good understanding of the behavior of laminar flows and conventional turbulent flows today, but the physics of dispersed particle flows has remained elusive until now,” she wrote. “Chen approached the subject with very little prior work to guide him and conceived of an innovative way by which to study these flows.” After building the wind tunnel, he equipped it with Doplar radar and a host of other monitoring devices.

Then, continued Ivany, “he would drop tiny glass beads down through the airflow and monitor the behavior of both the particles and the flow regime in cross section and lengthwise within the test chamber. Using this apparatus, he was able to document the effects that the falling beads have on the turbulence of the flowing air, both in the laminar-like wakes of the particles and in the turbulent inter-wake regions.”

“Of particular interest was his recognition of final-decay, or fossil turbulence in these inter-wake regions. His results suggest that virtually all properties of conventional turbulence are different from those exhibited in dispersed flows, and that laws describing the decay of turbulence in these flows will need substantial revision before being able to successfully estimate their properties.”

Trimble has “pioneered a new approach in the study of Roman statues and she has done so with eminent success,” wrote the Society of Fellows’ Grant Parker. Trimble received her Ph.D. in classical art and archeology last year. “The Aesthetics of Sameness: A Contextual Analysis of the Large and Small Herculaneum Woman Statue Types in the Roman Empire” analyzes the statue types in context rather than focusing on their common features.

“As she shows, it is more important to ask who commissioned the statues, who they represented, in what kinds of spaces they were displayed, who saw them there and with what outcomes,” Parker wrote.

Trimble studied statues of the female forms dating from the early- to mid-Roman empire that, “taken together, reveal uniformity over considerable time and space, despite social differences between communities in which they were to be found. The usual scholarly consensus on these statues—that they are yet another case in which Romans copied Greek originals, that they are repetitious and therefore uninteresting—can no longer be maintained after this dissertation.”

Bonadeo, who received his 1999 Ph.D. in applied physics, already has had his thesis work widely recognized and translated into a “string of first-authored papers in the most prestigious journals in his field,” wrote Peter Wilf for the Society of Fellows. “Nano-Optics: Coherent Spectroscopy of Single Semiconductor Quantum Dots” is the result of much of that work. Nanotechnology—the development of molecular-scale computer processors, machines, optical devices and even laboratories—has development potential that “awaits advances in our ability to observe and manipulate extremely small objects on the scale of nanometers (billionths of meters),” Wilf says. Improved laser components, logic devices and quantum computers are possible applications of the “mysterious objects called semiconductor quantum dots, which are typically composed of a few hundred thousand atoms.”

While scientists have known for some time how to manufacture quantum dots, Bonadeo developed techniques that enabled him to excite and probe individual quantum dots. He also has “opened up new possibilities for the uses of quantum dots” by demonstrating longer times of “coherent control” of single quantum dots.

The Distinguished Dissertation Award is given in recognition of the most exceptional scholarly work produced by doctoral students nominated in 1999 after completion of their theses. The award program is sponsored by the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies, the U-M Society of Fellows and Bell & Howell Information and Learning.