My undergraduate research program at Rollins incorporates three basic principles of fun, fundamental science and education into what I call a fundacational research program. The branches of physics I utilize in this research include physical acoustics, astrophysics, and material science. The fundamental research component is primarily initiated through novel material analysis via resonant measurement and material acoustic response (including newly developed time dependent resonant spectral analysis) in order to produce results that are fundamental in the field of soft and hard-condensed matter physics. Materials such as rare earth scandates, self-healing copolymers, mandolin wood, and iron-nickel meteorites are a few of the materials of recent focus at Rollins. Also, these fundamental research projects provide an opportunity for students and faculty to form collaborative research ties. Recent collaborations have included institutions such as Penn State, Union College, ICPET-National Research Council of Canada and others.
In addition, my research program constantly explores new ways to broaden the scope of physics education through improved laboratory conceptualization. These experiments focus on pedagogic aspects of elasticity, sound and acoustics by performing experiments on familiar materials with often highly unusual behavior. Recent experiments have included the elasticity of marshmallows, celery, carrots, plastic spoons and others. While these projects are typically pedagogic in nature, they provide an opportunity to foster interdisciplinary relationships with food science, biology, engineering and other fields as well as developing tools to reinforce essential physics concepts in a laboratory setting. In addition, these pedagogic studies have strong potential to lead to professional research projects. My long-term research goal is to continue to find novel ways to incorporate applied material physics to both fundamental and educational experimentation. These are generally, but not solely, focused on material characterization while maintaining the overarching ideal of making physics accessible, educational, broadly applicable and just as importantly, fun.
K. A. Pestka II, S. J. Kalista and A. Ricci, "A proof of principle experiment: Structural transitions in self-healing poly (ethylebe co-methacrylic acid) ionomers using acoustic and ultrasonic time dependent resonant spectroscopy", AIP Advances 3, 082113 (2013). (AIP)
K. A. Pestka II and Cori Warren, "Hooke's Law and the Stiffness of a Plastic Spoon" Phys. Teach., 50, 470 (2012).(Scitation)
K. A. Pestka II, E. S. Scott and Y. Le Page "Measurement of the elastic tensor of SmScO3 and NdScO3 using resonant ultrasound spectroscopy with ab initio calculations", AIP Advances 1, 032154 (2011). (AIP)
K. A. Pestka II, "Young's Modulus of a Marshmallow" Phys. Teach., 46, 140 (2008).(Scitation)
K. A. Pestka II, J. D. Maynard, A. Soukiassian, X. X. Xi, D. G. Schlom, Y. Le Page, M. Bernhagen, P. Reiche, and R. Uecker, "Experimental measurement of the elastic constants of GdScO3 via resonant ultrasound spectroscopy utilizing ab initio calculations", Appl. Phys. Lett., 92, 111915 (2008). (PDF)
K. A. Pestka II, J. D. Maynard, D. Gao, and C. Carraro, "Measurement of the Elastic Constants of a Columnar SiC Thin Film", Phys. Rev. Lett., 100, 055503 (2008). (PDF)
K. A. Pestka II, "The Elastic Constant" Phys. Teach., 45, 327 (2007).(Scitation)