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SOAR Profile - Alicia Altemose

Name: Alicia Altemose 
Major/minor: Mathematics, Chemistry 
Expected date of graduation: Spring 2014 
Hometown: Pen Argyl, Pa. 
Activities: Vice president of Moravian College’s United Student Government; treasurer of Colleges Against Cancer; a past treasurer of Campus Community Connection (C3); and president of Gamma Sigma Sigma national service sorority, Epsilon Xi chapter. She is also involved in several other clubs, societies and community service activities. 
Project title: Locked and Unlocked Chains in 3-Space 
Project advisor: Kevin Hartshorn

Alicia Altemose fully intended to participate in a SOAR project in summer 2012, except for one minor issue: She missed the enrollment deadline. Undeterred, Alicia returned in summer 2013 to conduct a project titled “Locked and Unlocked Chains in 3-Space” – a topic she called her “perfect project.”

For those out there who are not mathematically inclined, we’ll spare most of the details, but essentially Alicia’s project dealt with various polygonal chains in three dimensions. (A polygonal chain is a connected sequence of links joined at vertices, also known as a path graph in mathematics.)

Incidentally, Alicia stumbled upon this topic in her junior-year origami class. “I did a special topic project on fixed-angle chains and their maximum span, and learned of the applications to protein chains and their folding mechanisms,” she says. “I became infatuated with the topic and wanted to learn more.”

For the first couple weeks, Kevin Hartshorn and Altemose researched published results on various classes of chains – open, closed, universal joints, fixed-angle chains, etc. – and compiled a list of open questions. The duo then concentrated on short chains of four and five links, focusing particularly on open, unit θ-chains, and spent their remaining weeks delving further into the topic.

Their final results are referenced in a 17-page paper with a description of applications of polygonal chains, a summary of some relevant published results, an explanation of their parameterization method, the proofs of the 4- and 5-link chains’ locking abilities, and a running bibliography. Once their review is complete, the duo plans to submit it for publication in November. In the coming year, Alicia hopes to continue her research, rolling it into the honors project.

Ultimately, Alicia wants to attend a graduate program to continue her studies in physical chemistry, particularly quantum mechanics. She would like to earn a doctorate in physical chemistry and become a professor and/or conduct research in the field of physical chemistry.