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Tony Ragucci

College Station, Texas
B.S. in Physics and Mathematics, 1996
Senior Research Scientist at Lynntech, Inc.

Profile

I graduated from Rose in the Spring of 1996 with a double major in Physics and Math and a minor in Philosophy. From there, I went to Pennsylvania State University where I obtained my Masters in Physics in 1999 and then on to The Ohio State University where I obtained my Ph.D. in Physics in 2004. My area of research was low-temperature condensed matter experiment, studying the interactions between individual electrons and between groups of electrons in high magnetic fields and at temperatures close to absolute zero. Since that time, I have been employed at Lynntech, Inc., a research and development company of about 140 people working in a broad range of new technology areas. I am currently a Senior Research Scientist, there, and the Sensor Program Coordinator.

Essentially, I am an inventor. I work in the area of sensors and mathematics is a tool I use on a daily basis. I developed an optical method and related instrumentation for NASA to monitor the strain in their high-altitude scientific balloons in-flight, using sunlight. The mathematics used to extract strain information from the light is described through both algebra and computational techniques; I used MATLAB to analyze the data matrices.

I also developed an electrostatic air sampling method and another air sampling method for use with surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy or Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. The airflow dynamics in these devices is described by differential equations, such as the Navier-Stokes equations. Since exact solutions in complex environments cannot usually be obtained, computational fluid dynamics is used as well, although even these tools have significant limitations. I used a combination of analytical and computational techniques for analysis.

I work with microfluidics, as well,and have developed twowater-quality-testing instruments for NASA. As part of that work, I invented a new zero-G liquid-gas phase separator that does not require any power to operate. After extensive ground testing, NASA sent me on a C9-B aircraft to do zero-G flight testing for a week, as shown in my photo. The device worked quite well, as designed from other differential equations, such as the diffusion equation.

In all of this work,evaluating the validity of results obtained often relies on statistical analyses. One good result is usually not enough to make a convincing argument that a new device works effectively. Lifetime testing and finite element analysis in design can provide further evidence that a device will operate well in a real environment.

The examples listed above should provide some insight into how I use mathematics on a regular basis. I cannot emphasize strongly enough how critical mathematics has been in my career so far. The tools, techniques, and general approaches I learned have been applied in a number of areas. I think one of the advantages of having a mathematics background is the realization that many real-world problems in diverse fields can be simplified to common problems in mathematics. That insight can be invaluable when tasked with solving problems across fields or in new areas.

ragucci at work
Tony Ragucci at Work
This document was last modified: 12/01/2007
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