Senator Leads Congressmen, Mayor and President in Ribbon Cutting

Jersey City, N.J. – On Friday, September 10, 2010, Eugene J. Cornacchia, Ph.D., president of Saint Peter’s College, Senator Robert Menendez, Congressmen Steve Rothman and Albio Sires, Mayor of Jersey City Jerramiah T. Healy and John W. Luginsland, Ph.D., program manager of the Plasma and Electro-Energetic Physics program of the Department of Defense’s Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR), joined together to officially open the College’s Center for Microplasma Science and Technology (CMST).

There was a packed house on the College’s Jersey City campus, where the day’s events included remarks given by Senator Menendez, Congressmen Rothman and Sires, all staunch supporters of funding for the Center, as well as Mayor Healy. Dr. Cornacchia, Velda Goldberg, Ph.D., dean of the College of Arts and Sciences/School of Business Administration, and Marylou Yam, Ph.D., the College’s provost/vice president of academic affairs, also provided remarks in addition to Dr. Luginsland. Following the ribbon cutting ceremony, assistant professors of physics for Saint Peter’s, Jose L. Lopez, Ph.D., director and principal investigator, and Wei-Dong Zhu, Ph.D., director of research and co-principal investigator, led a tour of the CMST facility. There was also an opportunity to view current projects on which students have been working.

“We are extremely proud to officially open the doors to our much anticipated Center for Microplasma Science and Technology. Today, not only do we open up a world of opportunities for our students, we open up Saint Peter’s College to a level of national and international recognition,” said Dr. Cornacchia.

“I’m proud to return to my alma mater for such an auspicious occasion. The Center will be at the cutting edge of building technologies for another great American century. This is an investment in the future, and Saint Peter’s will stand at the center of this unique, national mission,” added Senator Menendez, an alumnus from the class of 1976.

Innovative programs have already been implemented at CMST. With the support of the AFOSR and the American Chemical Society, summer internships were offered to promising high school students from northern New Jersey. Assignments included learning and teaching about plasma as well as hands-on experience with current CMST research projects including generation of various atmospheric pressure microplasma devices and study of their spectroscopic and electrical properties. Also, through the Practical Applications of Research in Science Education (PARSE) Institute, a cooperative effort between Saint Peter’s Department of Applied Science and Technology and the School of Education along with collaborative partnerships with the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory and Liberty Science Center, local science teachers worked side-by-side with undergraduate researchers and the Center’s research scientists.

In addition, efforts are being made to provide resources to middle and secondary school science teachers who wish to integrate plasma science into their curriculum using the most current, research-based teaching techniques.

“God bless you, the scientists and students, with your curiosity, brilliance and drive to discover new things. I am nothing short of filled with joy at the sight of seeing so many young people taking their place in our world,” said Congressman Rothman. Congressman Sires, who is an alumnus from the class of 1974, added, “This has been a team effort and I am happy to be a part of it. We worked together for the benefit of Saint Peter’s College and this is a step into the future.”

Microplasmas, tiny discharges of ionized gas, contain the ability to clean contaminated air and water, sterilize medical equipment, allow for skin and dental treatments, and provide resources for energy efficiency. The CMST at Saint Peter’s College will serve as a national resource center, providing training and educational opportunities to microplasma scientists, and distributing news and information to the microplasma community.

“I am so excited to be here for the opening of this great facility. It is the sense of discovery to serve society that brings us all here together today. We can’t wait to see the great things that are coming,” said Dr. John W. Luginsland.

Saint Peter’s Department of Applied Science and Technology, under the direction of Chairman Len Sciorra, Ph.D., helps to oversee the CMST, which serves as the nation’s first and only scientific and educational center devoted entirely to the emerging field of microplasma research in the United States. Research conducted by Dr. Lopez and Dr. Zhu earned the College the initial $2 million federal grant from the AFOSR to establish the CMST in July 2009.

“This new addition can only add to the tremendous track record of Saint Peter’s College. I am proud to have this kind of institution on Kennedy Boulevard and in Jersey City,” concluded Mayor Healy.

In addition to Senator Menendez, and Congressmen Rothman and Sires, New Jersey Senator Frank R. Lautenberg was a supporter of the 2008 Defense Appropriations Bill, which included the grant that led to the establishment of the CMST.

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Saint Peter’s College, inspired by its Jesuit, Catholic identity, commitment to individual attention and grounding in the liberal arts, educates a diverse community of learners in undergraduate, graduate and professional programs to excel intellectually, lead ethically, serve compassionately and promote justice in our ever-changing urban and global environment.