Proposal Presentation

Project: Looking for Dark Matter in the Rotation Curves of the Hubble Tuning Fork Galaxy Diagram

Department of Natural Sciences: Physics

Project adviser:  Dr. Scott Schneider

Presented by: Ceré L. Rettig


Ceré L. Rettig June 2014

Project Objectives:

  • Research galaxy rotation curves for the six different types of spiral galaxies.
  • Investigate mathematical models for ordinary matter and dark matter to generate rotation curves.
  • Research genetic algorithms.
  • Study Dane Falberg’s programing with genetic algorithms.
  • Create the software, to fit galaxy rotation.
  • If time is available see if this process can be done with lenticular galaxies.

Dane Falberg is another student at Lawrence Technological University who is working on an astrophysics project advised by Dr. Scott Schneider.  I will use his project to understand and build my own genetic algorithm program using java for this project that I will be able to use and modify for this project.

Where did the idea come from?

The idea of doing a galaxy rotation curve project for the different types of spiral galaxies while accounting for dark matter came from Dr. Scott Schneider.  The idea of using genetic algorithms came from: P. Charbonneau, The Astrophysical Journal Supplemental Series 309, 101 (1995).  I decided to bring it all together with the Hubble Tuning Fork Galaxy Diagram because it is a general galaxy diagram that works for this project.

Hubble Tuning Fork Galaxy Diagram

What is dark matter?

Dark matter accounts for effects that appear to be the result of mass where such mass cannot be seen.  It attracts or exerts a gravitational inward pull on the visible matter surrounding it.

Are we sure it is not dark energy?

Yes, because dark energy repels or pushes outward.

What is a galaxy rotation curve?

Galaxy rotation curves are a graphical analysis obtained from the magnitude of the orbital velocities of visible stars in a particular galaxy and their radial distance from the galaxies center, typically depicted with a scatter plot.

What does this look like?


Similar to Dr. Scott's in office drawing.

Thank you Dr. Julie Zwiesler-Vollick for pointing out unlike the first graph (the one in my midterm presentation) the one I drew and used in my proposal presentation does not have the axes labeled.

What is a genetic algorithm?

Genetic algorithms are a quick computational approach using evolution through natural selection. They are often used in computer science, artificial intelligence and computer-aided engineering design but not as often in physical sciences. In this project they will be used as a quick but effective approach to solving mathematical equations.

A special thanks to Len Hernandez for attending my presentation!

Faculty: Dr. Shannon TimmonsDr. Julie Zwiesler-VollickDr. Nicole VilleneuveJeffery Morrissette, student presentations.

PSC 3001 Spring 2014 Proposal Presentation Dark Matter in the Rotation Curves FINAL

PSC 3001 Spring 2014 – Proposal Presentation Evaluation Rubric

PSC 3001 Spring 2014 – Proposal Presentation Evaluation_Cere Rettig

PSC 3001 Spring 2014 – Senior Project Proposal Requirements

Research with Humans and Animals

This is when I learned research with humans does not necessarily mean some crazy Frankenstein experiment.

“A living individual person about whom an investigator conducting research obtains data through intervention or interaction with the individual or identifiable private information.”

It could be something as simple as testing if sports drinks actually have an effect on athletes, or if energy drinks really help you stay awake.  If research with humans is going to be done an IRB form must be submitted before doing research with humans.

IRB Review Criteria

  • There must be a benefit.
  • The protocol must minimize the risks.
  • There must be an equitable selection of subjects.
  • Participation must be informed and voluntary. No unfair inducements such as large cash payments.
  • Privacy and confidentiality of subjects and data must be protected.

Research with animals, while I cannot say I like that research is done with animals I understand it has helped save lives with vaccines and advances in technology.  It is comforting to know there ethical ways to use animals for research just as there are for humans.

The 3 R’s of Animal Research

  • Replacement: Replacing conscious, living vertebrates with cell or tissue cultures, computer models, and/or less-developed animal species.
  • Refinement: Using any technique or procedure that decreases the suffering, or enriches the life of an animal used in research.
  • Reduction: Using the fewest number of animals possible in a research project to gain statistically significant results.

Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee

Animals and Humans

Faculty: Dr. Jeffery Morrissette

On Being a Scientist, 3rd Edition Research with Humans and Animals

PSC 3001 Spring 2014 – Research with Human Subjects_Morrissette

PSC 3001 Spring 2014 – The Science and Ethics of Animal Research_Morrissette


I learned a lot about biology and biosafety in this discussion since I have not been in a biology class or lab.  I honestly thought it was going to be quite boring but it was really interesting.  I never knew there was a difference between a chemical fume hood and a biological safety cabinet, to me they both look the same.  I learned the difference between biowaste and trash and how to dispose of them.  Did you know there are also proper procedures for the autoclave?  When I saw a student use it there did not appear to be any particular procedures, maybe I was not fully paying attention since it was not equipment I used and knew little about.


Faculty:  Dr. Julie Zwiesler-Vollick

PSC 3001 Spring 2014 – Basics of Biosafety_ZV

Conflicts of Interest and Disclosure

The term conflict of interest I was vaguely familiar with before this discussion.  I had an idea of what it meant but I was not sure how it applied to research.  This showed me how there is a lot to think about before beginning a research project, that it may not be a simple decision.  While it may appear to be exactly what you are looking for you have to keep in mind your: personal, intellectual, financial, and professional interests to decide if this is truly the best opportunity.


Conflict of Interest

Faculty: Dr. Shannon Timmons

PSC 3001 Spring 2014 – Conflicts of Interest and Disclosure

On Being a Scientist, 3rd Edition Conflicts of Interest and Disclosure

Professional Ethics

Professional ethics is a topic that is incredibly important for any undergraduate degree.  I know many students, myself included, often wonder why there is this LTU Honor Code we must have on everything we submit to our professors.  Well, someone must have thought they would be clever enough to “beat the system” and not put in as much effort as others and come out with a fantastic grade.  While discussing professional ethics it was made more clear that perhaps the circumstances a person is in can and often will influence their behavior.  This does not make it alright for someone to not be ethical but, it makes you think a bit differently to see how someone else may be thinking.

Professional Ethics

Faculty: Dr. Shannon Timmons

On Being a Scientist, 3rd Edition Professional Ethics

PSC 3001 Spring 2014 – Professional Ethics

PSC 3001 Spring 2014 – Assignment 2

PSC 3001 Spring 2014 – CLR Assignment 2

More Evidence of Stem Cell Errors _ The Scientist Magazine®

Undergraduate Learning Goals and Sustainability

Having and understanding of the undergraduate learning goals that LTU has for its students is important because it helps give understanding on why our flow charts are made the way they are. In Introduction to Senior Projects in Science the learning goals that are emphasized are Sustainability and Professional Ethics. At this time the main focus is on sustainability: what we are required to know, what sustainability is, what is means to have a sustainable society, the three unifying themes of sustainability and most importantly understanding if our project is sustainable. While we all strive for sustainable projects is not always achievable in obtaining desirable results, so some projects may not be sustainable. At this point, while I did not know a lot of the details for my project or what specifically it would be on, I did know it would most likely be sustainable.


Faculty: Dr. Julie Zwiesler-Vollick

PSC 3001 Spring 2014 – Sustainability

LTU Physics Flow Chart