Special Focus on Adjunct Faculty Activities

Stephen L. Ostrow
Adjunct Professor, Medical Physics

Dr. Ostrow is a long-serving Adjunct Professor in the APAM Department, teaching Introduction to Nuclear Science, and is also a member of the Medical Physics faculty. He obtained his B.S. (1968), M.S. (1970), and Ph.D. (1978) degrees in Applied Physics and Nuclear Engineering from the predecessor of the current APAM Department; he also received an MBA degree from New York University (1986). While still at Columbia, he joined Ebasco Services, Inc., a large architect-engineering company deeply involved in the design and construction of nuclear power plants. He focused on developing and using applications of radiation transport theory in leading a team designing radiation shielding and other radiation protection features for the experimental Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor (TFTR) at Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL). At Ebasco and its successor companies (including Raytheon Engineers & Constructors and Washington Group) he held a number of positions, including Manager and Chief Engineer of Nuclear Engineering and Manager of Advanced Technology. He performed and led studies in various nuclear engineering areas, including radiation protection, criticality analysis, radiation shielding, dose assessment, radiation transport and streaming, design basis and severe accident analysis, ALARA, and radiation monitoring.

At Raytheon, he established a program to evaluate new advanced technologies in support of programs, initiatives, and projects throughout the company and worked in various advanced technology areas, such as superconducting Magnetic Energy Storage (SMES) and other electromagnetics programs and projects, including fusion magnet coil design, and directing engineering design services for development of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) Project.

Dr. Ostrow joined SC&A, Inc., a Vienna Virginia-headquartered radiological and environmental consulting firm, in 2002, where he is currently Senior Vice President of Advanced Technology. His focus has been on developing advanced technology systems for defense and homeland security applications for standoff detection of explosives, toxic chemicals, and nuclear materials. He has also been a major participant in SC&A’s nuclear and radiological assessment projects, such as for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health, where, under a federal compensation program, the project evaluates claims of workers who may have developed cancer from exposure to radiation while employed at DOE or government contractor nuclear facilities engaged in the nation’s nuclear weapons program. Analyses include biokinetics, ICRP compartment models, pathways analyses, internal dosimetry, external dosimetry, medical exposures, environmental exposures, and consideration of a very wide range of radioactive sources. He is also currently engaged in a project for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to assess the potential operational impact of reduced occupational radiation dose limits to NRC and Agreement State licensees. He is leading the effort related to medical personnel, and has contracted with the Columbia University Radiation Safety Office to provide and analyze personnel radiation exposure data as well as other material.

He is a member of the American Nuclear Society, Tau Beta Pi, and Sigma Xi.

Matthew Putman
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Materials Science and Engineering

I recently told the students of the Introduction to Polymers class that I am teaching that I come from a strange background. What I meant by this was purely in the scientific and industrial sense. My family is from Akron, Ohio, and I grew up with parents and grandparents who worked and were entrepreneurs in the rubber industry. So I grew up in rubber factories, and later polymer research labs, where besides being covered in carbon black, I learned through observation, then practical training about polymer testing and processing. I eventually went on to run my family business called Tech Pro, which was as much a software company as a polymeric instrumentation company. We made rheology instruments, and mechanical testing instruments, but also software for quality control evaluation, and even some modeling. So before earning my Ph.D. as an Applied Physicist, and spending time in France studying with the leaders in the field of polymer rheology, I had spent a lifetime looking at properties like modulus, and trying to understand how it applied to the creation of new processes and materials.

2012 is an incredible time to be doing science, and to have a technology company, both of which I am lucky enough to be doing. My company, Nanotronics Imaging, is not polymer specific at all, though the inspiration for it came from a time not long ago when polymer compounds began using nanofillers. This made high throughput imaging a challenge, as electron microscopy and AFM were impractical for large scale inspection. The idea behind Nanotronics was to fix that through an algorithm which reconstructs images using a unique method of subpixilization. We are doing this and more with the company, but almost exclusively for fields I did not grow up with. We sell to compound semiconductor companies and bio science labs. So much of my research into nanofillers in polymers is left to work I do here at Columbia in the rheology lab in Engineering Terrace, which my family donated, or on my own. There is a fortunate convergence of all of this however, which is taking me and these ideas to new places.

One such area of research is in regenerative medicine. Regenerative medicine is the process of growing new organs to replace missing or damaged ones. One way in which this is done is by using Extra Cellular Membrane (ECM), which is biological connective tissue, cleaned of all cells, and implanting it in the body to replace everything from bladder, to muscles to an esophagus. Most of this is cutting edge stuff, and mostly medical researchers work on it. It seems though that they do have a need for a polymer rheologist, and the pool of us is rather small, especially when it comes to those that can also do ground breaking testing. I presented a paper at the American Chemical Society meeting in March about the mechanical properties of these scaffolds, which I am treating like other polymers.

So the scope of polymer rheology with the inclusion of nanoparticles, and with bioscience in need of many of our methods has provided for excellent research opportunities. I am glad I am here at Columbia to explore these ideas with colleagues and students.


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