WPI Professor Earns Research Innovation

Contact: Arlie Corday, WPI Media & Community Relations

WORCESTER, Mass. - A great idea may be its own reward, but it is especially so when it brings $35,000 in its wake.

Germano S. Iannacchione of Waltham, Mass., Worcester Polytechnic Institute assistant professor of physics, has won a Research Innovation Award in support of his "original, innovative scientific research." Given by the Research Corp., a foundation for the advancement of science, the award honors Iannacchione's project titled "New Approach for Calorimetric Spectroscopy." The funds will be used for equipment, supplies and research stipends, among other uses.

"High-resolution measurements of a materials heat capacity - the amount of heat or energy something can hold per degree temperature - reveals a material's property, information an engineer finds useful," Iannacchione said. "However, it also shows something that scientists find extremely useful as well. When a material undergoes a change of phase, like from ice to water, the heat capacity of the material shows an unmistakable feature. Some materials, like glasses and the recent advent of 'smart' polymers, change their phase so slowly that it is sometimes hard to tell if the material has finished changing its phase. This proposal will develop a new experimental approach that would not only answer this question but also give insight as to how these slowly changing systems reach their new phase."

Iannacchione, at WPI since 1998, is also a research affiliate at the Center for Materials Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He completed postdoctoral research at MIT and Kent State University and earned a 1993 Ph.D. in physics at Kent State and 1990 M.S. and 1987 B.S. degrees in physics from the University of Akron. He was awarded the 1991 David B. Smith Fellowship as the outstanding graduate student in physics at Kent State and was named the 1988-89 Morton-Thiokol research associate in physics at the University of Akron.

A member of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the International Liquid Crystal Society, and the American Association of University Professors, he lives with his wife, Dee, and daughter, Alisionna, in Waltham and is the son of Domenico and Lina Iannacchione of Akron, Ohio.

WPI, founded in 1865, is renowned for its project-based curriculum. Under the WPI Plan, students integrate classroom studies with research projects conducted on campus and around the world.