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New Technology Helps Penn State DuBois Students See the Light

5/14/2008 —

DuBois – New equipment at Penn State DuBois is showing Earth and Mineral Science students the light.  That is, reflected and transmitted light.  Penn State DuBois has just acquired a new Leica Petrographic Microscope for use in the Earth and Mineral Science labs. 

“It is the tool of choice for initial analysis of rocks and minerals collected in the field and it will help students to better understand the concepts of geology,” said Assistant Professor of Math and Geology, Neyda Abreu. 

Students will use the microscope to view minerals, rocks and ores as they learn about the main constituents of our planet.  Light is transmitted through the sample and manipulated to provide views of various minerals the particular sample might contain.  The result is often a burst of vibrant colors, not visible to the naked eye.  The colors’, in the sample allow students to identify the makeup of ore or minerals and gives us clues about their composition and atomic structure.  To the layperson, looking into the scope gives the impression of looking into a kaleidoscope.   

The scope is linked to a computer, so the image on the slides can also be viewed on the computer screen, or projected onto a larger screen for an entire classroom to see.  Specialized computer software is also used to analyze, process and store information gathered with the microscope. Abreu says equipment identical to this is used everyday by professional geologists.  “Being proficient with this petrographic microscope is something students can put on their résumé,” she added.

Abreu says the Leica Petrographic Microscope with its accompanying tools was a $20,000 investment for the campus.  The purchase was partially funded by a generous gift from Penn State DuBois Alumnus, Bob Umbaugh and his wife, Joyce.  

She adds, “Administration and Chancellor Anita McDonald were very supportive, recognizing the impact this would have on our students.” 

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