Allan Nishimura's Work with Students

Allan Nishimura

After hearing so many reports of Allan's successful investigations with students this summer, I thought I would spend some time letting him describe for me the nature and applications of his work in the lab. That research has led to a few co-authored publications with students in recent months. Although Allan presumably "retired" from teaching last spring, he obviously enjoys collaborating with students, and he delights in their process of discovery. "Experimental science teaches you about life," he observes. And "it helps you hurdle times of difficulty." It helps students build stamina, persistence, and the willingness to continue after so many false starts and sudden cul de sacs.

Quite often, I enjoy hearing faculty members talk about their scholarship, including the ways that they have benefited from the assistance of students. But listening to Allan made me aware of how thoroughly he thinks of this research as the students’ work. “I’m just around in the lab,” he told me, with characteristic understatement. Even the choice of materials seemed oriented to our students. According to Allan, research on sapphire—a form of aluminum oxide—has become something of a Westmont “niche.” Since it is not a substance that is widely studied, Westmont students are able to take their time to conduct their experiments and to get published, with fewer fears that the world’s major research labs will eclipse their work and beat them to press. As a result, several young scholars leave Montecito with an undergraduate degree and their names on three or four publications.

During their time at Westmont some of these students have projected naphthalene molecules—commonly found in mothballs—unto the surface of sapphire, which is inert and therefore does not interact chemically with the new molecules. The researchers add some stress, such as heat, and watch “what kinds of things happen.” Often the molecules congeal, like ice crystals, in new forms. Usually when the electrons of a molecule are excited they emit light. All this helps us know a little more about how molecules form clusters from amorphous materials. It’s one “small piece,” as Allan reports, in the effort to harness solar power, helping us understand more about how coating materials draw and transfer energy from the sun.

It is, though, a large piece in students’ intellectual development. I’ve long known about Allan’s reputation for good work with students. Now I am grateful that we have some overlapping time at Westmont so I can see his heart for them.

Allan's Recent Publications with Students:

"Temperature Dependent Excimer Luminescence of Naphthalenes on Alumina," by Samantha Gardner (Westmont, ’13), Laura Selby (Westmont ,’12), Rachel Teranishi (Westmont, ’12), Michael Douglas (Pt. Loma, ‘12) and Seth Simonds (Pt. Loma, ‘12), supervised by Ken Martin of Point Loma Nazarene University and Allan Nishimura, has been published in the Journal of Luminescence. Note: Ken Martin has been a long-time collaborator with Allan, and Allan wanted to make sure that he saluted Ken for his partnership and support over the years.

"Laser Induced Fluorescence Decay of 2-Methyl, 2-Methoxy, and 2-Ethynaphthalene on Alumina During Temperature Programmed Desorption" by Brad Baer (Pt. Loma, ‘13), Shanan Lau (Westmont, ’13) and Hannah Ryan (Westmont, ’13), supervised by Ken Martin and Allan Nishimura, will appear in the International Journal of Spectroscopy.

"The Effect of Water on the Excimer Fluorescence Decay Rate Constant of Naphthalene on Alumina," by Hannah Ryan (Westmont, ’13), Shanan Lau (Westmont, ’13) and Brad Baer (Pt. Loma, ‘13) and supervised by Ken Martin and Allan Nishimura will be published in the next issue of the Journal of Undergraduate Chemistry Research.

Other Papers Currently in Review:

“Laser Induced Fluorescence Decay of 1-Methyl, 1-Methoxy, and 1-Ethylnaphthalene on Alumina during Temperature Programmed Desorption” by Shanan Lau (Westmont, ’13), Hannah Ryan (Westmont, ’13), Brad Baer (Pt. Loma, ’13), supervised by Ken Martin and Allan Nishimura.

“Laser Induced Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer of 9,10-Dihydrophenanthrene and 9-Fluorenone on Alumina During Temperature Programmed Desorption” by Hannah Ryan (Westmont, ’13), Shanan Lau (Westmont, ’13), Brad Baer (Pt. Loma, ’13), supervised by Ken Martin and Allan Nishimura.

"A Physical Chemistry Experiment: Fluorescence Quenching by Resonant Energy Transfer” by Brad Baer (Pt. Loma, ’13) and supervised by Ken Martin and Allan Nishimura.