2014 Lycoming Winter Magazine - page 5

Christopher Kulp, Ph.D.
Assistant professor
of physics
Why physics?
I always knew I wanted to be a
scientist. As a child, I was always asking
questions and my mother did the best
to answer them. If she didn’t know the
answer, she would get me a book about
the subject. It wasn’t until sixth grade,
when I was in Mrs. Mary Hoy’s science
class, that I really became interested after
we had our first discussion about atoms
and electricity.
What brought you to Lycoming?
In grad school, I started looking
for my first job and I wanted a job that
focused on teaching and supported
my research. I started out at Eastern
Kentucky University and stayed there
for four years, but I wanted to be closer
to my family, who live in the Baltimore,
Md., area. Lycoming had an opening, I
applied and now I’m in my sixth year as
a professor.
What are you working on now?
I have two main projects. One
involves combustion. I video-record
flames in various air-fuel states and use
the data from the recordings to create
mathematical models of combustion
for real-time flame control. This has
tons of industrial applications for
increasing the efficiency of industrial
burners. My research should also help
us train cameras to better detect flames,
sometimes called optical fire recognition,
an important tool for detecting fires in
open spaces. My second project is on
irregularly sampled time series. I am
trying to create algorithms to help us to
better understand systems from which
our data is irregularly sampled. There are
lots of real-world examples of irregular
time series, from fields as diverse as
astrophysics and climatology.
What do you like best about
teaching at Lycoming?
I am at a place where teaching matters
and I have a lot of freedom to choose
the types of projects on which I work.
I enjoy keeping my undergraduates
heavily involved with my research. In
fact, I’ve actually changed research fields
specifically to accommodate my students.
I like that I get to know my students so
well. In fact, I’m friends with many of
them on Facebook and I hold a holiday
party and a spring picnic for them at my
house. Many of my students know my
wife – and friend her on Facebook. There
is a great sense of community at Lyco,
and I really enjoy that.
What do you like to do for fun?
I have a relatively new hobby that
I love: playing harmonica and electric
guitar. It’s fundamentally different
than work and although I wouldn’t call
myself a musician, I play the guitar every
day. I started out learning to play the
harmonica, but then began guitar lessons
so I could learn more music theory. I
want to learn how to play music, not just
songs. I’ve been playing since 2011 and
it’s become quite an addiction. I now
have a growing electric guitar collection.
I like blues and rock music but I have no
plans on gigging. I just want to entertain
me and my dog. I’m also involved with
the Billtown Blues Association – I run
their social media campaign. Finally,
although it might sound strange, when
you’re a scientist, your research is almost
a hobby. You have to love it and it has to
be a part of you.
About Kulp
Kulp earned a bachelor’s degree in
physics and mathematics from McDaniel
College and a master’s degree and Ph.D.
from The College of William and Mary.
Before coming to Lycoming, Kulp taught
for four years as an assistant professor of
physics at Eastern Kentucky University.
Kulp has also taught at William and
Mary, and McDaniel. His research
interests are in nonlinear dynamics
and chaos theory. Most recently, he
has focused on problems dealing with
nonlinear time series analysis and
information theory. He also has been
using the methods of nonlinear time
series analysis to develop mathematical
models of combustion. It is hoped that
his work will lead to improvements in
the efficiency of industrial burners and
optical fire recognition algorithms.
“I am at a place where
teaching matters
and I have a lot of
freedom to choose
the types of projects
on which I work...
I like that
I get to know my
students so well.
In fact, I’m friends
with many of them
on Facebook and
I hold a holiday party
and spring picnic
for them at my house.”
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