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Physics student, alum build, maintain saltwater tank

Many college students just sit through class, then head home or hang out. But Austin Peay State University physics students often prove to be the exception.

For the sheer love of their discipline and their University, senior physics major Daniel Hogue and 2006 graduate Billy Teets, both of Clarksville, spend countless hours on weekends and at night workingwithout payin APSUs Sundquist Science Complex (SSC).
Many college students just sit through class, then head home or hang out. But Austin Peay State University physics students often prove to be the exception.

For the sheer love of their discipline and their University, senior physics major Daniel Hogue and 2006 graduate Billy Teets, both of Clarksville, spend countless hours on weekends and at night workingwithout payin APSU's Sundquist Science Complex (SSC).

In Summer 2004, Teets and Hogue spearheaded an effort to renovate the atrium in the science complex. At that time, Dr. Jaime Taylor, professor of physics and chair of the APSU Department of Physics and Astronomy, said the young men approached him with suggestions on what they wanted to do to make APSU a better place.

To make the atrium more attractive and interesting, they rallied other students to build new saltwater, freshwater and reptile aquariumsa big project. But the story doesn't end there.

According to Taylor, over the past few months, algae in the saltwater tank had become a problem. “It used to grow on the surface of the tank, so Billy and Daniel introduced snails and other ‘critters' to clean the surfaces,” says Taylor. “That seemed to take care of the problem. But about a month ago, the algae started to grow within the tank.”

Hogue and Teets rolled up their sleeves and went to work, first removing the sand and then putting new water in the tank. “Each of these tasks took an entire weekend and then some,” says Taylor. “Daniel and Billy continued to research the problem when none of this worked.”

Finally, the two approached Dr. Don Dailey, chair of the APSU Department of Biology, and recommended the purchase of an ultraviolet (UV) sterilization unit.

“They ordered it, installed it, and it definitely has solved the problem,” says Taylor. “I'm impressed with how Daniel and Billy stuck with the problem until it was solved.”

Teets, the May 2006 Drane Award recipient, attends Vanderbilt University, where he is pursuing a doctorate in physics with an astronomy concentration. To entice him to enroll in its Ph.D. program, Vanderbilt waived Teets' tuition. While he's working toward his doctorate, Vanderbilt also pays him almost $18,000 for nine months and provides his medical benefits.

Although it's rare for a college sophomore to be admitted into the Navy Nuclear Instructor's Program, during Hogue's sophomore year at APSU, he not only was accepted, he became the first person in the nation admitted for the Fall 2007 class.

In 2004, Hogue started at the rank of E6 and last year was promoted to an E7.

When Hogue graduates in May 2007, he will attend Nuclear Power School in Charleston, S.C., after which he will go on to an extended nuclear school to become a nuclear instructor.

For more information about the APSU Department of Physics and Astronomy, contact Taylor by e-mail at taylorj@apsu.edu by telephone at (931) 221-6361. -- Dennie B. Burke