It is ‘Leaf-Peeping’ Season!


It’s fall!

Don’t miss the trees turning those gorgeous colors!

Fall colors in Vermont. Photo Credit: Elissa C. Johnk

Fall colors in Vermont. Photo Credit: Elissa C. Johnk

The days are shorter and cooler and the trees are changing colors. Beautiful deep reds, oranges, and vibrant yellows…. So, how does that happen, and why in the fall?

Trees that change color are called deciduous (which means it sheds leaves annually) or broad-leaf trees, which have, obviously, broad leaves with a relatively large surface area. Leaves have two purposes – to convert carbon dioxide to oxygen (thank a tree for our fresh air!) and also to convert sunlight into energy for the tree. The large surface area helps the leaves gather more sunlight and therefore, more energy. The leaves “breathe in” carbon dioxide and “exhale” oxygen (for more information about this process check Plant Biochemistry by Florence K. Gleason with Raymond Chollet).

Leaves actually have several other pigments, besides green, which are always present – red, yellow, orange and even purple (beets, carrots, cherries!). The leaves on trees (and many plants) have so much green pigment, however, that the other colors aren’t visible – until fall, that is! The green pigment comes from chlorophyll which is used in photosynthesis (the complex process by which carbon dioxide and water are converted into carbohydrates by using the energy from the sun). The carbohydrates that are formed are then stored in the branches, roots, and buds of the trees.


A deciduous tree which has turned red stands next to a coniferous tree which remained green. Photo Credit: Carol Grow Johnk

We all know that, in the fall, days get shorter and cooler and the nights get longer – and cooler! Broadleaf trees are sensitive to sunlight – they need the sunlight to transform the chlorophyll. When there is less sunlight, the leaves make less chlorophyll, which means the trees become less green and the other pigments begin to become visible. Different types of trees have differing amounts of pigment – for example, trees with more anthocynins (the pigment responsible for the red and purple hues) will be more red than those with less.  Temperature, sunlight, and soil moisture also influence the quality of the fall colors. A spring and summer with ample moisture followed by a dry, cool, and sunny autumn will produce the brightest fall colors.

Why do leaves fall? Without chlorophyll to help them make energy, they are no longer needed. The energy that they have produced is stored in the tree. The other pigments also eventually break down – when there is even less light, or if they are frozen. The only pigment that then remains is brown (tannins), and at that point the leaves drop off. The tree then lives through the winter on the energy that it has stored. When the days begin to get longer and warmer, the tree grows new leaves and the process begins all over again.

(Why don’t coniferous trees – evergreens, firs, etc. – change color and drop their needles? Briefly, needles are smaller, more watertight, more wind resistant and are able to photosynthesize all year long. Since needles have a reduced surface area, they are harder to destroy – and less tasty for insects!).

For a short, easy-to-understand, explanation of why leaves change color in the fall, watch this SciShow Kids video!


Here are resources where you can find more information!

Beck. Charles B. An introduction to plant structure and development : plant anatomy for the twenty-first century. Cambridge, UK ; New York : Cambridge University Press. Engineering Library QK641 .B38 2010

Gleason, Florence K. Plant Biochemistry. 2012. Sudbury, MA : Jones & Bartlett Learning. Engineering Library QK861 .G64 2012

Baranoski, G.V.G. 2004. Light interaction with plants : a computer graphics perspective. Chichester : Horwood Pub. Engineering Library QK757 .B37 2004

Deciduous vs. Coniferous. The Roaming Naturalist. Date Accessed: Oct. 5, 2016

The Science of Color in Autumn Leaves. 2011. The United States National Arboretum.

First man made, biologically functional Leaf that Turns Light and Water into Oxygen. 2014.



Happy Leaf Peeping!!


Photo Credit: Elissa C. Johnk


Guest Post: Open

During the month of Open Access week (October 24-30, 2016) we will be highlighting a number of guest posts from University of Iowa Faculty and Staff who have personal experience making their work Open Access.  We appreciate their contributions.

The first guest post is by Chioma M. Okeoma, Ph.D, Assistant Professor of Microbiology.  okeoma

See her Iowa Research Online deposited publications here.

Open access (OA) literally means making literature available to researchers, teachers, journalists, policy makers, and the general public without barriers. Without the open access mechanism, readers or consumers of scientific findings would face price and permission barriers for the use of research findings.

For authors like me, OA provides unlimited access to our work to anyone regardless of their geographic location. The benefits are optimal dissemination of intellectual findings, rigorous peer and public discourse, and increased citations. Above all, OA provides an author maximum visibility and impact for research findings. As authors benefit from publishing OA, so do institutions.

Of course OA publishing is not without a cost to authors because OA publishers charge fees to cover costs. However, the cost of publishing may be covered by grants to authors, or by government and/or institutional subsidies depending on the country and institution. For example, the University of Iowa is a huge proponent of OA publishing. The University through the Office of the Provost and University Libraries provides funds to cover the fees for OA publishing; So when next you think of publishing, think OA. Try it and you will find being “OPEN” truly rewarding.

Chioma M. Okeoma, Ph.D

Time to Kick-Start That Project!

Hey students!
Are you interested in giving your idea, project, or invention a kick-start?
Want to make that project a reality?


A new program, Kick-Start, has been developed for engineering students (undergraduate and graduate) to request funding to pay for prototyping and/or finishing projects using the services offered through the Creative Space, Engineering Electronic Shop (EES) and the Engineering Machine Shop (EMS). There will be ten $500 awards!! How exciting is that!?

There are a limited number of Kick-Starts to be awarded this year – so this is a competitive process! Make sure to check the Kick-Start webpage to get complete details!

Briefly, any student (graduate or undergraduate) may apply for a Kick-Start award. You come up with an idea, find a faculty or staff sponsor, complete an online application form, attend an in-person workshop (approximately an hour), and present your project in April! (Please be sure to check all the rules and recommendations before submitting your application!)

In case you haven’t seen our new Creative Space (what are you waiting for!?) – here’s a video from our Open House.

For more complete details, refer to the Kick-Start webpage. The September 30, 2016 Kick-Start blog also has more complete information.

We have the resources and the support needed to help bring your idea to reality!
So, what are you waiting for?
Kick-Start your project now!!


Measure your scholarly impact | H-Index, Impact Factor, Eigenfactor | workshop Wed., Oct. 5, 11-12pm

This class will teach participants how to use tools such as Ulrich’s, Journal Citation Reports, Web of Science, and Scopus to determine the impact that journals, articles, and authors have had on a particular field. Topics such as impact factors, Eigenfactors, and H-indices will also be discussed.
Register online or by calling 319-335-9151.

More information about H-Index
The h-index is an index to quantify an individual’s scientific research output. J.E. Hirsch –



Interested in doing some “Punkin Chunkin” for Halloween?


The days are getting cooler and Halloween is almost here!

Want to put your engineering skills to work and have fun doing it? How about making your own Punkin Chunkin trebuchet or catapult?

Pumpkin Chucking. Photo Credit Peter Dutton.

Punkin Chunkin. Photo Credit Peter Dutton.

Most of us know what a catapult is, but do you know what is different between a catapult and a trebuchet?  A trebuchet uses a sling and has a counter-weight which, as it is dropped, forces the long arm up to pull the sling and the projectile along a slide at the base. The counter-weight uses the pull of gravity to provide the force necessary for the arm to swing upwards. The sling increases the length of the arm which increases the length of the throw. The catapult, on the other hand, uses a leaf spring mechanism to release the long arm. A rope is wrapped around a rotating drum and when the spring mechanism is released, so is the arm and the projectile. A catapult also has a cup at the end rather than the sling that a trebuchet has.

In 15 Dangerously Mad Projects for the Evil Genius, author Simon Monk says, “The trebuchet takes its energy from the weight that falls as the arm swings. The ‘potential’ energy is transferred to the arm and sling of the trebuchet and is released as kinetic energy in the tennis ball.” (or pumpkin…). He then explains that when you know the energy stored in the weight and how far the projectile can be thrown, then the energy going into the system and the energy released can be measured.  Input energy can be calculated using the formula: E=mgh where ‘m’ is the mass of the weight, ‘g’ is the gravitational acceleration on Earth (9.8) and ‘h’ is the height.  You can also calculate the amount of energy transferred to the tennis ball using the distance it traveled and its weight. E=1|2 mv2 where d=v2|g v2=dg. You can then calculate the efficiency of the catapult by dividing the energy transferred by the energy input.  From this, you are then able to calculate the efficiency of your trebuchet! Ready to try to build your own? Monk also provides step-by-step, illustrated instructions, including a list of parts needed! The trebuchet project is  rated as “Small,” (1/2 day to 1 day to complete) and the skill level receives 2 out of 4 stars (a small mount of soldering is required).

Gravity Catapult. Photo credit: Make : Technology on Your Time

Gravity Catapult. Photo credit: Make : Technology on Your Time

Rather make a catapult? Make : Technology on Your Time (volume 28, pages 84-94) will walk you through the process of building a gravity catapult. The larger the item you want to hurl through the air, the larger the catapult needs to be. Author William Gurstelle cautions that there are incredible stresses on the working parts of the catapult and if something should bend or break, it can be dangerous. He also emphasizes that a catapult is big. Once you build it, you need to have a place to store it (and to use it!) The gravity catapult shown in this issue of Make is small and light enough for one person to move. It also has wheels and (sort of) folds flat. Still want to try your hand? This includes an explanation of how it works, a list of materials and tools needed and complete building instructions accompanied by color illustrations!


Trebuchet. Photo credit: Stirling Warsolf

Trebuchet. Photo credit: Stirling Warsolf

The World Championship Punkin Chunkin contest has categories for both the trebuchet and the catapult.  (Did you even know there is a World Championship Punkin Chunkin Contest?) It’s being held in Bridgeport, Delaware, this year. The goal is to encourage teams to use their science and engineering skills and also attract tourists. All the money raised goes to scholarships and community-based non-profits which support area youth. And in case you are wondering if Punkin Chunkin is a waste of good food, this is what the World Championship Punkin Chunkin Association (WCPCA) website says, “Majority of the pumpkins that are grown for competition are hybrids. Each year, we donate all the remaining edible pumpkins to farmers to feed to their animals. Shooting pumpkins has resulted in us being able to donate over 1 million dollars since 2000.”

If you don’t have the space to build a full-size catapult or trebuchet, how about making a smaller, desk-size version? Watch the video to learn to make a Mini Candy Launching Catapult!



Disclaimer: The Engineering Library does not condone the theft or destruction of personal property or harming anyone while punkin chunkin.



Monk, Simon. 2011. 15 dangerously mad projects for the evil genius. New York : McGraw Hill. Engineering Library TK9965 .M66 2011

World Championship Punkin Chunkin. 2016. Punkin Chunkin

Other Resources:

Punkin Chunkin 2010. Science Channel. Date accessed September 29, 2016.

Desktop Warfare: Jonas Dalidd’s Winning 3D Printed Catapult. 2013.  Make:

How to Build a Catapult – A Popsicle Stick Catapult. 2016. Storm Castle Catapults. Kalif Publishing.

Kids Too Old for Pumpkin Patches? Try Pumpkin Chucking. 2016. About Travel.


Special Collections News 9/30/2016

14494808_10210144147297106_2260681333170170544_nNewsfeed: Lichtenberger Library Stretches Imagination. Jim Downey preserves history as a book conservator. As the UI prepares for its 104th-annual Homecoming, traditions new and old are explored. Randy […]

Sign Up for an ORCID iD–Your Research Identifier

ORCiD iD logo

ORCiD member logoThe UI Libraries, partnering with Information Technology Services, the Office of the Provost, the Division of Sponsored Programs, and the Big Ten Alliance are leading an initiative to help all research active University of Iowa staff and faculty obtain an ORCID iD and/or link their existing identifier to their University of Iowa email address.

ORCID (Open Researcher and Contributor ID) is a non-profit, platform agnostic registry of unique author identifiers. Many publishers, funders and academic institutions have already adopted ORCID and may be requiring its use in the near future.

Having an ORCID iD

  • makes your work discoverable by others
  • connects your research to you throughout your career, no matter how your name appears in publication
  • distinguishes you from other researchers with similar names
  • minimizes the time you spend filling out forms when submitting research or applying for grants
  • is being required by major journal publishers and funders
  • gives you access to an ImpactStory page (an altmetrics tool)

Click the green button below to sign up for your ORCID iD (Hawk ID and PW required)

Click to create and ORCID iD or Connect Your ORCID iD

To learn more about ORCiD at the UI, see the UI Libraries information page.

If you have any questions about ORCiD please contact your UI Subject Librarian.

See an example ORCID iD page.

See an example ImpactStory

It is Banned Book Week 2016!


Banned Books Week 2016

Banned Book Week was launched in 1982 in order to bring attention to a surge of challenges that schools, bookstores and libraries were getting. The purpose is to highlight the value of free and open access to information and the freedom to read. The American Library Association (ALA) reports that between 2000 and 2009, 5,099 challenges were made. According to the ALA, “A challenge is defined as a formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness. The number of challenges reflects only incidents reported. We estimate that for every reported challenge, four or five remain unreported.”


New books are added every year – and some never make it off the list (Catcher in the Rye and To Kill a Mockingbird are two examples). Many of the banned books are novels, but a number of science books have also been challenged.

Here are a few of the many books related to Engineering and Science that have been banned at one time or another:

  • Any writing or discussion demonstrating the heliocentric nature of the universe was banned in 17th Century Europe.
  • Writings by physicist and astronomer Galileo Galilei were banned and he was charged and convicted of heresy by the Inquisition in 1632 for writing, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems.
  • Books and teaching materials on Darwinian evolution theory, including The Illustrated Origin of Species by Charles Darwin were banned in schools in Tennessee following the Butler Act of 1925.
  • The Menifee School District in California banned Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. It was banned for having definitions that were too explicit.
  • The Golden Book of Chemistry Experiments, written in 1960 by Robert Brent and illustrated by Harry Lazarus was banned in the United States for being too accurate in its scientific initiative.
  • Books and materials on Mendelian genetics have been banned from publication in Soviet-era USSR

If you are interested in exploring Leonardo da Vinci’s engineering works, check out Doing da Vinci. Four builders and engineers attempt to build never-before-constructed inventions! da Vinci’s armored tank, siege ladder, self-propelled carts and even a machine gun are featured on this 2-disc set! Will his creations actually work? Doing da Vinci will show you!

We have many resources that relate to Darwin, Galileo, and da Vinci. Come explore our library and find these titles and more!


Banned Books Week. 2016. Thunderclap, Inc.

Banned Books Week. 2014. Cornell University.

Banned Books in the Sciences. 2016. Albert R. Mann Library, Cornell University.

Gelilei, Galileo, translated by Stillman Drake. 2967. Dialogue concerning the two chief world systems, Ptolemaic & Copernican. Berkeley : University of California Press. Main Library QB41 .G1356 1967

Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary. 1993. Springfield, Mass : Merriam Webster. Hardin Library for Health Sciences PE 1628 W4M4 1993

Other Resources:

Why Diverse Books are Commonly Banned. Sept. 21, 2016 by Maggie Jacoby. Banned Books Week.

Scholz, Matthias Paul. 2007. Advanced NXT : the da Vinci inventions book. Berkeley, CA : Apress : New York : Distributed by Springer-Verlag. Engineering Library TJ211.15 .S36 2007

Letze, Otto, editor. 1997. Leonardo da Vinci : scientist, inventor, artist. Ostfildern-Ruit, Germany : Verlag Gerd Hatje : New York, NY : Distribution Art Publishers. Engineering Library N6923.L33 A4 1997

D’Onofrio, Mauro, Burigana, Carlo, editors. 2009. Question of modern cosmology : Galileo’s legacy. Berlin : Springer. Engineering Library QB981 .Q47 2009

Naess, Atle. 2005. Galileo Galilei, when the world stood still. Berlin : New York : Springer. Engineering Library QB36.C2 N2413 2005

Brasier, M.D. 2009. Darwin’s lost world : the hidden history of animal life. Oxford, NY : Oxford University Press. Engineering Library QE653 .B736 2009

Kick-Start That Project!


Creative Kick-Start

Hey students!
Are you interested in giving your idea, project, or invention a kick-start?
Want to make that project a reality?

A new program, Kick-Start, has been developed for engineering students (undergraduate and graduate) to request funding to pay for prototyping and/or finishing projects using the services offered through the Creative Space, Engineering Electronic Shop (EES) and the Engineering Machine Shop (EMS). There will be ten $500 awards!! How exciting is that!?

There are a limited number of Kick-Starts to be awarded this year – so this is a competitive process! Make sure you check the Kick-Start webpage to get complete details!

Briefly, any student (graduate or undergraduate) may apply for a Kick-Start award. You come up with an idea, find a faculty or staff sponsor, complete an online application form (available soon), attend an in-person workshop (approximately an hour), and present your project in April!

There are a few requirements which include (but aren’t limited to) keeping receipts and a record of all expenses (a budget spreadsheet template will be be provided). A post-project survey of the Kick-Start program will also be required.

You are strongly encouraged to visit the Hanson Center for Technical Communication for assistance with writing your proposal before it is submitted. We also suggest you fill out a page and use it to post regular, substantial updates on the status of your project. Each update should include photos – of your project, notes or sketches – and text explaining your progress.

There are a few restrictions, one of which is you may not already be receiving funding for this project from any other source. There can only be one idea per submission and a student may only be the primary investigator on one Kick-Start per year.  Students may be co-investigators on more than one project. Be sure to check the Kick-Start webpage for more information.

So what else do you need to know?

The idea for the project is yours, and may be a finished product or a prototype. You maintain ownership of your idea and anything you build during the project. For inspiration check out United Nations Global Problems.  A team may work on the project together, but one student must be designated as the primary investigator. A primary investigator may be a co-investigator on another project.

You may keep any materials you purchase for your project, but tools purchased should be returned to the Creative Space for use by future makers. This can be a gray area, so please direct any questions about what should be returned to The $500 award may only be used in EES and EMS for materials, tools, and labor, etc. Any unused funds will revert back to the program and will go toward helping another future maker build their idea.

You are required to have a sponsor who will review the requirements of the Kick-Start program and review your application before it is submitted. You will meet with your sponsor a minimum of 3 times during the course of the Kick-Start program. The sponsorship officially ends with the presentation in April, but the sponsor and student are free to continue to work on the project if they so choose.

Remember that ‘failure’ is part of the creative process. The important thing is you learn from these failures and therefore are better prepared for future projects. You will still be required to present your project in April – your presentation can deal with what went wrong, how it could be fixed, what you would do differently, what you learned. As Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that  won’t work.”

Ellis mitre band saw in the Engineering Machine shop (EMS).

Ellis mitre band saw in the Engineering Machine shop (EMS).

One of the Modeling Stations available in the Creative Space.

One of the Modeling Stations available in the Creative Space.

There are so many resources to help you complete your project! Our Creative Space is a great place to begin! Two collaboration tables, each with a quad-screen monitor will help your team work together to imagine your project. There are 4 modeling stations with Leap Motion controllers, Wacom drawing tablets and the high-powered software you need. 3D cameras, a 4400 Dell computer with a video card, Leap Motion controllers and an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset can help you manipulate your project in virtual reality.  EES and EMS have the equipment you need to take your project from virtual reality to reality! EES provides circuit board fabrication, dye sublimation printing, PC board prototypes, laser cutting and etching and 3D printing (among other things!). EMS has sheet metal tools, power hand tools, computer controlled machine tools (among other things!) Staff in both EMS and EES are happy to answer questions and provide guidance!

We have the resources and the support needed to help bring your idea to reality! So, what are you waiting for? Kick-Start your project now!!

Here’s video of the new Creative Space Open House!