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in the Eberly College of Science
nuggetTuesday, Dec 13 2011

Dean's Climate and Diversity Award

The Eberly College of Science Climate and Diversity Committee has announced the 2011 Dean's Climate and Diversity Awards, and Ashley DaSilva and our Physics SPS (Society of Physics Students) chapter have been been recognized. All of the awardees within the college were singled out for their "...extraordinary commitment to enhancing the College's environment of mutual respect and cooperation by improving college climate, increasing diversity, and enhancing the understanding of underrepresented groups." Ashley, a senior graduate student in Physics, was cited for her work in re-establishing the PAW (Physics and Astronomy Women) student organization, acting as their new president. She also led outreach activities, led efforts at mentoring children in a summer science camp, and provided expert knowledge to science museum exhibitors. Our PSU Society of Physics Students chapter was cited for their active role in outreach (on campus and beyond) and helping to improve the climate for undergraduate Physics majors, especially in the undergraduate lounge. Their nomination cites the leadership of their last four presidents, all female, starting with Rachel (Peet) Hanson (2005-2007, now at Epic Systems), Therese Jones (2007-2009, now at UC Berkeley), Lena Bradley (2009-2011, now at Cornell), and Blair Porterfield (2011-present). Congratulations to Ashley and all of the former and current SPS officers and members for their contributions to the Physics Department.
nuggetThursday, Dec 8 2011

2012 Eklund Memorial Lecturership winners

Colin Campbell and Duming Zhang have been selected as the Peter Eklund Memorial Lecturership speakers for 2012. Their public lectures will take place in early 2012 during departmental colloquium. The competition was intense again this year, and we would like to recognize also several honorable mention winners: Ke Zou, Alejandro Suarez, Eric Hazlett, and Zhigang Cheng. Peter Eklund was a revered faculty member who passed away in 2009. The Peter Eklund Fund (contributed by his colleagues, friends and Honda Research USA) was created to commemorate him in several ways related to Peter’s passions, which prominently included physics and students.
nuggetThursday, Nov 17 2011

AAAS Fellows

Congratulations to Jainendra Jain, Mauricio Terrones and Steven Schiff on being elected Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science! They join 6 other faculty who have received this honor in the past.
nuggetWednesday, Nov 2 2011

Faculty Search

The Department of Physics at The Pennsylvania State University (University Park campus) invites applications for faculty appointments to start in Fall 2012. Applicants should have a Ph.D. and an outstanding research record. Rank will be commensurate with qualifications and experience. We seek exceptional candidates in any of the department`s current areas of research, which are AMO physics, biological physics, condensed matter physics, gravitational physics and cosmology, particle physics and particle astrophysics. Candidates at the junior level should submit a pdf file containing a letter of application, a curriculum vitae and a brief description of research plans, and arrange for four letters of recommendation to be submitted. Nominations and applications for senior positions should be submitted together with a list of at least six references. Applications completed by December 1, 2011 will be assured of consideration. Later applications will be considered until the positions are filled. Job application assistance is available for dual career situations. Penn State is committed to affirmative action, equal opportunity and the diversity of its workforce. More...
nuggetMonday, Oct 10 2011

Co-op Student of the Year Award

Zachary Robinson of Mechanicsburg, PA, has been selected as the recipient of the 2011 Co-op Student of the Year Award, sponsored by the Penn State University Eberly College of Science. This award is given annually to a participant in the Eberly College of Science Cooperative Education Program in recognition of the student's academic achievements and contributions to employers, the University, the community, and the field of cooperative education. Robinson was nominated by Brock Harris of Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) where he completed three co-op rotations. Some of Robinson's contributions included developing a visualization tool used by Joint Forces Command for logistics analysis to facilitate stakeholder comprehension by evaluating and verifying the social relationships amongst all the logistics organizations; independently researching methodology and developing software tools for transforming points between coordinate reference frames; supporting a team employed by the USAF to analyze capabilities, assign relative risk to each capability area, and assess and characterize any shortfalls or excesses of the USAF; and serving as a full-time analyst on a team who deeply evaluated and optimized the ballistic missile defense system protecting NATO Europe. Robinson will graduate in May 2012 with degrees in Mathematics and Physics. Mr. Robinson also won the 2011 Pennsylvania Co-op Student of the Year Award (officially called the JoAnne Day Student of the Year Award) as judged by the Pennsylvania Association of Colleges and Universities (PennACE), in the technical category. Information on the award can be found at http://www.pennace.info/joanneday.asp
nuggetFriday, Sep 2 2011

Atomic clock with best long term accuracy

The world’s most accurate clock is now a cesium fountain clock in England. A collaboration between the Krzysztof Szymaniec at the National Physical Laboratory and Kurt Gibble’s group at Penn State has improved it’s accuracy by nearly a factor of 2, to 2.3 parts in 10^16 – better than a second in 140 million years. Their advances are being applied to other clocks around the world to substantially improve International Atomic Time. More...
nuggetFriday, Sep 2 2011

Samarth appointed Head of the Physics Department

Nitin Samarth, a professor of physics at Penn State, has been appointed as the George A. and Margaret M. Downsbrough Head of the Department of Physics. He had served as associate head of the department since 2007. He succeeds Jayanth Banavar, who served as head of the department since 1998 More...
nuggetMonday, Aug 29 2011

Jayanth appointed Dean at the University of Maryland

Our congratulations to Jayanth Banavar on being appointed Dean of the new College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences at the University of Maryland!  Jayanth's visionary and skilled leadership over the past 12 years has guided our department to excellence in all aspects of its academic mission, a fact clearly evidenced by the recent NRC rankings that place us in the uppermost decile of physics departments in the US. We will all miss Jayanth, and we wish him the very best of success in his new endeavor.   More...
nuggetFriday, Jul 29 2011

Whence neutrinos?

Astrophysical gamma-ray burst sources are blindingly bright in gamma-rays, during the tens of seconds that they are on, and they also are expected to produce significant amounts of high energy neutrinos. A cubic kilometer detector built under the ice at the South Pole has been looking for these - and sees fewer than expected. Thus, theoreticians need to readjust their thinking on how these sources really work.
nuggetFriday, Jul 29 2011

SPS wins award for Outreach

Our PSU Society of Physics Students (SPS) chapter was notified that they're one of five chapters across the country who've been honored with a 'Blake Lilley' Awards for outreach to young people from the national SPS organization. The description of their contributions this last year reads: "Penn State University has several annual events that we feel greatly benefit our community and increase interest in science among people of all ages. These annual events include our 'Magic Show,' held during Parents and Families Weekend every fall semester; the Bellefonte Family Science Night where we take several demos to the local middle school; an SPS Art Show where students are encouraged to submit art centered around this year's theme: "Dimensions in Art and Science"; the largest event we participate in is the Eberly College of Science's Exploration Day, where local families come and learn about science in general. In addition to the annual events, Penn State also held a workshop for teachers so they can better educate young children in the community. We also had the opportunity to go the Quaker Friend School in Centre County PA, and do an event similar to Science Saturday." More...
nuggetTuesday, Jul 12 2011

Gerhard Barsch

Gerhard R. Barsch, Emeritus Professor of Physics and of the Materials Research Institute, died yesterday at the Foxdale Retirement Community. He joined Penn State as a Research Associate in 1952 and was an original member of the Materials Research Laboratory. After his retirement from Penn State in 1992, Dr. Barsch continued his theoretical research on ferroelastic domain transformations and his interdisciplinary research spanned many material systems, from ferroelectrics to high temperature superconductors. Dr. Barsch’s family is planning a memorial service in State College. More...
nuggetMonday, Jun 20 2011

Norm retires

Norman Freed, professor of physics and associate dean of the Eberly College of Science at Penn State University, will retire after 46 years of service to the University. In addition to initiating many of the college's most innovative academic programs, Freed is known for his extensive research in theoretical nuclear physics, high-energy electromagnetic interactions in pion physics, and nuclear systems. More...
nuggetThursday, Jun 2 2011

Peter Eklund Lecturing Awards

The inaugural Peter Eklund Lecturing Awards and talks were given on Thursday April 7th 2011. This lecture series, named in honor of our late colleague Peter Eklund consists of talks given by senior Physics graduate students who are “…selected in a competition on the basis of their excellence in research and their ability to present a public lecture concerning their research.” The students were introduced by Prof. Mildred Dresselhaus of MIT who was the postdoc mentor of Prof. Eklund. The three award recipients and the titles of their talks this year were Ashley DaSilva – “Transport in two-dimensional Dirac fermion systems: grapheme and topological insulators” (works with Prof. Jainendra Jain). Meenakshi Singh - “Superconductivity and proximity and anti-proximity effects in nanowires” (works with Prof. Moses Chan). Andrew Balk – “Nanoflexing of a 2D elastic interface” (works with Prof. Nitin Samarth). In addition, three other students received Honorable Mention Awards, Colin Campbell, Jie Li, and Edward Wilson-Ewing.
nuggetWednesday, Jun 1 2011

Associate Dean for Educational Equity

Dr. Ron Redwing, a senior lecturer in Physics and long-term colleague in the Physics Department was named as the new Associate Dean for Educational Equity in the PSU College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. Dr. Redwing also held the position Director of Outreach for the Center for Nanoscale Science here at Penn State. His Ph.D. is in physics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Ron has won numerous prizes and awards in his work, including the Eberly College of Science Climate and Diversity Award, the Penn State Society of Physics Students Outstanding Teaching Award, and the Eberly College of Science Diversity Award. The EMS college web site notes that “Dr. Redwing expertise and experience will continue to push ahead the College's leadership role in the promotion of a vibrant, equitable and diverse faculty, staff, and student body. Congratulations, Ron and welcome to the EMS family.” We wish Ron all the best in his new position.
nuggetFriday, May 20 2011

Antimatter worth the weight (Leonard Eun and Steve Heppelmann)

The alpha-particle, the helium nucleus consisting of two protons and two neutrons, was identified a century ago by Ernest Rutherford. Its antimatter counterpart of two antiprotons and two antineutrons has now been detected by the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York. The STAR Collaboration has detected anti-alpha-particles the heaviest antinuclei observed to date at a yield that is consistent with expectations from thermodynamic and coalescent nucleosynthesis models. This discovery provides an indication of the likely production rates of even heavier antimatter nuclei, and serves as a benchmark for possible future observations of anti-alpha-particles in the cosmos.
nuggetFriday, May 20 2011

Gravity Foundation prize

Ivan Agullo, a postdoc of Abhay Ashtekar, has won the first prize of the 2011 Gravity Foundation, for a paper entitled "Stimulated Creation of Quanta during Inflation and the Observable Universe" written jointly with Leonard Parker (Univ. of Wisconsin-Milwaukee). Previous winners include Stephen Hawking, Roger Penrose, Martin Bojowald, and Abhay Ashtekar. In this article the authors show how the quantum mechanism of stimulated creation of particles (basis of the theory of LASER) applied to the early Universe is able to make the characteristics of the state of the universe at very early times to be imprinted in the details of the Cosmic Microwave Background and in the galaxy distributions. The next generation of surveys of the Cosmic Microwave Background and Large Scale Structure will then allow us to learn about the state of the universe that existed at the time when Quantum Field Theory first emerged as a plausible effective theory, and in turn may give valuable information about a more comprehensive theory of Quantum Gravity governing the behavior of the Universe at very high densities.
nuggetTuesday, May 17 2011

Evans Award, SPS Outstanding Student Award

Ms. Lena Bradley won several majors awards in Spring 2011, one from the Schreyer Honors College (SHC) and another from the National Society of Physics Students (SPS). Lena was honored at the Spring 2011 SHC Medals Ceremony by being awarded the Douglas C. and Regina C. Evans Award for Research Achievement in recognition of the extraordinary quality, value, and significance of her research endeavors. Earlier in the Spring semester, Ms. Bradley was one of three students in the United State to be awarded 2011 SPS Outstanding Student Awards for Undergraduate Research. The 2011 SPS Outstanding Students Award recipients will represent the United States and SPS and present their research at the 2011 International Conference of Physics Students (ICPS), August 11-18, 2011, in Budapest, Hungary.
nuggetSaturday, May 14 2011

Director of Academic Affairs

Penn State Mont Alto announces the appointment of Dr. Michael Doncheski, professor of physics, to the position of Director of Academic Affairs (DAA). Doncheski had served as the campus’ interim DAA since early last year when Dr. Francis Achampong left the post to go to Penn State Fayette where he is now chancellor. “Mike has served us well both as a faculty member and as our interim chief academic officer,” says Chancellor Dr. David Gnage. “We congratulate and commend him on his new post.” Doncheski obtained both his bachelor’s degree in physics and his doctorate in theoretical physics from Penn State. His primary areas of research have included elementary particle theory and the visualization of quantum mechanical phenomena.
nuggetMonday, May 2 2011

Graduate Teaching Awards

The Department of Physics presented Graduate Teaching Awards this Spring to three Physics graduate students. The recipients, George Paily, Andrew Balk, and J. D. Dulny, were selected by the Introductory Course Committee based on their teaching evaluations, faculty recommendations, and nominations from undergraduate students. At the same ceremony, Colin Campbell was awarded the ‘Stan Sheperd Graduate Teaching Assistant Award’ which is “…is given to a senior Physics graduate student who has excelled in teaching and who has contributed to the instructional mission of the Physics Department above and beyond their assigned TA duties. This award honors Prof. Sheperd whose record of teaching and service to undergraduate students at Penn State was marked by such a commitment to excellence.” Colin showed a consistent record of excellence in his TA duties, as well as taking on the duties of a lecturer in the Summer of 2010 and will do so again in Summer 2011. He is a senior graduate student who is studying the mathematics and physics of biological networks with Prof. Reka Albert and graduated from Westminster College in Pennsylvania. In addition to his teaching and research experiences, Colin is a new father and he’s pictured here with his daughter. Congratulations to Colin, on many fronts!
nuggetSunday, May 1 2011

David Bohm Undergraduate Physics Major Award

Mr. Jason Bartell was the first ever recipient of the newly announced ‘David Bohm Undergraduate Physics Major Award’ presented at a Spring 2011 colloquium. This new prize “Recognizes a graduating senior Physics major who has excelled academically and who has made contributions to Penn State outside the classroom in areas such as research or service to Penn State at the department, College, or University level.” Jason was awarded the prize for his outstanding academic performance while here at Penn State, his substantial research achievements, and for having been SPS Vice-President for two years. Jason was second-author on a recent Physical Review E article entitled “Low-velocity granular drag in reduced gravity’ along with Dan Costantino (now a member of the PSU Physics instructional staff), Krysten Scheidler (a recent PSU undergraduate who now teaches high school in Chantilly, VA) and their faculty research Prof. Peter Schiffer. Next Fall, Jason will be attending graduate school at Cornell University, in their applied Physics program.
nuggetSaturday, Apr 16 2011

President's Award for Engagement with Students

Richard Robinett has been selected to receive the President's Award for Engagement with Students. Robinett is associate head, director of undergraduate studies, and director of graduate studies for the Department of Physics. Since assuming duties as director of undergraduate studies for the department in 1996, Robinett has taken responsibility for and played a central role in every aspect of the undergraduate program, including personally overseeing department interaction with prospective and declared physics majors and physics minors. Robinett's personal attention and encouragement has led to a large number of students pursuing major national and international scholarships and awards. Under Robinett's direction, Penn State physics majors have been awarded six Goldwater Scholarships, three National Science Foundation Scholarships, a Marshall Scholarship, and two National Institutes of Health-Cambridge Scholarships. Robinett also is responsible for the development of the physics first-year seminar and the Physics Undergraduate Teaching Handbook, and he has helped mentor many new faculty members in the physics department. More...
nuggetMonday, Apr 11 2011

2011 Sigma Pi Sigma (???) induction ceremony

The 2011 Sigma Pi Sigma (???) induction ceremony was held on Monday, April 11th 2011 at the Hotel Atherton. The ceremony was hosted by ??? officer Landon Chambers and the SPS President and Vice-President, Lena Bradley and Jason Bartell. New members for 2011 who were inducted included Yi-Ping Chang Alex Chinchilli Christopher Dilks Chris Grigas Emily Kremmel Michael Schlenker Michael Skocik Britland Vergnetti David Vidmar Ryan Wasserman Suk Yee Yong. Daniel Baldoni and Tyler Frisch were unable to attend and were inducted later. Lena Bradley and Brandon Koger were ‘officially’ inducted at the Spring 2011 ceremony since they had been away on Study Abroad in Spring 2010. Information on the last few years of Sigma Pi Sigma induction (and some historical background) is available at Ma href="http://www.phys.psu.edu/~rick/sigmapisigma.html">here.
nuggetFriday, Apr 1 2011

SPS at Exploration Day

As part of Penn State SPS, one of the largest events we participate in each year is the Eberly College of Science’s Exploration Day. This is a day for local families to come and learn about a variety of science topics. The annual event is sponsored by the NASA Pennsylvania Space Grant Consortium and other organizations. This past April, Exploration Day welcomed aproximately 3,000 parents, children and community members. Our chapter joined with over thirty from university science departments, science clubs, and local schools to showcase and explain a variety of science to the visitors. This is the fourth year that the Penn State chapter of SPS has participated in Exploration Day and it was once again a success. As the only Physics-specific exhibitor, we certainly hope to continue the tradition for years to come. Fourteen Penn State SPS members joined together to run our exhibit of seven physics ‘mysteries’. These mysteries were 1) can you predict the motion of a double pendulum as easily as a single pendulum? 2) How and why does sand dance? 3) Why do balloons shrink and flowers break when they get cold? 4) How do figure skaters spin? 5) How can beach balls levitate? 6) Can you call something back with your mind? 7) How do you make musical notes? The kids and their parents explored these questions with the help of our SPS members through a investigatory method. As in previous years, our participation was supported almost entirely by the Marsh White Award. The demonstrations were envisioned and created by SPS members with the gracious assistance of our Physics department. Some were created from scratch, such as the “Dancing Sand” and Double Pendulum demos while others were taken from previous ideas.
nuggetWednesday, Mar 23 2011

Faculty Scholar Medal

Martin Bojowald has received Penn State's 2011 Faculty Scholar Medal for Outstanding Achievement in the Physical Sciences. He is recognized for his foundational work on loop quantum cosmology, thereby including quantum corrections to general relativity which can resolve the big bang singularity.
nuggetMonday, Feb 7 2011

Journal of Materials Research

Mauricio Terrones has been appointed as one of Principal Editors of the Journal of Materials Research.
nuggetFriday, Feb 4 2011

Alumni Association Dissertation Award

Edward Wilson-Ewing has been selected for a Penn State Alumni Association Dissertation Award. He (and his research mentor, Prof. Ashtekar) will be honored at the Graduate School Alumni Society's Spring Social later this semester. Edward won the award for his work on quantum gravity, and is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Universite de la Mediterranee et Centre de Physique Theorique de Luminy, CNRS, Marseille, France (a.k.a. CPT, Marseille).

Edward keeps up a recent PSU Physics tradition of our outstanding graduate students winning one of these awards on a very regular basis. Recent winners (and their faculty research mentors) include:

2006 -- Anthony Clark (Moses Chan)<br/> 2007 -- Elena Margine (Vin Crespi)<br/> 2008 -- Nico Yunes (Ben Owen)<br/> 2009 -- Xiao Li (David Weiss<br/> 2010 -- Josh West (Moses Chan)<br/> 2011 -- Edward Wilson-Ewing (Abhay Ashtekar)<br/>
nuggetSaturday, Jan 1 2011

Erasmus Mundus Lectures

Jerry Mahan has been selected to give the Erasmus Mundus Lectures on Nanoscience and Nanotechnology organized by the partner universities K.U.Leuven, TU Delft, TU Dresden, Chalmers University and the Universite Jean Fourrier Grenoble. His lecture, to be broadcast from Chalmers, will be on Nanoscale Thermal Transport.
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