Department of Physics - Washington University in St. Louis

Department of Physics Newsletter
Summer 2014
Inside this issue:
Chair’s Letter
Group Reports
Redesigned Labs
Saturday Science
Faculty News
Lecture Series
Student News
In Memoriam
(Continued on page 7)
Alumni News
Physics from the Ground to Space
Erik Henriksen joined
the physics faculty as
an assistant professor
in Fall 2013. Henriksen
received his Bachelor of
Arts for the double major
of Physics and Asian
Studies in 1997 from
Swarthmore College.
After four years working
and traveling, he entered Erik Henriksen
graduate school at
Columbia University to pursue research with Horst
Stormer and received his PhD in 2008. He was a
postdoc with Jim Eisenstein at Caltech until joining
the faculty at WU.
Professor Erik Henriksen studies the electronic
structure of two-dimensional crystals, particularly
graphene. With a laboratory for ultralow temperature (to 10 mK) and high magnetic field (to 14
T) physics currently under construction in the
subbasement of Crow, work on these fascinating
systems will soon begin. Henriksen is particularly
Kater Murch came from
University of California –
Berkeley to join the
physics faculty in January 2014. Here is his
description of his background and research:
I’m Kater Murch and
I joined the Physics
Department faculty at
Kater Murch
Washington University
in January. I was actually born here in St. Louis
(my mother was a graduate student at Wash U),
but we moved away just after my birth, and
I never found an occasion to return until last
spring. My undergraduate advisor, David Griffiths,
(Continued on page 7)
Special points of interest:
• New Faculty
• Super-TIGER broke records
• Physics Labs are redesigned
• Physics Fun Day
• New Minor
Digging a foundation for Prof. Henriksen’s new lab.
X-Calibur experiment. Goddard Space Flight Center
contributes the X-ray telescope, Nagoya University
the X-ray mirror, and Washington University the focal
plane instrumentation
Department of Physics Newsletter
Page 2
As we come to the end of the 2013-14
academic year, I am happy to report that
the physics department continues on a path
to excellence. For the first time in several
years we have made new faculty hires, and
we have plans for further growth in both
personnel and operating space. Meanwhile,
members of our department have received
prestigious awards, made new and exciting
research discoveries, and strengthened
undergraduate and graduate teaching.
In 2013 we were delighted to welcome two
new junior professors to the department,
Erik Henriksen and Kater Murch. They
both work in condensed matter physics,
and their arrival builds on the growth in
condensed matter theory that we achieved
a few years ago, with the hiring of Profs.
Zohar Nussinov, Alex Seidel (just promoted
to Associate Professor) and Li Yang. With
the inauguration of the Institute for Materials
Science and Engineering, we now have
tremendous momentum in this important
area of physics, which combines deep
insights into the quantum mechanical
behavior of matter with the potential for
great technological applications.
Undergraduate education is a core mission
of our department. The number of students
taking our freshman physics course has
grown from 500 in 2008 to 700 in 2013-14.
This year we hired a new faculty assistant,
Drew Osterhout, and completed a total
overhaul of the freshman physics labs.
This task, led by Kasey Wagoner, Dan
Flanagan, and Mairin Hynes, involved the
development of a new set of experiments
and the reorientation of the laboratory
work to a “predict-measure-reassess”
philosophy combined with a focus on realworld relevance. The reaction of the first
students to take the new lab course has been
overwhelmingly positive.
We have also seen growth in the number of
students majoring or minoring in physics,
leveling out at about 25 majors per year
in the last few years. Our majors have
always been a great source of pride to the
department, many of them going on to
prominent graduate
schools and careers
in science and
industry. This year
we were delighted
to have further
confirmation of
their prowess, when
a team of three
physics majors,
Ryan Endsley,
Mark Alford
Nathan Stein, and
Chair, Department of Physics
Christina Kreisch,
beat out competition
from around the world to win a gold medal
in the International University Physics
Competition for their analysis of the likely
form of life on another planet.
The department takes seriously its
role in offering non-physics majors the
opportunity to appreciate the importance
and excitement of physics. As we can see
from the success of the “Cosmos” series on
broadcast TV, there is a great fascination
among the general public with space, the
universe, and cosmology. We have therefore
started offering a new minor, in Astrophysics
and Astroparticle physics. We hope that this
will encourage undergraduates who major in
other subjects to learn some of the science
behind the media presentation of this
popular subject.
Outreach to the general public is a voluntary
but crucial part of our educational mission.
Our Saturday Science lecture series,
consisting of four lectures per semester,
draws hundreds of people from the local
community to hear professors talk in
layman’s terms about topics ranging from
practical applications of academic research
to paradoxes and “the physics of things
that aren’t there”. The Saturday lectures
are organized by Prof. Michael Friedlander,
to whom we owe a great debt of thanks for
his many contributions to the department
spanning the last 58 years.
Our Outreach Committee continues to
engage with local schools and parents,
organizing a semi-regular “Physics Family
Fun Day” which now draws around 50
people to the department on a Saturday
morning for a hands-on experience of
learning and appreciating physics. This
success is due to the efforts of Kasey
Wagoner and the graduate student
members of the committee Rashied Amini,
Avery Archer, Adam Archibald, Batoul
Banihashemi, Nathan Brown, Tyler Harmon,
and Nara Higano, and I hope this tradition
of involvement in outreach will continue to
flourish in the department.
Our faculty have continued to be recognized
for their contributions to science. Prof. James
Miller received the American Institute for
Ultrasound in Medicine’s Joseph H. Holmes
Basic Science Pioneer Award, and Prof.
Willem Dickhoff was elected to Fellowship
of the American Physical Society. Prof.
Ramanath Cowsik was installed as the
James S. McDonnell Professor of Space
Sciences. Prof. Alex Seidel was promoted to
the rank of Associate Professor. Our chapter
of the Society of Physics Students, run
by Prof. Francesc Ferrer, was recognized
as a Distinguished SPS Chapter for its
involvement in student recruitment and
community outreach. On the research side,
the Washington-University-led Super-TIGER
balloon experiment broke NASA’s record for
the longest heavy-lift balloon flight, spending
55 days aloft over Antarctica, detecting rare
heavy cosmic rays.
We must also note that two valued members
of the research faculty have moved on to
high-ranking positions elsewhere. Jason
Woods was an extraordinarily wide-ranging
contributor to the university, performing
research in Helium-3 lung imaging and also
serving as associate dean and developer of
many programs for science majors. He is now
director of an imaging center at Children’s
Hospital of Cincinnati. Mark Holland, who
played a major role in the department’s
ultrasound imaging research effort, is now
associate research professor and manager of
a major imaging research initiative at Indiana
University School of Medicine.
(Continued on page 13)
Summer 2014
Page 3
A collaboration led by Washington University built a NASA-funded balloon-borne cosmic ray detector
called Super-TIGER (Trans-Iron Galactic Element Recorder). The mission’s goal was to learn more
about the origin and history of cosmic rays. Cosmic rays are atomic nuclei that travel through space at
almost the speed of light. All the electrons have been stripped away so they are just the bare nuclei.
Most cosmic rays are the lightest elements, hydrogen and helium. Super-TIGER was designed to
detect the very rare heavy elements, those heavier than iron. Super-TIGER culminates a century of
research, with significant contributions by physicists at WUSTL for nearly 70 years. During the summer
season in Antarctica of 2012-2013, team members from WUSTL and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight
Center (GSFC) travelled to the continent to finish assembly and prepare for flight. Led by Research
Mayor Slay proclaims June 5, 2013 SuperProfessor Robert Binns, the team toiled away at William’s Field on the Ross Ice Shelf from October
TIGER day in St. Louis. Richard Bose
29th into December. At 2 AM on December 9th the team headed to the balloon facility for their
accepting the plaque for the Washington
first launch attempt. The winds were cooperative, and NASA’s Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility
University Physics Team.
(CSBF) team launched Super-TIGER just before 10 AM. The instrument gracefully ascended to nearly
130,000 feet within a few hours. The balloon expanded to 40 million cubic feet at float altitude. The balloon performed very well, maintaining
altitudes between 120,000 and 130,000 feet. Super-TIGER detected over 50 million cosmic rays, including a few thousand heavier than Iron.
The Super-TIGER mission lasted over 55 days, shattering the previous NASA record for the longest heavy-lift balloon flight. Electrical Engineer
Richard Bose brought a St. Louis flag with him to the Ice. It hung in the payload building. On a bright, windy day it flew outside with Mt. Erebus,
a volcano on Ross Island, in the background. The WUSTL ice team members signed the flag. They were Robert Binns, Richard Bose, PostDoctoral Research Associate John E Ward, Electrical Technician Garry Simburger, Mechanical Technician Dana Braun, and Graduate Student
Ryan Murphy. Additional WUSTL team members included Professor Martin Israel, Electrical Engineer Paul Dowkontt, Software Engineer Martin
Olevitch, Electrical Engineer Phil Moore, and Post-Doctoral Research Associate Brian Rauch. Super-TIGER is a collaboration comprised of
Washington University in St. Louis, Goddard Space Flight Center, California Institute of Technology, Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the University
of Minnesota. To find out more about Super-TIGER visit and
Meteorite Hunting in Antarctica
For several decades the Laboratory for Space Sciences located on
the 4th floor of Compton Hall has been studying the early history
of our Solar system by analyzing various extraterrestrial materials:
lunar rocks, cometary dust and solar wind particles delivered to
the Earth by Apollo, Stardust and Genesis NASA missions. Other
valuable extraterrestrial materials are meteorites which come
from the Asteroid Belt and sometimes from the Moon, Mars and
probably even Mercury. Primitive meteorites represent the material
of the nascent solar system.
For hundreds of these extraterrestrial samples the Laboratory
for Space Sciences was their final destination, where they were
completely or partially destroyed in the course of isotopic analyses.
There is always a need for more meteorites, especially for primitive
well-preserved specimens. That is why many members of the
laboratory participated in ANSMET (Antarctic Search for meteorites)
expeditions which over 30 years found more than 20,000
meteorites in remote areas of the Trans-Antarctic mountains.
Alex Meshik (January 2014) holds a small meteorite (with bare hands in
Antarctica – must have been a heat wave!). In the past several members
and graduates of Physics Department participated in ANSMET expeditions:
Robert Walker, Ernst Zinner, Scott Sandford, Mark Caffee, Tim Swindle,
Scott Messenger and Larry Nittler.
This January the ANSMET expedition found 332 meteorites including a 10-pound iron, several well preserved carbonaceous chondrites and one
extremely rare specimen probably from the Moon. It will take many months for the found meteorites to be chemically analyzed, classified and
named before they become available for detailed isotopic studies.
Page 4
Department of Physics Newsletter
The Institute of Materials
Science and Engineering
interdisciplinary PhD program, expand and administer user facilities
for materials processing and characterization, coordinate and provide
i n s t i t u t e o f mat er i a ls
s c i e nmanagement
c e & e n g i n e e r isupport
for interdisciplinary groups pursuing external
research and entrepreneurial interactions
The discovery of new materials has always gone hand-in-hand with
facilities. With the completed renovation
advances in civilization, with different eras often named by the
feet of new space, the IMSE has
dominant material of the day, such as the Bronze Age or the Iron
to house existing and planned
Age. Today is no different. New materials are required to address the
students. The faculty of the IMSE
significant challenges facing us, including helping to tap new energy
in A&S and SEAS to teach
sources, developing machines that use this energy more efficiently,
in both basic research
and solving environmental concerns. To meet these needs, it is
matriculated in August
increasingly important that a seamless interface between the basic
made in early March
sciences and engineering disciplines be developed for student training
Their research
and collaborative research.
investigates materials for energy harvesting and storage, environmental
In July 2013, in an unprecedented inter-school collaboration between
remediation and sustainability, regenerative medicine, plasmonics,
Arts & Sciences (A&S) and the School of Engineering and Applied
photonics, sensors and imaging, with basic studies of structure,
Sciences (SEAS), Washington University established the Institute of
properties and phase transitions in complex materials.
Materials Science and Engineering (IMSE). Professor Ken Kelton,
This is an exciting time, with the IMSE poised to become a significant
Department of Physics, was selected as the inaugural Director of the
regional center and a national and international leader in materials
IMSE; Professor Katherine Flores in the Department of Mechanical
science. More information about this new institute can be found at
Engineering and Materials Science was selected to serve as the
Associate Director. The mission of the IMSE is to administer an
An Electrostatic Levitation Facility for Neutron
Scattering Studies of Supercooled Liquids Ken Kelton’s Group
Although extremely common, liquids and glasses are the least
understood phases of condensed matter. For example, it is common
knowledge that liquids flow more easily when they become warm, yet
why for many liquids the rate of flow (the viscosity) changes so much
with small changes in temperature near the point where they become
glasses (the glass transition), and what this implies about changing
atomic structures in the liquids are unclear. Since most materials
become liquid only at high temperatures, and since they often react
strongly with containers, it is difficult to design experiments that can
provide insight into these questions.
For several years, Kelton’s research group has been studying
supercooled metallic liquids in a high-vacuum, containerless,
environment, using an electrostatic levitation facility that they
designed and constructed. Their synchrotron scattering studies
studies have demonstrated the development of icosahedral shortrange order in the liquid with decreasing temperature, which
has a significant impact on the liquid properties and on glass
formation. They find hints that chemical ordering accompanies the
structural ordering. Recently, they discovered that the dynamical
processes that eventually lead to the glass transition are linked to
the onset of cooperative motion in the liquid that occurs at a much
higher temperature, Tcoop. By determining Tcoop from viscosity
measurements at high temperature, they are able to accurately
predict the glass transition temperature.
The NESL (center/back) at the SNS on the VULCAN beam-line, with the investigators involved in its design, construction and testing. From left to right:
Dante Quirinale (ISU), Adam Vogt (WU), Gus Rustan (ISU), Kevin Derendorf
(WU), Mark Johnson (WU), Konstantin Lokshin (JINS), Ken Kelton (WU, PI,
Principle Investigator), Takeshi Egami (JINS, Co-PI), Nick Mauro (WU) and
Ke An (SNS). ISU – Iowa State University; WU – Washington University.
(Photo by Genevieve Martin/ORNL).
Elastic and inelastic neutron scattering experiments are needed
to shed more light on the nature of the chemical ordering and
dynamical processes. Supported by an NSF-MRI grant, Kelton’s
group has spent the past three years designing and building a novel
electrostatic levitation facility for use at the Spallation Neutron Source
(SNS), the most intense pulsed neutron source on Earth, located at
Oak Ridge National Laboratory in eastern Tennessee. The very high
(Continued on page 19)
Summer 2014
Page 5
Over the last 18 months Dan Flanagan, Kasey Wagoner, and
Mairin Hynes have overhauled the labs associated with the
introductory physics courses (117-118 and 197-198) resulting in a
new set of experiments starting this spring. The aim is to make the
experiments more engaging, relevant to class and the students’ lives,
and inquiry based.
In 2010 the physics department, led by Becky Trousil, was awarded
a grant from Howard Hughes Medical Institute to overhaul the
introductory labs with the purpose of making the experiments inquiry
based. To meet the goals of this funding, the new labs take a “predictmeasure-reassess” approach. The aim is to have students make
predictions which can be verified or discredited by an experiment.
After making a prediction, students perform an experiment and use
the outcome to reassess their original prediction.
The primary motivation for updating
the content of the labs has been
“You feel more
to closely tie the experiments to
accomplished when the world in which the students
you see your
encounter every day in the hopes of
piquing their natural curiosity. In one
ideas work.”
new experiment, each student builds
a speaker and then employs this
speaker to test the relationship between a current carrying coil of wire
and the magnetic field it produces. In another interesting example,
students investigate the spectrum of frequencies of a note they sing to
decide whether or not their voice should be “Auto-tuned.”
In addition to changing the content of the labs, the style of the lab
manual has been revamped. The previous lab manuals were a
constant source of confusion for the students doing the labs and for
the TAs administering them. Incorporating comments from TAs has
led to new lab manuals that make clear exactly what is expected of the
students. Additionally, each manual has a section with a brief history
of the experiment and a story about the lab exercise to be carried out.
The history and story put the upcoming exercises in context, either
providing an interesting
fact or showing the
students the applicability
of the experiments they are
performing. For example,
in the history portion of the
DC Motors lab the students
are taken back in time to
when the mullet haircut was
stylish and a television show
named McGyver showed
how a man could use his
knowledge of physics to
create a motor out of a
coffee cup, magnet, and
piece of wire.
Lab manager Dan Flanagan and lab assistant,
undergraduate Allison Zastrow, work with a
DC motor Allison constructed, trying to find
exactly how fast the rotor is spinning.
This semester students are performing nine experiments, compared
to the six experiments per semester they had been doing over the
past four years. This increase was facilitated by the renovation of Crow
311, 314, and 316 which was completed in the spring of 2012. This
renovation allowed for an increase in the number of students in each
lab and a decrease in the number of necessary lab sections. These
changes provided the scheduling flexibility needed to insure that
the lab schedule correlates with the class schedule. Additionally the
changes provided the time necessary to cover additional topics (such
as electrostatics, magnetism, and entropy) which hadn’t been covered
in many years.
Two of the new labs were tested during the summer term of 2013,
receiving overwhelmingly positive response. One student commented,
“These labs are so much better! I understand more and they are a
lot more straightforward.” Another wrote, “I enjoy being able to figure
out how to make things without it being laid out perfectly for you.
You feel more accomplished when you see your ideas work.” With
comments like these it appears that the new labs are taking positive
steps forward.
New Minor in Astrophysics and Astroparticle Physics
Reflecting the strength of the Physics Department in the area of
astrophysics and particle physics, the department is now offering a
minor in Astrophysics and Astroparticle Physics. The minor will allow
students to get a good overview of astronomy and astrophysics and/
or astroparticle physics and the current topics of research in these
areas. Traditionally, the field of astronomy consists of observing
celestial phenomena.
Astrophysics deals with observing celestial phenomena and
explaining them based on physical laws and/or deriving new physical
laws with the help of celestial phenomena. Astro-particle physics is
a more recent development and uses the cosmos as a laboratory
for doing particle physics and for testing and expanding particle
physics theories. The minor includes a solid foundation in freshman
and sophomore physics (General Physics I & II or Physics I & II),
an Introduction to Quantum Physics, and an overview of the field
of astrophysics and the theoretical and experimental methods
astrophysicists use. In addition, the minor requires taking at least
two of the following six electives: Introduction to Quantum Physics
II, Galactic Astrophysics, Introduction to Nuclear & Particle Physics
From Black Holes to the Big Bang, Stellar Astrophysics, and X-ray
and Gamma Ray Astrophysics.
Department of Physics Newsletter
Page 6
2013-2014 has been another productive year for the Physics Outreach
Committee. With a variety of activities, the wonders of physics have
been brought to many in the St. Louis area.
Children and their parents play with paper cup telephones they have built
at our most recent Physics Family Fun Day.
In 2009 we started a program called Physics Family Fun Day! which
seeks to bring local families to our department, showing them the joy
and excitement of physics. Unlike many outreach programs which
emphasize providing students with lab experience or additional
resources for learning, Family Fun Days look to spark the natural
curiosity of children to interest them in the subject. Each day is a series
of demonstrations and activities centered on a unifying theme. The
two-hour-long events contain one hour of demonstrations and a second
hour of hands on activities. In the past we have hosted Fun Days
focusing on topics such as Heat and Temperature and Electricity and
Magnets. Our last event on March 1, 2014 was the most successful to
date with over 50 students having fun with Waves. Moving forward, our
next Physics Family Fun Day will explore outer space!
On April 27, 2013 the Physics Department hosted 75 area high-school students for the
28th annual St. Louis Area Physics Teachers High School Physics Contest. Every year the
competition is comprised of a pair of exams for high school students. The competition gives
local students the chance to assess how their physics knowledge stacks up against others from
the area. Each student chooses to take one of the two exams. One exam covers mechanics and
the other covers all topics discussed in a college, freshman-level course. To capitalize on the
success of the 2013 event, we are expanding the scope for 2014. On April 26, 2014 we will
host the 29th annual contest, adding a time for demonstrations and lab tours to the schedule.
P h y s i c s Fa m i ly
Fun Days
look to spark the
natural curiosity
o f s t u d e n t s. . .
In addition to these regular events,
members of the Outreach Committee
have participated in multiple onetime events such as trips to area
schools and science fairs. If you are
interested in learning more about
physics outreach, volunteering for,
or participating in one of our events
please contact us at outreach@physics. Or you can check out more
Children and their parents investigate interference of sound waves emanating from two speakers in Crow
205. The families had come to the physics department for a Physics Family Fun Day on March 1, 2014.
Summer 2014
Page 7
Washington University in St. Louis recently hosted a gathering
to dedicate the laboratory space for a fabulous new analytical
instrument, naming it for the family whose gift funded the build-out. The Grossman Family SIMS Laboratory houses the Cameca SIMS
ims7f-geo, a state-of-the-art secondary-ion mass spectrometer
tailored for the analysis of geological samples.
In a sense, the SIMS is just a microscope, not unlike the ones in high
school biology labs, but it is a microscope so powerful it lets scientists
“see” the chemical composition of samples no bigger than a red
blood cell. The SIMS is a versatile instrument, and a quarter of its
time will be available to members of the Institute of Materials Science
and Engineering (IMSE), directed by Kenneth Kelton, to study
problems in the design and processing of materials. Established in
July 2013, IMSE will foster a culture of interdisciplinary materials
science research and education at the university. The IMSE’s user
facilities in Rudolph Hall eventually will house a suite of instruments
for materials characterization, from workhorses of materials science
to state-of-the-art equipment with dedicated faculty.
(Continued on page 27)
Erik Henriksen (Continued from page 1)
interested in exploring the physics of interacting electrons in two dimensions, as well as the new field of topological electronic structure that
has grown out of graphene research.
In order to study these systems, very clean and high quality devices are required and toward this end Henriksen and his group will begin
fabricating custom microscopic devices from single-atom-thick flakes of graphene, boron nitride, and black phosphorous, among a whole
host of materials that can be exfoliated to nanometer-thick films. Henriksen’s lab will include the equipment necessary to build custom stacks
of 2D sheets into a novel quasi-three dimensional material with properties that are a hybrid of the constituent sheets; this is expected to be a
fertile playground for both materials physics and fundamental science of interacting electrons.
Graphene’s unique quasi-relativistic band structure has already provided experimental confirmation of relativistic effects like the Klein
paradox that are not accessible by traditional high energy physics approaches. Perhaps more important was the theoretical discovery of
topological electronic structure in graphene, in which the bulk of the material is an electrical insulator but the edges maintain conducting
channels. While experimental studies of these systems are largely in 3D materials, Henriksen is interested in revisiting the issue in graphene
to develop 2D versions of topological materials. Such systems may allow for new routes toward controlling electronic spin degrees of freedom
for new technologies for computers, or even make possible topological approaches to quantum computation.
Previously Henriksen has developed the techniques for measuring infrared absorption in samples only microns in size and one atom thick
in experiments carried out at the National High Magnetic Field Lab in Tallahassee, FL, a unique resource that lab members will continue to
visit. Meanwhile, the infrared techniques developed there will soon be re-created here with an eye toward refining the method and improving
the resolution and range of applicable temperatures. A long term goal will be to extend infrared spectroscopy to milliKelvin temperatures to
provide new probes for delicate many-body states.
Kater Murch (Continued from page 1)
pushed me in the direction of quantum science when I graduated from
Reed College and was preparing to head to graduate school.
Struck by the beauty of table-top experiments that probe fundamental
questions, I took his advice and joined Dan Stamper-Kurn’s atomic
physics lab at UC Berkeley. I spent 5 years studying some of the
coldest stuff in the universe, pushing it around in circles, zapping it
with lasers, and ultimately realizing the rudiments of a Heisenberg
microscope-showing that when you try to measure the position of
an object, the particle nature of photons necessarily disturbs its
momentum. As a postdoc (also at Berkeley) I learned how to fabricate
tiny circuits out of superconducting materials that ultimately exhibit
some of the same quantum properties as individual atoms.
These artificial atoms (often referred to as superconducting qubits)
turn out to be fantastic systems for the same kinds of table-top
fundamental physics experiments that originally drew me to atomic
physics. Because these systems are
quantum mechanical, they can exist in
“I spent
a coherent superposition of their two
states. Textbook quantum mechanics
5 years
tells us that if we were to measure this
s t u dy i n g s o m e
superposition the wave function would
of the coldest
collapse yielding one or the other
state probabilistically. We were able
stuff in the
to use weak measurements to slow
this process down and literally watch
the wave function collapse in real
time. Here at Washington University,
my group and I are eager to set up our lab to continue to explore
these sorts of fundamental questions and to apply our knowledge
of quantum measurement to broader areas such as precision
measurement and biology.
Department of Physics Newsletter
Page 8
The Department’s popular Saturday morning lectures started in 1994 with four
lectures on the Bizarre Legacy of Einstein.
Since our last Newsletter, we have had four
series of lectures, and almost all seats are
taken each week, in Crow 201 – The Arthur
L Hughes Lecture Room.
Fall 2012: Cosmic Rays:
A Century of Discoveries
In 1912, Victor Hess discovered that a
penetrating radiation was coming from
outside the Earth’ atmosphere and was
affecting sensitive electrical apparatus.
The particle nature of this radiation was
established by the mid-1930s. During the
next twenty years, new sub-atomic particles
were discovered, laying the foundation
for the now-vast research area known as
‘particle physics’, exemplified by LHC.
By now, the central focus of cosmic rays
research has shifted and constitutes a
vigorous part of modern astrophysics.
Research is conducted underground,
at high altitudes with balloons and with
satellites above the Earth’s atmosphere.
Cosmic ray studies have shown connections
with the observations of exploding stars,
gamma ray bursts and radio astronomy.
Michael Friedlander: Cosmic Rays:
New Particles and Unexpected Applications
Robert Binns: Using Gigantic High-altitude
Balloons to Study Cosmic Rays
James Buckley: High Energy Cosmic
Gamma Rays
Martin Israel: The Abundances of Different
Nuclei among the Cosmic Rays
Ramanath Cowsik:
How can Cosmic Rays be Accelerated?
Spring 2013: Paradoxes
In thinking about science and mathematics
we are sometimes led to a paradox, that
is a seemingly absurd or contradictory
conclusion. Paradoxes are good because
they force us to discover the defect in
our reasoning, and when we resolve a
paradoxical conclusion, we deepen our
understanding of the natural world. In these
lectures, we examine some of famous and
fascinating paradoxes.
Carl Bender: Paradoxes in Science
and Mathematics
Michael Ogilvie: Fermi’s Paradox: From
Certainty to Chaos and Back Sgain
John S. Rigden: Schrodinger and his Cat
Kasey Wagoner: Relativity: Does the Pole
Fit in the Barn or Not?
Fall 2013: From the Ivory
Tower to the Market Place
Much of the scientific research carried
out in universities is driven by curiosity.
What are the properties of sub-atomic
particles? What happen when atomic
nuclei are made to collide at the speed
of light? What happens when a liquid is
cooled to temperatures far below freezing?
How accurately does a theory predict the
outcome of experiments? How does general
relativity provide the foundation for GPS ?
We will describe examples of the ways
in which basic research has, quite
unexpectedly, moved from the ivory
tower and been adapted to practical
uses that have created major industries.
‘Pure’ research often has important but
unpredictable applications.
Patrick Gibbons: Electronic Transitions in
Atoms and Molecules: From Fundamental
Physics to Modern Time and Frequency
James G. Miller: Ultrasonics: Evolution from
Basic Science to Clinical Medicine
Stuart A. Solin: The Impact of Condensed
Matter Physics on Technology
Francesc Ferrer: Navigating through spacetime with the GPS
Spring 2014: Earth, Air,
Fire and Water
What is our universe made of? Over the
centuries, speculation and experiment have
led us to a model of the basic constituents
of the Earth and its inhabitants, the Sun
and the planets, distant stars and galaxies.
Some of the fundamental components
such as atoms and electrons are made
visible through ingenious experiments.
Atoms are the basic components of all
matter; atoms can combine to produce
molecules or heavier atoms, but electrons
do not combine.
The forces in nature cannot be seen
directly but make their presence felt at
every stage and on every scale. We detect
them indirectly by the effects they produce.
Light and other electromagnetic radiations
were thought to travel through an ‘ether’
(invisible, infinitely thin) – but this failed
to be detected, which led to a deeper
understanding of nature.
Four lectures cannot cover even a small
fraction of these subjects. What we will do
is to introduce you to some of the concepts,
and identify some of the building blocks out
of which we have constructed a consistent
picture of the universe. And on the fifth day
we will rest.
Michael Friedlander: Bits and Pieces:
Electrons, Nuclei and other spare parts
Carl Bender: The physics of things that
aren’t there
John S. Rigden: The Atom, Then and Now
Martin Israel: We Are Stardust – where
most of the atoms in our bodies come from
Summer 2014
Page 9
Ramanath Cowsik was installed as the James
S. McDonnell Professor of Space Sciences in
Arts & Sciences at Washington University in
St. Louis at an October 7 ceremony in Holmes
Lounge, Ridgley Hall. Cowsik’s contributions
to neutrino physics and to understanding
dark matter in the universe have earned him
international recognition, said Chancellor Mark
S. Wrighton in his opening remarks.
Willem Dickhoff was elected to Fellowship in
the American Physical Society at its November
2013 meeting upon the recommendation of
the Division of Nuclear Physics. The citation
reads: “For development and application of
the self-consistent Green’s function method
for attacking the nuclear many-body problem,
yielding fundamental insights into the roles
of nuclear correlations in experimentally
accessible observables.”
Professor Willem Dickhoff also has received
a three-year grant from the NSF for research
titled “Green’s Functions and the Nuclear
Many-Body Problem.”
Prof. Emeritus Patrick Gibbons received the
2014 Gerry and Bob Virgil Ethic of Service
Award, an annual award recognizing a select
group of WUSTL community members
who exemplify a character of service and
contribution to the St. Louis region.
Prof. James G. Miller received the American
Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine’s 2014
Joseph H. Holmes Basic Science Pioneer
Award, awarded annually to “an individual
who has significantly contributed to the growth
and development of medical ultrasound”.
More details are available on the department
Alexander Seidel was promoted to the rank
of associate professor.
Carl Bender published ten research papers
in 2013. His principal research activity for
the past year has been on PT-symmetric
quantum mechanics, although he published several papers in areas unrelated to
PT quantum mechanics in the past year as
well. Although he is a theorist, one of his
2013 papers reports on an experiment that
he performed in London and in 2014 he
will publish a second experimental paper
in Nature Physics on PT-symmetric optical
whispering-gallery resonators (as of this writing, this paper is currently in press).
The field of PT symmetric quantum mechanics, which he originated in 1998, has
become highly active; in the latest issue of
Physical Review A there were seven papers
on PT symmetry! During the summer of
2014 there will be four international conferences on PT-symmetric quantum mechanics;
these conferences will be held in Jerusalem
(Israel), University of Connecticut, University
of Cambridge (UK), and University of Setif
(Algeria). Professor Bender is on the organizing committee for two of these conferences.
In addition, conferences in Palermo and
London are currently being organized
for 2015.
A number of special journal issues on the
subject are in preparation and Imperial Col-
lege Press has invited Prof. Bender to write a
book on the subject. He expects to complete
this book during the summer of 2014.
Prof. Bender has maintained numerous
connections with European universities. He
is an International Professor at Heidelberg
University and in October 2013 he gave 15
hours of heavily attended lectures on PTsymmetric quantum mechanics in the space
of one week. He is also a Visiting Professor
at City University in London, Imperial College
London, and King’s College London. He is an
Associate Member of the Higgs Centre at the
University of Edinburgh and an International
Member of the London Physical Society. In
2013 Prof. Bender was awarded a Royal
Society two-year travel grant to visit the UK.
Prof. Bender has presented numerous
invited seminars and colloquia. In January
2013 and in March 2014 he presented the
prestigious Maxwell Lecture at King’s College
London. He gave colloquia at Northwestern
University and the University of Montana
(April 2013), City University London (June
2013 and January 2014), the Higgs Centre
(August 2013), the University of Delaware
(November 2013) (two talks), and Imperial
College London (March 2014) (two talks).
He gave a seminar in the Mathematics
Department at Washington University in April
2014. He also gave invited plenary talks at
international conferences at Yale University
(February 2013), Paris (June 2013), Istanbul
(July 2013), Miami (December 2013), and
Edinburgh (January 2014). He gave a public
talk in the Saturday Science series organized
by Prof. Friedlander at Washington University
in April 2013 and presented another talk in
this series in April 2014.
WUSTL mathematicians: (from left) Alan Talmage,
Stephen Rong, Jason Zhang, Yu Tao Li, Fangzhou
Xiao and Anthony Grebe.
Prof. Bender continues to coach the Putnam
team and organizes practice sessions for students who are planning to take the Putnam
Examination. These sessions meet once a
week for two hours and last for the entire fall
term. Every spring term he continues to chair
the committee that selects students to
(Continued on page 10)
Department of Physics Newsletter
Page 10
(Faculty News continued from page 9)
Prof. Ferrer also recently worked with
Vachaspati and Tashiro at Arizona State and
WU graduate student Wenlei Chen on the
possible detection of magnetic helicity using
the diffuse cosmological background. A paper
has been submitted for publication.
be Compton Fellows. In December 2013,
the WUSTL team, consisting of sophomore
Anthony Grebe, junior Patrick Lopatto and
freshman Jongwhan Park, placed 10th out of
430 teams.
Prof. Bender is also organizing the “Clark
Fest” in honor of Prof. John Clark, a very
distinguished and senior member (in fact, the
dean, in the sense of having been a member
longer than anyone else) of our Department.
It will take place on April 27-28, 2015.
Prof. Jonathan Katz continued his research in
several areas. He developed a model of the
recently discovered cosmological “Fast Radio
Bursts”, describing their emission regions as a
screen of maximally efficient dipole radiators,
and inferring relativistic energies for the
particles doing the radiation: The brightness
and intensity are literally “astronomical” and
require coherent emission by bunches of
charges, and relativistic energy is required to
overcome the repulsion of like charges.
Francesc Ferrer, together with Cliff Will and
Laleh Sadeghian (who recently received
her Ph.D. in our Department and started
a postdoctoral position at University of
Wisconsin at Milwaukee) calculated the
effects of the super-massive black hole at
the center of the Galaxy on the distribution of
dark matter. The results, published in Physical
Review D, are important for the indirect
detection of dark matter and for tests of the
no-hair theorem of general relativity.
He continued, in collaboration with WU (class
of 2013) undergraduate Thomas Muschinski
and Departmental Ph.D. alumna Lilly Canel,
studies of trends in storminess in historic
climate records. A preliminary study of 13
sites in the 48 contiguous United States
found a significant increase in storminess
over the period 1950-1998 at one site on the
Olympic Peninsula with very calm weather;
this was reported in a paper published in
Nature Climate Change. Subsequent study of
data from several thousand sites found little
significant trend; these data are still being
With his student Daniel Hunter, he published
a paper in the Journal of Cosmology and
Astroparticle Physics, studying the phasespace distribution of dark matter in the Milky
Way halo. The distribution is required to
correctly predict the annihilation fluxes in dark
matter models with so called Sommerfeld
enhancement, and that have been discussed
in recent years as a possible explanation of the
rising positron fraction observed by the cosmic
ray experiments PAMELA and AMS-02.
Prof. Katz also continued, in collaboration with
undergraduates Hannah Sieber, Clarence Chu
and Chiamaka Asunigo, volunteer Joel Groman,
and Prof. Miller’s ultrasound group, a study of
the rheology of corn starch suspensions. Their
famous shear thickening can be attributed to
jamming of the starch grains, and this work led
to the discovery of several novel phenomena,
such as stick-slip friction in the thickened state
and transient thickening in the unthickened
state. A theoretical model of the thickening
transition was developed that explains why
suspensions of starch in oil do not thicken. A
byproduct of this work was a novel explanation
of the nearly ubiquitous phenomenon of shear
thinning in suspensions.
Professors Henric Krawczynski and Matthias
Beilicke are working towards flying a 10m
focal length X-ray telescope on a stratospheric
balloon flight from Fort Sumner (NM) in
Fall 2014. Krawczynski and Beilicke are
interested in black holes because they are
NormedWindowed 2nd Moment 11 years ending Year 2003
Also on the dark matter problem, he took part
in a study with Lawrence Krauss’ group at
Arizona State University of the sensitivity of a
multi-ton liquid xenon and argon direct dark
matter detector. This is part of the preliminary
survey for the DARWIN consortium. The
present design calls for a 20 ton detector that
should be able to detect dark matter particles
with annihilation cross-sections as small as
10-47 cm2. This is three orders of magnitude
below the current best results and at the limit
where the irreducible neutrino background
kicks in.
analyzed. One product of this study was the
storminess map shown in the accompanying
figure. The highest storminess indices are
found in desert sites whose rain falls in rare
thunderstorms, intermediate values are found
in the Southeast and high Plains, and smaller
values in humid regions, with the very smallest
in the Pacific Northwest.
Bin 1 613 stations insufficient data
Bin 2 <20.0000 2.0 percentile
Bin 3 <40.0000 8.4 percentile
Bin 4 <50.0000 14.4 percentile
Bin 5 <60.0000 24.6 percentile
Bin 6 <75.0000 40.7 percentile
Bin 7 <100.0000 60.8 percentile
Bin 8 <150.0000 81.7 percentile
Bin 9 <175.0000 88.5 percentile
Bin 10 <200.0000 92.7 percentile
Bin 11 <250.0000 97.1 percentile
Bin 12 <300.0000 98.7 percentile
Bin 13 <600.0000 99.9 percentile
Bin 14 <2400.0000 100.0 percentile
Storminess in the 1990’s
(Continued on page 11)
Summer 2014
Page 11
(Faculty News continued from page 10)
the places in the universe where spacetime
exhibits the most extreme curvature, as
predicted by Einstein’s General Theory
of Relativity. Black holes can readily be
observed if they are in a close binary orbit
with a companion star. Matter from the
companion star that falls into a black hole
warms up so much that it emits in the X-ray
energy range shortly before being swallowed
by the black hole. Because X-rays are
absorbed by Earth’s atmosphere, one
needs to lift the X-ray telescopes above the
atmosphere - either with balloons, sounding
rockets, or on a satellite. Krawczynski and
Beilicke are using a novel detector assembly
(called X-Calibur, see photo on cover page)
that allows them to measure for the first
time the polarization of the X-rays. The
polarization carries geometrical information
about how the matter flows into the black
hole. The scientific aim of the first balloon
flight is to constrain the properties of the
“accretion disk corona”, hot gas thought
to form above and below the matter falling
into the black hole, which is energized
by magnetic fields that build up in the
disk owing to turbulent plasma motion.
Krawczynski and Beilicke obtained NASA
funding for a first (1-day) balloon flight
and for a longer (~30-day) follow-up flight
from McMurdo (Antarctica). The second
flight will allow them to observe not only
galactic stellar mass black holes but also
extragalactic supermassive black holes. The
former are typically ten times more massive
than the sun. The latter have masses of
a few million to a billion solar masses.
Washington University leads the X-Calibur
collaboration which includes scientists from
the Goddard Space Flight Center and the
Brookhaven National Laboratory.
In mid-March 2014 Jim Schilling gave
a plenary talk at a two-day workshop on
“Matter under Extreme Conditions” at the
Brazilian synchrotron in Campinas, São
Paulo, Brazil, where one of our department’s
current graduate students, Gilberto Fabbris,
did his Master’s Thesis research. A much
larger synchrotron is currently under
construction in Campinas. Jim met with
scientists from Brazil, Germany, and the
US, including Dan Haskel, a senior scientist
at the APS synchrotron in the Argonne
National Labs; Dan is also an Adjunct
Professor in our department.
Jim also spent a day in the city of São
Paulo with former WU grad student
Saeed Mirshekari (see photo below), who
completed his PhD with Cliff Will. Saeed
is a postdoc in São Paulo at the ICTP
South American Institute for Fundamental
Research (ICTP-SAIFR).
Saeed Mirshekari and Jim Schilling
Postdoc Neda Foroozani in Schilling’s group
attended the recent 2014 March Meeting
of the American Physical Society in Denver,
Colorado, and gave two oral presentations
on her recent research results. She also
met with other panel members for the
“Biruni Award” of the Iranian American
Physicists (IrAP) Network Group (see photo
below). This group promotes and recognizes
outstanding research by physics graduate
students with Iranian heritage who are
currently studying in one of the institutions
of higher education in the US.
In November 2013, Schilling drove up to
Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, to give,
together with George Schmiedeshoff, a joint
colloquium in honor of the 90th birthday of
Clayton Swenson, a distinguished scientist
in the ISU Physics Department.
In July 2013, Jim and members of his group
(Neda Foroozani, Gilberto Fabbris, and
Isaiah Lim) attended the AIRAPT high-pressure conference in Seattle, Washington. Two
oral presentations and one poster presentation were given on the students’ current
research results. Jim had been the AIRAPT
Treasurer for 6 years, the maximum term. At
this meeting he was elected member of the
AIRAPT Executive Committee.
At the end of May 2013, Schilling flew to
Munich, Germany, where he had been a
faculty member for nearly five years before
joining the physics department at WU in
1990. During his one-month stay in Germany
he visited research groups in Leipzig,
Dresden, and Karlsruhe where he gave
seminars on the topic “Pressure-Induced
Electron Localization/Delocalization Effects in
Alkali Metals and Rare-Earth Metals”.
In March 2013, Jim gave an invited talk at
the international conference on “Studies
of Matter under Extreme Conditions” in
Miami, Florida, on the same topic as above
in Germany.
In September 2012, Schilling visited Cornell
University and gave an invited seminar
on “Some Recent Results in Magnetism
and Superconductivity at High Pressure”.
He visited with Richard Hennig, a former
student of Anders Carlsson and Ken Kelton,
as well as with the well-known scientists
Neil Ashcroft and Roald Hoffmann, both
of whom, on Jim’s initiative, came to our
department and gave a colloquium talk.
(Continued on page 12)
Department of Physics Newsletter
Page 12
Prof. Bender is hosting three visitors, Prof. Naomichi Hatano,University
of Tokyo, Japan, visiting as the Clark Way Harrision Visiting Professor;
and two visiting collaborators, Dr. Mariagiovanna Gianfreda, University
of Lecce, Italy, funded by a Della Riccia grant and Dr. Ananya Ghatak,
Banaras Hindu University, funded by a grant from the American
Physical Society.
Mariagiovanna Gianfreda, Naomichi Hatano, and Ananya Ghatak
Prof. Murch, our newest faculty member, was the host of Prof.
Andrew Jordan of the University of Rochester as part of their
continuing experimental and theoretical research on quantum
measurement. This resulted in a paper, Mapping the optimal route
between two quantum states,
The low-energy nuclear physics group (Dickhoff, Sarantites,
Sobotka, Reviol, and Charity) recently hosted visits by Dr. Zbigniew
Chajecki (National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory, Michigan
State University), Professor Ingo Wiedenhoever (Department of
Physics, Florida State University), Dr. Charles Horowitz (Center for
Exploration of Energy and Matter and Physics Department, Indiana
University), Dr. Jan Tõke (University of Rochester), Professor Umesh
Garg (University of Notre Dame), Professor Morten Hjorth-Jensen
(National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory at Michigan State
University and Department of Physics, University of Oslo), Professor
Dirk Rudolph (Department of Physics, Lund University, Sweden),
Professor Anatoli Afanasjev (Mississippi State University), Professor
Jeff Tostevin (NSCL Michigan State University and University of
Surrey, Guildford, UK), and Professor Peter Schuck (Institut de
Physique Nucléaire, France; Université Paris-Sud, Orsay, France).
Prof. Henriksen hosted Yafis Barlas, a condensed matter theorist
from University of California - Riverside and David Abergel, a
condensed matter theorist from Nordita. Both are well-known in the
graphene community for their contributions to understanding the
electronic structure of graphenes.
Dr. Schilling hosted visiting Assistant Professor Takahiro Matsuoka
from Osaka University in Japan.
Dr. Zinner hosted two visitors, Dr. Marco Pignatari (University of Basel,
Switzerland) and Dr. Manavi Jadhav (University of Hawaii, Honolulu).
(Faculty News continued from page 11)
In January, Ernst Zinner with colleagues Kevin
Croat, Frank Gyngard, Alex Meshik and Olga
Pravdivtseva and graduate students Evan
Groopman, Pierre Haenecour, Joben Lewis and
Wei Jia Ong attended the annual Workshop on
Presolar Grains at the University of Chicago.
For more than a decade this workshop has
alternated between Washington University
and Clemson University, but has recently
also included the University of Chicago and
the Carnegie Institution in Washington DC.
After the workshop, Dr. Marco Pignatari from
the University of Basel, Switzerland visited
for a week, and he and Zinner wrote a paper
reporting the discovery of yet another shortlived isotope, 32Si, in presolar SiC grains.
In May, Zinner spent a week as invited guest
lecturer at the University of Grenada, Spain
and attended the 6th International Conference
on Nuclear Physics in Astrophysics in Lisbon,
Portugal, where he delivered a keynote
address. He also presented a talk at the 76th
Annual Meeting of the Meteoritical Society in
Edmonton, Canada.
Mark Holland, formerly Associate Research
Professor, is currently an Associate Research
Professor of Radiology & Imaging Sciences
at the Indiana University School of Medicine
(IUSM) in Indianapolis. Furthermore, he
serves as the Manager of the Indiana
University-Purdue University, Indianapolis
(IUPUI) Imaging Research Initiative. In
this capacity, he works closely with the
Imaging Research Initiative Leadership
Council, through the IUPUI Office of the
Vice Chancellor of Research, to facilitate
programmatic goals, foster collaborations
among imaging investigators, and help identify
potential government, corporate, foundation
and other sources of extramural funding for
imaging-related research throughout the
University. In addition to his Imaging Research
Initiative responsibilities, Holland continues to
be active in ultrasound imaging research and
provides educational support in the physics
of ultrasound imaging to the IUPUI and IUSM
research communities.
Jason Woods, Honorary Adjunct Professor
of Physics, is now at Children’s Hospital of
Cincinnati. He directs an imaging center there
and will be directly involved in developing
laser-polarized helium-3 and xenon gases
for imaging of lungs in children, including
prematurely born neonates. He continues to
supervise some Washington University Physics
graduate students.
Summer 2014
Page 13
Distinguished Lecture Series
2013 McDonnell Lecture
2014 McDonnell Lecture
Robert M. Walker Lecture
The 2013 McDonnell Distinguished
Lecturer was Professor Thomas Bernatowicz,
Department of Physics, Washington
University in St. Louis. Bernatowicz delivered
a public lecture on April 10, “Stardust in the
Laboratory” and a colloquium on April 11,
“Constraints on Grain Formation Around
Carbon Stars From Laboratory Studies of
Presolar Graphite.”
The 2014 McDonnell Distinguished Lecturer
was Professor Alex Halliday, FRS, University
of Oxford. Halliday delivered a public lecture
on March 5, “The Origin of the Earth and
Moon” and a colloquium on March 6, “The
origin of Earth’s volatiles.”
Professor Shrinivas Kulkarni, McArthur
Professor of Astronomy & Planetary
Science, California Institute of Technology
delivered a colloquium, “There Is More
Room Sideways” and a public lecture on
November 7, 2013, “Booms, Burps &
Bumps: The Dynamic Universe.”
Feenberg Lecture
Professor Douglas J. Scalapino, University of California-Santa Barbara delivered the Feenberg Lecture colloquium
on April 2, 2014, “A Common Thread: the Pairing Interaction in the Unconventional Superconductors”
The lattice structures, the phase diagrams, and a neutron scattering resonance indicative of an unconventional
superconducting state provide evidence of a strong relationship between cuprate, Fe-pnictide/chalcogen, and
heavy-fermion superconductors. Following a review of such experimental evidence, we introduce and discuss the
spin-fluctuation pairing interaction which we believe to be responsible for pairing and superconductivity in this
broad class of materials, providing the common thread linking them.
(Chair’s Letter continued from page 2)
The department’s staff are crucial to the success of the department
and some of them are among the longest-serving members of the
department. Scott Handley received the university’s Outstanding Staff
Award for his invaluable work in two critical areas of the department: he
is both the advanced lab coordinator and the web page implementer.
Richard Bose, an engineer in the astrophysics group, took a Saint Louis
City flag to Antarctica, and was rewarded by mayor Francis Slay with
the “keys to the city”. This year we honored five people for their years
of service. In 2013 we honored Rich Schmaeng, who has been in the
physics department for 40 years, performing many different functions,
from assembling freshman physics experiments to managing the
departments network infrastructure.
We cannot know what transformations the next 40 years will bring,
but just looking ahead a few years there are great indications of
renewal and growth in the physics department. There will be a wave
of retirements, and we consequently expect to be hiring many new
faculty members. There are tentative plans for a new wing to be built,
connecting the Compton and Crow buildings, and closing off our
central courtyard into a covered atrium. Such a major construction
project brings challenges and extraordinary opportunities. We look
forward to the fruition of these plans in the coming years.
Mark Alford
Chair, Department of Physics
Department of Physics Newsletter
Page 14
Graduate Students
The following students have received their
PhD degrees. Their thesis titles, faculty
advisors and current position (if known)
are listed as well.
Nilushi Dasanayake, “Actomyosin
Contractility in Nonmuscle Cells”, February
1, 2013 (Professor Carlsson)
Narelle J. Hillier, “High Pressure Studies
of Superconductivity”, February 22, 2013
(Professor Schilling)
Truman State University (Temporary
Assistant Professor)
James C. Bendert, “Thermophysical and
Structural Measurements of Liquid Metallic
Alloys Using Electrostatic Levitation”, April 9,
2013 (Professor Kelton)
Intel Corporation (Process Engineer)
Shouting Huang, “Electronic, Optical, and
Thermal Properties of Reduced-Dimensional
Semiconductors”, May 13, 2013
(Professor Yang)
CGG (Seismic Imaging Engineer)
Saeed Mirshekari, “Gravitational Waves and
Inspiralling Compact Binaries in Alternative
Theories of Gravity”, May 16, 2013
(Professor Will)
ICTP-SAIFR – São Paulo, Brazil –
(Post-doctoral Fellow)
Laleh Sadeghian, “Star Clusters and Dark
Matter as Probes of the Spacetime Geometry
of Massive Black Holes”, May 16, 2013
(Professors Will / Ferrer)
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee –
(Postdoctoral Research Associate)
Zhenyu Zhou, “Various Geometric Aspect of
Condensed Matter Physics”, May 31, 2013
(Professor Seidel) George Mason University
(postdoctoral Researcher – join with
University of Pittsburgh (visiting scholar)
Julia Saskia Wildeboer, “Physics of
Resonating Valence Bound Spin Liquids”,
June 21, 2013 (Professor Seidel)
National High Magnetic Field Laboratory,
Florida State University (Postdoctoral
Research Associate)
Sina Mossahebi, a graduate student in the Department, is a part
of the Cardiovascular Biophysics Research Group and described
its research:
Cardiologists diagnose and treat heart function disorders
using approximate, correlation-based indexes obtained from
various cardiac imaging modalities such as cardiac MRI or
echocardiography (cardiac ultrasound). Because all hearts initiate
their filling by being mechanical suction pumps, the filling function
(diastole) of the heart is particularly well suited for analysis using
methods familiar to physicists, such as Newton’s Law – expressed
as an equation of motion. Our research group is primarily
theoretical and uses differential equations (Newton’s Law) to model
the filling of the heart. Doppler ultrasound recording of the velocity
of blood entering the left ventricle during (mechanical suction
Leandro Medina de Oliveira was selected to participate in the
McDonnell International Scholars Academy in 2011. Students
are selected on the basis of their promise to become future
leaders in academia, government, the professions or the
corporate world. The Academy provides academic, cultural and
social opportunities to help scholars develop into future leaders
knowledgeable about the United States, other countries of the
world and critical international issues. During spring break in
March, 2014, the McDonnell International Scholars Academy
students traveled to New York and met leaders in finance, media
and government.
Lauren Christine Tran, “Biological Applications of Extraordinary Electroconductance
and Photovoltaic Effects in Inverse Extraordinary Optoconductance”, June 25, 2013
(Professor Solin) Washington University
School of Medicine – (Post Doctoral Research Associate in Radiation Oncology)
Benjamin Burch, “Galactic Dark Matter”,
August 27, 2013 (Professor Cowsik)
Tsen-Hsuan Lin, “Assessing Functional
Deficits at Optic Neuritis Onset in EAE Mice
Using Manganese-Enhanced MRI (MEMRI)
and Diffusion fMRI”, September 11,
2013 (Professors Conradi /Song) National
Laboratory Academica Sinica – (Postdoc)
Christopher D. Markle, “On the Orientational
Dependence of the Casimir Force”,
November 19, 2013 (Professor Cowsik)
Xiaoxin Yin, “Molecular Simulations of
Diffusion-Tensor MRI” February 7, 2014
(Professor Conturo/Wessel) Philips
Healthcare (Software Development Engineer)
initiated) early diastole is used as the target to which the model
predicted velocity is fit by minimizing the difference between the two.
Once achieved, the method quantitates diastolic function based on
the parameters of the equation of motion. The parameters stemming
from these physical principles applied to diastole correspond to
actual, validated, chamber properties such as its stiffness, relaxation
and response to load. This physics-based approach to the physiology
of filling allows model-based, objective characterization of diastolic
function and has already provided a tool for the discovery of ‘new’
cardiac physiology.
An abstract of a recent publication for the group can be found
Narelle Hillier defended her
Ph.D. thesis at the end of
May 2013. In the course of
her research she reached the
highest pressure (2.1 Mbar) ever
achieved in Schilling’s group and
certainly the highest in Missouri
(see photo). Since August 2013
she has taken up teaching
duties as Assistant Professor
at Truman State University in
Kirksville, Missouri.
Summer 2014
Page 15
Former graduate student, Wenli Bi,
has been a postdoc in sector III of
the Advanced Light Source (APS)
in the Argonne National Labs since
receiving her Ph.D. in Schilling’s
group in May 2011. She has
become expert in Moessbauer effect
experiments on unconventional
magnetic materials under extreme
pressure conditions.
In January 2014 a student in
Schilling’s group from South
Korea, Isaiah Lim, succeeded
in carrying out a true four-point
resistivity experiment on a
tiny 30x30 square micron Dy
sample to 1.6 Mbar pressure to
temperatures as low as 1.3 K. This
represents an amazing technical
achievement (try it sometime!).
Students Win International University Physics Competition
A Washington University in St. Louis team
of juniors in Arts & Sciences, Ryan Endsley,
Nathan Stein, and Christina Kreisch, won a
gold medal for their physics-based analysis
of a problem during the international University Physics Competition, held in November,
2013. The competition is an international
contest for undergraduate students, who
work in teams of three at their home colleges
and universities all over the world.
The students were asked to analyze the following scenario using principles of physics
and write a formal paper describing their
conclusions. The problem:
Assume a planet has been found whose
mass is eight times that of Earth while its
radius is twice that of Earth. The average surface temperature on the planet
is 250 K (Kelvin). A four-legged animal
has evolved to live on the equator of
this planet. Produce a physics-based
analysis on how life on this planet might
be similar to, or different from, creatures
that evolved on Earth.
They spent a weekend in November, 48
hours, analyzing the real-world scenario
using the principles of physics and writing
a formal paper describing their work. The
team members concluded that:
A team of juniors in Arts & Sciences won the Gold Medal in the international University Physics Competition. The students were (from left): Ryan Endsley, a physics and mathematics double major, Nathan
Stein, a physics and geophysics double major, and Christina Kreisch, a physics and mathematics double
major. The team was sponsored by Fracesc Ferrer, PhD, assistant professor of physics.
“... bone width would increase by approximately 30 percent, and bone length
would decrease, yielding more compact
animals with shorter extremities. Leg
bones would meet the body at shallower
angles, making legs straighter. Most organs, including the heart, would increase
in size due to an approximate doubling of
blood volume per unit mass, and capillary
radius would increase. Due to increased
surface gravity, animals would have to
expend more energy to reach efficient
modes of locomotion than they do on
Earth, decreasing their speed.”
At the Undergraduate Research Symposium held on October 26,
2013, the Physics Department was well represented. Marie Draper
and Ryan Endsley delivered the keynote address, and posters were
presented by George Ferguson, Ethan Kahn, Ted Wenneker, Simeng
Zhou, Charles Schlaepfer, and Zachary Markow.
A. Nony Maus
Above is an artist’s conception of what such an
animal might look like.
The WUSTL team’s entry was chosen as the gold
medal winner from a field of 69.
Christina Kreisch, a Junior student, has been awarded a 2014 SPS
Leadership Scholarship. For more information on the program, see:
Department of Physics Newsletter
Page 16
New Graduate Students
Graduating Seniors
For the 2012-2013 academic
year, the department admitted
nineteen new graduate students:
For the 2013-2014 academic
year, the department admitted
fourteen new graduate students:
Rashied Amini
Batoul Banihashemi
Wenli Chen
Joy Counts
Levente Dojcsak
Ruixiang Fei
Brendan Haas
Nara Higano
Janie Hoormann
Seyedhadi Hoseini
Tahereh Mazaheri Kouhani
Matthew Reisman
Jamie Smith Elias
Vikas Soni
Dian Tan
Seyyed Vaezi
Yuhe Wang
Nicholas Weingartner
Boyi Zhou
Robert Ashcraft
Mackenzie Atkinson
Banafsheh Beheshtipour
Shiyuan Gao
Nima Hassanpour Ghadi
Zhengyu Ma
Augusto Medeiros da Rosa
Mahdi Naghiloo
Jordan Russell
Jonah Scher-Zagier
Jing Song
Nathan Walsh
Bowen Zhou
Hongyang Zou
Physics Seniors, 2014
2013 Seniors
Twenty four seniors graduated in May 2013:
John Blears
Walter Buhro
Kathyrn Child
Mitchell Eagles
Aaron Foote
Walter Fu
Jeffrey Gerold
David Goldfinger
Aaron Hing
Christopher Izzo
Bartlomeij Kudrzycki
Brian Lynch
Derek Miller
Thomas Morrell
Thomas Muschinski
Jordan Raisher
Andres Schiefer
Alisa Stavig
Marion Sudvarg
Ari Tenzer
Philip Thomas
Stephen Thormquist
Adam Trebach
Samuel Witte
2014 Seniors
Twenty six seniors graduated in May 2014:
Samuel Barth
Madison Cannon
Brian Clark
Daniel Corin
Ari Eisenstadt
Alexander Ellis
Kevin Garza
Erin Gauger
Roxanne Glazier
Ethan Kahn
Michelle Knopp
Christopher Lauber
Brian Lebow
Benjamin Lewis
Kefu Lu
Zachary Markow
Corie Miller
Vineet Paruchuri
Benjamin Pollack
Samuel Rudy
Mary Stork
Sirish Veligati
Yixiang Wang
Harison Wiesman
Kevin Zecchini
Simeng Zhu
Summer 2014
Page 17
Society of Physics Students
The Washington University Society of Physics Students chapter,
advised by Prof. Francesc Ferrer, organized a visit to the Argonne
National Laboratory, and a variety of on-campus events including
making ice cream with liquid nitrogen (and eating it afterward!)
and stargazing at Tyson Observatory (a distant satellite of campus).
Several faculty members gave talks about their research at SPS
meetings, and a number of SPS members presented talks about
their research at venues including the PEW Midstates Consortium
Undergraduate Research Symposium in the Physical Sciences,
Mathematics and Computer Science, the NASA Missouri Space
Grant Consortium, and the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference.
In 2013, the Washington University Chapter of the
Society of Physics Students was recognized as a
Distinguished SPS Chapter. Some of the criteria for this
award include:
• The chapter’s involvement in local, zone and
national SPS meetings Participation in SPS programs
• Outreach efforts to the grades K-12 or the
general public
• Participation in community service
• Contributions to student recruitment and retention
• Participation in social events
• Interactions with the department’s alumni
SPS Inductees, 2013
Sigma Pi Sigma Inductees
Join us in congratulating the newest members of the Washington
University in St. Louis Chapter of Sigma Pi Sigma, the national
physics honor society.
The members elected
for 2013-2014 are:
The members elected
for 2014-2015 are:
Walter Fu
David Goldfinger
Brian Lynch
Derek Miller
Wei Jia Ong
Alissa Stavig
Ari Tenzer
Samuel Witte
Daniel Corin
Ethan Kahn
Benjamin Pollak
Zachary Markow
Samuel Rudy
Mary Stork
Sirish Veligati
Sean Wang
Harison Wiesman
SPS Inductees, 2014
Department of Physics Newsletter
Page 18
Departmental Awards to Students
Each year, the department awards prizes for outstanding performance.
Graduate Students
Shull Prize
Dean’s Award for Teaching Excellence
Awarded to the top graduate teaching assistant in memory of
Franklin Shull, the senior faculty instructor in introductory courses
for many years, to recognizes the importance that the Department
attaches to the quality of teaching assistantships.
Each Spring the Dean of the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences
recognizes outstanding teaching assistants with a $1,500 cash
prize and certificate of encomium. TAs are recommended for the
award by their department. Award recipients are publicized in the
Commencement booklet in the year of their graduation.
May 2013 - Jeffrey Pobst was
recognized with the Shull
Prize. Jeff did an exemplary
job as an Intro Physics lab TA
for 3 semesters, as well as an
Electronics lab TA. He’s provided
some helpful interactive demos
to use with the Smartboards
and has been a huge help
troubleshooting the existing labs
so that we can improve them.
Jeffrey Pobst receiving the
Shull prize from Dr. Alford
May 2014 - Wenlei Chen was
awarded the Shull Prize. Wenlei
did an exceptional job as the TA
for Physics 117 this past fall. He
provided insightful explanations
to students in his office hours,
suggested problems for the
exam, and seamlessly oversaw
the homework and quiz grading
Wenlei Chen receiving the
for the course, which included
Shull prize from Dr. Alford
keeping two undergraduate
graders on track and on time.
In addition, he made valuable contributions to the course above
and beyond what is expected of a typical TA by almost singlehandedly developing a state-of-the-art, in-class demonstration of
a Cavendish balance. He researched the apparatus, set up the
demonstration, and prepared a detailed write-up for the students
and for Prof. Solin to use in class.
May 2013 - Xiaoxian “Sherry” Yin received a Dean’s Award for
Teaching Excellence from the University. Sherry has served as a
TA in Intro Physics labs for 7 semesters, as well as the instructor
for Physics 117 during the Summer 2010 session. Sherry is
extremely devoted to helping her students learn and is willing to
go above and beyond expectations to ensure this happens. For
example, she typically held office hours for 2.5-4 hours each day
during the summer, even though she was only required to stay
for one hour each day. Her student evaluations constantly say
how much the students felt that Sherry was genuinely concerned
for them. She has also been indispensable sharing advice on the
labs to the new TAs each semester.
May 2014 - Dimitrios Manolidis is a
7th year PhD student who plans to
defend his thesis, entitled “Neutron
star models in alternative theories of
gravity,” in May. Dimitrios has excelled
in TA roles in which he works with
students new to physics. He served
as an Introductory Physics Lab TA
for 11 semesters, as well as a TA for
several physics courses for non-science Dimitrios Manolidis
majors. Dimitrios is exceptional at
helping students practice critical thinking skills, such as learning
to evaluate the real-world plausibility of their results. Students
generally find this activity challenging and pointless, but Dimitrios
has been incredibly successful in helping his students to
recognize the importance of critically assessing scientific results,
as well as becoming adept at this skill.
Summer 2014
Page 19
Undergraduate Students
Varney Prize
Greg Delos Summer Research Fellowship
Awarded to the best student in the
introductory courses. Professor
Robert Varney was a member
of the faculty for many years.
This prize was established to
commemorate his deep and longtime interest in physics instruction.
2012-2013 - Anthony V. Grebe
To support a summer’s research opportunity for the
selected student to work with a mutually acceptable
research group.
May 2013 - Tim Ellis-Calleo, Teddy Wenneker
May 2014 - George Ferguson, Yu Tao Li
Mark Alford & Anthony Grebe
Undergraduate Summer Research Award
Awarded to undergraduate students who proposed
outstanding summer research projects.
Senior Prize
Awarded to the outstanding senior physics majors.
May 2013 - Walter Fu, David Charles Goldfinger, Wei Jia Ong
May 2014 - Zachary Markow, Harison Weisman
2013 - George (Matt) Ferguson, Harison Wiesman,
Ryan Endsley, Yu Tao (Roger) Li, Ken Tharp,
Marie Draper, Erin Gauger, Tansel (Baran) Yasar,
Zachary Markow, Clarence Chu
2014 - Satcher Hsieh,
Roy Bliley, Marie Draper,
Justin Finkel, Michael Lilien,
Samuel Hull, Pengning Chao,
Christopher Munley
Zachary Markow & Mark Alford
Harison Weisman & Mark Alford
Pengning Chao & Mark Alford
Honor Thesis Recognition
Honors students who completed a thesis.
May 2013 - John Blears, Walter Buhro, Walter Fu,
David Goldfinger, Adam Trebach, Wei Jai Ong, Samuel Witte
May 2014 - Zachary Markow, Harison Weisman
(Electrostatic Levitation Facility continued from 4)
“...the most
intense pulsed
neutron source
on Earth…”
neutron flux available at the SNS allows data to be obtained in much shorter times than possible with
reactor-based neutron sources, enabling the measurements in supercooled liquids to be extended to much
lower temperatures. Hosted by the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Kelton
spent a sabbatical at the SNS from July 2012 through June 2013 as a visiting scientist in the Joint Institute
for Neutron Sciences (JINS). He worked with his research group and with scientists at the SNS to complete
and test his Neutron ElectroStatic Levitation (NESL) facility. In February NESL was successfully tested on
the VULCAN beam-line (figure 1). It is scheduled for a final test on the higher-intensity NOMAD beam-line
in late summer 2014.
Department of Physics Newsletter
Page 20
Richard Bose, Electronic/Computer System
Engineer in the experimental astrophysics
group, received the keys to the City of St.
Louis from Mayor Slay in commemoration of
the circum-Antarctic balloon flight of the TIGER (Trans-Iron Galactic Element Recorder)
cosmic ray experiment (and the visit of a
St. Louis City flag to Antarctica).
At the May 2013 Staff Day Service Award
Scott Handley (Advanced Lab Coordinator)
received a 2013 Outstanding Staff Award in a Ceremony, the following staff members
were honored:
ceremony on August 14, 2013.
Drew Osterhout has
joined the staff as
a Faculty Assistant.
He works on the
introductory physics
labs, as a TA in the
lab and behind the
scenes to make sure
labs go as smoothly as possible. He says that
he is essentially a professional TA!
Rich Schmaeng - 40 years
Sarah Hedley - 15 years
Christine Monteith - 15 years
At the May 2014 Staff Day Service Award
Ceremony, the following staff members
were honored:
Todd Hardt - 30 years
Marty Olevitch - 30 years
Stan Crone - 26 years
Alison Verbeck - 15 years
Debbie Barco - 10 years
Richard Bose presenting Mayor Slay with the
St. Louis flag flown in Antarctica
WUSTL team wins People’s Choice Award at 2014 Rube Goldberg
Harison Wiesman, a senior physics major, competed with a
Washington University in St. Louis team at the 2014 Rube Goldberg Machine Contest. The Green Machine designed by WUSTL
undergraduates won the People’s Choice, second place and Best
Single Step awards. The national competition was held at the
Center of Science and Industry in Columbus, Ohio, in April 2014.
This year’s challenge was to zip a zipper. Each team received
a complimentary kit of three by YKK, the international zipper
WUSTL’s Green Machine featured solar panels, a bike, windmills,
laundry drying on a clothesline, two gardens – one of which
(window-box flowers) won the Best Single Step Award – and lots
of backyard wildlife.
The machines are judged on story telling, complexity (they must
have at least 20 steps), machine flow (can you follow what’s happening), humor, and the use of everyday items for tasks for which
they were not intended.
The Green Machine was designed and built by: (top row, from left) freshman Anish
Kanesa-Thasan, junior Amy Patterson, Grace Kuo, a junior majoring in electrical
engineering, and (bottom row, from left) Harison Wiesman, a senior physics major
and Michelle Heredia, a freshman chemical engineering major. Lydia Zoells (not
pictured), a sophmore majoring in English, could not attend the competition.
Teams lose points if a team member has to intervene to nudge something that is stuck or if a moveable part “leaves the machine.”
You can watch a video of the machine in action at:
Summer 2014
Page 21
James Burgess (1929-2014)
by Michael Friedlander, Professor Emeritus
It is with great
sadness that
we take note
of the passing
of our longtime
colleague, Jim
Burgess (GR 55),
in Bellingham,
WA, on April 7,
2014, after a
short illness.
Noted as an excellent teacher, for several
years Jim was the mainstay of Phys. 217218, the most important courses for attracting
and retaining physics majors. Jim had the
appreciation and respect of the department.
John Clark, Norberg’s successor as chairman,
recalls Jim as “a most admirable colleague,
and we all enjoyed his company.”
As an undergraduate, Mark Conradi had Jim
as his advisor. “I remember going to him many
times to ask about things I did not understand.
He was so patient with me... It did not hurt at
all that Jim was an electron spin resonance
practitioner and I was doing NMR with
Jim was born in Portland, Oregon, May 11,
Norberg. I don’t think he ever booted me out
1929. His college education began in the State and said “later!”
College of Washington where he obtained his
John Fowler (1926-2014)
first degrees, BS in 1949 and MS in 1951.
by Michael Friedlander, Professor Emeritus
His long association with WU started when
with John Layman, University of Maryland
he came here as a graduate student and
received his Ph.D. in 1955. George Pake was
Our friend and
an advisor, and Jim’s dissertation supervisors
were Dick Norberg and Jack Townsend. After former colleague,
graduating, he spent a year as Senior Engineer John Major Fowler,
at Sylvania Electric Products, then a few years passed away in
Silver Spring,
at Stanford. Jim was back at WU in 1962
MD, on April 8,
and remained here until his retirement in
2014. He was
December 2002.
born on February
4, 1926 in
Magnetic resonance research has long
Eufaula, Alabama.
been one of the strong research areas in our
department; Jim’s research used electron spin Coming from a
Quaker family, it
resonance. He worked with Jack Townsend,
Barry Commoner and colleagues in the Center was natural that John and all of his brothers
should attend Earlham College, where he
for the Biology of Natural Systems (in the
obtained his first degree in 1949. He obtained
Department of Botany, before it merged with
his graduate degrees from the University
Zoology to create the current Department
of Oklahoma (M.S., 1950) and from Johns
of Biology). Another collaborator was Sam
Hopkins University (Ph.D., 1954). He came to
Weissman, in the Department of Chemistry.
Washington University as a research associate
Jim was one of those faculty whose
(1954-56), carrying out research at the
unobtrusive presence is felt in many ways.
university’s cyclotron. John was appointed to
He joined with Frank Shull in taking over a
the physics faculty in 1956 and was awarded
number of important tasks from successive
tenure in 1961. He remained here until 1965,
chairmen - arranging the teaching schedule
when his changing interests took him east, to a
after considering the preferences and
series of positions where the central focus was
strengths of individual faculty and selecting
the teaching of physics.
winners of the department’s annual awards.
Before this, however, there came the issue of
The efficient performance of these tasks is
essential, especially in a large department with the testing of nuclear explosives, producing
debris that included the radioactive isotopes
a complex mix of duties and needs.
Sr-90 and I-131. Carried from the Nevada test
site by the prevailing winds and brought down
with rain in regions with many dairy cows,
fallout entered the food chain primarily through
the milk. The concentration of Sr-90 in the St.
Louis milk was among the highest in the U.S.
and attracted widespread concern.
In 1956, John and his Quaker friend Walter
Bauer, of the W.U. Department of Pathology,
began giving lectures aimed at the general
public, describing fallout, radioactivity, halflives, radiation, and what was known (or not
yet reliably known) of the biological effects of
ionizing radiation. They spoke to Rotary Clubs,
to Kiwanis, to PTAs, to church groups, and
(as John described their efforts) ‘to anyone
who would listen.’ In trying to explain complex
technical issues to non-scientists, John
and Walter were showing their concern that
scientists recognize their professional obligation
to reach out beyond academic circles.
Concern about possible health effects of fallout
continued, and in 1958 a group of concerned
scientists formed the Greater St. Louis Citizens’
Committee for Nuclear Information (CNI). John
along with E.U. Condon (chairman of the WU
Department of Physics) and Barry Commoner
(WU Professor of Botany), played a leading
role in the formation of CNI, whose mission
was to draw attention to the possible health
hazards of radioactive fallout.
A major project of CNI was the Baby Tooth
Survey (BTS). CNI’s volunteers collected
baby teeth that were analyzed by scientists in
the Washington University School of Dental
Medicine and showed the steady increase
of Sr-90 in baby teeth. Public concern over
fallout, based largely on efforts of CNI and
similar groups, led to the adoption by the U.S.
of the Limited Test Ban Treaty in 1963.
John was a frequent lecturer on the radiation
hazards of nuclear weapons testing. In
1962, as president of CNI, John testified on
radioactive fallout before the Congressional
Joint Committee on Atomic Energy. He was the
editor of one of the earliest books on fallout:
Fallout: A Study of Superbombs, Strontium 90
and Surviva. (Basic Books, 1960).
(Continued on page 22)
Department of Physics Newsletter
Page 22
(In Memoriam continued from page 21)
While John was
deeply involved in
CNI, he was also
engaged in a major
curriculum change
in our department.
This occurred during
the immediate postSputnik years when
curriculum revision
was attracting federal
funding as well as
considerable interest, and when inexpensive
and better-designed demonstration and lab
apparatus were being made available.
In 1985, he founded the Triangle Coalition for
Science and Technology Education and served
as its Director until 1994. The mission of the
Triangle Coalition for STEM Education has
been ‘to bring together government, business,
and education to enhance our members’
efforts to foster a STEM literate workforce and
citizenry.’ From 1983 until 1993, John was
the Director of the program for Presidential
Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and
Science Teaching. Beginning in 1990, the
Triangle Coalition administrated the Albert
Einstein Distinguished Education Fellowship
Program; STEM teachers could spend a year
in Washington DC, with a Federal agency or
Congressional office.
Jack was born on September 8, 1949 in
Honolulu, Hawaii. He graduated from the
University of Puget Sound in 1971 with a BS
in physics and came to WU for his graduate
studies. Here he worked with Professors
Joseph Klarmann and Martin Israel, and
with fellow graduate student Patrick Love
developing and flying a large-area balloonborne instrument. This experiment was
designed to measure abundances and energy
spectra of cosmic ray nuclei with charges
between 13 and 30, and kinetic energies
above 600 MeV/amu). The instrument, which
flew successfully from Sioux Falls, SD in the
fall of 1975 and again in the spring of 1976,
provided the data for his thesis.
John and Ed Lambe (also in our faculty) were
teaching an introductory course taken by most
engineers and pre-med students. They were
very critical of the available textbooks that
gave little or no attention to modern topics,
such as special relativity or nuclear physics.
They designed a new course (Physics 117
– 118) and produced the first volume of a
new ‘modern’ text-book, which they named
‘The Particle Universe.’ The freshman labs
were overhauled. New lecture-demonstration
hardware was designed and built by John
Brooks, the lecture-demonstrator. Gene
Dorriere was the technician responsible for
all of the electrical demo and lab equipment.
After more than 50 years, many of these are
still in use.
John’s contributions to physics education were
recognized early. In 1969, he was the recipient
of the Millikan Award from the American
Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) which
recognizes those who have made notable
and intellectually creative contributions to the
teaching of physics.
Marty Israel remembers Jack as an excellent
hard-working graduate student, with whom
it was a pleasure to work. As Marty noted,
‘Jack was one of those students from whom
the research advisor learns as much as the
student learns from the advisor.’
All of this was a massive undertaking, but it
set John on his long-term career of curriculum
reform and, more broadly, on the teaching
of physics. To pursue this interest, John left
Washington University in 1965. During 196567, he was the Executive Secretary of the
Commission of College Physics (1965-67).
With strong support from the Commissioners,
John’s quiet leadership exerted a major
influence on the AAPT programs to improving
techniques and materials.
Jack Tueller (GR 79)
by Michael Friedlander, Professor Emeritus
After leaving CCP, John was a Visiting
Professor at the University of Maryland (196774), and then Director of Special Projects and
Publications of the National Science Teachers
Association (1974-1984).
A man of great dignity and with a quiet
demeanor, John would surely have been
pleased to be remembered for not following
the usual straight-line path for physicists
from college to post-doctoral research and
faculty career. His lasting contributions are the
creation of CNI, leading to the Test Ban Treaty
of 1963 and the Triangle Coalition with its
focus on science education.
Jack, a pioneer
in observational
astronomy at
NASA’s Goddard
Space Flight
Center for
over 30 years,
died February
20, 2013 in
Washington, DC,
of pancreatic cancer. He remained active in
his research until his final days.
A NASA Postdoctoral Fellowship brought
Jack to Goddard in 1980. After three years,
he was appointed a civil servant scientist.
At Goddard, he pursued gamma-ray
astronomy and became a world-renowned
experimental astrophysicist. Jack worked on
balloon spectrometers, and was the Principal
Investigator for the Gamma Ray Imaging
Spectrometer (GRIS) in 1993. GRIS was a
highly successful payload with 8 balloon flights
that led to scientific discoveries of gamma-ray
line emission from the supernova remnant
SN 1987A and the distribution of positron
annihilation line emission from the galactic
center region. For these accomplishments, he
shared in the John Lindsay Memorial Award
in 1991. This annual NASA Award goes to the
‘Goddard scientists who exemplify the same
level of scientific distinction as Dr. Lindsay.’
as Jack proposed a new balloon instrument - a
focusing hard X-ray telescope (InFOCUS) - for
high sensitivity observations in the 20 - 80 keV
band. This instrument has flown successfully
three times. At this time, it is being modified
to fly with a polarimeter developed by our
faculty colleague, Henric Krawczynski and
his group at WU. Jack’s telescope with the
(Continued on page 23)
Summer 2014
Page 23
In January, the Department received
a donation of $150, from Colonel Ken
Davey (Retd.) (LA 45) who appears in the
Department’s 1939-40 photo. We do not
usually report on the donations that we
receive, but this one had such an interesting
history that we thought it merited a note.
We called Col. Davey who readily gave his
permission to include this anecdote. The
history of this donation goes back to 1938,
‘when I was an undergraduate student
working for the Physics department. I worked
there three years prior to going to war as a
B-17 bomber pilot.’
‘As laboratory assistant, my job was to
maintain the marble table and to set up
demonstrations. One day I mentioned to Dr.
Hagenow that I needed to take off half a day
so that I could go to the dentist since I was
in great pain. He told me that the University
had a policy offering free dental services
to those who volunteered to be treated by
the Dental School students. (MF: WU had
a School of Dental Medicine until 1991.)
This would also benefit the training of future
dentists and the work would be closely
supervised by instructors.’
‘I arrived promptly at the Dental School
and met my eager apprentice dentist; he
happened to be the football team’s fullback.
He said to me “Ken Davey, you are going to
receive the best treatment you ever had! I am
going to fill your tooth full of gold!” He was
right about the treatment and the gold. The
filling remained intact in my mouth through
the war, subsequent Air Force tours, and
teaching at the University of South Florida,
where I finally retired.’
‘After I had moved to Tampa Bay, the tooth
once so expertly repaired was decayed and
the filling was removed by a local dentist. He
said, ”Ken – keep this big gold nugget. You
might sell it one day.”
‘Many years later, in 2013, while driving
in town, I saw a “We buy Gold” sign, and
subsequently sold the gold filing for $150.
Now you know the rest of the story, and why
this money is yours. It is sent to you with
great appreciation and gratitude for the kind
and outstanding dental work I received.’
Col. Davey will celebrate his 100th birthday
in September 2014.
Physics Department 1939-40 (Davey is in the second row, second from the left)
Bascom Deaver (GR 54), now Professor of
Physics Emeritus & Research Professor at
the University of Virginia, reminisced abut
his time at WU. He graduated from Georgia
Tech in 1952, and was immediately ordered
to active duty as a 2nd Lt. in the Air Force,
(Continued on page 24)
(In Mermoriam continued from page 22)
WU focal plane detector will be flown from
Fort Sumner (NM) this September, and on a
long duration balloon flight from McMurdo,
Antarctica, in 2017.
For most of the past decade he chaired the
Balloon Working Group, which was established for the purpose of providing user input
into management of balloon flight operations.
Jack’s work on this project leaves a vibrant
legacy, with several high-altitude balloon
flights envisioned for the next decade.
Tueller was a highly active researcher with a
strong drive for perfection. His flight success
record for GRIS and InFOCUS is one of the
best in the business. He was generous with
his time and helped many colleagues with
their research. Jack was an ebullient and
Since 1998, Jack has been Project Scientist
for the NASA Scientific Balloon program,
working with the NASA Program Scientist.
happy person who was the life of whatever
activity in which he was involved. He will be
greatly missed by his colleagues and friends.
(Obituary adapted from the In Memoriam
notice composed by Jack’s NASA colleagues:
Neil Gehrels, Scott Barthelmy (GR 85 ), Vernon Jones and Henric Krawczynski.
Our thanks to them for permission to use this
material including photo by Scott Barthelmy.)
Department of Physics Newsletter
Page 24
(Alumni News continued from page 23)
admitted to the Civilian Institutions Division
(CID) Air Force Program and assigned to
Washington University to earn a Masters
Degree in Physics.
‘Prior to learning that I would be ordered to
active duty, I had already been accepted into
the Ph. D. program at Washington U. with
a nice fellowship. When I found out about
being ordered to active duty, I immediately
applied to the CID program, and upon
acceptance, I contacted C. Sharp Cook in the
Physics Department saying I would be going
wherever the Air Force sent me.
‘I had a wonderful experience there.
Compton was still Chancellor, George Pake
was chairman of the Physics Department,
C. Sharp Cook was my Masters project
advisor (although he left for California
before I graduated, and Alec Pond became
my advisor), and I had great courses from
A.L. Hughes, Pake, Nehari in the Math
Department, and my favorite teacher of all
time, Henry Primakoff.
‘I did take and pass the Ph. D. qualifying
exam in the hope of returning to WU. In
January 1954 we moved to Albuquerque for
my assignment to Kirtland Air Force Base.’
After serving in the Air Force (1954 – 57),
Bascom resumed his studies and completed
his Ph.D. at Stanford. Apart from holding
a Sloan Fellowship at M.I.T. (1966-68),
Bascom was at the University of Virginia until
he retired.
We noted an interesting article by Byron
Roe (LA 54) in the APS News of January
2014. In this essay, We Need Undirected
Research, Byron argues very cogently that
basic, ‘undirected’ research was essential to
progress in science, for this research often
led to major applications that had not been
foreseen. (see
Byron writes that he is still active in his
research, and is ‘currently working on an
experiment at Fermilab looking for low-mass
dark matter particles and working on an article
pointing out a problem with the way particle
physicists do chi-square fitting in the presence
of backgrounds.’ Byron obtained his Ph.D.
from Cornell in 1959, and has been at the
University of Michigan for many years. He is
now an Emeritus Professor, but still active.
David Keys (EN 73, GR 84) has told us that
he has retired after an active 39 years in
medical physics. He was board certified in
Therapeutic Radiological Physics and also in
Diagnostic Radiological Physics.
David established one of the earliest groups
to provide physics services in diagnostic
radiology, nuclear medicine, radiation
therapy, and radiation safety. His primary
interest has been radiation oncology physics,
and he was the first to establish Intensity
Modulated Radiation Therapy in a nonuniversity setting in the St Louis area.
In addition to his clinical work, he was
able to bring five software products to the
commercial market to aid the practice
of medical physics. In recognition of his
work, David was named a fellow by the
American College of Radiology, the American
Association of Physicists in Medicine, and
the American College of Medical Physics.
David was proud to tell us that he also
‘managed to coach over 800 games for his
children in various sports.’
Our congratulations go to Gabe Spalding
(LA 83) as the recipient of the Jonathan
F. Reichert and Barbara Wolff-Reichert
Award from the American Physical Society.
The award citation reads: “For introducing
contemporary concepts and significant
enhancement to “beyond first-year” physics
laboratory courses, and for playing a key
role in organizing the nation-wide Advanced
Laboratory Physics Association and being its
first president.”
After receiving his
A.B. in Physics and
Mathematics, Gabe
was a graduate
student at Harvard
University where he
received his PhD
in 1990. Gabe is
Jonathan Reichert,
now a Professor of
Barbara Wolff-Reichert
Physics at Illinois
and Gabe Spalding
Wesleyan University
in Bloomington,
Illinois where he has maintained his research
interest in optical trapping and optical
micromanipulation, and has also been
a leading player in the efforts to improve
undergraduate labs.
This has been an exceptionally good year
for Gabe. AAPT has awarded him the
association’s Homer L. Dodge Citation for
Distinguished Service to AAPT, in recognition
of his exceptional contributions to the
association. In addition, Gabe has been
selected a Fellow of AAPT, a Fellow of SPIE,
and a Fellow of APS. And, most recently,
he has been appointed the inaugural Ames
Professor of Physics.
Beyond these honors, Gabe has been Chair
of the AAPT Committee on Laboratories
and Founding President of ALPhA, the
“Advanced Laboratory Physics Association,”
which serves as a focus group for instructors
interested in lab instruction beyond the first
year of university (see
Undergraduate labs have been at the center
of much of Gabe’s energies. He has coled two national conferences on laboratory
instruction beyond the first year of university
and, with ALPhA, established an ongoing
series of focused training opportunities for
lab instructors that offer training on a wide
array of contemporary instructional advanced
labs. At Illinois Wesleyan, this involvement
has enabled rapid curriculum changes. In his
research activity, Gabe is a frequent visitor
(Continued on page 25)
Summer 2014
Page 25
(Alumni News continued from page 24)
at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland
in the Optical Trapping Group where he
collaborates with Kishan Dholakia, Professor
of Physics.
Older alums will recognize the name Jonathan
Reichert (GR 62) in the report of Gabe’s
award. Jonathan is also one of our alumni
and was featured in the cover story of our
Newsletter in Fall 2011. In brief, Jonathan
was a member of the faculty of the State
University of New York in Buffalo until 1998
when he retired in order to concentrate his
energies on a company that he had founded,
Teachspin Inc., designed ‘to build rugged,
reliable hands-on laboratory apparatus for
advanced experimental physics instruction.’
In 2007, the Advanced Laboratory Physics
Association (ALPhA) was started – and Gabe
has been a major player in ALPhA’s activities.
In an email, Jonathan notes that ‘We have
gotten to know Gabe very well since he is a
major part of the effort to get ALPhA off the
ground. It was a great thrill for Barbara and
me to present him with the award.’
An interesting email from Martin Poitzsch
(LA 83) has brought us up-to-date from
2004, when we last coveed his career in our
columns. We always like to know that our
alumni ‘always read the excellent WU Physics
Newsletter with great interest.’ Martin tells
us that ‘I have been very actively involved in
communicating to – and recruiting – young
physics grads into industrial and applied (nonacademic) careers.’
From 2004 to 2013, Martin directed
the Sensor Physics Department in
Schlumberger’s corporate research center
in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The focus
of their research has been on evaluating
reservoir rocks and fluids and enhancing
the productivity of reservoirs, as well as
facilitating various well construction and
intervention operations. Main areas of
investigation included low-energy nuclear
physics (neutrons and gammas), gravity,
NMR, acoustics, analytical chemistry and
spectroscopy of reservoir fluids, and microdevices for rheological and spectroscopic
measurements. Non-research activities
include university relations, corporate
recruiting, and Early Phase M & A
surveillance and investments in start-ups.
In September 2013, Martin moved to the
Production side (and back to Houston),
coordinating the introduction of new
physical sensors in permanently-installed
“Intelligent Well Completions” to enable the
fully-instrumented, zone-by-zone-controlled
complex segmented oil wells of the future
and thereby extend reservoir recovery
factors as well as the lifetime and safety of
infrastructure. He is currently involved with
the largest such project in the world, being
installed in southeastern Saudi Arabia.
Since 2009, Martin has also been involved
with the APS (serving on the Forum on
Industrial & Applied Physics executive
committee) and more recently, as his
Company’s delegate to the Corporate
Associates Advisory Committee to the AIP.
In these roles, he has helped to organize
numerous conference sessions on “industrial
physics” in the past few APS March
Meetings and also AVS and AGU meetings.
At the moment, he is working on his third
Industrial Physics Forum for an international
conference, to be held in Sao Paulo, Brazil,
in late September 2014. This conference
is being organized jointly by AIP and ICTP
Brazil, the Americas branch of ICTP Trieste.
We had an email from Marc Caffee (GR
86) who tells us that he is still the director
of the PRIME Lab (Purdue Rare Isotope
Measurement Laboratory) dedicated as a
research and service facility for accelerator
mass spectrometry and enjoying extended
NSF support.
PRIME Lab is a dedicated research
and service facility for accelerator mass
spectrometry (AMS). ‘At Purdue we have
constructed a major national AMS facility
centered on the Physics Department’s
tandem electrostatic accelerator. We are
using the accelerator to measure both
man-made and cosmic-ray-produced
radionuclides such as 10Be, 14C, and
36Cl in natural samples having isotopic
abundances down to one part in 1x1015.’
Last year Marc was inducted as a Fellow
into the Geological Society of America. In
addition, he is the Associate Department
Head in Physics at Purdue University.
His field work has mostly focused on
reconstructing glacial sequences in the
Himalayas, Tibet, and Western China.
On a personnel note, Marc tells us that his
children are following scientific paths. The
oldest is at the University at Buffalo where he
is majoring in geology, and the youngest, still
in high school, is spending much of his time
in his honors physics class.
Rob Phillips (GR 89) tells us that he is still
enjoying being at Caltech. He has been
there for fourteen years and is the Fred
and Nancy Morris Professor of Biophysics
and Biology. Indeed, as a member of both
the departments of Applied Physics and
Biology and Biological Engineering, he is
working at the interface between physics
and biology, trying to use the tools of physics
to understand in a quantitative fashion how
cells work.
Over recent years, he has been hard at work
on several books including “Physical Biology
of the Cell” which last year won the Society
of Biology award as best book of the year.
‘Probably the recent highlight of my time at
Caltech has been leading students on field
trips to experience biology (and geology) first
hand. Several weeks ago I took 14 students
(Continued on page 26)
Department of Physics Newsletter
Page 26
(Alumni News continued from page 25)
to the Galapagos Islands for an evolution
adventure.’ (For the transcript of an interesting
interview, see
When we last had news of Michael Meyer
(LA 89 ), he was about to move to the ETH
Institute for Astronomy in Zurich. He has now
been there for five years and is Chair of the
Star and Planet Formation Group. Michael
obtained his Ph.D. from the University of
Massachusetts in 1996. During 1997-2009,
he was at the Steward Observatory and
on the faculty of the University of Arizona.
During 1996-97, Michael was a member of
the Scientific Staff of the Max-Planck-Institut
für Astronomie in Heidelberg. Among his
professional activities in the International
Astronomical Union (IAU), Michael is a
member of the Steering Committee of Division
H – Interstellar Matter and Local Universe.
Paging through Science, we came across a
paper reporting observations of the galaxy
M83, one of our nearest galaxies. The lead
author was Chris Stockdale (EN 92), now an
associate professor at Marquette University
in Milwaukee. Chris received his Ph.D. from
the University of Oklahoma in 2001. During
2001-2003, Chris was an NRC Postdoctoral
Fellow at the Naval Research Laboratory in
Washington DC, studying the radio emission
from supernovae and exploring their
relationship with their host galaxies. Since
2003, he has been a member of the faculty
of Marquette University. Chris has continued
his research with radio observations and with
several collaborators at other universities. Chris
was awarded tenure in 2010 and is currently
an associate professor and also serving a term
as the assistant department chair.
We had noted that WU has several
connections with Marquette University, as was
confirmed by Melissa Vigil (LA 89) who had
graduated with a double major, in physics and
English literature. (Editorial note: many of our
physics majors have had double majors.)
As an undergraduate, Melissa worked with
Mark Conradi to study solid hydrogendeuteride using NMR techniques. As a
graduate student at DePaul University,
Melissa studied both physics and science
education. After graduating with her MS in
1991, she taught at Lincoln Land Community
College and Elmhurst College, before joining
the Marquette University physics faculty in
1992. She is now the Laboratory Supervisor.
Her responsibilities are wide-ranging. She
has worked to update both the equipment
and the pedagogy of the introductory physics
laboratories – ‘a never-ending process!’ as
she notes. In addition to her 2/2 teaching
load, she manages the labs for 5 courses
with 41 undergraduate TAs. Melissa has
worked with pre-service and in-service
teachers, and with junior high and high
school students through the Upward Bound
program. That is not all – as she tells us ‘in
the summers, I am actively involved with the
Educational Opportunity Program.’ And the
WU presence extends beyond Melissa and
Chris. Patrick Johnston (GR 85) is one of their
visiting professors. Randy Wolfmeyer (GR 13)
was there before Patrick and is now one of
Melissa’s collaborators on several projects.
Still more: Don Matthys (GR 75) is Professor
Emeritus, after teaching at Marquette for
almost 40 years. His research has been on
optical methods of full field measurement,
to measure material properties of stress
and strain in structural elements. He has
also worked on panoramic lensing systems
to specify the three dimension coordinates
of objects in space, and to study the
deformation of the inner surfaces of pipes
and cylinders.
After Jia Lu (LA 92) was awarded her Ph.D.
at Harvard in 1997, she held a post-doc
position at the University of California Berkeley. She returned to WU when a
position opened in the EE department. Jia
worked on ferromagnetic single electron
Jia Lu and Richard Norberg , 1996
transistors. She also studied the electrical
property of boron nanowires in collaboration
with Bill Buhro at the WU Chemistry
Department. While here, Jia received an NSF
career award but moved to UC Irvine in 2002
because of the lack of nanofabrication facilities.
Jia’s group began to synthesize
semiconductor nanowires (mainly wide
band gap, such as ZnO), and measured the
electrical transport and chemical sensing
properties as they are configured into fieldeffect transistors. In 2004, Jia received a
very prestigious award: the Presidential Early
Career Award for Scientists and Engineers
(PECASE), conferred annually by the White
House, following recommendations from
participating agencies.
Two years later, she moved to USC. The
group’s research broadened to other
semiconducting materials (e.g. In based
and Cd based), as well as magnetic
nanostructures. Strong collaborations have
been formed with the Juelich Institute and
Jena University in Germany, to expand
studies to low temperature electrical and
optical properties.
Jia is especially pleased to note that she
has ‘also recruited undergraduate students
to participate in our research activities,
since I personally benefited when I was an
undergraduate student working in Prof.
Norberg’s group.’
(Continued on page 27)
Summer 2014
Page 27
(Alumni News continued from page 26)
Bob Brazzle (GR 97) is now completing his
first year in a tenure-track faculty position at
Jefferson College (located about 30 miles SW
of St. Louis). He is teaching Physical Science
as well as all the physics and engineering
courses (Statics, Dynamics and Circuit
Analysis), and will begin teaching the College’s
Introduction to Engineering Design course this
coming fall. Next school year, he will begin
serving on the curriculum committee.
Before Jefferson, Bob’s career has been
in high school science education. He has
taught high school science and math, and
has been a curriculum and professional
development project specialist for the North
Central Regional Education Laboratory. He
has also worked on developing integrated
math and science curriculum for a middle
school enrichment program.
We met Bob in Crow Hall, where he was
attending a meeting of the St. Louis chapter
of SLAPT (St. Louis Area Physics Teachers)
which is affiliated with the American
Association of Physics Teachers. SLAPT is
very active, thanks to the energies of Bob
and other members. This year, Bob has been
serving as president of SLAPT. For over 25
years, Pat Gibbons has served as a link to
our department; recently, Kasey Wagoner has
also worked with these enthusiastic teachers.
expected to write answers to some questions.
They also ran a physics contest for highschool students here on campus on a recent
Saturday, with tests, scoring, ranking, and
prizes for the winners.
Almost all SLAPT members are highschool physics teachers. They meet
monthly on Saturday mornings to share
teaching practices, lab experiments, and
demonstrations. They staffed a Physics Day
at Six Flags on a Friday, putting vests carrying
recording accelerometers on students as
they boarded Mr. Freeze, one of the roller
coasters. After the ride the data were printed
for each student and the students were
Last fall, Aaron Mertz (LA 06) graduated from
Yale, and moved to Rockefeller University in
New York, to a post-doctoral associateship
in the Laboratory of Mammalian Cell Biology
and Development. Aaron tells us that ‘my
new lab is very stimulating but a challenging
environment in which I know I will learn a
lot. Rockefeller is an amazing place for lifesciences research.’
And finally, Bob was justifiably proud of his
recent paper, A Random Walk to Stochastic
Diffusion through Spreadsheet Analysis,
published in the American Journal of Physics
in the November 2013 issue.
(SIMS Laboratory Dedicated continued from page 7)
Two of the planned instruments, a 3-D atom probe and an aberration-corrected transmission electron microscope, will allow users to
explore and image materials at the level of individual atoms.
The ability to see how materials are put together at many different
scales – down to the atoms – will allow scientists to control their
properties at the human scale, giving them the toughness, stickiness
or other properties needed for demanding applications.
New materials will be crucial to medicine, from biocompatible
materials for prostheses or artificial organs to materials for protective
gear that can prevent traumatic brain injury. Materials also will be
key to developing sources of clean energy, from better catalysts for
the production of biofuels to novel high-efficiency solar photovoltaics
and portable energy storage devices.
The weekly Friday barbecue held by the Physics grad students
It’s not difficult to think of important problems whose solution will
turn on the development of new materials; the difficulty is rather
thinking of ones that will not.
Department of Physics
Campus Box 1105
One Brookings Drive
St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
Newsletter Editors
Jonathan Katz
Alison Verbeck
During the year, refer to our
website (
for up-to-date news.
Members of the Department, Spring 2014