Duke PHYSICS · PDF fileMany students received fellowships and awards this year. Graduate...

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  • Duke PHYSICSWHATS INSIDEDepartment Happenings ........ 1Graduate News ...................... 2Graduate Student Organization News ................. 5Undergraduate News ............. 6New Faculty Profile ................ 8Faculty Awards ...................... 9Outreach ............................. 10

    Alumni Profiles:John Koskinen ..................... 11Nathan Kundtz ..................... 12 Chip Watson ........................ 13Erif Yff................................. 14

    Faculty Research:Curtarolos Group Won MURI Competition ......... 15

    Gao and Collaborators Received an NSF MRI Award ...15

    Gauthier and Kim Won MURI Competition ......... 15

    KamLAND-Zen Reports Neutrino Mass Limit ............. 15

    Smiths Research Highlighted in New York Times ............... 16

    Visualizing Meteoric Impact .................. 16

    Does a Dissipative Environment Always Destroy Quantum Tunneling? ........................... 16

    Life and Death of Stars ........ 18

    News .................................. 19

    Editors: Haiyan Gao, Cristin Paul, Mary-Russell Roberson and Christopher Walter

    http://www.phy.duke.edu Annual Newsletter 2013

    by Haiyan Gao

    This has been another hectic, exciting and productive year.

    There will be an important upcoming change in the departmental leadership. Prof. Henry Greenside will step down on January 1, 2014 as the Director for Undergraduate Studies (DUS) in Physics and Biophysics and Prof. Kate Scholberg will take over this important leadership role. Prof. Greenside has been working tirelessly as DUS and has been extremely effective in his interactions with majors and potential majors. Id like to thank Prof. Greenside for his willingness to stay on as DUS in the fall 2013 semester in order to have a smooth transition. We thank Prof. Greenside for his service to the department and look forward to working with Prof. Scholberg in her new role. I am also happy to share the good news that Prof. John Mercer from Biology has agreed to be the inaugural Associate DUS in our department and he will work closely with Prof. Scholberg, particularly in the area of biophysics major.

    The commencement weekend has always been the happiest time for the university. We graduated nineteen physics and biophysics majors, seven Ph.D. and two Masters students this May, and we were thrilled. Everyone had a great time at the commencement and the graduation ceremony - Even the weather cooperated! You will read more in the section on undergraduate studies in this newsletter, contributed by Prof. Henry Greenside, and graduate studies by Prof. Shailesh Chandrasekharan, Director of Graduate Studies.

    We had the first group of visiting students from Taishan College of Shandong University this past academic year and you can read about their experience also in this newsletter. With the support of Arts and Sciences and the university, our department signed another agreement on student exchange from Wuhan University. In the fall of 2013, we will have students from Shandong and Wuhan. We also signed an agreement with Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) and a student from SJTU will join us this fall as a transfer student.

    We are very happy that Dr. Phil Barbeau from Stanford University will join us this August as a tenure-track Assistant Professor in Experimental Nuclear Physics. You will meet and learn about Dr. Barbeau and his research in the new faculty profile section. Prof. Jianfeng Lu, an Assistant Professor in Mathematics will join us as a secondary faculty member in our department on July 1, 2013. Profs. Gleb Finkelstein and Ying Wu have been promoted to the rank of Full Professors, and Prof. Ayana Arce has been reappointed as a tenure-track Assistant Professor. Congratulations to them all for these important milestones. Prof. Berndt Muller became the Associate Lab Director for Nuclear and Particle Physics at the Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL). During the period of January 2013 to December 2015, Prof. Mueller holds a joint appointment between Duke and BNL. We were sorry to see Prof. Matt

    Hastings departure from our department and we wish him all the best in his future endeavors. We were saddened by the passing of Edward Bilpuch, Henry Newson Professor Emeritus, on September 15, 2012. You can read the obituary in this newsletter. We were also very sad to lose one of our most distinguished and accomplished alumni, Robert C Richardson, a Nobel Laureate, who passed away on February 19, 2013. You can read the obituary written by Prof. Horst Meyer, Fritz London Professor Emeritus, who was Bob Richardsons Ph.D. thesis advisor.

    On the staff side, Donna Ruger, Staff Assistant to DGS retired at the end of May after more than twenty years service and dedication to the department and all the graduate students she helped throughout the years. We wish Donna a very happy retirement and we hope she will enjoy all the time she will be able to spend with all her wonderful grandchildren. After many years of great service in the machine shop, Bill Peterson left our department on April 19 to take a medical disability leave initially, which will transition into retirement. We wish Bill and his family all the best. We were very happy to welcome Dr. Yuriy Bomze on board as a Lab Administrator in the fall of 2012. We also welcome Nancy Morgans to join our staff as the new Assistant to DGS.

    In the last year faculty and students have published many exciting research results and you can sample some of them in this newsletter. We are very proud that several of our students and faculty have received awards, which are also listed in this newsletter. Members in our department have also been very active in outreach activities, and you can read some of them in this newsletter. Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, the London Postdoctoral Fellowship was created in 2012 to support an outstanding scientist in experimental condensed matter physics, broadly defined, and to honor the lifetime achievements of Professor Fritz London, who was active at Duke University between 1939 and 1954.

    In closing, I would like to thank you for your support of our news program by contributing your stories and sharing with us the joy of your achievements. Our students are particularly interested in the stories of our alumni. Please continue to share and contribute to the departmental news program. In last years newsletter, I talked about the crucial need for a new Physics Building and the urgency and importance for raising funds. While many people have been working very hard on this in the last year, I regret to report no major breakthrough yet with the funding situation. If you have great ideas about how to make this happen, we will be extremely happy to hear from you. We look forward to the 2013-2014 academic year and hope it will bring new hope for a new physics building.

    Department Happenings

  • 2 S i g n u p f o r o u r e - n e w s l e t t e r a t h t t p : // n e w s . p h y . d u k e . e d u !

    Graduate News

    Graduate News- by Director of Graduate Studies, Shailesh Chandrasekharan

    Last year was another exciting year for me as the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) with many new graduate accomplishments to report. Here I will focus on the period from July 01, 2012 May 31, 2013.

    Degrees Awarded Nine students passed their PhD examinations. Seven of them received their degrees in May while two will receive degrees in September. Two students graduated with a terminal Masters degree. The table below lists the names of all degree recipients along with the names of their advisors. After their education at Duke, these students are taking up positions in academia or industry. I congratulate all of them on their accomplishments and wish them success in their future endeavors.

    Graduation Photograph (left to right): Harold Baranger, Shailesh Chandrasekharan (DGS), John Thomas, Yingyi Zhang, Baolei Li, Jie Ren, Abhijit Mehta, Haiyan Gao (Chair).

    Student Advisor Student Advisor

    Seth Cohen* Prof. Gauthier Jie Ren Prof. Behringer

    Somayeh Farhadi Prof. Behringer Junyao Tang Prof. Behringer

    Xinwei Gong Prof. Socolar Yingyi Zhang Prof. Thomas

    Kyle Kalutkiewicz (M.S.) Prof. Mehen Yujing Zhang (M.S.) Prof. Kruse

    Baolei Li Prof. Warren Huaixiu Zheng* Prof. Baranger

    Abhijit Mehta Prof. Baranger

    * September Degrees

    Photo by Robert Palmer

  • S i g n u p f o r o u r e - n e w s l e t t e r a t h t t p : // n e w s . p h y . d u k e . e d u ! 3

    Duke PHYSICSPreliminary ExamsThis year thirteen third year students took the preliminary exam and I am glad to report that all passed. Their names along with their advisors are listed in the table below. I extend my very best wishes to these students and look forward to an exciting PhD thesis from each of them in the next few years.

    Fellowships, Awards and AccomplishmentsMany students received fellowships and awards this year. Graduate student Kristine Callan received the 2013 Deans Award for Excellence in

    Teaching. Kristine completed her PhD this summer under the guidance of Prof. Dan Gauthier. Kristine has accepted a position as a Teaching Associate Professor of Physics at the Colorado School of Mines (CSM), which was recently selected as one of four 2013 recipients of the Improving Undergraduate Physics Education Award. Kristine is looking forward to starting her new position this August.

    Taritree Wongjirad, a fifth year student working with Professor Kate Scholberg, won the Block Award as a promising young physicist, based on his poster contribution at the Aspen Winter Conference titled New Directions in Neutrino Physics. First year student, Anne Watson, received the GPNANO fellowship for Spring 2013. This fellowship is awarded to outstanding student