Wednesday, June 08, 2016

A New Chapter Begins

At the end of June 2016, I retire after 15 years as the Head of Physics and Astronomy. I hand the reins of the physics department over to Chris Hughes and Ioana Niculescu, who have agreed to take them, at least for little while. I've had my turn and I have had lots of fun doing it.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

2016 Commencement


Russell Beirne Blair, Daniel Hayes Breysse, Michael Talley Brooks, Devin Eve Buennemeyer, Meagan Alexis Cronin, Zachary Mitchell DeHart, Emily Elizabeth Dick, Jacob David Green, Griffin Quinn Hundley, Josiah K. Lapolla, Justin Huy Le, Evan George Meekins, Erin Delaney O'Brien, David Hans Olson, Jacob Landes Sheets, Jeffrey Lee Small, Thomas Chase St. John, Shawn Dimitri Thomas, Alexander Carl Winkley

Mr. Alger, the president of JMU, and Prof. Hughes carrying the university ceremonial mace

The 2016 Commencement Address to the College of Science and Mathematics by Prof. Scott Paulson 

Way to go Class of 2016! SO PROUD OF YOU ALL!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

JMU at NCUR 2016

On April 6th, JMU sent some our its students down to UNC Asheville to present at the 30th annual National Conference for Undergraduate Research (NCUR).

Among the twelve students sent were four physics majors, listed below with their topic of research.

Catherine Witherspoon ('17) presented her astronomy research with Dr. Anca Constantin via a poster: A Wise Test of Links Between Megamaser Activity and Nuclear Observation.

Hans Olson ('16) presented his materials science research with Dr. Costel Constantin via a poster: Structural and Electrical Characterization of Manganese Oxide Films Deposited by Dc Magnetron Sputtering on Silicon and Sapphire Substrates.

Devin Buennemeyer ('16) presented her material science research with Dr. Christopher Hughes with a presentation: The Design and Fabrication of Microfluidic Devices for Neutron Analysis.

Evan Meekins ('16) presented his medical physics research with Dr. Derek Dolney (University of Pennsylvania Hosptital) with a presentation: Fitting the Bragg Curve: Increasing the Accuracy of Proton Therapy with On-site Data Analysis.

Congratulations to everyone who presented!

2016 Honors Recipients

Many thanks to everyone who was involved in this year's honor banquet and helped honor our amazing students!

Congratulations to the following scholarship recipients:

Premal Patel for receiving the Don E. Chadrow, Physics Alumni, and Henry W. Leap scholarships

Kenneth Gordon for receiving the Raymond A. Serway scholarship

Congratulations to Olivia Cypull, Justin Leas, and Evan Meekins for their performance at the JMU Undergraduate Physics Symposium

Congratulations to the following Physics Awards recipients:

Josiah Lapolla for receiving the JMU Physics Service award

Tyler Stephens for receiving the JMU Physics Teaching award

Daniel Stein for receiving the JMU Planetarium Service award

Evan Meekins for receiving the JMU Physics Research award

Congratulations to Catherine Witherspoon for being honored as the Outstanding JMU Physics Junior

Congratulations to Evan Meekins for being honored as the Outstanding JMU Physics Senior

And congratulations to all of the students who were inducted into Sigma Pi Sigma.  It is an honor to share in the same academic fraternity as you all (listed below)!

Russel Blair
Dan Breyesse
Meagan Cronin
Emily Dick
Kenneth Gordon
Josiah Lapolla
Erin O'Brien
Premal Patel
Jeffrey Small
Catherine Witherspoon

Monday, April 11, 2016

Honors Banquet 2016

Dr. Ioana Niculescu presenting the Outstanding Senior award to Evan Meekins.

On the evening of April 6, 2016, we celebrated the achievements of our outstanding students again this year.  You can see photos the attendees and all the recipients at this link.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

2016 Physics Undergraduate Symposium

On Saturday, March 26th, the undergraduates of JMU Physics presented their research in front of their professors and colleagues.  Listed are those who presented, their research professor, and what topic they presented on.

Angelica Watson
Dr. Adriana Banu
Studying the (α,p)-process in X-ray bursts using rare isotope beams

Evan Meekins
Dr. Derek Dolney & Dr. Adriana Banu
Fitting the Bragg Curve: Increasing the Accuracy of Proton Therapy with On-Site Data Analysis

Brian Seymour
Dr. Klebert Feitosa
Interfacial Bubble Deformations

Jason Ferguson
Dr. Anca Constantin
Searching for Accreting Supermassive Black Holes in Bulgeless Galaxies

Jacob Green
Dr. Anca Constantin
Exploring Long-Term Variability in Active Galactic Nuclei Via Monte Carlo Simulations of Optical Spectra

David H. Olson
Dr. Costel Constantin
Structural and Electrical Characterization of Amorphous and Crystalline Manganese Oxide Thin Films Deposited by DC Magnetron Sputtering

Justin M. Kaczar
Dr. Giovanna Scarel & Dr. Brian Utter
Effect of Angle Dependence on the Electric and Entropic Contributions of Infrared Power Generation

Thomas St. John
Dr. Giovanna Scarel
The effects of infrared radiation power variation on infrared power generation

Griffin Hundley
Dr. Sean Scully
Searching for Traces of Planck-Scale Physics with High Energy Gamma Rays

Justin Leas
Dr. Keigo Fukumura
X-ray Photoionization of Magnetically-Driven Accretion-Disk Winds

Olivia Cypull
Dr. Klebert Feitosa
Droplet Dynamics of a Flowing Emulsion System

Ian Davenport
Dr. Ilarion Melnikov
Classification of Landau-Ginzburg Theories

Josiah Lapolla
Dr. Dana Longcope & Dr. John Unverferth
Modeling the Effects of Magnetic Field Variation on Solar Flares

Sean Scro
Dr. Keigo Fukumura
Spectroscopic Modeling of X-ray Absorbers in the Transient Black Hole Binary GRO J1655-40

Aidan Gordon
Dr. Giovanna Scarel & Dr. Brian Utter
Modeling Chaotic Phenomena

Many thanks to everyone who presented!

Gliding Through the Last Demystifying the Expert

Last Thursday (March 24th), Dr. Anca Constantin and Dr. Klebert Feitosa hosted New & Improv'd and Dr. Roshna Wunderlich for the last "Demystifying the Expert" of the 2015-2016 school-year.

The evening started off well with a 20 questions-esque game where the improv team had to guess Dr. Wunderlich's professional title and research topic.  Several guesses included, but were not limited to, "Can it be found in Disney World?  In the hearts and minds of children?", "Is it us?  A young body like mine?  Inside us?!", and "Is it that thing Dr. Frankenstein used to bring his monster back to life?" 

After a series of laughs, the audience learned that Dr. Wunderlich is a professor in Biology and head of the JMU Women's Rugby Team.  She also researches the behavioral patterns of societal interactions of lemurs.  She does so in the prospect of learning the secrets of their longevity, and perhaps apply that knowledge to expanding the human lifespan.  Many think that their heightened lifespan has to do with the fact that they hibernate for seven months, which could also help humans in the field of space travel in regards to cryostasis.

When asked how they endure this, Dr. Wunderlich explained that they store the food as fat in their tail, which warranted a "junk in the trunk" reference and possible qualifications for future astronaut candidates.  Dr. Wunderlich then talked about how her team tracks the lemurs with fitbits and magnetic field positioning techniques, as well as their interactions with their children.  She also described the lemur mating season as "like Spring Break in Tampa," with the improv group adding, "That must be the craziest three days ever!"

Further discussing lemurs, the improv teamed asked how they lemurs respond when Dr. Wunderlich's team interacts with them.  She answered, "We just blowdarted them out of a tree, how do you think they feel?"  When asked if she hunted them, Dr. Wunderlich responded, "No we have a guy who's really good with a blow dart.  We just catch them when they fall."

The event concluded with the improv group guessing several biological acronyms/terms, as well as the 2-truths & 1-dare game.  This led to great discussions about how mother lemurs jump from tree to tree with their babies attached to them, healthcare costs for the average lemur, and the differences between Rugby and common terminologies.

Thank you to everyone involved in the last Demystifying the Expert of the year!