Sky-high ambitions propel a department on the rise:
Practical research and studies with long-term scientific potential
With recent infusions of fresh talent, the Department of Physics and Astronomy is enjoying what interim Chairman Robert Stencel calls “a nice bounce.”
The department has hired many new faculty members with diverse areas of interest. What’s more, three of the department’s 10 faculty members are women, higher than the national average.
Faculty members are engaged in practical research and studies with long-term scientific potential.
For example, Research Professor Robert Amme is studying ways to shred old tires and convert them into walkways and pavement. Other faculty members conduct research on carbon nanotubes, ultrafast lasers, fluorescent tagging of motile cellular materials, protein folding, supernova explosions and organic photovoltaics.
Their work is getting notice. Associate Professor Maria Calbi and Assistant Professor Barry Zink, to name just two rising stars, received prestigious CAREER awards from the National Science Foundation, the former for work on kinetics of adsorption in nanoporous structures and the latter for work regarding thermal energy transport.
Looking ahead, Stencel expects the department to reach outside its confines for new opportunities. “Interdisciplinary boundaries keep getting pushed around. We need to encourage and optimize the research activity done individually and in groups that might involve people outside the department and outside the University.”