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Division of Natural Sciences & MathematicsDepartment of Physics & Astronomy

Physics & Astronomy

News & Highlights

    • Lincoln Schafer and Irene Schimmel received ACE Grand Challenges research grant
      University of Denver Physics and Astronomy undergraduates Lincoln Schafer and Irene Schimmel are recipients of inter-term funding in this year's ACE Grand Challenges research grant funding. The faculty advisor for this project is Dr. Robert Stencel, who is a member of the International Dark Sky Association. The project focuses on studying DU's impact on the global issue of light pollution during the winter interterm quarter.
      Using the findings of an all campus uplight survey, the team will try to replace the most harmful light sources with more environmentally friendly options. Specifically, the team is targeting high energy LED's, flag-pole up-lights and poorly aimed lights that contribute most to uplight and glare.
      space station image of metro Denver showing the extent of night lights
    • Prof. Iona Received the 2019 Excellence in Physics Education Award
      Prof. Steven Iona is one of the recipients of the 2019 Excellence in Physics Education Award by the American Physics Society, to recognize his excellent work in "the development of the Learning Assistant (LA) model and the associated LA Alliance, which has enhanced physics teacher education and recruitment, supported undergraduate course transformation, and physics instructor professional development"

    • Prof. Hoffman received NSF grant to work on Wolf-Rayet Binary Systems
      Prof. Hoffman received a 3-year NSF grant to study the structure and fate of Wolf-Rayet binary systems

    • Prof. Calbi received NSF grant to study adsorption equilibration of binary mixtures on planar and porous sorbents
      Prof. Maria Calbi received a 3-year NSF grant to study the absorbing kinetics of a mixture of two different gases

    • Prof. Ghosh was awarded a NIH grant to investigate fluctuations in gene network modeling
      Prof. Kingshuk Ghosh was granted a 3-year NIH grant to develop a novel computational framework describing single cell gene expression to aid model building and design for synthetic biology applications.

    • Prof. Iona Promoted to Full Teaching Professor
      Prof. Steven Iona is promoted to full teaching professor for his excellent work in teaching, service and research on science education. Congratulations!

    • Prof. Hoffman Received Outstanding Service Award
      Prof. Jennifer Hoffman received the 6th annual NSM outstanding faculty service award for her service as a member of DU IMPACT 2025 Faculty Talent, Excellence and Diversity Implementation Committee and as a local representative of the American Astronomical Society. Dr. Hoffman also helped to establish of DU SciTech, a free week-long summer camp which provides hands-on, inquiry-based STEM experiences to local middle-school girls from underrepresented social and economic backgrounds.     Jennifer wins NSM service award

    • Prof. Zink Promoted to Full Professor
      Prof. Barry Zink is promoted to full professor for his excellent work in research, teaching and service. Congratulations!

    • Graduate Students Manisha Shrestha and Andrew Fullard won Andrew-Manisha-best-poster the best paper awards at the 2017 APS 4Corners Meeting

      Manisha Shrestha and Andrew Fullard, graduate students supervised by Prof. Jennifer Hoffmann, received the best paper awards at the 2017 APS 4Corners conference at Fort Collins. Manisha's presentation is  "Polarization behavior of stellar wind bow shocks" and Andrew's presentation is "Spectropolarimetry with SALT: New Observations of Wolf-Rayet Binaries". Congratulations, Manisha and Andrew!

    • APS Historic Sites dedication ceremony held at Echo Lake
    • Echo Lake/Mt. Evans is recognized as a historic physics site due to the early research on cosmic rays. On Oct. 19th, the dedication ceremony is held at Echo Lake.
      DU APS Historic Sites Dedication
    • 3rd Front Range Advanced Magnetics Symposium Held at DU
      Prof. Zink and Prof. Fan hosted the 3rd front range advanced magnetics symposium at DU on Aug. 29th. 67 researchers and students were present at the event, from institutes including Colorado School of Mines, CSU, CU Boulder, DU, MSU Denver, NIST, Sandia National Lab, UCCS and University of Wyoming. Five graduate students received best poster awards, including DU graduate student Devin Wesenberg.
      FRAMS Group Photo
    • APS designates Echo Lake/Mt. Evans as a Historic Physics Site
      American Physical Society (APS) has recognized early research on cosmic rays, which was carried out between 1935 and 1960 at the locations near Denver (Echo Lake and Mt. Evans), by physicists Arthur Compton, Bruno Rossi, and many others, among them faculty at the University of Denver. These experiments included the first measurement of the lifetime of muons, work that confirmed the time dilation effect predicted by Albert Einstein's theory of relativity.

      The APS Historic Sites Initiative was created by the APS Executive Board in October 2004. There are 40 designated Historic Physics Sites in the US. A dedication ceremony and unveiling of the APS plaque at Echo Lake is scheduled for October 19, 2017. APS will be represented by the APS President-Elect Roger Falcone and the Chair of the APS Historic Sites Committee, Paul H. Halpern. The Department of Physics and Astronomy will organize a symposium on the early cosmic ray research at the University of Denver on October 18, 2017.

    • Shane Allen won the most innovated research prize at the DU undergraduate research and scholarship symposium
      Shane Allen, an undergraduate student supervised by Prof. Xin Fan, has recently won the first place of innovated research at the DU undergraduate research and scholarship symposium. Nice work, Shane!

    • DU Physics and Astronomy welcomes the return of our alumni 
      In the week of May 12th, a group of physics and Astronomy alumni returned to DU and participated in a variety of activities, including the Elitchs Physics Night, the Undergraduate Student Research Symposium, a Chamberlin Observatory event, and a special colloquium. The returning alumni are  Naomi Pequette, Richard Pearson, Christopher Smith, Jessica Reynolds Olsen, Azure Avery, Nathan McNew, Aaron Worley, Abby Johnson, Rachel Tomasino and Alex Dixon. Thank you for coming back, and we look forward to seeing you again. 
      2017 alumni naomi and azure
    • Graduate Students Receive Dissertation Fellowship and 
      Doctoral Fellowship for Inclusive Engagement From DU Grad School
      Manisha Shrestha (Left), a graduate student working with Prof. Jennifer Hoffman, is awarded the Dissertation Fellowship. This award funds doctoral research by students who demonstrate the greatest academic potential and whose research and writing is of the highest caliber.

      Jasmine Knudsen (Right) and Dan Hammerland (Middle), graduate students supervised by Prof. Mark Siemens, are both awarded the "Doctoral Fellowship for Inclusive Engagement" from DU's graduate school. This award is in recognition of their efforts to encourage all young students to do research, with the goal of impacting diversity in STEM.
      Congratulations to Manisha, Jasmine and Dan!

    • Undergraduate Student Sam Alperin publishes paper on measuring the orbital angular momentum of light in Optics Letters (Editors' pick)
      Sam Alperin, a senior undergraduate student working in Prof. Mark Siemens' lab, recently publish a paper in Optics Letters. In the paper, Sam demonstrates a novel method to quantitatively measure the orbital angular momentum of light with a single, stationary lens. This paper is selected as the Editors' pick.

    • Graduate Student Tristan Wolfe collects data on exoplanets using a new polarimeter in Hawaii
      Tristan Wolfe, a graduate student supervised by Prof. Robert Stencel, collects data on exoplanets, using a new polarimeter with the Gemini 8 meter telescope atop Mauna Kea, Hawaii.
      tristan wolfe
    • Undergraduate Student Sam Alperin Discusses twisted light
      Sam Alperin, a senior undergraduate student supervised by Prof. Mark Siemens, discusses his research about twisted light.

    • Two Assistant Professors promoted to Tenure
      Prof. Dinah Loerke and Mark Siemens are promoted to associate professor with tenure for their excellent work in research, teaching and service. Congratulations, Dinah and Mark. 

    • Graduate student Devin Wesenberg won the best poster award at the Magnetic North Conference
      Devin Wesenberg, a graduate student supervised by Prof. Barry Zink, won the best poster award at the fifth Magnetic North Conference held at Colorado Springs. Congrats, Alex.

    • Graduate student Devin Wesenberg and Professor Barry Zink's work gets published in Nature Energy
      On April 4, 2016, DU PhD student Devin Wesenberg and Professor Barry Zink's work on improved thermoelectric properties in carbon nanotube/polymer hybrid films, in collaboration with groups at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, was published online in Nature Energy! This work is also discussed in a "News & Views" article, "Thermoelectrics: Carbon nanotubes get high," and has already been referenced by and other media!

    • Aaron GoldmanDU stratospheric atlas is included in the HITRAN international spectroscopy database
      HITRAN international spectroscopy database is a compilation of spectroscopic parameters that a variety of computer codes use to predict and simulate the transmission and emission of light in the atmosphere. It has recently been updated with internet user-friendly interface, with new tools, and includes our DU stratospheric atlas, which is led by Prof. Aharon Goldman.

    • Undergraduate student Cameron Hickert named to the inaugural 
    • cameron hickert class of Schwarzman Scholars
      Cameron Hickert has been named to the inaugural class of Schwarzman Scholars after receiving the Truman Scholar. He will receive a fully funded scholarship to study at the new Schwarzman College at the prestigious Tsinghua University in Beijing. Congratulation again!

    • Graduate student Alex Hojem won the best poster award at the Front Range Advanced Magnetism Symposium
      Alex Hojem, a graduate student supervised by Prof. Barry Zink, won the best poster award at the first Front Range Advanced Magnetism Symposium. Congrats, Alex.
      alex hojem best poster frams

    • Society of Physics Students wins 2015 Blake Lilly Prize for physics outreach
      DU’s Society of Physics Students has been awarded the prestigious 2015 Blake Lilly Prize, given by SPS national to recognize outstanding physics outreach. DU’s SPS was specifically commended for using hands-on demonstrations to share their love of physics with over 1,000 young students in the last year.
      sps outreach

      cameron hickert
    • Undergraduate student Cameron Hickert named the 2015 Truman Scholar
      Cameron Hickert, an undergraduate student majoring in Physics and international studies, was recently awarded the prestigious Truman Scholarship. He is the only one selected in the entire state of Colorado. Congratulations, Cameron!

    • Professor Robert Stencel to deliver the first Herbert Howe Lecture in Astronomy
      Prof. Robert Stencel was selected to be the first Herbert Howe Lecturer in Astronomy. The Herbert Howe lecture series is a public lecture series aimed at promotion of research mathematics and astronomy, organized jointly by the Department of Mathematics and the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics of the University of Denver.

    • Professor Jennifer Hoffman gave an invited talk at the UW Space Place about Supernova explosions
      Prof. Jennifer Hoffman gave an interesting talk about supernova explosions for the Space Place program at University of Wisconsin. Check it out, "SUPERNOVA EXPLOSIONS ARE WEIRDER THAN YOU THINK"
      Jennifer at UW Space Place

    • DU alumni was elected as a fellow of the American Physical Society for breaking through in the laser-driven nuclear fusion process
      DU alumni Debbie Callahan was recently elected as a fellow of the American Physical Society in the division of Plasma Physics in 2014. Dr. Callahan received her Bachelor's degree in Science at department of Physics and Astronomy at DU in 1985 advised by Liz Tuttle, Vithal Patel and Herschel Neumann. She is now an associate division leader at Lawrence Livermore National Lab in California. Her team was the first to obtain a "fuel gain" of greater than one in a laser-driven nuclear fusion experiment, which was recently named one of the top 10 physics breakthroughs of 2014 by Physics World. Congratulations, Dr. Callahan.

    • Undergraduate student won an all-inclusive summer research position at the Leiden Observatory
      Sam Kerber, a DU undergraduate student with Physics major and Astrophysics minor, won an all-inclusive summer research position at the Leiden Observatory. He will be carrying out research there with collaborators of his adviser, Prof. Toshiya Ueta. 

    • Graduate students presented posters at the Second Annual Graduate Research and Performance Summit
      Graduate students Rachael Tomasino, Taylor Firman and Rebecca Rattray presented posters at the Second Annual Graduate Research and Performance Summit on Jan. 30, 2015. The Graduate Research and Performance Summit compliments the mission of the Graduate Student Government fostering inclusivity within interdisciplinary research and dialogue among the DU community.
      Tomasino poster Firman poster
    • Professor Jennifer Hoffman awarded the Franklin Research Grant for her research
      Dr. Jennifer Hoffman was recently awarded the Franklin Research Grant for carrying out research at University of Arizona

    • Graduate students featured in an article on
      Former and current graduate students Azure Avery, Rachael Tomasino and Jamie Lomax were featured in an article on, check it out: Women in science, University of Denver: Then and now

    • Professor Emeritus,  Aharon Goldman, recognized by Thomson Reuters
      Aaron Goldman
      Dr. Aharon Goldman is a John Evans Professor at the University of Denver. He was recently recognized by Thomson Reuters as a highly cited researcher in the engineering discipline and one of the World's Most Influential Scientific Minds. See also:, page 8, and
      In May, 2015, Dr. Goldman was recognized by Elsevier as an Outstanding Reviewer for the Journal of Quantitative Spectroscopy and Radiative Transfer, as he is in the top 10th percentile in terms of the number of reviews completed for the journal in the past two years.

  • Professor Davor Balzar to join the team to bring cutting-edge cancer treatment to Colorado
    Prof. Davor Balzar was invited to join the Colorado-Japan working group led by Professor Jac Nickoloff from Colorado State University to bring carbon ion cancer radiotherapy to Colorado. This kind of treatment offers fewer side effects and less damage to healthy tissues and organs than traditional radiation therapy. This makes it particularly suitable for treating areas in brain, neck, and pancreas. Read more at Colorado Public Radio!

  • Professor Dinah Loerke won the prestigious Cottrell Scholar Award
    Prof. Dinah Loerke recently received the prestigious 2014 Cottrell Scholar Award. This award is presented to early career faculty who are committed to excel at both research and teaching. Research Corporation for Science Advancement, Interim President Jack Pladziewicz, notes, "It may well be that not all research faculty can do this simultaneously and early in their careers, but the very best can." The 2014 Cottrell Scholar Award recognizes Prof. Loerke's promising research on "Toward a Mechanistic Understanding of Cell lntercalation in Germ-Band Extension" and her innovative undergraduate teaching efforts to use metaphor of ball games to convey complicated biological mechanisms. Read more here!

  • Graduate Student talks about lunar eclipse on WeatherNation
    Rachael Tomasino, a graduate student of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at DU, recently was interviewed by WeatherNation about the "blood moon" lunar eclipse that occurred on October 8, 2014. Check it out! Good job, Rachael!

    Fractions of female undergraduate in PhD institutes Fraction of female PhD in Phd institutes
  • DU P&A Promotes equal opportunities
    The Physics and Astronomy program at DU strives for preparing future female Physicists. According to the recent APS statistics, during the period 2010-2012, we have graduated 42% female undergraduate students, which ranked 10th nationwide, and 67% female PhD students, which ranked 3rd nationwide. Congratulations to these students and we are proud of this achievement.