Promotions Effective July, 2018

Michelle Girvan, who was promoted to the rank of Professor, works in the emerging area of network science, which focuses on complex connectivity patterns among interacting units and joins physics with the domains of mathematics, biology, environmental studies, economics, sociology, and psychology, among others. Her analysis of networks helps explain developments in settings as diverse as gene encoding and the nation’s electric grid. Girvan received her Ph.D. in 2004 from Cornell University, and has held appointments at the Santa Fe Institute and the Institute for Advanced Study. She holds a joint appointment in the Institute for Physical Sciences and Technology. In 2017 she received the Richard A. Ferrell Distinguished Faculty Fellowship and was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society.

Min Ouyang, who was promoted to the rank of Professor, is a member of the Center for Nanophysics and Advanced Materials. His experiments at the juncture of physics and chemistry involve creating novel and complex nanomaterials via the bottom-up synthetic strategy and understanding nanoscale physics by using ultrafast and single photon optics, with potential applications ranging from quantum information processing to thermal management fabrics. He received his Ph.D. in 2001 from Harvard University and did postdoctoral work at the University of California in Santa Barbara before joining UMD. Among his honors are an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, an NSF Career Award, an Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award, a Beckman Young Investigator Award and a Scialog Fellowship from the Research Corporation.

Ayush Gupta, who was promoted to the rank of Associate Research Professor, works in physics education research, developing new materials and teaching practices to help students gain greater competence with disciplinary content and practice. He has contributed to the articulation and modeling of the contextual dynamics of core disciplinary practices in STEM such as mathematical sense-making and tinkering. In another thread of work, he has contributed to modeling how cultural practices influence the creation of more/less inclusive experiences for STEM students. His work has also introduced novel models for how engineering students think about ethics and social responsibility, connecting cognitive theories with social theory and ideas from Science and Technology Studies. He received his Ph.D. in electrical engineering from this campus, and is also a Keystone Instructor in the Clark School of Engineering.

Ivan Burenkov has been promoted to Assistant Research Scientist. He received his Ph.D. in 2012 from Moscow State University, and has been a postdoctoral researcher with Adjunct Professor Alan Migdall since 2015. His interests include quantum enhanced measurements for advanced optical communication, bio-medical applications and photon frequency conversion

Nicholas Butch, who was a Rolfe Glover Postdoctoral Fellow in CNAM from 2008-11, was promoted to Adjunct Associate Professor. In addition, three other NIST scientists now have appointments in the department: Thomas Purdy and Michael Zwolak as Adjunct Assistant Professors, and Sergey Polyakov as Adjunct Associate Professor.

Jack Wimberley Received Ph.D Thesis Award

UMD graduate student Jack Wimberley is one of two recipients of the 2018 Ph.D. thesis awards given by the Large Hadron Collider beauty (LHCb) collaboration at CERN. These awards recognize students for excellent theses and additional work over and above the central thesis topic that has made an exceptional contribution to the LHCb.  The LHCb collaboration is made up of about 800 physicists from 79 institutions in 16 countries.  

Wimberley’s work explores a possible discrepancy in the Standard Model illuminated by analyzing the decay of rare particles. It was published in Physical Review Letters and highlighted in the October 13, 2017 CERN Courier.

 

Physics Graduate Student Zachary Eldredge Awarded ARCS Scholarship

The Achievement Rewards for College Scientists (ARCS) Foundation awarded two students from the University of Maryland’s College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences with $15,000 scholarships for the 2018-2019 school year. This year’s scholars are physics graduate student Zachary Eldredge and chemistry graduate student Matthew Thum.

Erik Blaufuss Wins Provost’s Excellence Award

Research Scientist Erik Blaufuss has received the 2018 Provost’s Excellence Award for Professional Track Faculty in research.  

Blaufuss has served as scientific analysis coordinator of IceCube, an NSF-sponsored scientific instrument in Antarctica in which 5,160 photoreceptors are embedded in a cubic kilometer of crystal-clear ice more than one kilometer below the surface. About 300 times a day, a neutrino speeding through this billion-ton chunk will hit an atom, and the collision will generate a flash of light, from which the neutrino’s direction and energy can be determined. That information reveals the neutrino’s origin and energy.  When IceCube scientists in 2013 determined that about one in every ten thousand of those neutrinos (about a dozen a year) came from distant space outside our galaxy, the new field of neutrino astronomy  was launched. Physics World named this its “Breakthrough of the Year”.

Blaufuss was instrumental in bringing a “multi-messenger” approach to these observations. When IceCube detects an energetic neutrino from distant space, an alert is issued to the world’s radio, optical and gamma-ray telescopes, pointing them in a particular direction toward the particle’s origin.   These alerts have been in operation since April 2016, with more than a dozen issued to date.  On Sept. 22, 2017, one was broadcast by IceCube. Blaufuss’ system rapidly signaled other observatories to aim toward the direction whence the neutrino came.  This event has triggered extensive follow-up by telescopes world-wide, including the identification of a known source from NASA’s Fermi-LAT telescope’s catalog consistent with the neutrino direction. The likely source of the cosmisc neutrinos is a blazar billions of light years away.

Blaufuss earned his PhD in Physics from Louisiana State University in 2000, and joined UMD that same year. Early in his career, he worked on the Super-Kamiokande Experiment in Japan, for which Takaaki Kajita shared the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics. The Super-K collaboration’s experimental data, described in a 1998 paper “Evidence for Oscillation of Atmospheric Neutrinos”, demonstrated that neutrinos change identities. This metamorphosis requires that neutrinos have mass, and changed our understanding of the innermost workings of matter. Shortly after the Nobel, the 2016 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics was awarded to five collaborations studying neutrino oscillations, including Super-K.

 

Christopher Bambic Awarded University Medal

Christopher Bambic, who will graduate this month with bachelor of science degrees in physics and astronomy, will also be awarded the University Medal, which recognizes the most outstanding graduate of the year. The University Medal is awarded to the undergraduate who best personifies academic distinction, extraordinary character, and extracurricular contributions to the university and the larger public. He will be honored for this achievement at the university's Spring Commencement Ceremony on May 20, 2018.