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School of Physics & Astronomy

Nobel Laureate to give 2014 commencement address


William Daniel Phillips, an award-winning researcher with the National Institute of Standards and Technology who shared the 1997 Nobel Prize
in physics, will be the keynote speaker for Rochester Institute of Technology's 129th commencement celebration.

Phillips will speak at the Academic Convocation, set for 10 a.m. May 23 in the Gordon Field House and Activities Center.

RIT President Bill Destler said the university is honored to have a scientist of Phillips' caliber addressing its graduates.

"Beyond Dr. Phillips' most impressive list of achievements, I believe our graduates will find his record of innovation and leadership in scientific research to be an inspiration," Destler said. "We look forward to hosting him on campus for our commencement celebration."  Read more>>


Dynamics and Evolution of Galactic Nuclei


David Merritt's book, "Dynamics and Evolution of Galactic Nuclei", has been published by Princeton University Press. The 544 page book is the latest volume in the "Princeton Series in Astrophysics" .

David Merritt will be in residence at the Institute Henri Poincare in Paris for two months starting September, where he will be a lecturer at a graduate school in astrophysical dynamics. .




MINERvA: Bringing Neutrinos into Sharp Focus

Neutrinos are the least familiar fundamental particles in the Standard Model, and are currently the focus of many high-energy physics experiments. Most of these experiments are based at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (FNAL) in the United States, and at the CERN facility in Europe. MINERvA is a collaboration of over 100 individuals at 27 universities and government institutions across the world

Dr. McGowan has been a member of the collaboration since earning his doctorate in 2007.

Read more>


Early observations of a young supernova at RIT Observatory

Early in the evening of Friday, July 26, messages started to arrive in mailboxes throughout the astronomical community: a new object had appeared near the galaxy M74. Could it be a supernova -- the titanic explosion of a massive star? Possibly ... but more observations were required to confirm the event.

Michael Richmond (School of Physics and Astronomy) was working at the RIT Observatory that evening. He was taking a long series of measurements of a close binary star system in our own Milky Way, as part of a worldwide collaborative effort to study its properties. But when the E-mail arrived, he realized that this was an unusual opportunity for the small telescope at RIT's Observatory: it might be among the first to see if this reported object really was present. more>>>


Advanced Photon Source (APS) User Organization

RIT School of Physics and Astronomy professor Michael Pierce was recently nominated, and subsequently elected by the x-ray science community, to the steering committee for the Advanced Photon Source (APS) User Organization. This committee advises the APS Laboratory Director on several matters related to the science, operation, and improvement of the most intense source of x-rays in North America. The steering committee represents an important link between the community of scientists that use the facility and the team of scientists that maintain and operate the facility. This is a very exciting period of time for the organization as the facility will undergo an upgrade over the next few years to maintain its position as a world leader of x-ray based science.


From the APS website: "The APS is one of the most technologically complex machines in the world. This premier national research facility provides the brightest x-ray beams in the Western Hemisphere to more than 5,000 (and growing) scientists from around the United States and the world. These scientists come to the APS from universities, industry, medical schools, and other research institutions. Our users bring with them ideas for new discoveries in nearly every scientific discipline, from materials science to biology, chemistry, environmental and planetary science, and fundamental physics. They bring their ideas to the APS because our x-ray beams let them collect data in unprecedented detail and in amazingly short time frames. The knowledge our users gain here promises to have real and positive impact on our technologies, our health, our economy, and our fundamental understanding of the materials that make up our world."

Why Astronomy Images Matter

How can scientists present complex images to the public without diminishing their scientific content? This dilemma, routinely faced by researchers from a wide range of fields, is being tackled by education and public outreach experts at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, as described in the article "Spellbinding Cosmic Beauty: Why Astronomy Images Matter." The article makes its point via astronomical X-ray images obtained with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory by RIT's Joel Kastner and his international team. (An article on the same RIT-led Chandra imaging program, written for the international community of astronomers by Kastner and inaugural RIT AST PhD recipient Rudy Montez, serves as the cover story for the Spring 2013 Chandra X-ray Observatory newsletter.)


Leadership Meeting of the Optical Society of America


left to right is Zhiping Zhou (editor-in-chief of "Photonics Research") , Shin-Tson Wu( board-of-editors chair), Steven Chu (then Secretary of Energy for President Obama) and Grover Swartzlander (editor-in-chief of J. Opt. Soc. Am. B).

Rochester Institute of Technology Associate Professor of Imaging Science and Physics, Grover Swartzlander recently attended the Leadership Meeting of the Optical Society of America in Washington DC (6-8 Feb), where he had the opportunity to meet with other editors and discuss topics related to science publishing.



Latest News

Moumita Das' research advisee Julian Butcher was selected for a travel award from APS Division of Biological Physics for his upcoming March Meeting talk. apslogo

Moumita Das gave the Physics Department colloquium at Lehigh University January 23, 2014.
"Touchy Feely Physics of Living Cells: Mechanics and Force Transmission."

Congratulations to Kevin Cooke on winning a graduate medal in the AAS Chambliss Poster Competition and to Valerie Rapson on her honorable mention!! AASlogo

David Merritt was selected as the 2014 "Garfinkel Lecturer" by Yale University. This prestigious lectureship is funded by an endowment from dynamical astronomer Boris Garfinkel. Prof. Merritt will give a series of seminars at Yale on the topic of "Relativistic Dynamics of Galactic Nuclei".

SoPA-affiliated faculty, staff and students presented at the 223rd American Astronomical Society Meeting: January 5-9, 2014.

Manuela Campanelli is an invited plenary speaker at the 27th Texas Symposium on Relativistic Astrophysics which will be held in Dallas December 8 - 13, 2013. This will be a special and historically meaningful Jubilee meeting that celebrates the past 50 years of Texas Symposia and relativistic astrophysics and to kick off the next 50 years of remarkable discoveries. The plenary talks also include two Nobel prize winners among celebrated well-know scientists in the fields of relativistic astrophysics, cosmology, black hole astrophysics and general relativity, hundreds of contributed talks in parallel sessions, as well as poster sessions.

AST PhD student Valerie Rapson has been invited to join the American Astronomical Society Astronomy Ambassadors program. In addition, Valerie was also elected President of the Astronomy Section of the Rochester Academy of Science

Christopher O'Dea gave an invited talk "There and Back Again: Duty Cycles of Active Galactic Nuclei" at a conference in Groningen, the Netherlands.

Presentations at Astronomical Society of New York: Fall 2013 Meeting, Union College, Schenectady NY included:
- Christopher O'Dea: "The Labors of Hercules A: Trying to Make Sense of a Complicated Radio Galaxy"
- Kristina M. Punzi: "The First Unbiased Radio Emission Line Survey of Proplanetary Disk Orbiting LkCa 15"
- Benjamin Sargent: "Water, Formaldehyde, and Formic Acid Vapors in Spitzer-IRS Spectra of Protoplanetary Disks"
- Valerie Rapson: "How Cool is That? An IRTF/SPEX Spectroscopic Study of the Close Binary T Tauri System V4046 Sgr Poster Sessions:
- Joel Kastner: "Molecular Line Surveys of Nearby T. Tauri Stars: Late-Time Chemistry of Protoplanetary Disks"
- David Principle: "Investigations of Magnetic Activity Across YSO Classes: Multiwavelength Observations of the Star-forming Regions L1630 and L1622"
- Kayla Emerson: "Chandra X-Ray Imaging Spectroscopy of the Complex Planetary Nebula NGC 7009"

"Mechanical memory for photons carrying orbital angular momentum", a recent article in the Journal of Physics B by physics alum (2013) Hao Shi and Dr. Mishkat Bhattacharya has been highlighted by the journal on its website which receives approximately 145,000 accesses per month. The work has also been described in an additional piece designed for a wider audience under the LabTalk section of the journal

Rochester Institute of Technology RIT graduate wins prestigious undergraduate award from the American Physical Society
Hao Shi '13 wins national recognition for undergraduate quantum optics research

Hao Shi, a Physics major who recently graduated from the RIT School of Physics and Astronomy has been selected as a Finalist for the LeRoy Apker Award of the American Physical Society which recognizes outstanding achievements in physics by undergraduate students. The finals will be held on September 19 in Washington DC. Hao's selection was based on four research articles published in peer-reviewed journals in collaboration with his advisor Dr. Mishkat Bhattacharya of SOPA. Hao will be joining Cornell for graduate study in Physics this coming Fall.

Undergraduate physics major Hao Shi recently published three peer-reviewed articles with his research advisor Mishkat Bhattacharya.
Hao was first author on publications appearing in the Journal of Modern Optics and in Physical Review A

Robert Teese, Professor in the School of Physics and Astronomy, is the recipient of the 2012-13 Provost's Innovative Teaching with Technology Award.

Sukanya Chakrabarti talked about Jupiter's Big Red Spot on The Weather Channel's "Deadliest Space Weather" series. View Video

Mike Kotlarchyk, Head of the School of Physics & Astronomy, wrote an article providing an overview of Optics at RIT for the Rochester Section of the Optical Society of America.

David Merritt received a grant of $448,929 from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to support his research into dynamics of galactic nuclei.

Three of Dr. Mishkat Bhattacharya's students made presentations, earlier this year, including Sydney Igbokwe at the McNair Conference, Niagara Falls, NY in July, Hao Shi at the American Physical Society (Division of Atomic, Molecular, and Atomic Physics) meeting in Anaheim, CA 2 in June, and Hao Shi and Michael Eggleston at the Special Undergraduate Symposium, Optical Society of America meeting , Rochester, NY in October.