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Spectrum

The University of Utah

115 South 1400 East, 201 JFB Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0830 www.physics.utah.edu

INSIDE:

Newsletter for friends and alumni of

Department of Physics & Astronomy

Department Renamed New Faculty Awards Renovations College of Science Alumni Association Growing Astronomy Program

CALENDAR August 22, 2009 Common Exam August 24, 2009 Fall Semester Begins September 2, 2009 “Here We Go Again“ BBQ

Did you know? The Spectrum is also available electronically. To receive the Spectrum by email, please contact newsletter@physics.utah.edu

September 24, 2009 Employee Appreciation Day

Oc tober 21, 2009 Frontiers of Science Influenza: Why Can’t We Get Rid of It?

2009-2010 Conferences & Workshops Astronomy Film Festival

September 30, 2009 Frontiers of Science The Calculus of Friendship Oc tober 12-17, 2009 Fall Break

New Student Leadership

Story suggestions, upcoming events & comments always welcome. Contact us at newsletter@physics.utah.edu or contact Kathrine Skollingsberg at (801) 585-0182.

© 2009 University of Utah

Adam’s Demonstrations

SPECTRUM Volume 1, Issue 1 Summer 2009

Name change reflects evolution in curriculum, research and department as a whole.

S

peaking to students at the Spring 2009 Undergraduate Seminar, department Chairman Dave Kieda declared, “None of you here will ever receive a degree from the Department of Physics.” The room filled with shocked silence as Kieda continued, “The Department of Physics is officially the Department of Physics and Astronomy!” The change was approved by the Board of Regents on March 23 and was celebrated on June 3 in the James Fletcher Building. Physicists and astronomers alike came together over an assortment of space cake, Starbursts, Milky Way candy bars, and Starlight mints, to celebrate the landmark achievement. Kieda and Pierre Sokolsky, dean of the College of Science, both spoke briefly, highlighting the department achievements of the last year. Recognition was given to Zeke Dumke of the E.R. & E.W. Dave Kieda (right) after presenting a certificate of appreciation to Steve Denkers. Dumke Foundation, and to Steve Denkers of the Willard L. Eccles Foundation. Generous funding from both foundations have helped establish and develop the current astronomy program and its research. Astronomy courses were first taught on campus in the 1890s, as a part of the math department, and the university has had an on-campus observatory of one form or another for the last 50 years, but there was never a dedicated astronomy program until now. Within the department, astronomy research started with the discovery of a nova, by Professor Don Groom, and has continued for more than 35 years. For students, the department now offers a major degree program in Astronomy, and a minor as well. The title ‘Department of Physics’ is now a thing of the past. However, for the ‘Department of Physics and Astronomy’, when looking towards the future, the stars are the limit.


Adam’s Off-The-Wall Demos

New Faculty Join Physics & Astronomy Douglas Bergman

Adam Bolton

Douglas Bergman is interested in all aspects of ground based observations of cosmic rays. He is a member of the Telescope Array collaboration in Delta UT, seeking to measure the spectrum, composition of ultra-high energy cosmic rays and to determine their sources. This experiment detects the cosmic ray air showers both by collect the shower particles as they hit the ground and observing the fluorescence light emitted as they pass through the atmosphere. Prof. Bergman comes to Utah from Rutgers University in NJ, where he was an Assistant Professor, and prior to that a post-doctoral associate. He received his Ph.D. from Yale University in 1997, working on a fixed target, high energy physics experiment at Brookhaven National Lab. He enjoys most outdoor athletic activities including running, skiing, volleyball and soccer. Indoors, he likes all types of live musical performance.

Adam Bolton joins the department in August 2009. His interests are observational cosmology; formation, structure, and evolution of galaxies; and astronomical spectroscopy. He is a founding member of the Sloan Lens ACS (SLACS) Survey collaboration, which has combined SDSS spectra with Hubble Space Telescope images to nearly double the number of known “gravitational lens” galaxies. Dr. Bolton will continue his gravitational lensing research program, and will pursue extensive involvement in the SDSS3 and other massive astronomical spectroscopic surveys. He was employed as the Beatrice Watson Parrent Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Hawaii, and was also a CfA Postdoctoral Fellow at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. He obtained his Ph.D. in physics from MIT in 2005. His outside interests include cooking, music, and economics. He is looking forward to the skiing and hiking opportunities in Utah.

Shanti Deemyad

Inese Ivans

Starting January of 2010, Shanti Deemyad joins the University of Utah from Harvard University, where she completed her postdoc. She received her Ph.D from Washington University in St. Louis. Her main field of interest is condensed matter at extreme conditions. The research would be divided in two major areas; studying the nature of electronic interactions in existing solid state systems such as physics of quantum solids, the second being the synthesis of materials with new or enhanced properties for storage and transport of energy by guidance of high pressure studies. The unifying purpose is to find and explore new exotic states of matter which have strong promises for material engineering. Shanti enjoys a wide variety of activities. She loves stargazing and visiting archeological sites. She loves the mountains and the outdoors. Among other activities she enjoy playing chess, watching Sci-Fi movies and reading books. Her favorite authors are Kundera, Kafka, Hesse and Camus.

Inese Ivans is an observational astronomer. She specializes in the application of stellar spectroscopic tools to investigate topics ranging from the origins of chemical elements in the Universe to the formation and evolution of galaxies, including our own Milky Way. She is interested in developing astronomical applications to exploit large data sets such as the Sloan Digital Sky Survey using statistical, data mining, and scientific visualization techniques. She joins the University of Utah in August of this year from Princeton University, where she most recently has held a joint postdoctoral fellowship with the Observatories of the Carnegie Institution for Science. Previously Inese was on a fellowship at the California Institute of Technology, moving there from the University of Texas at Austin where she received her Ph.D. Her undergraduate work at the University of Toronto introduced her to astronomical research, something she is keen to continue here.

Associate Professor bergman@physics.utah.edu

Assistant Professor deemyad@physics.utah.edu

Saveez Saffarian

Assistant Professor saffarian@physics.utah.edu

Starting at the University of Utah as part of the USTAR initiative, in January of 2010, Saveez Saffarian received his PhD from Washington University in St Louis, specializing in fluorescence spectroscopy and single molecule analysis. In the pursuit of his own biological problem, Saveez joined Harvard Medical School where he focused on polymerization of multi-protein complexes on the plasma membrane. During his postdoctoral research, he developed live cell hires methods to visualize clathrin self-assembly. In his lab, Saveez will couple the high-resolution live cell microscopy with cell biological and biochemical assays to follow the assembly of enveloped viruses in both live cells and reconstituted systems. His long-term plan is to understand potent human pathogens like influenza and HIV with molecular detail. Outside the lab, Saveez volunteers his time at his daughter’s school; serving a two-year term on the board of Cambridge Ellis School, a non-profit private school, where she attended. He also enjoys skiing, Sci-Fi and playing chess.

Frank van den Bosch Associate Professor vdbosch@physics.utah.edu

Until January 2009, when he joined the department, Frank was a Leader of Independent Research Group at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy. Frank’s research focusses on the theoretical aspects of cosmology, large scale structure, and galaxy formation. In particular, he’s involved in studying the structure and formation of dark matter haloes, the formation of disk galaxies, the galaxy occupation statistics of dark matter haloes, galaxy lensing, preheating of the IGM by pancake formation, and the bias of galaxies and dark matter haloes.

Spectrum - Summer 2009

Assistant Professor bolton@physics.utah.edu

Assistant Professor iii@physics.utah.edu

Gordon Thomson

J.W. Keuffel Professor of Experimental Astrophysics thomson@physics.utah.edu

Gordon joins the University of Utah in September 2009, as part of the Cosmic Ray research group. He is the first recipient of the Keuffel endowed Chair in Experimental Astrophysics. He received his Bachelors at the Illinois Institute of Technology and both his Masters degree and Ph.D at Harvard University. He was then employed at Rutgers University. In 1999, he spent a year at the University of Utah as a Visiting Scholar. His research areas include AstroParticle Physics, Experimental High Energy Physics, and Particle Physics R&D. He is married with one son, studying at Yale. Gordon and his family are all outdoor enthusiasts.

Michael Vershinin

Assistant Professor vershinin@physics.utah.edu

Dr. Michael Vershinin will start in January 2010 as the first professor in the new BioPhys research program in the department. He has a Bachelor degree in Engineering from Cooper Union, a PhD in Physics from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and additional biologyrelated training from his postdoctoral work at UC: Irvine. His research interests are similarly interdisciplinary and reside at the interface of biology, physics, mathematics, and computer science. Michael is using techniques such as optical trapping to investigate the function of single molecules and molecular complexes. He is also developing methods for better quantifying and modeling biological processes. His current focus is on molecular motors – how things are transported inside of cells, how this transport is regulated and routed and ultimately how it can break down. The latter question is important for understanding many types of cell degeneration and the related diseases (e.g. Alzheimer’s disease and similar dementias).

In each newsletter, Adam Beehler, Lecture Demonstration Specialist, explains one of his demonstrations. This demo won second place at the American Association of Physics Teachers 2009 Summer Meeting in Ann Arbor, MI.

Adam Beehler Lecture Demonstration Specialist beehler@physics.utah.edu

Simple Photoelectric Effect When ultraviolet light, x-rays, or other forms of electromagnetic radiation are shined on certain kinds of matter, electrons can be ejected. This phenomenon is known as the photoelectric effect. It made scientists think about light and other forms of electromagnetic radiation in a whole new way. The peculiar thing about the photoelectric effect is the relationship between the frequency (energy) of the light shined on a piece of metal and the number of electrons ejected. The higher the frequency (energy) of the light source, the more electrons and thus electric current, is given off. Just making the same type of light brighter, or more intense, does not give the ejected electrons any more energy. Demo Albert Einstein’s Nobel Prize winning photoelectric effect has been demonstrated for many years quite effectively, yet now it can be done with simple household items. Past versions used specialized black lights or carbon-arc lamps to show any effect. This version takes advantage of the currently popular germ sanitizer lights, which are much more affordable and portable. It also uses aluminum pop cans instead of zinc plates and Christmas tree tinsel instead of standard electroscopes. Use • Lightly sand one side of your aluminum soda pop can to remove any oxidation/ outer coating. • Rub the PVC pipe with the brown paper. • Slide the pipe across the tinsel. The tinsel should now be negative and the strands repel from each other. • With the tinsel repelling, touch the soda pop can and discharge it. The tinsel should relax. If incoming light has enough energy, electrons will be • Charge the tinsel again with the negatively charged PVC pipe. ejected from the middle. • Move the UV germ sanitizer lamp into position (near, but not touching, the sanded portion of the soda pop can). Nothing should happen. • Turn it on and watch the tinsel slowly relax as the negative charges leave the aluminum. This is the photoelectric effect. The energy of the short-wave UV light is enough to eject electrons from the surface of the aluminum. • Charge the tinsel again with the negatively charged PVC pipe. • This time shield the soda pop can from the UV light with a piece of glass. Nothing should happen. The tinsel should remain charged. Why? The UV light is absorbed (or blocked) by the glass. Now remove the glass and watch the tinsel relax. • Charge the tinsel again with the negatively charged PVC pipe. • This time use the long-wave UV lamp. Nothing should happen. Why? This UV light does not have enough energy (too low a frequency) to eject electrons. • Charge the tinsel again but this time by induction so that the tinsel becomes positive. • Shine the short-wave UV lamp onto the soda pop can. Nothing should happen. Why? The photoelectric effect ejects electrons from the aluminum, and the tinsel and soda pop can already have a deficiency of electrons. You can also view this demo, and a complete materials list, online at www.physics.utah.edu/~beehler/newsletterdemos/demos.html

Spectrum - Summer 2009


News & Events

Awards & Achievements

2009-2010 Conferences & Workshops

Faculty

During the last academic year, the Department of Physics & Astronomy sponsored three scientific conferences/workshops in Salt Lake City centered on the research strengths in the department: astrophysics and condensed matter physics.

SNOWPAC 2009

SPINOS 2009

Feb. 1-7, 2009 Snowbird Resort Prof. Dave Kieda 100 Attendees

Subjects Covered Particle astrophysics, dark matter, dark energy, and neutrino astrophysics.

Highlight Banquet speaker, Prof. George Cassiday’s talk “Utah...The Early Years” describing the history of the Cosmic Ray research group, including the neutrino detector, Fly’s Eye and the Cherenkov detector. Recurrence SNOWPAC 2010 will be held March 23-April 2, 2010 in conjunction with the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. More information is available at www.physics.utah.edu/snowpac

Feb. 4-7, 2009 University of Utah Prof. Valy Vardeny 100 Attendees

Subjects Covered Spin physics in devices of organic semiconductors. Highlight Prof. Peter Bobbert’s talk entitled“Spin Relaxation and Magnetoresistance in Disordered Organic Semiconductors” about spin diffusion in films of organic semiconductors. (Prof. Bobbert is from Eindhoven University in the Netherlands.) Recurrence SPINOS 2010 will take place in the Netherlands in September 2010. More information available soon.

IYA 2009 Film Festival

As part of the ongoing celebration of the 2009 International Year of Astronomy, the department is hosting the University of Utah’s IYA 2009 Film Festival. An array of films for the whole family are viewed monthly in the A. Ray Olpin University Union Theater on the University of Utah campus. Popcorn provided and all shows are free and open to the public! For more information visit www.physics.utah.edu/calendar/IYA.html

Showings Saturday, September 12, 2009 6:00pm, *Origins: Back to the Beginning (60 min.) 7:15pm, Armageddon (PG-13, 150 min.) Saturday, October 3, 2009 6:00pm, *Welcome to Mars (60 min.) 7:15pm Alien (R, 117 min.) Saturday, November 14, 2009 6:00 p.m., *Saturn’s Titan (56 min.) 7:15 p.m., First Men in the Moon (Not Rated, 102 min.) *A NOVA production for PBS

Spectrum - Summer 2009

Workshop on Stellar Intensity Interferometry January 29-30, 2009 University of Utah Prof. Stephan LeBohec

18-25 Attendees

Subjects Covered Intensity Interferometry: Methods, tools, and challenges.

Highlight The opening presentation given by Steve Lipson on behalf of John Davis. Lipson is known for, among other things, the book: “An Introduction To Optical Stellar Interferometry”. Recurrence Nothing is scheduled as of yet. However, the Quantum of Quasars Workshop (related but more general) will be held in October 2009. More information is available at www.quantumofquasars.org

Students

Jordan Gerton

National Science Foundation Early Career Award This award recognizes efforts made by early-career faculty, not presently funded by the National Science Foundation, seeking a balance between educational outreach and research. The award’s duration is five years and the total amount is about $730,000. “I’m definitely happy and gratified to have received it. It means I can expand my research effort substantially. I also plan to use some of the funds to seed the development of a science teacher training program to improve secondary science education. Sid Rudolph has done a lot of this in the past, as far as I know, and I’m working to get something going, hopefully as early as next summer.”

Brian Saam

Distinguished Teaching Award 2009 The Distinguished Teaching Award recognizes professors who show a steady record of outstanding teaching, an exceptional ability to motivate students, and an involvement in the education and career preparation of students. “It is the one award or recognition that I have received from the University of which I am most proud. I work very hard and devote a significant amount of time to teaching. It is very satisfying to be recognized in this way,” Brian says. “I think the award signifies someone who takes teaching very seriously and I expect it to be of great benefit to me in terms of credibility and accomplishment as I pursue other innovative approaches to teaching and teacher training.“

Z. Valy Vardeny

2009 Rosenblatt Prize for Excellence Valy Vardeny was the 2009 recipient of the Rosenblatt Prize for Excellence, the university’s most prestigious award. The $40,000 gift is presented annually to a faculty member who displays excellence in teaching, research, and administrative efforts. President Michael K. Young presented the award at the 2009 university commencement ceremony, saying, “This prize is the highest honor the university can bestow on one of its own. As a distinguished professor of physics, Dr. Vardeny’s dedication and accomplishment in teaching are rare to find in an individual who has achieved his level of distinction in research. He is an extraordinarily gifted and dedicated scientist, teacher, and administrator. As a leader, he is both influential and inspiring. As an author, he is legendary for his insight and production.” (Written by Taunya Dressler Coralie Alder)

Clayton Williams

Fellow of the American Physical Society Clayton Williams was awarded this fellowship for his pioneering and sustained contributions to the field of Scanning Capacitance Microscopy and to the development of the Scanning Capacitance Microscope for both quantitative two-dimensional carrier and dopant profiling, and for the characterization and failure analysis of semiconductor materials and devices (including VLSI products) on a nanometer scale. Nominated by: Industrial and Applied Physics (FIAP) (From APS Physics website)

College Awards Awards from the College of Science given to Physics & Astronomy students: Thomas J. Parmley Scholarship

Min-A Cho

Kennecott Scholarship Dean’s Scholarship

Alec Runyon Elena Deryusheva Jessica Johnston

Alec Runyon

Research Scholar Award

Cody Holdaway

Crocker Science House Scholar

Jamie Rankin

Department Awards Outstanding Graduate Student Josh Holt Outstanding Teaching Assistants Rachel Sparks, Eric Twarog, Kip VanSchooten Outstanding Postdocs Dane McCamey, Vagharsh Mikhtaryan Gilbert Prize for Undergraduate Research Matt Kress Outstanding Graduating Seniors Cody Holdaway, Matthew Lindsey Outstanding Undergraduate Jessica Johnston Scholarships Nicholas Dana , Matthew Humphries, Jessica Johnston, Alec Runyon, Matthew Shaw, Seren Sumsion First Astronomy Minor

Tara Spencer

Promotions Rank of Professor: Paolo Gondolo, Brian Saam

Spectrum - Summer 2009


News & Events

News & Events

Growing An Astronomy Program at the University

Physics & Astronomy Renovating Despite Economy

208 South Physics Building

South Loading Dock

Equipment Lift- B39 James Fletcher Building

The Physics & Astronomy department began its first major renovation in a decade, in the spring of 2009. The initial construction began with the Intermountain Network Scientific Computation Center (INSCC). The summer semester saw a decline in students, and thus work increased to include areas of the South Physics and James Fletcher buildings. The initial focus of the million-dollar renovation is to provide space to accommodate the new Astronomy program including seven new Faculty offices, five new Research Labs, and many new and remodeled student areas and offices. Despite recent budget cuts this year and next, the renovations are necessary to accommodate the growth in the department. The commitments were made to expand the faculty and the accommodations are necessary, regardless of the timing. “ This is really an investment, not only in the department, but also in the future of the Astronomy program itself ”, Building Supervisor Harold Simpson said. “ The University is struggling some, but thanks to strong financial management, steady enrollment, and research funding, the blow is not as bad as it could have been and I think the University is definitely steadying itself.” Harold also mentioned that most of the contractors the university has awarded construction bids to, are local businesses, hiring local subcontractors. It is important to the university and the Physics and Astronomy Department especially, to keep work in the Salt Lake area and contribute to the local economy. Over the past 6 months, Harold Simpson has worked closely with architects to develop a master plan for department renovations. “ The architect conducted a study of the department facilities and operations in spring of 2008. The results were presented last summer and the renovation project was approved in September of 2008. The bid was awarded in late April and work began in May,” said Harold. While the current renovations satisfy present space needs, the department is looking toward the future and methods of accommodating growth. The long term space needs would require a new building with more lecture halls and a possible planetarium. While currently an unfunded project, the current renovations will be a considerable improvement. Areas of the buildings and certain rooms have been blocked off, some permanently, during the renovation. Many faculty and graduate students and a few undergraduate majors remain on campus. Other than the inconveniences of a few faculty offices moving from the James Fletcher building to INSCC, the minor interruption in South Physics while the floors were re -tiled, and a week long closure of the stockroom, the department continues to proceed as normal. Harold wishes to thank everyone for their cooperation and support. “In my hectic days, it may not be apparent; but I really do realize how this project impacts everyone. I will try to minimize the disruptions and inconveniences, but I must keep things moving forward.”

209 James Fletcher Building

Spectrum - Summer 2009

Lee J. Siegel (Originally published 8/25/08) Science news specialist, University of Utah Public Relations

•Advancing the pursuit of excellence by forging & preserving relationships among alumni, students, and the community. •12,500 distinguished and diverse alumni living and working all around the world. •Includes all of the college’s departments: biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics & astronomy. •Watch for upcoming events, free lectures, and special opportunities. •Visit us on (In Linkedin (www.linkedin.com), do a group search for “University of Utah College of Science,” then place a request to join the group.)

For more information or to join, email office@science.utah.edu. We invite you to reconnect and get involved in new and meaningful ways.

New Student Leadership STUDENT ADVISORY COUNCIL Wayne Springer – SAC Faculty Advisor GSAC (Graduate SAC) USAC (Undergraduate SAC)

Eric Sorte – Chair Zayd Ma – Chair-Elect Brad Berg – Chair Laurel Hales – Chair-Elect

SPS (SOCIETY OF PHYSICS STUDENTS) Orest Symko – SPS Faculty Advisor Jamie Rankin – President

In the last few years, the Department of Physics & Astronomy has worked to grow an astronomy program with the support of the Willard L. Eccles Charitable Foundation. The department added an astronomy minor program, and used an $88,000 Eccles grant to refurbish an observatory atop the South Physics Building. The foundation also has provided $680,000 for the university to build an $800,000 observatory at 9,000 feet on Frisco Peak west of Milford, Utah. The university now is seeking approvals from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and Beaver County. Dave Kieda says the 32-inch research-grade reflecting telescope now is being fabricated by DFN Engineering in Boulder, Colo. Observatory construction [started fall 2008] and the telescope’s “first light” is set for September 2009. Stephen Eccles Denkers, executive director of the Willard L. Eccles Charitable Foundation, says his family is “incredibly excited” to be involved in “elevating the University of Utah to one of the premier physics and astronomy departments.” With a $450,000 Eccles grant and a matching amount [from the office of David Pershing, the university ’s senior vice president for academic affairs], the Department of Physics & Astronomy is joining the third phase of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS-III), an effort by about 20 research institutions around the world. Denkers says his mother, sister and cousins are enthusiastic about funding the U’s entry into the Sky Survey in part because they “would love to see more women get into the sciences, into physics and astronomy.” “Joining a recognized astronomy project like SDSS-III is a stepping stone to a successful astronomy program at the University of Utah,” says Paolo Gondolo, leader of the university ’s astronomy initiative and an associate professor of physics. “ The wide scope of the SDSS-III program - from planet searches to galactic studies to cosmology - offers ample choices of research topics to faculty and students.”

Spectrum - Summer 2009


News & Events

News & Events

Growing An Astronomy Program at the University

Physics & Astronomy Renovating Despite Economy

208 South Physics Building

South Loading Dock

Equipment Lift- B39 James Fletcher Building

The Physics & Astronomy department began its first major renovation in a decade, in the spring of 2009. The initial construction began with the Intermountain Network Scientific Computation Center (INSCC). The summer semester saw a decline in students, and thus work increased to include areas of the South Physics and James Fletcher buildings. The initial focus of the million-dollar renovation is to provide space to accommodate the new Astronomy program including seven new Faculty offices, five new Research Labs, and many new and remodeled student areas and offices. Despite recent budget cuts this year and next, the renovations are necessary to accommodate the growth in the department. The commitments were made to expand the faculty and the accommodations are necessary, regardless of the timing. “ This is really an investment, not only in the department, but also in the future of the Astronomy program itself ”, Building Supervisor Harold Simpson said. “ The University is struggling some, but thanks to strong financial management, steady enrollment, and research funding, the blow is not as bad as it could have been and I think the University is definitely steadying itself.” Harold also mentioned that most of the contractors the university has awarded construction bids to, are local businesses, hiring local subcontractors. It is important to the university and the Physics and Astronomy Department especially, to keep work in the Salt Lake area and contribute to the local economy. Over the past 6 months, Harold Simpson has worked closely with architects to develop a master plan for department renovations. “ The architect conducted a study of the department facilities and operations in spring of 2008. The results were presented last summer and the renovation project was approved in September of 2008. The bid was awarded in late April and work began in May,” said Harold. While the current renovations satisfy present space needs, the department is looking toward the future and methods of accommodating growth. The long term space needs would require a new building with more lecture halls and a possible planetarium. While currently an unfunded project, the current renovations will be a considerable improvement. Areas of the buildings and certain rooms have been blocked off, some permanently, during the renovation. Many faculty and graduate students and a few undergraduate majors remain on campus. Other than the inconveniences of a few faculty offices moving from the James Fletcher building to INSCC, the minor interruption in South Physics while the floors were re -tiled, and a week long closure of the stockroom, the department continues to proceed as normal. Harold wishes to thank everyone for their cooperation and support. “In my hectic days, it may not be apparent; but I really do realize how this project impacts everyone. I will try to minimize the disruptions and inconveniences, but I must keep things moving forward.”

209 James Fletcher Building

Spectrum - Summer 2009

Lee J. Siegel (Originally published 8/25/08) Science news specialist, University of Utah Public Relations

•Advancing the pursuit of excellence by forging & preserving relationships among alumni, students, and the community. •12,500 distinguished and diverse alumni living and working all around the world. •Includes all of the college’s departments: biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics & astronomy. •Watch for upcoming events, free lectures, and special opportunities. •Visit us on (In Linkedin (www.linkedin.com), do a group search for “University of Utah College of Science,” then place a request to join the group.)

For more information or to join, email office@science.utah.edu. We invite you to reconnect and get involved in new and meaningful ways.

New Student Leadership STUDENT ADVISORY COUNCIL Wayne Springer – SAC Faculty Advisor GSAC (Graduate SAC) USAC (Undergraduate SAC)

Eric Sorte – Chair Zayd Ma – Chair-Elect Brad Berg – Chair Laurel Hales – Chair-Elect

SPS (SOCIETY OF PHYSICS STUDENTS) Orest Symko – SPS Faculty Advisor Jamie Rankin – President

In the last few years, the Department of Physics & Astronomy has worked to grow an astronomy program with the support of the Willard L. Eccles Charitable Foundation. The department added an astronomy minor program, and used an $88,000 Eccles grant to refurbish an observatory atop the South Physics Building. The foundation also has provided $680,000 for the university to build an $800,000 observatory at 9,000 feet on Frisco Peak west of Milford, Utah. The university now is seeking approvals from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and Beaver County. Dave Kieda says the 32-inch research-grade reflecting telescope now is being fabricated by DFN Engineering in Boulder, Colo. Observatory construction [started fall 2008] and the telescope’s “first light” is set for September 2009. Stephen Eccles Denkers, executive director of the Willard L. Eccles Charitable Foundation, says his family is “incredibly excited” to be involved in “elevating the University of Utah to one of the premier physics and astronomy departments.” With a $450,000 Eccles grant and a matching amount [from the office of David Pershing, the university ’s senior vice president for academic affairs], the Department of Physics & Astronomy is joining the third phase of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS-III), an effort by about 20 research institutions around the world. Denkers says his mother, sister and cousins are enthusiastic about funding the U’s entry into the Sky Survey in part because they “would love to see more women get into the sciences, into physics and astronomy.” “Joining a recognized astronomy project like SDSS-III is a stepping stone to a successful astronomy program at the University of Utah,” says Paolo Gondolo, leader of the university ’s astronomy initiative and an associate professor of physics. “ The wide scope of the SDSS-III program - from planet searches to galactic studies to cosmology - offers ample choices of research topics to faculty and students.”

Spectrum - Summer 2009


News & Events

Awards & Achievements

2009-2010 Conferences & Workshops

Faculty

During the last academic year, the Department of Physics & Astronomy sponsored three scientific conferences/workshops in Salt Lake City centered on the research strengths in the department: astrophysics and condensed matter physics.

SNOWPAC 2009

SPINOS 2009

Feb. 1-7, 2009 Snowbird Resort Prof. Dave Kieda 100 Attendees

Subjects Covered Particle astrophysics, dark matter, dark energy, and neutrino astrophysics.

Highlight Banquet speaker, Prof. George Cassiday’s talk “Utah...The Early Years” describing the history of the Cosmic Ray research group, including the neutrino detector, Fly’s Eye and the Cherenkov detector. Recurrence SNOWPAC 2010 will be held March 23-April 2, 2010 in conjunction with the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. More information is available at www.physics.utah.edu/snowpac

Feb. 4-7, 2009 University of Utah Prof. Valy Vardeny 100 Attendees

Subjects Covered Spin physics in devices of organic semiconductors. Highlight Prof. Peter Bobbert’s talk entitled“Spin Relaxation and Magnetoresistance in Disordered Organic Semiconductors” about spin diffusion in films of organic semiconductors. (Prof. Bobbert is from Eindhoven University in the Netherlands.) Recurrence SPINOS 2010 will take place in the Netherlands in September 2010. More information available soon.

IYA 2009 Film Festival

As part of the ongoing celebration of the 2009 International Year of Astronomy, the department is hosting the University of Utah’s IYA 2009 Film Festival. An array of films for the whole family are viewed monthly in the A. Ray Olpin University Union Theater on the University of Utah campus. Popcorn provided and all shows are free and open to the public! For more information visit www.physics.utah.edu/calendar/IYA.html

Showings Saturday, September 12, 2009 6:00pm, *Origins: Back to the Beginning (60 min.) 7:15pm, Armageddon (PG-13, 150 min.) Saturday, October 3, 2009 6:00pm, *Welcome to Mars (60 min.) 7:15pm Alien (R, 117 min.) Saturday, November 14, 2009 6:00 p.m., *Saturn’s Titan (56 min.) 7:15 p.m., First Men in the Moon (Not Rated, 102 min.) *A NOVA production for PBS

Spectrum - Summer 2009

Workshop on Stellar Intensity Interferometry January 29-30, 2009 University of Utah Prof. Stephan LeBohec

18-25 Attendees

Subjects Covered Intensity Interferometry: Methods, tools, and challenges.

Highlight The opening presentation given by Steve Lipson on behalf of John Davis. Lipson is known for, among other things, the book: “An Introduction To Optical Stellar Interferometry”. Recurrence Nothing is scheduled as of yet. However, the Quantum of Quasars Workshop (related but more general) will be held in October 2009. More information is available at www.quantumofquasars.org

Students

Jordan Gerton

National Science Foundation Early Career Award This award recognizes efforts made by early-career faculty, not presently funded by the National Science Foundation, seeking a balance between educational outreach and research. The award’s duration is five years and the total amount is about $730,000. “I’m definitely happy and gratified to have received it. It means I can expand my research effort substantially. I also plan to use some of the funds to seed the development of a science teacher training program to improve secondary science education. Sid Rudolph has done a lot of this in the past, as far as I know, and I’m working to get something going, hopefully as early as next summer.”

Brian Saam

Distinguished Teaching Award 2009 The Distinguished Teaching Award recognizes professors who show a steady record of outstanding teaching, an exceptional ability to motivate students, and an involvement in the education and career preparation of students. “It is the one award or recognition that I have received from the University of which I am most proud. I work very hard and devote a significant amount of time to teaching. It is very satisfying to be recognized in this way,” Brian says. “I think the award signifies someone who takes teaching very seriously and I expect it to be of great benefit to me in terms of credibility and accomplishment as I pursue other innovative approaches to teaching and teacher training.“

Z. Valy Vardeny

2009 Rosenblatt Prize for Excellence Valy Vardeny was the 2009 recipient of the Rosenblatt Prize for Excellence, the university’s most prestigious award. The $40,000 gift is presented annually to a faculty member who displays excellence in teaching, research, and administrative efforts. President Michael K. Young presented the award at the 2009 university commencement ceremony, saying, “This prize is the highest honor the university can bestow on one of its own. As a distinguished professor of physics, Dr. Vardeny’s dedication and accomplishment in teaching are rare to find in an individual who has achieved his level of distinction in research. He is an extraordinarily gifted and dedicated scientist, teacher, and administrator. As a leader, he is both influential and inspiring. As an author, he is legendary for his insight and production.” (Written by Taunya Dressler Coralie Alder)

Clayton Williams

Fellow of the American Physical Society Clayton Williams was awarded this fellowship for his pioneering and sustained contributions to the field of Scanning Capacitance Microscopy and to the development of the Scanning Capacitance Microscope for both quantitative two-dimensional carrier and dopant profiling, and for the characterization and failure analysis of semiconductor materials and devices (including VLSI products) on a nanometer scale. Nominated by: Industrial and Applied Physics (FIAP) (From APS Physics website)

College Awards Awards from the College of Science given to Physics & Astronomy students: Thomas J. Parmley Scholarship

Min-A Cho

Kennecott Scholarship Dean’s Scholarship

Alec Runyon Elena Deryusheva Jessica Johnston

Alec Runyon

Research Scholar Award

Cody Holdaway

Crocker Science House Scholar

Jamie Rankin

Department Awards Outstanding Graduate Student Josh Holt Outstanding Teaching Assistants Rachel Sparks, Eric Twarog, Kip VanSchooten Outstanding Postdocs Dane McCamey, Vagharsh Mikhtaryan Gilbert Prize for Undergraduate Research Matt Kress Outstanding Graduating Seniors Cody Holdaway, Matthew Lindsey Outstanding Undergraduate Jessica Johnston Scholarships Nicholas Dana , Matthew Humphries, Jessica Johnston, Alec Runyon, Matthew Shaw, Seren Sumsion First Astronomy Minor

Tara Spencer

Promotions Rank of Professor: Paolo Gondolo, Brian Saam

Spectrum - Summer 2009


Adam’s Off-The-Wall Demos

New Faculty Join Physics & Astronomy Douglas Bergman

Adam Bolton

Douglas Bergman is interested in all aspects of ground based observations of cosmic rays. He is a member of the Telescope Array collaboration in Delta UT, seeking to measure the spectrum, composition of ultra-high energy cosmic rays and to determine their sources. This experiment detects the cosmic ray air showers both by collect the shower particles as they hit the ground and observing the fluorescence light emitted as they pass through the atmosphere. Prof. Bergman comes to Utah from Rutgers University in NJ, where he was an Assistant Professor, and prior to that a post-doctoral associate. He received his Ph.D. from Yale University in 1997, working on a fixed target, high energy physics experiment at Brookhaven National Lab. He enjoys most outdoor athletic activities including running, skiing, volleyball and soccer. Indoors, he likes all types of live musical performance.

Adam Bolton joins the department in August 2009. His interests are observational cosmology; formation, structure, and evolution of galaxies; and astronomical spectroscopy. He is a founding member of the Sloan Lens ACS (SLACS) Survey collaboration, which has combined SDSS spectra with Hubble Space Telescope images to nearly double the number of known “gravitational lens” galaxies. Dr. Bolton will continue his gravitational lensing research program, and will pursue extensive involvement in the SDSS3 and other massive astronomical spectroscopic surveys. He was employed as the Beatrice Watson Parrent Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Hawaii, and was also a CfA Postdoctoral Fellow at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. He obtained his Ph.D. in physics from MIT in 2005. His outside interests include cooking, music, and economics. He is looking forward to the skiing and hiking opportunities in Utah.

Shanti Deemyad

Inese Ivans

Starting January of 2010, Shanti Deemyad joins the University of Utah from Harvard University, where she completed her postdoc. She received her Ph.D from Washington University in St. Louis. Her main field of interest is condensed matter at extreme conditions. The research would be divided in two major areas; studying the nature of electronic interactions in existing solid state systems such as physics of quantum solids, the second being the synthesis of materials with new or enhanced properties for storage and transport of energy by guidance of high pressure studies. The unifying purpose is to find and explore new exotic states of matter which have strong promises for material engineering. Shanti enjoys a wide variety of activities. She loves stargazing and visiting archeological sites. She loves the mountains and the outdoors. Among other activities she enjoy playing chess, watching Sci-Fi movies and reading books. Her favorite authors are Kundera, Kafka, Hesse and Camus.

Inese Ivans is an observational astronomer. She specializes in the application of stellar spectroscopic tools to investigate topics ranging from the origins of chemical elements in the Universe to the formation and evolution of galaxies, including our own Milky Way. She is interested in developing astronomical applications to exploit large data sets such as the Sloan Digital Sky Survey using statistical, data mining, and scientific visualization techniques. She joins the University of Utah in August of this year from Princeton University, where she most recently has held a joint postdoctoral fellowship with the Observatories of the Carnegie Institution for Science. Previously Inese was on a fellowship at the California Institute of Technology, moving there from the University of Texas at Austin where she received her Ph.D. Her undergraduate work at the University of Toronto introduced her to astronomical research, something she is keen to continue here.

Associate Professor bergman@physics.utah.edu

Assistant Professor deemyad@physics.utah.edu

Saveez Saffarian

Assistant Professor saffarian@physics.utah.edu

Starting at the University of Utah as part of the USTAR initiative, in January of 2010, Saveez Saffarian received his PhD from Washington University in St Louis, specializing in fluorescence spectroscopy and single molecule analysis. In the pursuit of his own biological problem, Saveez joined Harvard Medical School where he focused on polymerization of multi-protein complexes on the plasma membrane. During his postdoctoral research, he developed live cell hires methods to visualize clathrin self-assembly. In his lab, Saveez will couple the high-resolution live cell microscopy with cell biological and biochemical assays to follow the assembly of enveloped viruses in both live cells and reconstituted systems. His long-term plan is to understand potent human pathogens like influenza and HIV with molecular detail. Outside the lab, Saveez volunteers his time at his daughter’s school; serving a two-year term on the board of Cambridge Ellis School, a non-profit private school, where she attended. He also enjoys skiing, Sci-Fi and playing chess.

Frank van den Bosch Associate Professor vdbosch@physics.utah.edu

Until January 2009, when he joined the department, Frank was a Leader of Independent Research Group at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy. Frank’s research focusses on the theoretical aspects of cosmology, large scale structure, and galaxy formation. In particular, he’s involved in studying the structure and formation of dark matter haloes, the formation of disk galaxies, the galaxy occupation statistics of dark matter haloes, galaxy lensing, preheating of the IGM by pancake formation, and the bias of galaxies and dark matter haloes.

Spectrum - Summer 2009

Assistant Professor bolton@physics.utah.edu

Assistant Professor iii@physics.utah.edu

Gordon Thomson

J.W. Keuffel Professor of Experimental Astrophysics thomson@physics.utah.edu

Gordon joins the University of Utah in September 2009, as part of the Cosmic Ray research group. He is the first recipient of the Keuffel endowed Chair in Experimental Astrophysics. He received his Bachelors at the Illinois Institute of Technology and both his Masters degree and Ph.D at Harvard University. He was then employed at Rutgers University. In 1999, he spent a year at the University of Utah as a Visiting Scholar. His research areas include AstroParticle Physics, Experimental High Energy Physics, and Particle Physics R&D. He is married with one son, studying at Yale. Gordon and his family are all outdoor enthusiasts.

Michael Vershinin

Assistant Professor vershinin@physics.utah.edu

Dr. Michael Vershinin will start in January 2010 as the first professor in the new BioPhys research program in the department. He has a Bachelor degree in Engineering from Cooper Union, a PhD in Physics from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and additional biologyrelated training from his postdoctoral work at UC: Irvine. His research interests are similarly interdisciplinary and reside at the interface of biology, physics, mathematics, and computer science. Michael is using techniques such as optical trapping to investigate the function of single molecules and molecular complexes. He is also developing methods for better quantifying and modeling biological processes. His current focus is on molecular motors – how things are transported inside of cells, how this transport is regulated and routed and ultimately how it can break down. The latter question is important for understanding many types of cell degeneration and the related diseases (e.g. Alzheimer’s disease and similar dementias).

In each newsletter, Adam Beehler, Lecture Demonstration Specialist, explains one of his demonstrations. This demo won second place at the American Association of Physics Teachers 2009 Summer Meeting in Ann Arbor, MI.

Adam Beehler Lecture Demonstration Specialist beehler@physics.utah.edu

Simple Photoelectric Effect When ultraviolet light, x-rays, or other forms of electromagnetic radiation are shined on certain kinds of matter, electrons can be ejected. This phenomenon is known as the photoelectric effect. It made scientists think about light and other forms of electromagnetic radiation in a whole new way. The peculiar thing about the photoelectric effect is the relationship between the frequency (energy) of the light shined on a piece of metal and the number of electrons ejected. The higher the frequency (energy) of the light source, the more electrons and thus electric current, is given off. Just making the same type of light brighter, or more intense, does not give the ejected electrons any more energy. Demo Albert Einstein’s Nobel Prize winning photoelectric effect has been demonstrated for many years quite effectively, yet now it can be done with simple household items. Past versions used specialized black lights or carbon-arc lamps to show any effect. This version takes advantage of the currently popular germ sanitizer lights, which are much more affordable and portable. It also uses aluminum pop cans instead of zinc plates and Christmas tree tinsel instead of standard electroscopes. Use • Lightly sand one side of your aluminum soda pop can to remove any oxidation/ outer coating. • Rub the PVC pipe with the brown paper. • Slide the pipe across the tinsel. The tinsel should now be negative and the strands repel from each other. • With the tinsel repelling, touch the soda pop can and discharge it. The tinsel should relax. If incoming light has enough energy, electrons will be • Charge the tinsel again with the negatively charged PVC pipe. ejected from the middle. • Move the UV germ sanitizer lamp into position (near, but not touching, the sanded portion of the soda pop can). Nothing should happen. • Turn it on and watch the tinsel slowly relax as the negative charges leave the aluminum. This is the photoelectric effect. The energy of the short-wave UV light is enough to eject electrons from the surface of the aluminum. • Charge the tinsel again with the negatively charged PVC pipe. • This time shield the soda pop can from the UV light with a piece of glass. Nothing should happen. The tinsel should remain charged. Why? The UV light is absorbed (or blocked) by the glass. Now remove the glass and watch the tinsel relax. • Charge the tinsel again with the negatively charged PVC pipe. • This time use the long-wave UV lamp. Nothing should happen. Why? This UV light does not have enough energy (too low a frequency) to eject electrons. • Charge the tinsel again but this time by induction so that the tinsel becomes positive. • Shine the short-wave UV lamp onto the soda pop can. Nothing should happen. Why? The photoelectric effect ejects electrons from the aluminum, and the tinsel and soda pop can already have a deficiency of electrons. You can also view this demo, and a complete materials list, online at www.physics.utah.edu/~beehler/newsletterdemos/demos.html

Spectrum - Summer 2009


Spectrum

The University of Utah

115 South 1400 East, 201 JFB Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0830 www.physics.utah.edu

INSIDE:

Newsletter for friends and alumni of

Department of Physics & Astronomy

Department Renamed New Faculty Awards Renovations College of Science Alumni Association Growing Astronomy Program

CALENDAR August 22, 2009 Common Exam August 24, 2009 Fall Semester Begins September 2, 2009 “Here We Go Again“ BBQ

Did you know? The Spectrum is also available electronically. To receive the Spectrum by email, please contact newsletter@physics.utah.edu

September 24, 2009 Employee Appreciation Day

Oc tober 21, 2009 Frontiers of Science Influenza: Why Can’t We Get Rid of It?

2009-2010 Conferences & Workshops Astronomy Film Festival

September 30, 2009 Frontiers of Science The Calculus of Friendship Oc tober 12-17, 2009 Fall Break

New Student Leadership

Story suggestions, upcoming events & comments always welcome. Contact us at newsletter@physics.utah.edu or contact Kathrine Skollingsberg at (801) 585-0182.

© 2009 University of Utah

Adam’s Demonstrations

SPECTRUM Volume 1, Issue 1 Summer 2009

Name change reflects evolution in curriculum, research and department as a whole.

S

peaking to students at the Spring 2009 Undergraduate Seminar, department Chairman Dave Kieda declared, “None of you here will ever receive a degree from the Department of Physics.” The room filled with shocked silence as Kieda continued, “The Department of Physics is officially the Department of Physics and Astronomy!” The change was approved by the Board of Regents on March 23 and was celebrated on June 3 in the James Fletcher Building. Physicists and astronomers alike came together over an assortment of space cake, Starbursts, Milky Way candy bars, and Starlight mints, to celebrate the landmark achievement. Kieda and Pierre Sokolsky, dean of the College of Science, both spoke briefly, highlighting the department achievements of the last year. Recognition was given to Zeke Dumke of the E.R. & E.W. Dave Kieda (right) after presenting a certificate of appreciation to Steve Denkers. Dumke Foundation, and to Steve Denkers of the Willard L. Eccles Foundation. Generous funding from both foundations have helped establish and develop the current astronomy program and its research. Astronomy courses were first taught on campus in the 1890s, as a part of the math department, and the university has had an on-campus observatory of one form or another for the last 50 years, but there was never a dedicated astronomy program until now. Within the department, astronomy research started with the discovery of a nova, by Professor Don Groom, and has continued for more than 35 years. For students, the department now offers a major degree program in Astronomy, and a minor as well. The title ‘Department of Physics’ is now a thing of the past. However, for the ‘Department of Physics and Astronomy’, when looking towards the future, the stars are the limit.


Spectrum Newsletter: Summer 2009