2018 News

Congratulations once again to our Society of Physics Students Chapter

The SPS National Office has once again awarded the Rutgers SPS Chapter Distinguished Chapter status.

Congratulations to the Chapter, and particularly the Officers, on the fine work they did to earn that status:

  • Will Cheng, President
  • Maine Christos, Vice President
  • Lucas Hanson, Treasurer
  • Brian Ellsworth, Secretary
  • Riya Prabhudesai, Secretary

And kudos to faculty advisors Alyson Brooks and Matt Buckley.


Sang-Wook Cheong and Saurabh Jha are included among 2018 Clarivate Analytics (formerly Thomson Reuters) list of highly-cited researchers

The 2018 Clarivate Analytics (formerly Thomson Reuters) list of highly-cited researchers was just released and we are delighted that, once again, two of our colleagues, Sang-Wook Cheong and Saurabh Jha, are included among this group. This distinction places them among the top 1% most cited for their subject field and year of publication, earning them the mark of exceptional impact. In all, only 9 Rutgers faculty members are on this year's list, of which 3.5 are from the School of Arts and Sciences.

Cheong  Jha 

Congratulations again Sang and Saurabh!!!!


Profile(s): Cheong, Sang-Wook, Jha, Saurabh W.

Girsh Blumberg and Scott Thomas have been elected 2018 Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

They are two of only 19 Fellows elected in the Section on Physics. AAAS presents its members the lifetime honor of being an elected "in recognition of their extraordinary achievements in advancing science."

Girsh is cited for "distinguished contributions to the field of spectroscopy of electron systems with strong correlations, particularly for Raman spectroscopy of superconductors and quantum magnets."

Scott is cited for "contributions to the field of particle physics, particularly theories with supersymmetry and searches for physics beyond the Standard Model at the Large Hadron Collider."

For more information, please see:


Profile(s): Blumberg, Girsh, Thomas, Scott

Chemistry Professor and member of our Graduate Faculty Wilma Olson has been named a 2018 Fellow of the American Physical Society by the Division of Biological Physics

The citation for Wilma reads: "For seminal contributions to understanding nucleic acid structure, properties, and interactions, for leadership in developing important computational methods used to analyze and rebuild nucleic acid structures, and for pioneering theoretical investigations of DNA structure and supercoiling."

Congratulations Wilma!


Profile(s): Olson, Wilma K.

Professor Sang-Hyuk Lee uses 2018 Nobel Prize winning optical tweezers techniques to study molecular forces in biological systems

SHLeeProfessor Sang-Hyuk Lee and his Rutgers team (Shishir Chundawat, Eric Lam, and Laura Fabris), along with collaborators at Vanderbilt University and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, received a $1.5M DOE award for this study. Lee's lab will employ optical tweezers, a technique developed by 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics winner Arthur Ashki that uses the electric field and radiation pressure of a focused laser beam to grab microscopic objects with sub-nanonewton force, to study molecular and cellular forces involved in bioenergy relevant plant cell wall synthesis in living cells.

More on:


Profile(s): Lee, Sang-Hyuk

Professor Eric Gawiser has been named a 2018 Fellow of the American Physical Society

GawiserFellowship is a distinction bestowed for exceptional contributions to the physics enterprise, including outstanding physics research, important applications of physics, leadership in or service to physics, or significant contributions to physics education, and is reserved for the top one-half percent of APS members. Eric is one of only seven Fellows from the Division of Astrophysics this year.

The citation for Eric reads: "For exceptional accomplishments and leadership in the study of galaxy evolution and Cosmology."

Congratulations to Eric on receiving this well-deserved distinction!


Profile(s): Gawiser, Eric

Professor Alyson Brooks has been named to receive the 2019 Maria Goeppert Mayer Award of the American Physical Society

BrooksThis award, which recognizes outstanding achievement by a woman physicist in the early years of her career, is given to only one individual annually.

The citation for Prof. Brooks' award will read: " For contributions to theoretical astrophysics, in particular, the use of numerical hydrodynamic simulations compared with observations to elucidate the essential physics of galaxy formation."

Congratulations Alyson for this well-deserved recognition!


Profile(s): Brooks, Alyson M.

Professor Jaki Noronha-Hostler has won a DOE Early Career Award

NoronhaJaki is one of 84 young scientists from US Universities and DOE national labs receiving an award in 2018. Seven awards were in nuclear physics, and only three awards in nuclear theory.

This is the ninth year of the award, which is designed to bolster the nations scientific workforce by providing support to exceptional researchers during the crucial early career years, when many scientists do their most formative work.

Jaki joins our other DOE Early Career Award winners Weida Wu (2012) and David Shih (2010).

Congratulations Jaki on this notable achievement!


Professor Geraldine Cochran has a Guest Editorial on the importance of diversity AND inclusion AND equity

CochranProfessor Geraldine Cochran has a Guest Editorial on the importance of diversity AND inclusion AND equity, just published in the Gazette, the newsletter of the American Physical Societys Committee on the Status of Women in Physics and the Committee on Minorities.

You can find the article at this link at the APS. Click on Fall2018.

Note that Geraldine has a similar contribution at The Scholarly Kitchen.


Profile(s): Cochran, Geraldine L

Prof. Jak Chakhalian's group has used "atomic engineering" to realize a room temperature two-dimensional polar metal in superlattices

ChakhalianProf. Jak Chakhalian's group has used "atomic engineering" to realize a room temperature two-dimensional polar metal in superlattices of BaTiO3/SrTiO3/LaTiO3. Polar metallic oxides, which sometimes are called "ferroelectric metals", are commonly defined by the coexistence of polar crystal structure and metallicity and were thought to be nonexistent. This new development provides a route to creating exotic quantum states including coexisting ferroelectric, ferromagnetic, and superconducting phases.

Read more here:


Profile(s): Chakhalian, Jak

Sean Oh and Sunil Somalwar promoted

At its June 12, 2018 meeting, the Board of Governors approved the promotions of:

  • Sean Oh to Full Professor
  • Sunil Somalwar to Distinguished Professor

Congratulations Sean and Sunil on your well-deserved promotions!!


Profile(s): Oh, Seongshik, Somalwar, Sunil

Graduate student Wenbo Wang in Professor Weida Wu's group together with collaborators in China present direct evidence of robust ferromagnetism in a quantum anomalous Hall system

wenbowangGraduate student Wenbo Wang in Professor Weida Wu's group together with collaborators in China present direct evidence of robust ferromagnetism in a quantum anomalous Hall system by visualizing the domain behavior. These findings pave the way to dissipationless conduction at elevated temperature via topologically protected edge states for applications in low power electronics and quantum computing.

Their article is published in Nature Physics (2018) advanced online publication.


Profile(s): Wu, Weida

Saurabh Jha and Mike Gentile have received SAS Awards for Distinguished Contributions to Undergraduate Educations at the Full Professor and Assistant Teaching Professor ranks, respectively

This is the second year in a row that the Department has had multiple winners of this award. It is very noteworthy that our colleagues, at so many different ranks, are being recognized for their excellent teaching and innovations to undergraduate education.

jhacert18  gentilecert18
Profile(s): Gentile, Michael J., Jha, Saurabh W.

Prof. Saurabh Jha appears on NJTV to explain the mission of NASAs recently launched Transiting Exoplanet Surveying Satellite (TESS)

JhaProf. Saurabh Jha appears on NJTV to explain the mission of NASAs recently launched Transiting Exoplanet Surveying Satellite (TESS), and how it will revolutionize the search for earth-like planets orbiting nearby stars in our Galaxy.

The key difference between TESS and its predecessor Kepler was that Kepler was looking at one patch of the sky at relatively faint stars far away. TESS will look all over the sky at much more nearby & brighter stars. This is important because those brighter stars (and their planets) will be the ones that can be studied more in depth with future telescopes like James Webb.


Profile(s): Jha, Saurabh W.

Anshuman Panda, who received his Ph.D. in January 2018, supervised by Gyan Bhanot, was awarded a prestigious New Jersey Commission on Cancer Research Fellowship based on his PhD thesis work

The fellowship will support Anshuman as a post doc at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey for the next two years, working with Dr. Shridar Ganesan on Immune Checkpoint Therapy.


Profile(s): Bhanot, Gyan

Elaad Applebaum has been awarded a Blue Waters Fellowship from the National Center for Supercomputing Applications

ApplebaumEElaad is working with Alyson Brooks performing challenging simulations of ultra-faint dwarf galaxies, testing our understanding of cosmology, star formation and galaxy evolution.

The fellowship includes stipend, tuition and 50,000 node-hours on the Blue Waters petascale computing system, as well as travel to the Blue Waters Symposium to present research results.


Daniel Brennan has been awarded one of the University's prestigious Louis Bevier Dissertation Completion Fellowships

BrennanTDaniel is working with Greg Moore studying works on supersymmetric field theories and BPS states, which are massive representations of an extended supersymmetry algebra, and is an expert on the semiclassical study of BPS states.

The Bevier Fellowship includes a stipend and tuition remission, and is designed to enable senior graduate students to concentrate fully on competing their dissertations.


For the ninth consecutive year one of our majors has won the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship, which was given to only 211 students across the whole nation majoring in the natural sciences, math, or engineering

Our winner is Maine Christos, a junior this year, who is working with Sunil Somalwar. There was one other winner from Rutgers, a student majoring in the Life Sciences. And there was one Honorable Mention from Rutgers, a student majoring in Mechanical Engineering.


Chad Ummel will be receiving a 2018 Stewardship Science Graduate Fellowship from the Department of Energy, National Nuclear Security Administration

UmmelCThis Fellowship provides a generous stipend, full remission of tuition and fees and up to 4 years of support. Chad is a second-year PhD student, former GAANN fellow and is doing research under the supervision of Professor Jolie Cizewski.


For the second year in a row, Rutgers led the nation in producing physics teachers (8 this year, 10 last year)

This success is largely owing to the great work of our colleague Eugenia Etkina, who reports that about 70% of these teachers are graduates from the Department of Physics & Astronomy.

Congratulations to Eugenia, as she keeps Rutgers at the forefront in one of its most important missions.


Professor Jacquelyn Noronha-Hostler has been awarded an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship for her work in theoretical Nuclear Physics

NoronhaThe Sloan Fellowship recognizes the most promising young researchers in America. Jaki is one of only 23 Sloan Fellowships awarded in Physics this year.

Jaki joins Professors Alyson Brooks, John Paul Chou, Kristjan Haule, Valery Kiryukhin, Alex Morozov, David Shih, and Emil Yuzbashyan to make eight Sloan winners in our Department since 2001.