2019 News

Rutgers named a member of the PhysTEC "5+ Club"

Dec 17, 2019

Thanks to Eugenia Etkina, Rutgers has been named a member of the PhysTEC "5+ Club" for graduating five or more physics teachers in the past academic year. This puts Rutgers in the 99th percentile among institutions for physics teacher preparation. PhysTEC is a joint venture of the American Physical Society and the American Association of Physics Teachers dedicated to improving education of future physics teachers. See https://www.phystec.org for more info.

SPS National Office has awarded Rutgers SPS Chapter Outstanding Chapter status

Dec 17, 2019

Congratulations once again to our Society of Physics Students Chapter. The SPS National Office has awarded the Rutgers SPS Chapter Outstanding Chapter status.

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

Lucas Hansen, President
Riya Prabhudesai, Vice President
Skanda Rao, Treasurer
Noah Paladino, Secretary
Esha Rao, Outreach Coordinator
Georgia Sandidge, Public Relations
Chong Xia, Event Coordinator

And a tip of the hat to faculty advisors Matt Buckley, Jed Pixley, and Blakesley Burkhart.

Matt Blackman named the 2019 PhysTEC Teacher of the Year

Dec 17, 2019

Matt Blackman, former Physics Major and graduate of the Rutgers 5-year Physics Education Program with Eugenia Etkina, was named the 2019 PhysTEC Teacher of the Year. PhysTEC, the Physics Teacher Education Coalition, is a joint project of the APS and the AAPT that addresses the shortage of qualified physics teachers in the US. Matt is an AP Physics teacher at Ridge High School, where he has successfully raised enrollment, diversity, and performance in the AP program. Most recently at Rutgers, Matt has been teaching a summer workshop for high school physics teachers aimed at aligning lessons with the Next Generation Science Standards, a program established by Eugenia and Amit Lath.

Learn more at: https://www.aps.org/publications/apsnews/201908/blackman.cfm

Congratulations Matt!

Gabi Kotliar awarded 2020 Aneesur Rahman Prize

Dec 17, 2019

KotliarThe American Physical Society has just announced that Gabi Kotliar, along with his long time collaborator Antoine Georges, has been awarded the 2020 Aneesur Rahman Prize for Computational Physics.

Read more ...

Gabi Kotliar receives Carl Friedrich von Siemens Award

Dec 17, 2019

KotliarGabi Kotliar has received a Carl Friedrich von Siemens Research Award of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. The award is given in recognition of the winner's entire body of work. It provides the opportunity to carry out a research project of their choosing with colleagues in Germany, to promote international scientific collaboration. Gabi will be hosted by Prof. Dr. Jan Delft of Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat, Munich, Germany, where he will work collaboratively on strongly correlated electron systems.

Congratulations Gabi!

Jed Pixley named AFOSR Young Investigators Research Program Award Recipient

Oct 15, 2019

Picture of Jed Pixley Jed Pixley has been named a recipient of an Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) Young Investigators Research Program (YIP) Award.

Read more ...

Yuri Gershtein named Senior LHC Physics Center Distinguished Researcher

Picture of Yuri GershteinYuri Gershtein has been named a Senior LHC Physics Center Distinguished Researcher for 2020.

Read more ...

Yuri Gershtein, Kristjan Haule, and Saurabh Jha Elected Fellows of the APS

Sept 20, 2019

We are pleased to announce that three of our faculty members have been elected 2019 Fellows of the American Physical Society (APS). Moreover, these distinctions span three different Divisions of the APS, underscoring both the depth and breadth of scholarship in our department. Fellowship in the APS is a distinct honor signifying recognition by one's professional peers. Each year, < 0.5% of the Society's membership is recognized by election to the status of APS Fellow.

Yuri Gershtein was nominated by the Division of Particles and Fields. His citation reads: "For important contributions to searches for physics beyond the Standard Model at both the Tevatron and the Large Hadron Collider, and for developing innovative techniques for precision photon measurement that directly contributed to the Higgs boson discovery."


Kristjan Haule was nominated by the Division of Materials Physics. His citation reads: "For pioneering quantitative first-principles investigation of correlated electron physics in broad classes of materials, including iron pnictides, heavy fermion, and transition metal compounds."

Saurabh Jha was nominated by the Division of Astrophysics. His citation reads: "For critical contributions to a deeper understanding of Type Ia supernovae, and to their exploitation as cosmological probes."

Congratulations to Saurabh, Kristjan and Yuri on receiving this very prestigious recognition of their research accomplishments!




Jed Pixley has been awarded the Strongly Correlated Electron Systems (SCES) -2019 Neville Mott Prize

PixleyJSCES awards prizes for significant contributions to the study of strongly correlated electron systems. The Neville Mott Prize in particular is awarded to a person who has made significant contributions to the theory of strongly correlated electron systems.

Jed's Citation reads: "for pioneering work, combining analytic and computational tools to shed light on quantum criticality in strongly correlated heavy fermion systems and localization in topological Weyl semi-metals."

The Prize comes with a monetary award and an invited presentation at the SCES2019 Conference in Okayama, Japan.

Congratulations Jed!


Hsaing-Hsi Kung receives APS Richard L. Green Award

Jul 3, 2019

KungHsaing-Hsi (Sean) Kung, former graduate student in Physics & Astronomy, has received the American Physical Society's 2020 Richard L. Green Dissertation Award in Experimental Condensed Matter or Materials Physics.

Read more ...

Bob Bartynski and Girsh Blumberg promoted to the rank of Distinguished Professors

BartynskiR v2a Blumberg

We are happy to announce that the Rutgers Board of Governors has promoted Bob Bartynski (the Physics and Astronomy Department Chair) and Girsh Blumberg to the rank of Distinguished Professors.

Congratulations to Bob and Girsh for your well-deserved promotions!


Physics Major Lucas Hanson has received a Leadership Scholarship from the national office of the Society of Physics Students

serintouch v1Physics Major Lucas Hanson (Class of 2020) has received a Leadership Scholarship from the national office of the Society of Physics Students, part of the American Institute of Physics. Lucas has been working in the lab of Eva Andrei.

Lucas was selected for this recognition owing to his academic and personal achievements, as well as for exhibiting exemplary leadership within our SPS Chapter.

Congratulations Lucas!


Distinguished Research Professor Phil Batson has been honored as a member of the inaugural class of elected Fellows of the Microanalysis Society

Phil BatsonFounded in 1951, the Microanalysis Society (MAS) is dedicated to the advancement and dissemination of knowledge concerning the principles, instrumentation, and applications of microanalysis down to the atomic level.

Fellowship was established to recognize eminent scientists, engineers, and technologists in the field of microanalysis of materials and related phenomena who have distinguished themselves through outstanding research and service to the microanalysis community.

Congratulations Phil on receiving this well-deserved distinction.


Board of Governors Prof. Gabi Kotliar has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences


Gabi joins other current NAS members in the department including Eva Andrei, Karin Rabe, David Vanderbilt and Joel Lebowitz, as well as former members Sasha Zamolodchikov and Elihu Abrahams, and affiliated members Paul Falkowski, Morrel Cohen, and Jim Phillips.

Congratulations Gabi on receiving this well-deserved honor!


David Vanderbilt has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

VanderbiltThe Academy is one of the nation's most prestigious honorary societies and a leading center for independent policy research.

David is the only individual from Rutgers to be elected this year, and is the sixth member of our Department to be elected to the Academy, joining Eva Andrei, Tom Banks, Daniel Friedan, Greg Moore, and Karin Rabe. Other members affiliated with our department include Helen Berman and Paul Falkowski.

Congratulations David!


Matthew Buckley and Sevil Salur will be receiving the 2019 School of Arts and Sciences Awards

BuckleyMatthew Buckley will be receiving the 2019 School of Arts and Sciences Award for Distinguished Contributions to Undergraduate Education at the Assistant Professor rank.


SalurSevil Salur will be receiving the 2019 School of Arts and Sciences Award for Distinguished Contributions to Undergraduate Education at the Associate Professor rank.

This is now the third year in a row that our faculty members have received multiple awards for their contributions to undergraduate education. It is particularly gratifying that the faculty continues to win awards across the ranks!!

Congratulations Matt and Sevil in receiving this well deserved recognition.


Three students from Rutgers have been selected to receive 2019 Goldwater Scholarships, and all three have connections to the Department of Physics & Astronomy

Rutgers is the only school in New Jersey to have three Goldwater Scholars this year.

Rikab Gambhir is a junior who is double majoring in Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering and Physics. In our department, Rikab is working with Steve Schnetzer.

Brandon Gomes is a sophomore who is double majoring in Physics and Mathematics. In our department, he is working with JP Chou.

Mariya Galochkina is a junior who is double majoring in Geology and Physics. Her main research is in the Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences, but she is also pursuing the ocean physics option of the physics major.

This is the 10th consecutive year, and 12th time in the past 14 years, that students from Physics & Astronomy have won Goldwater Scholarships. Congratulations to all of the students, their mentors, and Art Casciato from the Office of Distinguished Fellowships.

Added 4-30-2019: There is a fourth 2019 Goldwater Scholar with a connection to our Department -- Emma McLaughlin, a Providence College undergraduate who did research with Jaki Noronha-Hostler as a Summer 2018 REU student.


Graduate student Aidan Zabalo has been awarded a Rutgers Discovery Informatics Institute (RDI2) Fellowships for Excellence in Computational and Data Science (CDS) for the 2019-2020 Academic year

ZabaloAThis competitive Fellowship supports Rutgers PhD students working on multi-disciplinary collaborative computational/data-enabled research projects that address more than one element of CDSE research. Aidan is working in the group of Jed Pixley studying quantum phase transitions that are induced through making repeated local measurements in models of quantum circuits.

Congratulations Aidan!


Our Physics Major, Maine Christos has been selected to receive a Research Excellence Award at this year's New Brunswick Chancellors Student Leadership Gala

ChristosThis award is given to a student who demonstrates high-quality research which exhibits critical thinking, analysis, and creativity, and has demonstrated measurable evidence of academic enrichment outside of the classroom utilizing new methods of discovery and critical thinking skills.

Maine has been doing research under the supervision of Sunil Somalwar, has presented her work at multiple conferences, and is co-author on a Physics Review Letter.

Congratulations Maine for yet another recognition of your good work!!


Graduate student Steven Clark, who is working with Eva Halkiadakis on CMS, is being awarded a competitive 3-year NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

ClarkSHis proposal was titled: "Search for a Light Extended Higgs Sector at the Large Hadron Collider." Each year, NSF receives approximately 50,000 proposals, of which less than 25% are awarded. It appears that Steven is the only awardee this year who is currently attending, or is an alumnus of Rutgers.

More information can be found at: https://www.research.gov/grfp/AwardeeList.do?method=loadAwardeeList

Steven is also a 2018-19 Rutgers SUPER Grad Fellowship recipient.

Congratulations to Steven on his excellent work and Eva for her keen mentoring.


Three of our faculty members will be recognized by the University this year for their outstanding achievements

  • Andrew Baker will receive the Warren I. Susman Award for Teaching Excellence. This is the highest honor for outstanding and innovative performance in the classroom by a tenured faculty member offered by the University.
  • Alyson Brooks will receive a Board of Trustees Research Fellowship for Scholarly Excellence AND a Presidential Fellowship for Teaching Excellence. These awards are based on her outstanding scholarship and teaching accomplishments as documented in the evaluation leading to her upcoming promotion to Associate Professor with Tenure.
  • Chuck Keeton will receive a Faculty Scholar-Teacher Award which honors tenured faculty members who have made outstanding synergistic contributions in research and teaching.
Baker  Brooks  KeetonC 

Given Alyson's daily double, perhaps this is a quad-fecta.

Congratulations to our colleagues on their outstanding achievements.


Phil Batson has received the 2019 Microscopy Society of America's Distinguished Scientist Award in the Physical Sciences

batsonThis award recognizes a preeminent senior scientist in the physical discipline who has a long-standing record of achievement during their career in the field of microscopy or microanalysis.

This distinction is particularly noteworthy given the breadth of the Microscopy Society of America, an organization which is dedicated to the promotion and advancement of techniques and applications of microscopy and microanalysis in all relevant scientific disciplines.

For more information, visit: https://www.microscopy.org/awards/2019_awardsrecipient.cfm

Congratulations Phil on receiving this deserved recognition.


Board of Governors approved the promotions of Alyson Brooks, Weida Wu, and Kristjan Haule

The Department of Physics & Astronomy is very pleased to announce that at its April 9, 2019 meeting, the Board of Governors approved the promotions of:

  • Alyson Brooks to Associate Professor with tenure
  • Weida Wu to Full Professor
  • Kristjan Haule to Distinguished Professor
Brooks  WuW  Haule 

The promotions are effective July 1, 2019.

Congratulations to Alyson, Weida, and Kristjan on their well-deserved promotions.


Geraldine Cochran is the 2019 recipient of the American Association of Physics Teachers Homer L. Dodge Citation for Distinguished Service to the AAPT

CochranThe Citation is presented annually to one of its members in recognition of their exceptional contributions to the association at the national, sectional, or local level. Geraldine has been cited for her wide-ranging work concerning inequality, inequity, and social justice in physics, as well as her long record of service and leadership on many AAPT committees.

Geraldine will receive the Citation at the AAPT 2019 Summer Meeting in Provo, Utah.
Read about the Citation on the AAPT website..

Congratulations Geraldine!


Hsaing-Hsi (Sean) Kung, former graduate student in Physics & Astronomy, has received the 2019 Northeast Association of Graduate Schools Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award

KungSean, who's dissertation is entitled "Collective excitations in the antisymmetric channel of Raman spectroscopy," did his Ph.D. work under the supervision of Prof. Girsh Blumberg.

Founded in 1975, the Northeastern Association of Graduate Schools (NAGS) is one of four regional affiliates of the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS), has members in states from Maryland to Maine, as well as the Eastern Provinces of Canada.

Sean's recognition is particularly notable as the NAGS offers a Doctoral Dissertation Award in the fields of Physical Sciences, Mathematics & Engineering only once every four years.

Congratulations Sean and excellent mentoring Girsh!


Congratulations to Dave Maiullo upon winning a 2017-2018 Individual SAS Staff Excellence Recognition Award!

Maiullo For over 30 years, Dave has enriched lectures presented in the Physics Lecture Hall with his creative and memorable demonstrations and other support. He continues to be a tremendous ambassador for the department and the university, bringing his demonstrations and promoting physics and science to schools, libraries, and other venues with dozens of visits annually throughout the state. And, he's brought his talents Off-Broadway with "That Physics Show", reaching an ever wider audience, young and old, with his message that science (particularly physics!!!) is fun, cool, and an important part of everyone's daily life.

Congratulations Dave on this well deserved recognition.

See the feature article about Dave in the Daily Targum


Congratulations to graduate students Prasiddha Arunachalam and Adam Broussard for winning the Chambliss Astronomy Achievement Student Awards for their posters at the 233rd AAS meeting

More info at AAS website..


Former graduate student Kshitij Wagh, who got his PhD in 2013 under the direction of Prof. Gyan Bhanot, has made important progress in understanding new approaches towards HIV vaccine design

Working with a network of collaborators at Duke, Harvard, NIH and UPenn, Kshitij, now a staff scientist at LBNL, investigates how a subset of HIV-infected individuals develop desirable cross-reactive antibodies during the course of infection, and uses that information to inform HIV vaccine design. In their recent study, Kshitij and his collaborators discovered that the sugars on the surface protein of HIV from the infecting virus plays a key role in the development of cross-reactive antibodies in HIV infections.

Kshitij was recently awarded a LANL LDRD grant to further develop modeling of sugar profiles of HIV proteins, and is applying for NIH funding to design vaccines based on their work to be used in animal and eventually preclinical and human clinical trials.

For more information, see https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2211124718315584 and https://www.lanl.gov/discover/news-stories-archive/2018/October/1023-hiv-vaccine.php


Incoming Assistant Prof. in Astrophysics, Blakesley Burkhart, has won the Annie Jump Cannon Award of the American Astronomical Society

The Annie Jump Cannon Award is for outstanding research and promise for future research by a postdoctoral woman researcher. It is given to a North American female astronomer within five years of receiving her PhD in the year designated for the award.

Congratulations Blakesley!!!