Department news

Dr. Michael Famiano offers support for students through WMU4Students group

Since late March, a contingent of WMU faculty, staff, alumni, parents and community members has banded together to collect and deliver food and household products to students still living on or near campus. The group is led by Famiano and has grown to almost 40 people. Donations are arranged through an online form, and donors are directed to leave groceries on their front porch for a contactless pickup. Monetary donations are used by the group’s shoppers and in many cases delivered straight to Famiano’s front porch. A form has also been created for those interested in joining the volunteer effort. You can read more about the work of WMU4Students via WMU News.

Western Michigan University selected as a 2022 site for the Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics

APS Conferences for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP) are three-day regional conferences for undergraduate physics majors. The 2022 conference will be held in January. The 2021 conference will be held virtually January 22-24. Please visit the CUWiP website to register for the 2021 conference. Registration ends October 30, 2020.

The goal of APS CUWiP is to help undergraduate women continue in physics by providing them with the opportunity to experience a professional conference, information about graduate school and professions in physics, and access to other women in physics of all ages with whom they can share experiences, advice, and ideas.

Dr. Ayman Said awarded 2020 Alumni Achievement Award

Said (MS ’00, Ph.D. ’04) is a physicist at the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont, Illinois. Said has been involved in the construction and commissioning of the high and medium energy resolution spectrometers at the inelastic X-ray scattering sector of the APS, and is now the lead beamline scientist for the high-resolution spectrometer. An expert in high resolution inelastic X-ray scattering, he has designed, tested and constructed many of the optics which are used in APS beamlines. Said is the author or co-author of over 100 scientific papers. Most of his work involves studying the effects of material properties on phonons within them. His results have helped explain unusual properties of materials, including superconductivity, topological states, negative thermal expansion and protein dynamics.

Dr. Elena Litvinova awarded Emerging Scholar Award

Litvinova, associate professor of physics, joined WMU in 2013. She is a leading figure in the field of theoretical nuclear physics. The Emerging Scholar Award will be presented to Litvinova at WMU's Fall Convocation on September 20, 2019. Launched in 2006, the Emerging Scholar Award program acknowledges the accomplishments of Western Michigan University faculty members who are among the rising stars in U.S. higher education.

Saturday Morning Science lecture series launched by Dr. Michael Famiano

Famiano has spearheaded the new lecture series, which began on September 14, 2019. The talks are open to the public, free of charge and take place once a month through April 2020. Various Western Michigan University faculty members will speak on a variety of topics that will be geared towards all ages.

2019 West Michigan Nanoscience and Quantum Technology Conference

On Wednesday, July 17, 2019, several graduate students from the Department of Physics presented at the 2019 West Michigan Nanoscience and Quantum Technology Conference. Graduate students Maryam Vaghefi Esfidani, Rasanjali Jayathissa and Matthew Cook gave talks, while Masoud Shabani Nezhad Navrood, Shahid Iqbal and Nurlathifah Sardji presented posters. Shahid Iqbal won first prize in the poster competition. The conference took place at Grand Valley State University.

Allan Kern receives Staff Excellence Award

In March the College of Arts and Sciences recognized 12 individuals for their exemplary contributions to our students, the college and Western Michigan University as a whole. Kern, accelerator specialist in the Department of Physics, was honored with the Staff Excellence Award. This award recognizes his great work and outstanding contributions over the past year.

Katrina Koehler wins the George E. Bradley Award

Koehler was recognized for exceptional overall performance with particular emphasis on excellence in research. She successfully defended her Ph.D. dissertation on April 5, 2019 and will continue her work at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. Her name will be added to a plaque displayed in the George E. Bradley Physics Commons.

Charles J. Taylor is the Presidential Scholar in Physics

Taylor, a member of WMU's Lee Honors College, graduated in April and majored in physics and applied mathematics. He plans to continue his education and aspires to work for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration as an astronaut. Taylor worked with Drs. Tanis and Burns on his research while at WMU. His work with Dr. Tanis was the basis for his honors college thesis titled "Radiative Double Electron Capture by Ions in Collisions with Gas Targets." Taylor worked with Dr. Burns on a project involving doped lead chalcogenides, a model system for studying exotic states such as exotic superconductivity. For this research, he received WMU's Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities Award.

Department of Physics Award Ceremony

On April 18, 2019, the Department of Physics honored undergraduate and graduate students during our awards ceremony. Several different scholarships and awards were given out. More information about the awards can be found on our website. Students were selected based on their outstanding work during the 2018-19 academic year. Congratulations to all the winners.

Dr. Michael Famiano, representing WMU in Japan

Through his Fulbright Award, Famiano is spending January through June (2019) in Japan with the National Astronomical Observatory's Department of Theoretical Astronomy. Famiano's research project is to evaluate the effects of relativistic electron-positron plasmas on astronomical observables and also includes outreach activities with students as well as the public in both Japan and the United States.

For more information, you can visit WMU News to read the entire article.

Physics major named University Innovation Fellow

Andy Sylvain Hobelsberger is one of four Western Michigan University students selected as a 2018 University Innovation Fellow. The program is run by Stanford University's Hasso Plattner Institute of Design and is designed to empower students to become agents of change on their own campuses and ensure their peers gain the knowledge, skills and attitudes required to compete and make an impact on the economy of the future.

Summer 2018 newsletter

Our department's annual newsletter is now available. Please take a moment to visit our newsletter page and catch up on all our recent news and events. You can also find our previous newsletters archived on this page. We hope you enjoy. If you have any information that you would like included in our next newsletter, please contact us.

Past news

Read about our department's prior news and accomplishments.

WMU news