Andrew O'Hara

Photo of Andrew O'Hara
Andrew O'Hara
Assistant Professor of Physics
(269) 387-4948
2224 Everett Tower, Mail Stop 5252
Mailing address: 
Department of Physics
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo, MI 49008-5252 USA
  • Ph.D., Physics, The University of Texas at Austin, 2015
  • B.S., Physics and Mathematics, Haverford College, 2009
Teaching interests: 
  • Introductory physics
  • Solid state / condensed matter physics
  • Quantum mechanics
Research interests: 
  • Defects in materials (functional and detrimental)
  • Ferroelectrics
  • Interfaces and heterostructures in oxides, semiconductors, and 2D materials

Dr. Andrew O’Hara is an assistant professor in computational and theoretical materials physics in the Department of Physics at Western Michigan University.

His research interests focus on computational modeling of materials to understand their properties and explore novel functionality. This work is done both in the context of purely computational/theoretical projects informed through the broader literature and projects done with experimental collaborators to aid and extend the understanding of their data. The primary technique that he uses is density functional theory (DFT) and several of its extensions which allow for the study materials systems at the atomistic level while including quantum mechanical effects at reasonable computational cost. The results of these calculations are also used to calculate expectation values of operators to determine the role of specific interactions or parameterize model systems.

Dr. O’Hara’s research has covered a wide range of projects, ranging from basic materials analysis and characterization to direct data analysis development and aiding in experimental data interpretation. Much of this work has focused on interface and heterostructure properties, magnetism, ferroelectrics, phonons and thermal properties, and defects both detrimental and functional in materials. A few specific areas where he has been most active in recent years include magnetoelectric coupling in 2D materials and their heterostructures, characterization of novel properties in the van-der-Waals-layered ferro-ionic conductor CuInP2S6 and related materials, and radiation effects on defects for device and material reliability. Thus far, his research has led to over 40 published papers and a book chapter.

Beyond performing research with his colleagues and collaborators, Dr. O’Hara enjoys mentoring students at all levels of their education from early undergraduate to graduate school. Several of his previously mentored undergraduate students have been co-authors on publication, won awards for their research both at conferences and at the national level, and have continued their studies in graduate school. He has also served the broader physics community, serving as a reviewer for several physics and materials science journals.