Department Happenings: 2010 through 2011

Friday, July 15, 2011

Submitted by Prof. Dan Gauthier, July 2011

Department Happenings First, let me apologize for the “missing” print newsletter during summer 2010.  Life in general was hectic and I fell behind on my obligations; thus, this “Happenings” summarized information from Summer 2009 - Summer 2011. Over the past two years, there have been numerous changes in department leadership and faculty ranks.  In 2011, I stepped down as Chair of the department after six years and I am very excited that Prof. Haiyan Gao has agreed to step into this very important leadership role.  See the article about her vision for the coming years.  Also, Prof. Richard Palmer has stepped down after four years as Director of Graduate Studies and Prof. Shailesh Chandresekharan will be taking over this important responsibility.  In 2009, Prof. Stephen Teitsworth took over as Associate Chair for Teaching, succeeding Prof. Gao, and in 2010 Prof. Henry Greenside took over as Director of Undergraduate Studies, succeeding Prof. Seog Oh.

Comings and Goings While our hiring has been limited by the economy, we were fortunate to attract Dr. Nicolas Buchler as an Assistant Professor of Physics and Biology in late summer 2009.  His interests are in cellular biophysics, especially in investigating switch-like behavior in natural or synthesized regulatory networks. Dr. Robert Brown, who has been teaching in the program for many years as a “Visiting Professor,” was appointed Lecturer in 2010 and is playing a very active role in our teaching program, including teaching Introductory Physics at the Beaufort campus over the summers. Faculty promotions include Drs. Ashutosh Kotwal (2010), Joshua Socolar (2011) and Roxanne Springer (2011) moving into the rank of Full Professor of Physics, while Dr. Chris Walter gained tenure and was promoted to Associate Professor of Physics in January 2011.  Congratulations to all for these milestones! We also added several secondary faculty in 2011: Professor Hubert Bray (Math), Associate Professor James Dobbins in (Radiology), Associate Professor Jungsang Kim (ECE), where I have listed their primary appointments in parentheses.  In 2009, we appointed Professor David Beratan (Chemistry), Assistant Professor Patrick Charbonneau (Chemistry), and Associate Research Professor Bastiaan Driehuys (Radiology). Also during this period, Profs. Moo-Young Han (2011), John Thomas (2011), Werner Tornow (2011) and Henry Weller (2010) have retired and moved into the emeritus rank.  Profs. Han, Tornow, and Weller are still active on campus, while Prof. Thomas is continuing his research activities down the road at NC State University. Finally, I am saddened to report that Professor Emeriti Henry Fairbank passed away in January 2011 and William Walker in April 2010.  Their presence in our community will be greatly missed. On the staff side, we welcome Mrs. Elena Musty as Assistant to the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Mrs. Cristin Paul as Assistant to the Chair, and Mrs. Miriam Vines as Staff Assistant. Ms. Janet Patterson has departed the department, leaving her role as Instrument Maker in the Instrument Shop. Other Ramblings Throughout this newsletter, you will read about other major developments in the department, including the renewal of our graduate curriculum, a new undergraduate major in Biophysics, the possibility of a new building for the physics department, etc.  Also, our community has been very active on the research front, with many new grants, publications, honors and awards for our scholars, which are too numerous to list here.  I encourage all of our alumni to keep up with our latest news on the departmental news site and to sign up for our electronic newsletter (there is a window for signing up for a subscription on the lower right side of our news page).  I also encourage everyone to submit a story about any interesting happenings.  It is easy and our news team can work with you to polish your story.  To submit a story, please email news at phy dot duke dot edu.