News & Events

ACFI faculty Lorenzo Sorbo and collaborators have offered two possible explanations for the discrepancy between BICEP2 and previous experiments: a sudden change in the production of the gravitational waves and the existence of a preferred direction in the sky. (arXiv preprint, New Scientist coverage)

The Simons Collaboration on the Many Electron Problem held its kickoff meeting on March 17. It brings together 23 physicists from around the world (including UMass' Nikolay Prokof'ev and Boris Svistunov) to new ways to solve the quantum mechanical behavior of systems comprised of many interacting electrons, with the goal of revolutionizing our ability to calculate and understand the properties of molecules and solids important in chemistry, physics and everyday life. ...more…

The book "Topics in Advanced Quantum Mechanics" by Professor Emeritus Barry Holstein has recently been reprinted by Dover, two decades after it's first release by Addison-Wesley in 1992.

Good books never expire: well done Barry!

Recent physics graduate alum German Colón will start a faculty career at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy on Cape Cod. He has graduated in 2013 with Prof. Dallapiccola. His doctoral work included sensitive searches for mini black hole production in high energy proton collisions with the ATLAS detector at CERN. Very well done, and good luck on your new position, German!

Senior Morgan Opie, a physics/math double major, was awarded one of 14 scholarship offered by the Winston Churchill Foundation for outstanding american students to pursue graduate studies at Cambridge University in the UK (...more...).
Opie was also one of four Fall '13 recipients of the UMass Rising Researcher awards (...more...), and she was runner-up for the Alice T. Schafer Prize, a national prize for excellence in mathematics by an undergraduate woman.
Well done, Morgan!

More News & Events

Nikolay Prokof'ev and Boris Svistunov have been awarded a prestigious award (1.67 M$ over 10 years) from the Simons Foundation.

The Simons Collaboration on the Many Electron Problem brings together a group of scientists focused on developing new ways to solve the quantum mechanical behavior of systems comprised of many interacting electrons, with the goal of revolutionizing our ability to calculate and understand the properties of molecules and solids important in chemistry, physics and everyday life. ...more…

The EXO-200 experiment has measured the 2-neutrino double-beta decay of Xe-136 with 3% precision. The measurement provides useful information for modeling the Xe-136 nucleus, and places Xe-136 on the front stage in the search for the lepton number-violating neutrino-less double beta decay. The EXO-200 collaboration includes professors Andrea Pocar and Krishna Kumar, postdoc Tim Daniels, and graduate student Sereres Johnston. The result is highlighted on Physical Review C. ( ...more… )

UMass undergrads Jasmine Abdollahi, Kirsten Randle (physics), Sarah Zuraw (physics/math), and Kelsey Krafton (astronomy) have presented their research at the APS-sponsored East Coast Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP 2014), jointly hosted by Stony Brook University and Brookhaven National Laboratory.

David Kastor has been named Fellow of the American Physical Society in November 2013. This is an honor conferred on less than one half of one percent of the APS membership. Congratulations, David!
For his influential work on a broad span of topics in gravitational physics, ranging from the formal definition of conserved quantities in General Relativity through new exact black hole solutions all the way to brane architectures relevant for string theory.

Graduate student Jessica McIver has been awarded a Graduate School Dissertation Research Grant (from the UMass Graduate School) for her thesis work on the LIGO project. The award will sponsor an extended visit at the LIGO Laboratory in Louisiana in January 2014. For more, read her blog posts on the EGPA site: here and here.
Graduate Student, Ben Gamari, was awarded the Open Source Software Prize from the Institute for Computational Biology, Biostatistics, and Bioinformatics (ICB3) for his work on open-source hardware and software for photon timing and analysis. ...more...
Prof. Jennifer Ross won a prestigeous four-year, $800,000 INSPIRE award from the National Science Foundation to uncover and establish the laws for the fundamental workings of cells, which form the basis of tissues in plants, animals and humans. She will partner with cellular biophysicist Margaret Gardel of the University of Chicago in the research, which offers endless possibilities for discovery in both life and physical sciences. (see more )
The Physics Department is delighted to welcome Professor Michael Ramsey-Musolf, who is joining our faculty and the High Energy Theory group this Fall.
With the arrival of Prof. Michael Ramsey-Musolf, UMass Amherst has established the Amherst Center for Fundamental Interactions (ACFI) in the Physics Department. The ACFI seeks to advance research in theoretical and experimental physics at the interface of the Energy, Intensity, and Cosmic frontiers. ACFI activities include international topical workshops, a visiting researcher program, and enhanced in-house research involving the theoretical and experimental high energy, nuclear, and astroparticle groups. Read more about the ACFI at .
The department welcomes its incoming class of graduate students. Fifteen new students arrived from China, Malaysia, Taiwan, and the US, for graduate study.

Back row (L to R): Haike Guo, Henry Byrd, Zhou Xu, Zachary Meadows, Haolin Li, Buquin Wang
Front row (L to R): Shao-Yu Chen, Chien Yeah Seng, Peijan Wang, James Sainz, Margaret Lutz, Alissa Monte, Megan Talley, Wanting Wang
Not shown: Christopher Olson

Dean Steve Goodwin, College of Natural Sciences, hosted a science alumni reception in the atrium of the Integrated Science Building on April 27th. The Integrated Science Building [ISB] located on North Pleasant Street across from Hasbrouck welcomed one of its beneficiaries, who spoke on the meaning of being a part of the massive project to plan, construct, and shepard this building complex to completion. Dean Goodwin is also proud of the Center for Agriculture Research and Extension.
George R. Richason, Jr., professor emeritus Chemistry, had a conversation with Jim Ricci about another chemistry faculty member, the late Everett Turner. By tradition, the oldest faculty recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award carries the University Mace at the annual commencement ceremonies. Until the 1970’s only two professors had carried the mace in the history of the University –our Bill Ross and George. George retired in 1976.
Brothers Robert ‘70, Richard ‘55, and William Mahoney ‘55 were all Chemistry majors from the Springfield area. The private gift from Kathleen and Robert Mahoney and Richard and Barbara Mahoney underwrote a huge portion matched by University capital funds. Since initiation of the ISB project, Past Presidents of the University, William Bulger, and John Lombardi, Robert Holub separately had praised the Mahoneys for their many ways of contribution to UMass. Robert served as a Trustee for six years and as a member of the Board of Directors of the UMass Amherst Foundation. William is the past Chair of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics Advisory Council. An annual chemistry lecture is present in his name. To keep really current with contemporary students, he has taught a course, “The Business of Science, Contemporary Industrial Practices,” on the Amherst campus. The image on this page shows Margaret E McCarthy, Robert Mahoney, and Steve Goodwin.
Marshall Hall was demolished in 1996 to provide space for the ISB. Marshall Hall built in 1916 served as The Bacteriology Laboratory and was renamed in 1937 to honor former faculty member Charles E. Marshall. Dr. Marshall had served as the first head of the Department of Bacteriology, Director of the Graduate School, and Director of the Experiment Station. In 1947 the Annex was added to provide extra research space and in later years housed an art studio. Professor Marshall’s daughter, Maude Marshall, PhD, was the author’s organic chemistry instructor at Wheaton College.
Interdisciplinary teams of students and researchers in chemistry, biology, animal science, and neuroscience are housed in this $80 million, 140,000 square foot science facility. The University has embarked on a large project to work with Baystate Medical Center to develop a life science industry and a clinical component. The opening foundation dedication occurred Sept 2009. “The ISB houses all undergraduate chemistry teaching labs and upper-division labs for molecular biology, cell biology, genetics and physiology. These offer specialized microscopes and access to advanced imaging technologies, lasers and sophisticated tissue culture facilities. The building also provides individual Internet and computer connections in its 48-seat lecture hall, a student computer room, small group and seminar rooms, distance-learning capabilities, plus research and office space for Veterinary and Animal Sciences faculty.” There is a roof garden installed over the chiller plant and loading docks. All of the steel recycled from the 2006 demolition of the Marshall Annex was reused.
Rainwater in the cooling system is recycled. Labs and offices have hot water, radiant perimeter ceiling panels to provide perimeter heating to monitor minimal airflow during unoccupied times. Motion detectors turn designated lighting fixtures off when not in use. Special high use resistance flooring is made from partially recycled-content vinyl and ceramic tiles.
The ISB has of eco-friendly materials—bamboo and a high efficiency, heat exchange system for heating and ventilation. In the heating season exhaust air from the classroom wing will be used to preheat incoming cold air serving the lab areas. The exchange system recovers 50 percent more heat and moisture than a typical system used in laboratory buildings. The use of both steam and electric chillers balances steam and electric consumption in conjunction with the relatively new Central Heating Plant. The ISB is a great addition to the UMass / Amherst campus waiting for you to tour.

(Contributed by Margaret McCarthy)


The physics department has a new head. Prof. Rory Miskimen takes over from Prof. Don Candela who has served for the past six years.

Thanks Don for your service and all your hard work, and welcome Rory!

Davidovich Ross Santangelo

Congratulations to Newly Tenured Professors of the Department of Physics: Benny Davidovich, Jennifer Ross, and Christian Santangelo. In addition to attaining tenure, they have also been promoted to the rank of Associate Professor.

Congratulations to our most recent PhDs!

Bo Peng successfully defended his thesis "Theory and simulations of polyelectrolyte complexes" on August 29. His work was advised by Prof. Jon Machta.


Burcu Yucesoy successfully defended her thesis "Replica Exchange Monte Carlo Simulations of the Ising Spin Glass: Static and Dynamic Properties" on August 29. Her work was advised by Prof. Murugappan Muthukumar.




Jessica Cook successfully defended her thesis "Gravitational Wave Production through Decay of the Inflaton into Intermediary Fields during Slow Roll Inflation" on August 21. Her work was advised by Prof. Lorenzo Sorbo.




Yanbo Wang successfully defended his thesis "Computer Simulations of Polyelectrolyte Stretching and Translocation" on August 16. His work was advised by Prof. Murugappan Muthukumar.




Huajie (Annabelle) Ke successfully defended her thesis "Fabrication, Characterization and Analysis of Patterned Nano-sized Material with Large Magnetic Permeability at High Frequency" on May 31. Her work was advised by Prof. Mark Tuominen.

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