Department news

Dr. Michael Famiano and Science Olympiad participantsScience Olympiad draws 400 hundred students to WMU

On Saturday, February 25, over 400 middle and high school students competed in the Region 10 Science Olympiad at WMU. Many faculty, staff, and students from the Department of Physics volunteered their time to help with this event. Students blew away the physics department in demonstrating their skills and knowledge in the Wind Power event. They enlightened us with tests and demonstrations in Optics. Several star students showed up for Astronomy. Many teams geared up to show off their Rube Goldberg machines in Mission Possible. Special thanks to the WMU Physics Club for volunteering for this event.



Dr. Marc HumphreyPhysicist melds scientific, humanitarian drive at UN's 'nuclear watchdog'

Since earning his B.S. in physics and applied mathematics from WMU and his Ph.D. in physics at Harvard University, Dr. Marc Humphrey has applied his training in unconventional ways.

A recent article featured on WMU News delves into how Humphrey uses his training in physics while working at the International Atomic Energy Agency's Department of Safeguards. Humphrey’s story was also featured in the WMU Magazine and the Western Michigan University Brand Book.

NASA logoProfessors awarded 3 year NASA grant

Dr. Thomas W. Gorczyca and Dr. Manuel Bautista have been awarded a 3 year NASA grant worth $503,151. Dr. Gorczyca, professor of theoretical atomic physics, and Dr. Bautista, associate professor of astrophysics, will work to develop the atomic, molecular, and solid-state database needed for modeling X-ray spectra of the cool phase of the intersteller medium for application to recent and future X-ray astronomy instruments.

Their theoretical atomic physics research will focus on helping to answer the following important questions in astrophysics: Where are oxygen, silicon, and iron found in the universe? What are their abundances and physical and chemical forms? These answers are found through analysis of X-ray observations using astrophysical plasma spectral models. The strategic goal of their research is to discover the origin, structure, evolution, and destiny of the universe, and search for Earth-like planets. 

Charles HendersonPhysicist appointed to national group

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Charles Henderson, WMU professor of physics education research holding a joint appointment in the Department of Physics and the Mallinson Institute for Science Education, has been elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society. He was nominated by the Topical Group on Physics Education Research for “pioneering research into use of research-based instructional strategies in physics, as well as leadership and service to the physics education research community, and serving as an ambassador to science, technology, engineering and math education broadly.” Fellowship is a distinct honor signifying recognition by one's professional peers for exceptional contributions to the physics enterprise.

Lisa PauliusPhysics professor receives University Distinguished Teaching Award

Dr. Lisa Paulius is a 2016 recipient of the University Distinguished Teaching Award. The honor is bestowed on faculty members who are exceptional educators and mentors and demonstrate outstanding dedication to their work.

Of the dozens of students nominating her, nearly all reported that Paulius' teaching innovations and methods, combined with her passion for physics and teaching, were instrumental in their classroom success. They also consistently praised her for providing steadfast patience and support.

A former student who is now an engineer with IBM recounted how as a freshman, she was awed by Paulius and unsure whether she would stick with physics as a career choice. Because of Paulius, the student went on to obtain a master's degree in applied optics and wrote that, "one of the best things that Western provided me with was a mentor whose friendship, support and encouragement has followed me for long after I graduated." 

Dean Carla Koretsky and middle school studentsEngaging young minds

The Department of Physics was thrilled to welcome about 200 eighth graders from Portage Northern Middle School on November 21, 2016. The students got to experience the best of Western's STEM-based programs during a field trip on campus. (Image left: students with College of Arts and Sciences dean, Dr. Carla Koretsky, in front of the Tandem Van de Graaff Accelerator.)



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