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University of Maryland Department of Physics 1117 John S. Toll Physics Building College Park , MD 20742



xxxxxxxxxxxxxSeptember 2006 - Issue 49


Dear Readers,

Welcome. For some of you this is a return, for others this is the start of something new. In either case, I am confident that, together, we'll have a productive semester.

This year, we have had the pleasure of accepting over 50 undergraduate freshman and 30 first-year graduate students. To those of you who are among these, let me give you a word of advice: Enjoy this experience. It's over before you know it! When they told me that “graduate school is the best years of your life” I didn't believe it then, but I sure believe it now. It's a true metamorphosis and a non-trivial ride. Please remember that if you ever have any questions or concerns along the way, we are all here to offer guidance and support.

We've also had the pleasure of recruiting several new faculty members who will all be an excellent addition to our department and the university. These new assistant professors include the following (in alphabetical order):

Kevork Abazajian, an outstanding theoretical physicist on the boundaries of particle physics, cosmology, and astrophysics, and who will be an excellent addition to our newly established Particle Theory Center . His research areas include neutrino astrophysics and cosmology. He is a leader in his field with a reputation for outstanding work.

Paulo Bedaque, an all-around great physicist who has joined our Theoretical Quarks, Hadrons and Nuclei (TQHN) research group. His field of research focuses on the understanding of nuclear forces from first principles, including the force between two hadrons, and has made impressive contributions in quark theory, especially at the B-factories.

Victor Galitski, a new and excellent addition to our Condensed Matter theory group. He uses modern techniques to attack the most competitive, challenging problems in condensed matter physics. He has clearly established a positive reputation in the field.

 Michelle Girvan, a brilliant young theorist in the area of nonlinear dynamics of very large networks. She comes to us from the Santa Fe Institute. Her research expertise is on the structure and nonlinear dynamics of very large networks and studies, among other things, phase transitions on these networks. She has produced high-quality results from applying her research expertise, showing the value of physics research in areas in and outside of the physics sciences.

Carter Hall, an exceptional experimental physicist from the high energy community who will be an outstanding addition to our Experimental Nuclear Physics group. He is an all-around excellent young scientist, working on the EXO double beta-decay experiment at Stanford, and effort that probes physics at the GUT scale. Carter is leading the development and commissioning of the xenon handling and purification system for the experiment and will be setting up an experimental effort here in the physics department.

Arthur LaPorta, an outstanding scientist in the burgeoning field of biophysics. He has focused his research on developing physics techniques to investigate biological processes at the molecular level, and is one of the young leaders in the field of single cell biophysics. This is an extremely exciting investigation that is looking at what happens inside cells from a completely new point of view – physics! What would you guess we could learn from looking at things from new perspectives? Who knows – that's what this research is all about!

Peter Shawhan, an established scientist who will make an excellent addition to our Experimental Gravitation group. He is already positioned as one of the key instrument software and data analysts of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), having been at the center of activity for several years at Caltech. This ground breaking research project has the potential to detect gravitational waves produced by massive bodies far away in space.

Arpita Upadhyaya, an exceptional physicist who will greatly fortify the University's growing biophysics initiative with her work in cellular mechanics. Arpita is another exceptional young physicist working in biophysics, and comes to us from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

I am very excited about beginning our 2006-2007 academic year and with exceptional students and faculty, we're already off to an outstanding start. Good luck to all of you! And please feel free to contact me throughout the year at 301.405.5946 or .