Chairman ’s Welcome

Hello Friends,

Welcome to the fall 2012 edition of Spectrum, the newsletter of the Department of Physics & Astronomy at the University of Utah. In this edition, we are pleased to highlight the growth of the various research, teaching, and public outreach programs in our department. Key developments include the creation of the six-year, $20 million NSF Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC), led by Profs. Valy Vardeny and Brian Saam of our Department, and the recent $1 million Keck Foundation Award to Prof. John Belz for development of a novel radio detection technique for high energy cosmic rays. The department has welcomed two new tenure-track faculty members in Condensed Matter Research; Prof. Dimytro Pesin (University of Texas Austin, Theoretical Condensed Matter) and Prof. Vikram Deshpande (Columbia University, Experimental Condensed Matter). The department facilities have undergone major renovations, including a rebuild of the JFB Rotunda lecture halls, renovations to the second floor library, and addition of a $750k five-axis CNC machining center to the research facilities. The department also has increased its outreach to the general community through public science events centered upon the annular Solar eclipse, the transit of Venus across the sun, and the recent landing of the rover `Curiosity’ on Mars.


During fall 2012 homecoming weekend, the department had the privilege of hosting a group of seven Ph.Ds who had graduated from the department in the 1960’s. It was a pleasure to show our visitors around the department, and sponsor a lunch-time reunion with several of their faculty mentors. At the same time, I enjoyed hearing stories of people and departmental history from well before my arrival in the department, and the major impact our department had made on the nation and world through their subsequent academic and scientific careers. During the next few years, we will work to increase connections with all of our former students, and we hope this newsletter will encourage you to write to us and tell us what you have been up to. We also welcome you to plan a visit to the department, reunite with your colleagues, and see all the growth and changes that have occurred. Our departmental `home’ will always be open to you!

With Best Regards,

Dave Kieda