Category Archives: News

Prof. Orzel Publishes Review Article

Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy Chad Orzel published an invited review article in the Comments on Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics series in the journal Physica Scripta. The article, “Searching for new physics through atomic, molecular and optical precision measurements” describes a number of experiments that are searching for physics beyond the Standard Model of particle physics not with billion-dollar particle accelerators, but through ultra-precise studies of the properties of atoms and molecules and their interaction with light.

The full article is available for free for the next 30 days at:

Halloween Potluck

Faculty, staff, and students gathered for a Halloween Potluck on October 25, 2012. The potlucks were inspired some years ago by our super Administrative Assistant Colleen Palleschi. This was her final potluck before her retirement in early January 2013. The students honored her with a framed collection of photos of Physics & Astronomy students throughout her years. For photos of the event see the Photo Gallery.

Faculty and Staff made the food for the luncheon. The menu included:
Chicken & Pumpkin Stew
Turkey & Stuffing
Hot Dogs
Sweet & Sour Beans
Chicken & Broccoli Stir Fry
Perecca’s Goodies
Apple Scones
Morning Glory Muffins

Prof. Orzel Featured Speaker at Opening of Quantum Nano Center

Chad Orzel, Associate Prof. and Chair of Physics and Astronomy, was one of the featured speakers at the opening of the new Mike and Ophelia Lazaridis Quantum Nano Center at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. The Quantum Nano Center will house the Institute for Quantum Computing and the Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology, and was made possible by a gift from Mike Lazaridis, founder of Research in Motion, the maker of Blackberry. Designed to foster collaboration and innovation, the Quantum Nano Center is a state-of-the-art research facility which will play a central role in the drive to create a “Quantum Valley” in the Waterloo area playing the same role for next generation information technologies that Silicon Valley does for conventional computers.

Prof. Orzel was part of two events at the Open House, giving a public lecture on “What Every Dog Should Know About Quantum Mechanics,” and taking part in a panel discussion on “Bridging Worlds,” about the connections between the strange worlds of the quantum and nano systems studied at the QNC and future everyday technologies. The other panel participants were Mike Lazaridis, Raymond Laflamme (the Executive Director of the Institute for Quantum Computing) and Tom Brzustowski (a former Canadian government minister and expert on innovation). Both the lecture and the panel were recorded for future broadcast on the Web and TV Ontario.

Open House info

QNC info

Physics Summer Research Student Poster Session 2012

Physics and Astronomy summer research students displayed the results of their projects in a poster session on Thursday, Sept. 13.

Professor Orzel Essay part of “The Best Science Writing Online 2012”

Chad Orzel, Associate Professor and Chair of Physics and Astronomy, had an essay published in the anthology “The Best Science Writing Online 2012,” from Scientific American Books, an imprint of Farrar Strauss Giroux. The essay, “Faster Than a Speeding Photon” provides a detailed explanation of the claimed measurement of neutrinos moving faster than the speed of light, explaining the research article in terms accessible to a non-physicist. (This claim was later shown to be an error, though sadly, after the book had gone to press…)

The Best Science Writing Online 2012, guest edited by prominent science writer Jennifer Ouellette, collects 50 of the best essays on science published in online venues during 2011. Prof. Orzel’s essay was originally published on his physics weblog, Uncertain Principles, which is part of the ScienceBlogs network produced in partnership with the National Geographic Society.

More information about the book

The original blog post

Prof. Amanuel Awarded NSF Major Research Instrumentation Grant

Principal Investigator Samuel Amanuel (Assistant Professor, Physics & Astronomy), with Co-PIs Palmyra Catravas (Associate Professor, Electrical & Computer Engineering), Brian Cohen (Lecturer, Biology), Rebecca Cortez (Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering), and Michael Hagerman (Associate Professor/Chair, Chemistry) — have been awarded $308,323 to acquire an inverted microscope for a shared instrumentation suite (IRIS). The microscope will be integrated with an existing AFM to enable research across five different departments. While the five PIs and the two Senior Personnel (Joanne Kelbeck, Associate Professor of Chemistry and Seyfollah Maleki, Professor of Physics & Astronomy) will be the major users of the new integrated system, the new system will enable research across the campus and will be accessible to the whole Union community.

A summary of the grant is available at this site.

Prof. Koopmann Awarded NSF Grant: The Undergraduate ALFALFA Team

Associate Professor Rebecca Koopmann has been awarded a $437,883 grant from the National Science Foundation for three years to support the Undergraduate ALFALFA Team (UAT) project. Koopmann leads the UAT, a consortium of 19 undergraduate-focused institutions committed to develop undergraduate research opportunities within the Arecibo Legacy Fast ALFA (ALFALFA) survey, a major radio astronomy observational survey led by astronomers Riccardo Giovanelli and Martha Haynes of Cornell University. The UAT will build on the infrastructure and enhanced faculty skill set developed during the previous grant period (NSF AST-0724918), which successfully involved more than 150 undergraduates and 22 faculty mentors (~ 50% women). Core components include an annual group workshop at Arecibo, observing runs for several groups per year at Arecibo, a summer student research stipend program supporting 8 students per year culminating in a presentation at a national meeting, and funding to provide computers to each Team school. Multiple Union College students have participated to date in ALFALFA research and activities. See for example: Union Students Observe at Arecibo and 2012 Workshop

A summary of the grant may be found at this site.

Professor LaBrake Presents Results at Accelerator Conference

Professor LaBrake presents a poster coauthored by Professor Vineyard and three Union students at CAARI 2012, the 22nd International Conference on the Applications of Accelerators in Research and Industry in Fort Worth, Texas.
Professor LaBrake presents a poster coauthored by Professor Vineyard and three Union students at CAARI 2012, the 22nd International Conference on the Applications of Accelerators in Research and Industry in Fort Worth, Texas.

Scott LaBrake, Senior Lecturer and Accelerator Manager in the Department of Physics & Astronomy, presented a poster titled “Construction of a Scattering Chamber for Ion-Beam Analysis of Environmental Materials in Undergraduate Physics Research” at CAARI 2012 the 22nd International Conference on the Applications of Accelerators in Research and Industry in Fort Worth, Texas, in August. A paper of the same title was submitted for the conference proceedings. Michael Vineyard, the Frank and Marie Louise Bailey Professor of Physics, and three Union students were co-authors on the paper.