Alumni - News

November 2014

Ron Gilliland Department Alumnus Shares Breakthrough 2015 Prize
Congratulations to Department Alum, Dr. Ron Gilliland (BA ASTR, MATH, PHSX 1974), for being one of the scientists awarded the 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics. This prize was awarded to two supernova teams for their discovery of Dark Energy. The Breakthrough Prize was started in 2012 by a group of tech giants that includes Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. The prize awards $3 million each to researchers who have made fundamental breakthroughs in life sciences, physics and mathematics.The complete press release can be accessed at this link.

HL Tau Birth of Planets Revealed in Astonishing Detail in ALMA's 'Best Image Ever'
Astronomers have captured the best image ever of planet formation around an infant star as part of the testing and verification process for the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array's (ALMA) new high-resolution capabilities. This revolutionary new image reveals in astonishing detail the planet-forming disk surrounding HL Tau, a Sun-like star located approximately 450 light-years from Earth in the constellation Taurus. "These features are almost certainly the result of young planet-like bodies that are being formed in the disk. This is surprising since HL Tau is no more than a million years old and such young stars are not expected to have large planetary bodies capable of producing the structures we see in this image," said ALMA Deputy Director Stuartt Corder (KU ASTR, PHSX BS, 2001). The complete NRAO press release can be found at this link.

October 2014

Gene Feaster

First Recipients of New KU Scholarship Named
Two University of Kansas juniors have been named the first Gene R. Feaster Physics Scholars. Emily Ann Smith, majoring in physics and interdisciplinary computing, and Daniel Rhodes, majoring in physics, were awarded the scholarship for the 2014-2015 academic year. The scholarship covers tuition costs for one year for each recipient. The scholarship was established by alumnus Gene Feaster, who invented a medical device called Superflab that is used in radiology clinics across the country. The complete press release can be found at this link.

May 2014

Suruj Seunarine

Dr. Surujhdeo Seunarine (Ph.D. Physics 2001) has joined the physics faculty at the University of Wisconsin, River Falls. He continues as a collaborator with the IceCube neutrino telescope project. He and his wife, Carla, now have a boy, Liam (3) and a girl, Lily (4 months). Sleep is rare, he says.

Mary Davidson

Martin Gutzwiller


Mary Davidson 1926-2014

Martin Gutzwiller 1925-2014

The Department was saddened to hear of the passing of two individuals with deep connections to the history of the program, Dr. Mary Davidson , widow of Dr. Jack Davidson, long-time faculty member and Department Chair in the 70's and 80's, and Dr. Martin Gutzwiller, internationally reknown physicist and member of the National Academy of Sciences who received his PhD in Physics from KU in 1953 under the direction of Max Dresden. Detailed obituaries can be found at this link for Dr. Davidson and this link for Dr. Gutzwiller.

March 2014

Stephen Floor

Dr. Stephen Floor (BS Physics, Computer Science 2005), married Liz Montabana in 2012 and became the father of a baby son in June of last year. Steve writes that he has been working with Jennifer Doudna at Berkeley on the structure and function of proteins that change the folding of RNA since 2011 as is "really excited about phase separation in the cell cytoplasm lately - a really interesting intersection of physics and biology. Regarding his son, he says "Miles was born in San Francisco and is growing up in Berkeley, so basically we read him Marx and Mao as bedtime stories. I anticipate he'll be dreadlocked by 3 years old and living in a yurt in the backyard at 8."

Dr. Floor is featured in an alumni profile accessible within the KU Center for Undergraduate Research website at this site.

Julie Feldt

Julie Feldt (BS Astronomy 2009) has started a job as an educator at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, working with the citizen science group on education research involving the different projects provided by The work is meant to understand participant motivation and how the experience could be improved educationally. Julie will also be involved in other education-related events with the citizen science group, such as school visits, hack days, development of educational tools for the projects to be used in classrooms, and teacher professional development.

Feb. 2014

L. Worth Seagondollar

Pioneer of Atomic Physics: L. Worth Seagondollar 1920-2013
A substantial portion of the current issue of Radiations, the magazine of the Sigma Pi Sigma physics honorary society, is devoted to Dr. L. Worth Seagondollar, who passed away in Sept. Dr. Seagondollar earned an AB degree from Kansas State Teachers College at Emporia, Kansas in 1941, and a PhM (1943) and PhD (1948) in physics from the University of Wisconsin. Between 1944 and 1946 Seagondollar worked with the Manhattan Project at the Los Alamos National Laboratory complex. At Los Alamos he "worked on critical mass experiments and was nine miles from the first man-made nuclear explosion." Seagondollar's career included academic appointments at the University of Kansas (1947-65) and North Carolina State University (1965-91) where he was chair of physics from 1965-75. At KU, he participated in the building of the first Van de Graaff accelerator, a research tool in low-energy nuclear physics. According to Prof. Emeritus Dick Sapp, he was a "fun guy" who kept a pirated piece of fused glass from the first nuclear test site. He became Sigma Pi Sigma advisor, which was to continue for the next 40 years. He was central to the formation of the modern version of Sigma Pi Sigma. A service award is given in his name by Sigma Pi Sigma. The press release from NC State can be accessed at this link.

Jan. 2014

Stuartt Corder Jim Hesser

Al(ma)umni Changes for 2014

Dr. Stuartt Corder (left) (BS ASTR, MATH, PHSX 2001), after playing an integral role in development of ALMA, the submillimeter array in Chile, has accepted the role of Deputy Director in Charge of Operations at ALMA. The press release can be accessed at this link. Dr. Jim Hesser (right) (BA ASTR 1963) retired from his position as Director of the DAO effective January 2, 2014. Jim was awarded a 35 year service pin earlier this summer and he has served as the Director of the DAO with great distinction since 1986. In a moment of Jayhawk continuity, Jim is leaving the ALMA Board just as Stuartt is joining.

Vaughn Nelson
Alumnus Pens Revised Verson of Wind Energy Book

Dr. Vaughn Nelson, (PhD 1967), professor emeritus at West Texas A&M University, has published a second edition of his book, Wind Energy, with CRC Press in December 2013. This new edition adds sections on community wind power generation and storage, and updates material throughout. The phenomenal growth of wind power for utilities is covered along with applications such as wind-diesel, village power, telecommunications, street lighting, etc. It also examines the history of wind energy, and provides ample reasons to shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy. It covers the characteristics of wind, and discusses the measurement and siting of individual wind turbines and wind farms. The text presents the design, aerodynamics, operation, control, applications, and different types of wind turbines. For those interested ina a copy, the book is available at

September 2013

Gene Feaster

The Department of Physics and Astronomy is thrilled to announce the receipt of the largest single donation ever to the Department endowed funds. Dr. Gene Feaster (PhD Physics 1953), inventor of Superflab, a medical device used in radiology clinics across the country which has made a lasting improvement in the field of health care, has made a $2 million gift to KU. Of his gift, $1 million established the Ida Johnson Feaster Professorship in the KU School of Nursing. It is named for his late wife, who grew up on a ranch near Emporia and attended graduate school at KU. His gift also created two $500,000 endowed scholarship funds - one in nursing and the other in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Full details on the donation and Dr. Feaster's exceptional career can be found at this site.

May 2013

Don Foster In Memorium - Dr. Donald Leroy Foster

The Department was saddened to hear of the passing of Dr. Donald Leroy Foster, 77, retired Wichita State University Physics Professor, on May 5, 2013. Don was a Reed College graduate in 1957 and earned his PhD. in Physics from the University of Kansas in 1968. Don taught at WSU for 39 years, where he served as chair for a number of years. A complete obituary can be accessed at this site.


December 2012

asteroid 2040 Dave Tholen Department Alum Helps Save the World! (Kinda)

While the Mayan Apocalypse 2012 never had any validity, occasional concerns about death from space do - just ask the dinosaurs or read the previous news item. KU alum Dr. Dave Tholen (University of Hawaii, Institute for Astronomy) led a team to obtain improved observations of the asteroid 2011 AG5. The data available previously implied a potential collision with Earth in 2040; with the new data, this option is off the table. The full story can be found at this link.

September 2012

Voyager KU Alumni Probe the Outer Limits of the Solar System

The Lawrence Journal World recently featured an article on Prof. Emeritus and KU Alum, Dr. Tom Armstrong, and KU grad, Dr. Jerry Manweiler, discussing their ongoing analysis of data from the Voyager space probe as it leaves the confines of the solar system, defined by the heliopause. The full story can be accessed at this link.

August 2012

Radiation Belt Storm Probes Department Alumni Prime Movers in NASA Mission

It's Launched! While the Radiation Belt Storm Probes (RBSP) Mission at NASA may have cost only $700 million, 1/3 of the Mars Mission, its direct impact on Earth and our understanding of the Earth-Sun interaction is significantly greater. Dr. Mona Kessel (MS, PhD Physics 1986), member of the Department Alumni Advisory Board, is Program Scientist for the mission and Prof. Emeritus, alumnus, and former Board member, Dr. Tom Armstrong, will be running the Science Operations Center for RBSPICE, one of the four instruments on board, from his local Lawrence firm, Fundamental Technologies. To celebrate and view the launch, a local event was held in downtown Lawrence at Hobbs (700 Mass. St.) at 3 AM FRIDAY Aug. 24. For technical reasons first and then the weather (Isaac strikes again), the launch was delayed a week. The mission, however, did get underway with the launch on Thursday morning (8/30). There will be an approximately two-month shakedown period before the data collection is fully underway but, so far, so good. To follow the progress of the mission, click on this link .

May 2012

Bill AndersonDepartment Alum/Advisory Board Chair Doesn't Quit

Though the current Chair of the Alumni Advisory Board has just completed his 5-year term on the Board, Bill Anderson, (BS EPHX 1967), doesn't know how to quit when it comes to his daily run. Despite being hospitalized for a ruptured appendix, Bill managed to maintain his 35 year streak of daily 1-mile runs, with a little help from his family. Some of the press he received for his efforts can be found at this link.

April 2012

John BeacomDepartment Alumnus Elected Vice Chair of APS Astrophysics

Congratulations to Dr. John Beacom (B.S. Physics and Mathematics 1991), who has been elected Vice Chair of the American Physical Society Division of Astrophysics. He will assume the role of Chair next year. John served as a member of the Physics and Astronomy Alumni Advisory Board until he assumed his extensive duties as Director of the Center for Cosmology and AstroParticle Physics at Ohio State University in 2011.

Stuartt CorderKU Alum Part of First Science from ALMA

KU alum, Stuartt Corder (BS: Astronomy, Math, Physics - 2001), currently on the staff at NRAO in Charlottesville, VA, is co-author of the first science results from the ALMA millimeter array in Chile. The millimeter wavelength images of Fomalhaut with the still-under-construction array already match the resolution of HST at optical wavelengths. For more on the results, check out this link.

March 2012

Congratulations to Dr. Bruce Barrett (BS Physics 1961), member of the Department Advisory Board, for his appointment to the U.S. Liaison Committee for the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP).

Sarah (Feldt) Muldoon (BS Physics 2004) writes that "after graduating from KU, I attended graduate school at the University of Michigan where I received my PhD (Physics) in 2009 under the guidance of Michal Zochowski. My dissertation was titled "Understanding the Interplay of Structure and Dynamics in Neuronal Networks". As the title suggests, I am one of the growing number of physicists working in the field of neuroscience. Much of my training in graduate school was related to complex systems and network theory and I am now focusing on increasing my knowledge of biology and neuroscience through my postdocs. My first postdoc was through an NIH Epilepsy Training Grant at the University of California, Irvine in the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology working with Ivan Solstez. Through this postdoc experience I began a collaboration with Rosa Cossart in France, and now have a Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship to work with her group at the Institut de Neurobiologie de la Méediterranée in Marseille, France. Additionally, in 2011, I got married to a philosopher that I met at the SFI Complex Systems Summer School in Beijing, China so future publications will come from Sarah Feldt Muldoon!"

January 2012

Patsy Tombaugh, wife of Pluto discoverer, dies in Las Cruces at 99

Patricia "Patsy" Edson Tombaugh, community leader, educator, artist, and enthusiastic supporter of her astronomy pioneer husband Clyde, discoverer of the planet Pluto and KU alumnus, died Thursday, Jan. 12 at the Arbors of Del Rey in Las Cruces. She was 99.

December 2011

Seven and Counting! Department Alum selected by Ad Astra - Kansas for Science in Kansas - 150 Years and Counting

Dr. Brian Thomas, (MS, Physics 2002; PhD, Physics 2005), currently Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Washburn University, has been selected as one of 150 scientists over the history of Kansas who define quality scientific research in the state. He becomes the seventh Department alum and/or faculty member to be selected. His trading card is available at the link above. The target audience is K-12 teachers and students, but anyone can access these cards as they appear throughout the year.

Nobel Connection II

A second link to the 2011 Nobel Prize comes via alumnus Dr. Ron Gilliland (BA: Astronomy, Math, Physics, 1974). Ron, who just retired from the Space Telescope Science Institute to work full time at Penn State on analysis of asteroseismology data from the Kepler Mission, was kind enough to supply some insight into the early evolution of the project and his involvement within STSCI. "From about 1996 through the early 2000s when the work for this year's physics prize was done I was a member of the High-z team (the Adam Riess and Brian Schmidt half). In 1996 I had an approved GO program on HST of an exploratory nature to search for SNe in the Hubble Deep Field. Bob Williams (STScI Director) was approached at this time by Saul Perlmutter for Director's Discretionary Time to pursue the science behind this Nobel. Bob thought this was a great idea, and consulted me, suggesting as well that an equal amount of HST time be given to the competing, High-z team. The latter was done, and the High-z team then recruited me to be their HST expert. I accepted. My HST exploratory program worked out wildly well resulting in detection of SN1997ff, which for more than a decade would remain the highest redshift Type Ia known. I published a lead author paper in the Astrophysical Journal in 1999 on the discovery, and was third author with Adam Riess in the lead applying this to cosmological implications a couple of years later in 2001. This helped confirm the story from 1998 of a mysteriously accelerating expansion. Adam and Brian have invited the full membership of the High-z team as of "the paper" in 1998 to attend the ceremonies with them in Stockholm. So I will be attending the events over Dec 7-12 this year." As proof, we include the photo below - Ron is noted with the arrow!

Nobel collaborators

Professor emeritus Steve Shawl attended the memorial celebration of life for his professional mentor, Dr. Tom Gehrels, at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory of the University of Arizona. The event began with a fly-over by four F16 jets of the Royal Netherlands Air Force, in honor of Gehrels' contributions during WWII as a paratrooper and a member of the Dutch underground. The event was also attended by Lindley Johnson (BA ASTR 1980), representing NASA, and Dave Tholen (BS ASTR, PHSX 1978) who flew in from Hawaii to join a standing room only crowd. Gehrels was known for his discovery of the wavelength dependence of interstellar polarization, his work as PI of the imaging photopolarimeter on the Pioneer 10/11 flights to Jupiter and Saturn (the first to these planets), his development of the SpaceWatch Project to survey the sky for asteroids and comets that might impact Earth, and his founding of the important Space Science Series of astronomical conferences and resulting books.

Joe Giacalone (Ph.D. Physics 1991) was promoted to full professor in the Department of Planetary Sciences at the University of Arizona.

November 2011

Departmental Alum Handles Near Misses

Colonel Lindley Johnson, (BA Astronomy 1980), has had a busy few weeks. As Program Director of NASA's Near Earth Object (NEO) office, as well as the Lunar and Planetary Science U.S. Participating Investigators (USPI) office, he has had to field a lot of inquiries regarding the near miss of the asteroid YU55. If you are a PBS NewsHour regular, you may have seen him discussing the event in their Other News segment. If you missed it, the video is available at this link.

October 2011

Departmental Alumnus Obtains First Direct Image of a Forming Planet

Dr. Adam Kraus (BS Astronomy, Math, Physics 2003) combined the power of the 10-meter Keck telescopes with a bit of optical sleight of hand, aperture mask interferometry, using a deformable mirror to rapidly correct for atmospheric distortions of starlight. This involved placing a small mask with several holes in the path of the light collected and concentrated by the giant telescope. The astronomers then manipulated the light waves and, for the first time, directly imaged the planet LkCa 15b itself, as well as the dusty matter around it.

Nobel Connection

Hannah SwiftThose of you who regularly watch the PBS Newshour may have seen the feature on Saul Perlmutter, one of three co-winners of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics for their work on the accelerating Universe and dark energy. What you may not know is that the grad student shown working at the telescope controls taking data with Perlmutter for the SNIa observations is none other than KU alum Hannah Swift (now Fakhouri) (BS Astronomy, Math, Physics 2006). Hannah is a grad student completing her PhD in Perlmutter’s group at Berkeley. To see what you may have missed, the video is accessible on line at

Departmental Alumnus Chosen to Lead the College of Natural and Health Sciences at Arkansas Tech University
Congratulations to Dr. Jeff Robertson (BS Physics, Astronomy 1989). Jeff returned to campus for the Homecoming celebration because, as those of you who know Jeff may remember, he was Big Jay during his undergraduate years at KU and KU was having a 40-year reunion of those who served as Big and Little Jays. Jeff, who has spent the last 14 years on the Arkansas Tech faculty in the Physical Sciences Department and is a past recipient of the Arkansas Tech Faculty Award of Excellence in teaching, was appointed Dean of the College of Natural and Health Sciences by the Tech Board of Trustees last May. In his new role, Jeff will have oversight of the biological sciences, mathematics, nursing and physical sciences departments at Arkansas Tech.

Distinguished Alumnus Visits KU and the Department-II

Jim Arnold TalkWe enjoyed the visits earlier this month of Dr. Raj Venkatapathy and alum Dr. James Arnold (BS - EPHX 1962), both from NASA Ames. Raj and Jim spoke to a diverse lunch crowd about entry systems for future missions (as in, to Mars, maybe!). Jim, who has had an exceptional career working within the NASA research and development community, later met with the PHSX 150 freshman seminar class. Our newest majors were treated to a fascinating but somber history of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board, of which Jim was a member.

Distinguished Alumnus Visits KU and the Department -I

General Pahol VisitWe are fond of claiming that our graduates can go out and do just about anything. A distinguished visitor to campus in September bears out that claim to an unprecedented degree. General Pahol Sanganetra (PhD Physics 1983) serves as the deputy permanent Secretary for Defense for Thailand. As part of a tour of the military facilities at Leavenworth, he and his wife (pictured) returned to KU to participate in a moderated discussion sponsored by KU's East Asian Studies & Global & International Studies Programs as well as KU's Office of Professional Military Graduate Education, with a stopover in the Department to reminisce with the faculty, students, and his thesis advisor, Doug McKay.

September 2011

Dr. Lalani Werake (PhD: Physics, 2011) writes that she just began a new job at the Intel Corporation in Hillsboro Oregon as a D1DR Process TD Engineer.

July 2011

Departmental Alum Chosen to Lead Research and Creative Activity and Graduate College at Ohio University
Congratulations to Joe Shields (BS: Astronomy, Physics 1985) on his appointment as vice president for research and creative activity and dean of the Graduate College at Ohio University. Joe has been Chair of the Physics and Astronomy Department at OU for six years and serves as a member of the KU Physics & Astronomy Advisory Board.

June 2011

Dr. Vaughn C. Nelson (PhD: Physics, 1967) writes that he returned from retirement in July 2009 to become Director of the Alternative Energy Institute at West Texas A&M University through July 2010. He developed a new online course in renewable energy and then a textbook (Introduction to Renewable Energy) published by CRC Press in 2011. CRC Press also published a previous textbook, Wind Energy, in 2009. Dr. Nelson will be moving from his current location in Kennewick, WA to Round Rock, TX in August 2011.

May 2011

Ron Gilliland (BA: Astronomy, Math, Physics, 1974) presented an invited talk at the Summer 2011 AAS meeting in Boston on the extraordinary achievements of the Kepler Space Telescope in the field of asteroseismology. After 23 years at STScI , Ron is exercising an option to "retire" and become an Astronomer Emeritus starting June 4th. His plan, though, is merely to take this as an opportunity to work full time on Kepler, doing so with partial grant support.

D’Arcy Stone (B.S. Physics 2007) is receiving her Master’s Degree in physics at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale this summer. She has five research publications already, and is planning to enter their Ph.D. program this fall.

Stephen Floor (BS: Physics and Computer Science, 2005) gets his Ph.D. in biophysics from the University of California at San Francisco this spring.  He’s headed across the Bay to Berkeley for a postdoc in August.

March 2011

Congratulations to Brian Thomas (MS 2002; PhD 2005, Physics) who has been promoted to associate professor of Physics and Astronomy at Washburn University in Topeka.

Daniel Nunes (BS Astronomy Physics 1997) has joined the staff at JPL as Scientist III in the Science Division, Geophysics and Planetary Geosciences Group. Half of his time will be spent as an Investigation Scientist with the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and focused on the SHARAD radar sounder instrument. The other half will be distributed among three grant-funded research projects. Congratulations to Daniel!

Jason Craig (BS Astronomy 1995), also on the staff at JPL, writes that he just completed work on the Stardust encounter with comet Tempel 1, the second time he's worked on it. The first time was the Deep Impact mission back when he first started at JPL. Other than that, the Jupiter mission, Juno, is going to launch this summer, and he's been involved with it off and on for two years, including an elaborate non-NASA website for it that will be launching soon. And finally, the big Rover sequel, MSL, will launch in November and could make his life very busy.

James Patterson (PhD Physics 1962) Emeritus Professor,Florida Institute of Technology, may be retired but his contributions to Physics continue. The new edition of his Solid State Physics book recently came out: Solid-State Physics (Springer-Verlag Berlin and Heidelberg GmbH & Co. K), Hardcover (2011) by James Patterson and Bernard Bailey. Dr. Patterson is living in Rapid City, SD and can be reached via email at

February 2011

Jim Arnold (BS Engineering Physics 1962) writes that while he retired from his civil service position as Chief of the Space Technology Division at NASA in 2002 after a 40-year career with NASA, he has continued to work closely with the same organization since then as an employee of the University of California, Santa Cruz. Currently he is an IPA with Ames and plans to work full time for a few more years. He has been working recently with others on the entry, descent and landing engineering challenges of putting humans on Mars (Design Reference Architecture 5) and, in 2010, on Entry, Descent and Landing Systems Analysis. Both of these studies have publications associated with the work. He notes that he has regularly emphasized to his colleagues that the undergraduate work he did at KU in Engineering Physics prepared him very well for his four decades of work at NASA and the graduate work he took while employed by NASA Ames.

January 2011

Judy Yu (BS Astronomy, Physics, Math, Computer Science 2003) and Bret Squire (BS Engineering Physics 2001) attended the exciting but too-close-for-comfort KU-Michigan basketball game in Ann Arbor and sent along this photo:
KU-Michigan 2011
Judy sent the following comments:

"So I made it to my first KU game - and it had to be in another state because tickets are impossible to get at KU without camping out for them.The game was very exciting, and the scrappy underdog UM team gave KU all it could handle. At the end though the Rock Chalk chant reverberated through Crisler Arena. I hope the Jayhawks visit us again - it was a great game.

As for me, I am now working at a UM biomedical spinoff in R&D as a research engineer. It is a nice respite from the crazy last year of thesis research and writing. "

December 2010

Congratulations to Jackie Milingo (BS Astronomy, Physics 1993) who has been promoted to Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy with tenure in the Department of Physics at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania.

October 2010

KU Alumnus leads team that discovers water on second asteroid.
During the 42nd-annual Division of Planetary Sciences Conference in Pasadena, Calif., Dr. Humberto Campins, who holds degrees from the University of Kansas (BA Astronomy 1977) and the University of Arizona, presented his team's findings that a second asteroid,65 Cybele, shows evidence of water ice and organic molecules. Dr. Campins' team made national headlines in April for showing the first evidence of water ice and organic molecules on an asteroid. Dr. Campins joined the University of Central Florida in 2002 as the Provost Research Professor of Physics and Astronomy and head of the Planetary and Space Science Group.

Mukesh Dhamala (PhD: Physics - 2000) a former Physics graduate research student who worked closely with  Dr. Phil Baringer’s Experimental High Energy Physics Research Group, and who also later joined Dr. Ying-Cheng Lai’s Research Group graduated and later spent six years in several research positions at several universities (Georgia Tech, Florida Atlantic University and the University of Florida).  He became a tenure-track Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Georgia State University in the fall of 2007. 

His homepage is: Most recently, he received an NSF career award ( His university's coverage on his research and grants can be seen at: , , .

Bradley J. Roth (BS: Physics - 1978) In August 2010, Oakland University named Brad Roth (BS Physics 1978) to be Interim Vice Provost for Research. Brad will be very busy untl a permanent vice provost is hired. He needs all the wide range of skills he learned at KU for this job.

September 2010

Stuartt Corder (BS: Astronomy, Math, Physics - 2001) has accepted a position as a staff scientist at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Charlottesville, VA (on the campus of the University of Virginia). This is a pseudo tenure-track position (called a continuing appointment) where he basically will have a permanent position unless NRAO shuts down. The position involves staying in Chile until December 2011.

Report of the PAAAB for 2010 is accessible at this site.

May 2010

As a new graduate student at the University of Michigan, former KU Alum Julie A. Feldt, (BS ASTR 2009) iskeeping very busy these days. In May she was awarded NASA's GSRP (Graduate Student Research Project) fellowship to work on her thesis with Anthony Mannucci at JPL's Ionospheric and Atmospheric Remote Sensing Group. The website for the GSRP is .

James (Jim) E. Hesser, (BA ASTR 1963) From early 2007 Jim Hesser served as the Canadian SPoC (Single Point of Contact) for the International Year of Astronomy 2009 and is now working with the partnership of professional and amateur astronomers to ensure that legacies are achieved as part of the International Astronomical Union's Beyond the International Year of Astronomy activities.  At some time during 2009 at least 1.93 million Canadians enjoyed an engaging astronomy experience through some 3,600 events.  A brief summary article illustrating a few highlights appears at From 2006 Jim served as liaison with the US national IYA2009 committee, which facilitated sharing of ideas and experiences across the border.

In addition to his education and public outreach activities, Jim continues as Director of the NRC's Dominion Astrophysical Observatory, Victoria, B.C., and as a member of the Board of Directors of the Atacama Large Millimeter Array, a 66 antenna radio telescope being built at 5,000m altitude in northern Chile. 

His current employment is at the National Research Council, Canada, and he can be reached via email at

March 2010

Congratulations to Mark Stockham (PHSX, ASTR 2009) and Jessica Snyder (EPHX, ASTR 2009) who were married on March 20 in an outdoor ceremony near the Turtle Rock Resort in Oregon. Details on the wedding and the happy couple can be found at

September 2009

Miles A. Garrett (BA PHSX, PHIL 2006) recently earned an MA in sociology from Cornell University. He is also glad to announce his engagement to Leann Fink of Kalamazoo, MI. They are planning a move to Edmond, OK where she will begin a PhD program and he will try his hand at entrepreneurship.

August 2009

Dr. Conyers Herring, renowned physicist and KU alumnus, dies

July 2009

Dr. Kristin Simunac (MA PHSX 2002) was appointed a STEREO PLASTIC Co-Investigator by NASA HQ in April. She completed her Ph.D. at the University of New Hampshire in May 2009, and plans to continue working at UNH as a research scientist.

Dr. Larry Friesen (BA PHSX MATH 1967) has been selected as an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). Dr. Friesen can be contacted at

Prof. Fred L. Wilson (PhD PHSX 1965), professor emeritus from Rochester (N.Y.) Institute of Technology, visited Ukraine in October, 2008 as part of a team evaluating four universities who were potential recipients of a USAID grant. Dr. Wilson served as the scientific consultant to the coordinating agency that will recommend to USAID which university should receive funding. Each university visited (widely spread over Ukraine) was a finalist for the grant, having submitted proposals for their programs in Energy Efficiency and Conservation. Dr. Wilson has been a consultant to the coordinating agency for more than 10 years. Dr. Wilson can be contacted via email at

June 2009

Vaughn Nelson (PhD PHSX 1967). Having written the chapter on wind energy for Texas Renewable Energy Resource Assessment, 2008 (Report is available online from State Energy Conservation Office), Dr. Nelson wrote even more. This time it was his own book on Wind Energy, Renewable Energy and the Environment. It was published by CRC Press in March, 2009. He lives in Canyon, TX and is now retired. To reach him, write to: .

Report of the PAAAB for 2009 is accessible at this site.

May 2009

Mara (Whitacre) Payne (MS Computational Physics and Astronomy 1989) has returned to the mainland after spending a number of years working in Hawaii. Her new location is Dayton, OH where she is a Principal Scientist for Applied Optimization Inc.Her new email address is

Sridana Windya ( BS EPHX 1995) still holds fond memories of exciting times on the beautiful KU campus while studying under such great and friendly people as Drs. Culvahouse, Prosser, Davis and Sapp. His current position is as an IT consultant at Indonesia's LAPAN. He can be contacted at .

April 2009

We are saddened to report the passing of Dr. Kevin Rice Jones (PhD: Physics 1957). Dr. Jones died March 20, 2009 in Groton, CT. He is survived by his wife of 63 years, JoAnn (Pete) Peterson. Dr. Jones received his undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan. He woked for a time at Oak Ridge, Tennessee on a project to create a nuclear-powered airplane, but left when it became evident that it would fail. After receiving his PhD in Physics at KU, he taught Petroleum Engineering at KU from 1957 to 1966, except for one year that he spent as a Fulbright Scholar in Medellin, Colombia. After that, he held positions as director of, or working in, computing departments at North Carolina State University (Raleigh), for Perkin-Elmer Corp. while living in Ridgefield at the University of Delaware (Newark), and for the Naval Underwater Systems Center, New London. He resigned from NUSC in the late 1970's to build and manage SPOK! Racquetball Club with Pete for several years. In the early 1980s, Jones did computer programming and consulting on a part-time basis. Dr. Jones was 85 years old.

March 2009

Congratulations to Adam Kraus (BS: Physics, Astronomy, Math 2002). After completing his PhD in Astronomy at CalTech, Adam has been selected as a Hubble Fellow. He will continue his post-graduate research at the University of Hawaii.

January 2009

William Rowland (BS: Astronomy 2002) writes that he has recently moved to DC to take a job at NOAA working on satellite instrument calibration. His email address is

December 2008

Dr. Stuartt Corder (BS: Astronomy, Physics, Math –2001) writes
"Hi everyone, just wanted to update my status a bit. I decided to put the "normal" Jansky appointment on hold and took a joint position where I spend half my time working on commissioning the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) and the other half doing science as a Jansky Fellow. I'll be here in Chile for 2 years (and a bit more) before returning to the US for 2-3 years in Charlottesville, VA as a "normal" Jansky Fellow. The project has just accepted its first (of 66) antennas from the vendor and we have two front ends. Another antenna (roughly scheduled for acceptance in Jan/Feb 2009) and we can work towards doing interferometry! The family is doing well in Chile. Vivian decided to start walking a few days short of 9 months and is now causing all kinds of trouble at 10 months and a bit. Exciting times."

November 2008

Dr. Nurur Rahman (PhD: Physics –2004) is currently working as a Postdoc in the Department of Astronomy at the University of Maryland at College Park, MD.

April 2008

Dr. James Berryman (BS: Physics - 1969) has been selected as an Outstanding Referee for 2008 for the journals of the American Physical Society. This continues a long tradition in that, as an undergraduate, Jim was also selected as the Outstanding Senior in Physics at KU in 1969.

March 2008

Hank Driskill (BA: Astronomy, BS: Computer Science - 1988) is currently working as a Technical Supervisor (supervising shows) at the Walt Disney Animation Studios in California. Currently he is working on a show called "Bolt" which is due out next Thanksgiving. So watch for it!

Lee I. Britt (MS: Physics - 1978) obtained his PhD ("Low Energy Glass Capillary X-ray OPtics With Applications to X-ray Lithography"). He is currently working in the Physics Department at Grambling State University in Grambling, LA.

Jan Kurzidim (MS: Physics - 2005) is working with the Soft Matter Theory Group at the Center for Computational Materials Science Institute for Theoretical Physics, Vienna University of Technology, in Vienna, Austria.

John Clark (MS: Physics - 2004) is still working with the National Guard. He and his wife Jennifer now are the proud parents of a new baby boy. He weighed 6 lbs, 13 oz and was 19 inches in length. Congratulations John and Jen!

Stuartt Corder (BS: Astronomy, Math, Physics - 2001) has completed his Ph.D. in Astronomy at Cal Tech and has accepted a Jansky Fellowship at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Charlottesville, VA. Stuartt also became the proud father of Vivian Helene Corder, 10lbs 1.5oz, 23inches.

Nathan De Lee (BS: Astronomy, Physics - 2002) has completed his Ph.D. in Astronomy at Michigan State University and has accepted a postdoctoral appointment at the University of Florida to work with Dr. Jian Ge on the SDSS-III Marvels planet search.

Nurur Rahman (PhD: Physics- 2004), after spending a few years at IPAC in Pasadena, has accepted a postdoctoral appointment with Dr. Alberto Bolatto of the Department of Astronomy at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Jeremy Tinker (BS: Astronomy, Physics - 1997) has completed a postdoctoral appointment at the Kavli Institute at the University of Chicago and is moving on to a 5-year fellowship at the Berkeley Center for Cosmological Physics.

Misty Cracraft (MS: Computational Physics & Astronomy - 2004), working on the support staff at Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, writes that "I'm involved in the thermal vacuum testing for the WFC3 camera right now. I've also just joined the JWST (James Webb Space Telescope) team with the Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI) and will be involved in the testing of that camera this summer. It's currently at Rutherford Appleton Labs near Oxford, so that will include some travel over the summer, at least a week or two. I'm also hoping to be able to travel to Florida to see the launch of Shuttle Atlantis for the servicing mission. I've submitted my name and the names of several guests who would like to join me, so we'll see how many invitations we can get from NASA. Things are staying quite busy around here right now with work and travel opportunities.

Humberto Campins (BA: Astronomy - 1977) will be spending his upcoming sabbatical in Spain and France.

Josh Meyers (BS: Astronomy, Math, Physics - 2005), currently a grad student at Berkeley writes that "last August I got engaged to a classmate I met when I first came to Berkeley. Her name is Jennie Guzman and she does research with Bose-Einstein condensates. We're hoping to get married sometime in the summer of 2009. My studies are going well; I'll be done with classes this semester. Hannah Swift (BS: Astronomy, Math, Physics- 2006) and I have both been working hard on constructing proposals for Hubble and Keck programs which were due earlier this month. It's beginning to look like my thesis work will involve spectroscopy of z >~ 1 galaxies; determining ages/metallicities and from that deriving cosmological constraints."

Some of the members of the Supernova Cosmology project in 2007: background (photo by Roy Kaltschmidt) from left; front row, David Rubin, Saul Perlmutter, Josh Meyers, Hannah Swift; standing: Tony Spadafora, Kyle Dawson, Rahman Amanullah, Nao Suzuki, and Kyle Barbary.

David Tholen (BS: Astronomy, Physics - 1978) is continuing the connection between Kansas and Pluto started by Clyde Tombaugh. The March issue of the Astronomical Journal has his paper about a first crack at measuring the masses of the new satellites Nix and Hydra via the mutual perturbation method and he and his collaborators have just submitted an HST proposal for Cycle 17 observations of the system.

Judy Shau-yuh Yu (BS: Astronomy, Math, Physics, Computer Science - 2003) is completing her Ph.D. in Space Physics from the University of Michigan this year. She writes that "after graduation I have a couple of offers to join start-ups in the local area. I might do that for a while. You could say I am taking an unconventional route, but I want to get away from academic research for a bit."

Scott Randle (BS: Astronomy - 1987) "I am currently working at the McCauley division of Cessna Aircraft Company designing and certifying propellers. It is a lot of fun to complete the aerodynamic design of a propeller for a particular application, have the propeller manufactured at our manufacturing facility, measure the performance of the propeller during flight tests, and finally participate in the certification of the propeller.

January 2008

Dr. Amar Nath Ray (M.S. Physics 1995, Ph.D. Physics 1997) was selected as the top inventor last month by the communications firm, EMBARQ, where he is employed. During the last year, Dr. Ray has submitted more than 20 patent applications centered around 8 different concepts including seamless call transfer and VOIP address-based E-911. A copy of the story about Dr. Ray can be accessed at this link.

Dr. John Beacom (B.S. Physics and Mathematics 1991) has been promoted to Associate Professor at Ohio State University in the Departments of Physics and Astronomy, after only three years at that institution. John is also a member of our Alumni Advisory Board.

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