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From the Chair

Dear Friends of Physics,

It has been four years since we’ve last reported on the state of the Physics Department. Much has happened during that time and we hope this newsletter will bring you up to date. Please visit the new Physics Department website to learn more about what is happening in the department.

In recent years, we have witnessed a fundamental change in the funding model for the University of Washington: repeated cuts in state support associated with double-digit increases in tuition. This shift comes at a time when the demand for higher education (and physics) is at an all-time high. Our largest challenge is to maintain the quality of our educational and research programs during this time of fiscal upheaval.

Despite the growing cost for a university degree, the number of students enrolling in our physics courses is at an all-time high. More than 2400 students enroll each quarter in our introductory physics classes. Lecture, tutorial, and lab sections run throughout the day to meet the demand.  More than 350 students are majoring in physics in our Department with 82 Bachelor of Science degrees in physics awarded last year. These numbers make our program one of the two or three largest physics majors programs in the country. A large student body is accompanied by wide range of career paths for our students. To better serve the needs of a variety of career paths, we have expanded our undergraduate program to offer 4 tracks for physics majors: Comprehensive Physics, Applied Physics, Educational Physics, and Biological Physics. The American Institute of Physics Career Pathways Project recently visited us to learn why we have been so successful in placing our majors into jobs in industry within one year of graduation. The AIP Site Visit Report highlights the strengths of our undergraduate program and outlines suggestions for our continued success.

Each year, about 25 new students enter our graduate program out of nearly 500 applicants.  In total, 137 students are doing original research, working toward their Ph.D. degrees in fields that include astrophysics, atomic physics, biological physics, condensed matter physics, elementary particle physics, nuclear physics, and physics education. Forty Ph.D. degrees were awarded over the course of the past three years.

The fiscal problems of the state have been particularly unkind to graduate students. Student stipends lag behind our peer institutions by 20 percent and the number of Teaching Assistants employed by the University has seen steady erosion. We rely upon a combination of Teaching and Research Assistantships to provide support for our graduate students, and gifts from alumni and friends of physics to provide scholarship support. Graduate student support is one of the greatest needs of the Department and one where a contribution will touch directly the life of a young physicist. Please consider making a contribution to one of our graduate student support funds.

Over the past three years, six faculty members have retired from the Department, almost 1/6 of our faculty. Professors David Boulware, Paul Boynton, Toby Burnett, John Cramer, Joseph Rothberg, and Robert Van Dyck have retired, after having collectively served the University and Department for more than 210 years. David Boulware retired after serving two terms as Chair of the Department. For this, we thank David and thank all our emeriti faculty for their distinguished careers and lasting contributions to the Physics Department.

The sadness that accompanies the retirement of colleagues is tempered by the excitement of welcoming new faculty into the Department. Professors David Hertzog and Peter Kammel, formerly from the University of Illinois, have joined the Department. They bring an exciting program of precision muon physics to our Center for Nuclear Physics and Astrophysics (CENPA). Assistant Professors Kai-Mei Fu, Paul Wiggins, and Xiaodong Xu have recently joined our faculty. They all hold joint appointments with departments in the College of Engineering and bring to us experimental programs in biological and condensed matter physics. This year, we are delighted to welcome two new Assistant Professors to the Department. Jason Detwiler, an experimental neutrino physicist, has joined CENPA and Shih-Chieh Hsu has joined our experimental high energy physics research program.

In subsequent newsletters, we would like to provide stories and profiles from our alumni and friends. We encourage all of our alumni and friends, including our newest, to stay in touch!  We would like to thank again the many of you who have provided support for the Department through your generous gifts. All of these gifts make a difference for today’s students. If you’ve not previously given and wish to do so, please go to the Physics Department home page, and click on the “donate” button on the bottom margin.

Sincerely,
 

Blayne Heckel
Department Chair and Professor

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Research Highlights


The Discovery of the Higgs Boson

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July of 2012 marked a momentous time in physics with the discovery of a particle consistent with the long-sought Higgs boson. The discovery was made at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, in Geneva, Switzerland, and the University of Washington played a significant role in it.

The Higgs particle is central to the best theory we have to describe nature in its tiniest dimensions, the Standard Model. Finding the Higgs particle proves the existence of what is called the Higgs field -- other elementary particles acquire mass as they travel through the Higgs field. More importantly, the Higgs is a key piece of the puzzle in the quest for unifying the four fundamental forces of nature.

The University of Washington made a dedicated contribution for more than twenty years to one of the two CERN experiments (ATLAS experiment) that discovered the Higgs-like particle. Our high-energy physicists, Profs. Anna Goussiou, Shih-Chieh Hsu, Henry Lubatti, Joseph Rothberg, and Gordon Watts, collaborated on this experiment. The University of Washington group played a significant role in designing and building the ATLAS muon spectrometer, one of the sub-detectors that were central to the discovery.  More recently, the group has been making important contributions to the analysis of the LHC collider data in the search of a Higgs boson decaying into tau leptons and other possible decay channels.

Read the Atlas discovery paper, Observation of a New Particle in the Search for the Standard Model Higgs Boson with the ATLAS Detector at the LHC.

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New Radio Telescope at the Murchison Widefield Array

UW postdoc Bryna Hazelton kneels next to one of 2048 dual polarization dipoles arranged in 128 antennas.

The Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) just celebrated the completion of a new radio telescope in the Western Australian desert.  Prof. Morales' radio cosmology group has played a major role in the construction of the MWA, determining the placement of the antennas, leading the development of the Monitor and Control system, and playing a major role in the instrument commissioning. With the end of construction, the MWA will spend six months commissioning the full system before starting science observations in July 2013. (Follow us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Murchison.Widefield.Array)

The MWA is designed to observe the faint radio emission from the first stars and galaxies as they light up 13 billion years ago, burning away the primordial fog of neutral hydrogen. This time is called the Epoch of Reionization (EoR), and Prof. Morales is an international leader of the EoR observation community.

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Nanoscale Optoelectronics Group Demonstrates Ultrafast Optoelectronic Response in Graphene 

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Xiaodong Xu's Nanoscale optoelectronics group has investigated non-equilibrium carrier dynamics in graphene p-n junction devices. Applying ultrafast pump-probe photocurrent spectroscopy, the Xu group demonstrated ultrafast optoelectronic response in graphene, where the energy transport is dominated by hot-carriers rather than acoustic phonons. See D. Sun et al., Nature Nanotech 7, 114 (January 2012)

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Photoresponse of a Strongly Correlated Material Determined by Scanning Photocurrent Microscopy  

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David Cobden’s Nanodevice Lab, in collaboration with Xiaodong Xu’s Nanoscale Optoelectronics Lab, has applied scanning photocurrent microscopy to nanobeams of vanadium dioxide undergoing its metal-insulator phase transition. They used it to determine that the photoresponse is photothermal, implying fast electron-electron and electron-lattice relaxation in this strongly correlated material. See Kasirga et al, Nature Nanotechnology 7, 723-7 (November 2012).

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Faculty & Staff News
 
New Faces

We are pleased to welcome fourteen new faculty and staff members to the Physics Department since the publication of our newsletter in 2008.

Honors & Awards

Congratulations to our faculty on their recent honors and awards!


Retired Faculty
 
Professor David G. Boulware retired in 2009, but remains an emeritus member of the department.
 
Professor Paul Boynton retired in 2010, but remains an emeritus member of the department.
 
Professor Thompson (Toby) Burnett retired in 2012, but remains an emeritus member of the department. Burnett started contributing to the NASA gamma-ray satellite-based telescope, now called Fermi, 15 years ago, playing a pivotal role in its current success. During the last four years of continuous observations, he and his graduate students have made invaluable contributions to the data analysis. He comments, “Now that I have emeritus status, I don't intend to slow down; the mission will continue for perhaps five years more, and there are still many performance issues to resolve, potentially leading to new discoveries, and opportunities for a student or two.”
 
Professor John G. Cramer retired in 2009, but remains an emeritus member of the department.
 
Professor Wick C. Haxton retired from the Department of Physics in 2009, but remains an emeritus member of the department and an Associate Senior Fellow with the Institute for Nuclear Theory.
 
Professor Joseph E. Rothberg retired in 2012, but remains an emeritus member of the department.
 
Professor Robert S. Van Dyck retired in 2011, but remains an emeritus member of the department.  Having worked in the field of metrology for his entire research career, Bob Van Dyck has measured and improved the accuracies of certain fundamental properties of various charged particles by a factor of 100 or more. This was made possible by his having fabricated the world's most precise and accurate mass spectrometer (which now resides in Heidelberg, Germany). Of particular note, he observed the first single trapped positron, improved the accuracy of the spin magnetic moment for both the electron and the positron by three orders of magnitude (resulting in Hans Dehmelt's 1989 Nobel Prize), and has isolated single ions of several light elements (with atomic masses of 1, 2, 3, 4, 12, 16, 19), many of which were then used to reduce the uncertainty in their respective atomic masses to the 10-20 parts per trillion level.

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Transitions
  • Anton V. Andreev was promoted to Professor in 2011.
  • Boris B. Blinov was promoted to Associate Professor in 2011.
  • David Cobden was promoted to Professor in 2011.
  • Anna Goussiou was promoted to Professor in 2011.
  • Andreas Karch was promoted to Professor in 2011.
  • R. Daryl Pedigo was promoted to Principal Lecturer in 2012.
  • Gerald T. Seidler was promoted to Professor in 2011.
  • Tianchi Zhao was promoted to Research Professor in 2011.

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In Memoriam

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Student News
 
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2011-2012 Graduates

We congratulate our Physics Degree Recipients from 2011 - 2012!

 
2012 Fellowship & Scholarship Recipients
  • Gregory Lynn Anderson Scholarship: Elizabeth Wicks
  • Mary L. Boas Endowed Scholarship in Physics: Alexandra Zhdanova
  • Hans G. Dehmelt Prize in Experimental Physics: Grant Aivazian
  • Joseph E. Henderson Family Award: Mike Marino
  • Sebastian Karrer Prize in Physics: Maxwell Hansen, Luke Kippenbrock
  • Miller Physics Scholarship Fund: Carolyn Auchter, Alex Khramov
  • Joseph H. Weis Memorial Prize: Todd Karin, David Zumwalt

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2012 Department Awards
  • Department of Physics Graduate Teaching Award: Adam Beardsley, Brian Stephanik

For more information, please visit the Awards and Fellowships web page.
 

Student Events

Encouraging Women to Pursue Physics

The University of Washington hosted the 2012 Northwest Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics, which was held January 13-15 on the UW Seattle campus. The two-day conference was one of six conferences held simultaneously across the country aiming to increase the number of women in physics by encouraging women studying physics to continue in their technical fields. The conference included inspiring talks by female physicists, panel discussions on graduate school and physics careers, student presentation sessions, and networking and mentoring opportunities.

Information about the 2013 Conferences for Undergraduate Women in Physics can be found on the
Conference website.

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UW SACNAS Hosts National Conference

The UW Chapter of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) hosted the 2012 National Conference, Science, Technology, and Diversity for a Healthy World, which was held October 11-14 in Seattle. SACNAS is a national society of scientists dedicated to fostering the success of Hispanic/Chicano and Native American scientists in attaining advanced degrees, careers, and positions of leadership in science.

Several UW Physics Department Faculty and PhD students participated in the conferenc
e:
  • Ximena Cid, PhD, and Professor Lillian McDermott, presented a talk on Physics Education Research at the University of Washington. Ximena was also part of the panel session, The Keys to Success: More than just surviving a Ph.D.
  • Professor Marjorie Olmstead was part of a panel session, Materials Physics, and presented the talk, Transparent Conductive Oxides: Oxymoron or Interesting Physics?
  • Alejandro Garcia, PhD, was part of a panel session, Nuclear and Particle Physics: Recent Discoveries
UW SACNAS was recently named Chapter of the Year for the third time since it was founded in 2007.

Information about the 2013 SACNAS National Conference can be found on the
SACNAS website.

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Student Organizations

Career Development Organization

The 2012 Annual Networking Days event was held Oct. 25-26th and included local employers such as Boeing, PNNL, and Intellectual Ventures. Graduate students presented talks and poster sessions and were able to network with professionals from both industry and national laboratories.

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Photo credit: Anders Hansen

The Career Development Organization (CDO) is a registered UW student organization that assists UW Physics and Astronomy graduate students in their career advancement. CDO organizes seminars and workshops specifically designed to focus on issues of career advancement for scientists. In conjunction with the Department of Physics, it annually hosts a Networking Day, which brings representatives from the broader science and technology-based community to the Department to interact with students in a one-on-one basis.

For more information about CDO and to get involved, please visit the
CDO website.

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Physics Graduate Student Council

The Physics Graduate Student Council (PGSC) had an eventful year. The PGSC organized several Friday Flings – parties where grad students, faculty, and staff get a chance to mingle – including Halloween and Star Wars themes. They also held panels to help grad students navigate the obstacles of taking the Qualifying Exam and General Exam, and of finding a research group, as well as a panel on diversity for prospective students at Visiting Weekend. The PGSC invited two colloquium speakers in 2012 – Bill Unruh, who discussed measurements of a physical system analogous to a black hole, and Vladan Vuletic, who discussed how to build atomic clocks that beat the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle.

The PGSC is an organization of physics graduate students whose mission is to facilitate communication amongst the UW Physics graduate students and between the graduate students and the department about issues of interest or concern to the graduate student community. PGSC supports the graduate student community by organizing events that foster community spirit and by having its members serve as student advocates on faculty committees.

For more information about PGSC and to get involved, please visit the PGSC wiki.

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Society of Physics Students


Last year, the UW Society of Physics Students  (SPS) hosted six lab tours, a trip to the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) in Hanford, WA, and more than 20 lunchbox seminars. This year the group has hosted an open house for over 60 students, half a dozen lunchbox seminars, three lab tours, and even a trip to the Canadian Undergraduate Physics Conference for a few lucky students -- all during the first half of autumn quarter!  One of the top priorities of the SPS is to bring physics students together in a fun and productive academic environment, and as such, has started hosting study groups for various classes. If you have any questions about SPS during the 2012-2013 academic year, feel free to contact SPS President Cody Messick at cody.messick@gmail.com, and make sure to watch for fliers advertising future SPS events!
 
The UW SPS is a chapter of the national Society of Physics Students, which brings undergraduate physics majors from around the country together to participate in research, present at national conferences, and develop as physicists.
 
For more information about SPS and to get involved, please visit the SPS website.

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Blair Outing 2012
 
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Blair Outing from Orientation Week in September 2012.
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Alumni News
 

Using a Physics PhD in the Physics Education Research Field


Amy D. Robertson, PhD, 2011

As a senior in high school, Amy Robertson’s interest in physics was inspired by her teacher who had “a contagious enthusiasm for science and for people – a dynamite combination for winning people over to physics.” Reflecting on her path to a career in physics, Robertson says, “I can see how well suited physics is to my personality/identity; I love ideas and I love argumentation and I love structure and I love trying to figure out why things are the way that they are. All of these things are central to how I do physics.”
 
Now a Visiting Assistant Professor of Physics at Seattle Pacific University (SPU), Robertson coordinates the Learning Assistant Program and is working to develop new ways of assessing K-12 teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge, attention to the disciplinary substance of student ideas, and perceptions of science and of self as a member of the scientific community. This research is part of the broader effort of the Energy Project to provide quality teacher preparation and growth in proximal formative assessment skills for instruction on the topic of energy. 
 
Robertson also has a particular interest in the theory and methodology of quantitative and qualitative research in the physics education research community. The Physics Education Research field is in a “paradigm-defining stage,” Robertson remarks. “There is a multitude of approaches and orientations toward studying the learning and teaching of physics…all rigorous and productive in specific ways.”  The major challenge, she says, is “how members of one orientation can communicate their results in ways that make sense to members with other orientations.”  She adds, “Another challenge in the field is scaling successful, research-based models for K-12 teacher professional development in ways that increase quantity but do not sacrifice quality.”
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Amy Robertson and Steve Sharpe, Physics Department Graduation Ceremony 2011.

Amy Robertson completed her PhD in physics in 2011 with the Physics Education Group, where she studied student and teacher reasoning about topics related to the particulate nature of matter. “The most important thing I learned at the UW was how to set high standards for my research and meet them,” says Robertson. She also notes that her involvement on committees along with mentoring and service efforts helped her learn how to participate as a member of the Physics Department community and culture. Lasting impressions of the department include ice cream runs as study breaks before the Qualifying Exam, impromptu conversations with officemates in the Physics Education Group, working with Steve Sharpe and Jen Lehner to design the Mentoring Program, and meetings with her advisor, Peter Shaffer, who taught her “how to defend my work without being defensive.”

While at the University of Washington, Robertson was the recipient of several awards including a Transforming Research in Undergraduate STEM Education (TRUSE) Travel Award (2010), the Department of Physics Miller Award (2010), a UW Graduate School Fund for Excellence and Innovation Student Travel Award (2009), a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship (2007), and a Mellam Family Foundation Fellowship (2006).

Of her success in landing a position with SPU, Robertson credits the skills she gained at the UW Department of Physics and the reputation of both UW Physics and the Physics Education Group as significant contributors. Also helpful was a timely introduction to the SPU community by her advisor, Peter Shaffer, which resulted in her participation in a workshop on the particle nature of matter – the topic of her dissertation. “My participation in that workshop was the beginning of a long relationship with SPU that eventually led to my working there,” says Robertson. Not surprisingly, when asked for advice for new physics PhDs pursuing a career in the physics education field, she says, “Network, network, network.” Robertson describes a “deep appreciation” of her extended professional community for the “clarity, critique, and perspective” it offers her.

Robertson appreciates that she is “in a stage professionally where she is constantly learning and being offered opportunities for professional development.” Several things she enjoys most about her work at SPU include finishing a trio of manuscripts for publication that describe the different orientations toward research in Physics Education Research, writing a collaborative grant with a senior researcher whose work she highly respects, and working with her students. Robertson says, “I learn something new from them every day.”

To learn more about Dr. Robertson’s research, visit The Energy Project website or contact her at robertsona2@spu.edu.

Send Us Your Updates!

We are proud of our alumni and we want to share your news.  Email the Physics Department to share your recent activities, update us on your new job and your contact information.  We would love to hear from you!

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Academic Programs
 
Undergraduate Program

The undergraduate major in physics is thriving.  We have over 350 physics majors, and are setting new records every year for the number of graduating bachelors.  In their 2011 Site Visit Report, the American Physical Society noticed our strong record in having students find jobs with their bachelor’s degrees and sent representatives to learn best practices from our program. 

In Autumn 2011, UW Physics started offering physics degrees more tailored to our students’ career goals.  Replacing our old “one-size-fits-most” physics degree, we created four tracks, or “options” for our majors.  Students now choose among Comprehensive, Applied, Teaching Preparation, and Biophysics options.  All students must take a common core of freshman and sophomore courses, junior-level electricity and magnetism and, of course, electronics lab, and choose from a menu of upper-division math.  Beyond that, however, students can take courses aimed at preparation for graduate school in physics or a related subject (i.e., more theoretically based course work), a technical BS-level job (i.e., more computer and laboratory course work), teaching secondary school (i.e., our physics by inquiry sequence), or a biophysical or medical career (i.e., biology and organic chemistry).  Students choose a track when applying for the major, and the plan is to provide earlier and more tailored advising along the way to better prepare our graduates for life beyond UW.

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Graduate Program

Diversity

The Department is committed to improving diversity in our graduate student population, particularly gender diversity. During the last three graduate admissions cycles, more than twenty female graduate students entered our program, raising the female-to-male ratio in our graduate student population well above the national average. This was made possible by the special efforts of our faculty, graduate students, and staff, and was facilitated by several Achievement Rewards for College Scientists (ARCS) Foundation Fellowships.

New Master’s Review Process

Starting in Autumn 2011 the Physics Department replaced the Qualifying Exam for graduate students with a new so-called Master’s Review process. In the new format, the Qualifying Exam sections, now known as Master’s Review Exams (MRE), are integrated with the Final Exams of first year graduate courses: the Statistical Mechanics MRE at the end of the Autumn quarter of the first year and the Quantum Mechanics, Electro-Magnetism, and Classical Mechanics MRE’s at the end of the Winter quarter. The course instructors write these exams in close consultation with the Exam Committee to ensure uniformity over time. The new Master’s Review Committee (MRC) judges whether students are to be granted a MS degree and to proceed to a Ph.D.  In doing so, the MRC considers a broader range of information than in the old Qualifying Exam setup, and has more flexibility in its decisions. For example, students who pass three MRE’s and have a strong research record are deemed to have qualified. The goal of this new setup is to provide more flexibility to the entering students, to facilitate their transition into graduate school from diverse undergraduate preparations, speed up the Qualifying process, make the first year of graduate school a more pleasant experience, and in particular, to speed up their entry into research. For example, students can defer specific courses until their second year and start research almost immediately if appropriate. The initial results of this new setup are very positive with most students starting research as early as Spring quarter of their first year and being fully engaged in research during the their first Summer quarter.

Peer Mentoring Program

In order to enhance the experience of our graduate students and in particular, to ease the transition to graduate school, the Department has recently instituted a peer mentoring program. First-year students are paired with a student mentor, typically a second-year Graduate student or sometimes a more advanced Graduate student who has volunteered for this role. Student mentors aim to help the first-year students by sharing their experiences and providing support and advice. Peer mentoring starts during Orientation Week at the start of the Academic year and involves various scheduled events during the year, such as one social "tea" each quarter to which all mentors and mentees are invited. In addition, mentors meet individually with their mentors once or twice each quarter during the year.

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Professional Masters Program

Our self-supporting Evening Masters Degree program was recently renamed the Professional Masters Program, to match similar programs at other universities and to improve web search effectiveness for potential students. This year we had a record number of new students.


This was in part due to a newly launched Certificate Program in Radiation Physics, a sequence of courses accessible to continuing education students who are not enrolled in the MS program. The sequence includes three 3-credit courses, focusing on theory and applications of ionizing radiation in industry and health care. Students who complete the sequence receive a certificate from UW Professional and Continuing Education (PCE), which administers our MS program. MS and PhD students may take any or all of the courses individually as electives; those who complete all three courses for credit will receive a transcript entry, "with concentration in Radiation Physics". The sequence has about 20 students enrolled. We plan to offer additional certificate programs in future.

In addition to the new courses, we are now offering optional online attendance for most of our evening courses. Students may attend in person or online from home, work, or anywhere in the world, using only their usual web browser. While our courses still require some in-person attendance, the online option provides much appreciated flexibility for MS students who must travel for work or have difficulty attending all class sessions on campus.

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Outreach
 
Preparation and Professional Development for Teachers of Physics and Physical Science
 
The Physics Education Group in the Physics Department (UWPEG) has created and maintained what is probably the oldest ongoing teacher education program that is based in a U.S. physics department. The program began more than 40 years ago with the creation by Arnold Arons (a professor in the Physics Department) of a one-year course in physical science for preservice (prospective) elementary school teachers. This course was soon followed by the development by Lillian C. McDermott (also a UW physics professor) of a one-year course for prospective high school teachers of physics.  Support from the National Science Foundation made possible further development of the two courses and the implementation of a series of six-week NSF Summer Science Programs for K-6 Inservice Teachers. These evolved into ongoing annual all-day Summer Institutes for K-12 Inservice Teachers of Physics and Physical Science. Teachers from across the U.S. attend but most are from Washington State.  
 
Each summer the Institute participants dedicate five or six weeks to developing an in-depth understanding of the physics relevant to the topics that they teach. They can attend for up to three (not necessarily sequential) years. For many, this experience is the first time that they have learned science through “hands-on” inquiry, rather than by lecture. Their summer experiences serves as a model when the teachers return to their own classrooms.
 
During the academic year, the UWPEG conducts a weekly Continuation Course that is open to all teachers who have participated in the inservice program (or in the PEG’s preservice courses). The teachers meet for two hours each week, sharing with one another what they are doing in their classrooms to improve their teaching and their students’ learning. Donna Messina, a former high school science teacher (with a UW Ph.D. in Education) and other members of the group provide ongoing guidance, advice, and support to the teachers as they develop lessons for their classes. The teachers work collaboratively to resolve any difficulties that they have encountered in their classrooms, such as adapting curriculum to reflect an inquiry, instead of a didactic, approach or developing ways in which a large class can become more interactive and engaging for students. Some local teachers have continued to attend for many years, thereby becoming members of a unique professional community and often leaders in science instruction in their school districts. A few also have become peer instructors in the program for inservice teachers.
 
The UW PEG program has been funded by the National Science Foundation and by the UW Physics Department. In recent years, the amount of support from the federal government has been decreasing. The Mellam Foundation has provided some welcome assistance through graduate student and peer instructor fellowships but more funding is needed to sustain the program. The UWPEG welcomes visitors to the inservice courses and would be grateful for any contributions to help support its outreach efforts to K-12 teachers and thus indirectly benefit their elementary, middle, and high school students.

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GASE Community College Transfer Project

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Physics Majors Brynn MacCoy, Arielle Steger, Jessica Murray, and Lisa McBride (left to right) with one of the eight GASE antennas on the roof of Sieg Hall.

In Spring 2012, physics majors Brynn MacCoy, Arielle Steger, Jessica Murray, and Lisa McBride, participated in Prof. Morales' GASE Community College Transfer Project.  The Gamma-Ray Burst All-Sky Spectrometer Experiment (GASE, pronounced 'gaze') is an interferometric telescope that is looking for Gamma-ray bursts in low-frequency radio light. GASE is one of the only teaching interferometers in the country with nanosecond timing requirements between the antennas to allow them to be combined as one large telescope.  The GASE team recently moved the telescope from MIT and completely refurbished and reconstructed the instrument.

The GASE Community College Transfer Project helps two local community college students per year start working in research prior to transferring to the UW Physics Department.  The students then continue with the project to mentor subsequent cohorts of students. This helps students gain research experience and build the mentoring relationships needed to succeed in physics.  The program has been very successful and Prof. Morales is looking for ways to include more students.

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Physics Colloquium

Physics Colloquia are normally held every Monday at 4pm during the quarter (except for holidays and during the Summer quarter). Typically, one speaker each quarter is nominated by our graduate students.  Speakers are invited to meet with the Society of Physics Students (SPS) at 12:30pm for pizza on the day of the colloquium. Ann Nelson and Andrew Steiner will organize the Physics Colloquia during Winter quarter 2013.

The 2012 Physics Colloquia were organized by Nikolai Tolich, David Cobden, and Sanjay Reddy. For a list of Fall 2012 talks and for more information, please visit our Physics Colloquia web page. Please search the archive for Physics Colloquia held in past quarters.

For upcoming talks, please visit the Physics Events web page.

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Thank you for considering a gift to the Department of Physics through the University of Washington Foundation.