Gary Dean Bent, 82, a former assistant head of the Physics Department at the University of Connecticut for 23 years, passed away on Friday, March 3, 2023. He was born on October 9, 1940, in Battle Creek, Michigan. Growing up in Florida, he studied at the Georgia Institute of Technology where he earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Electrical Engineering and Physics. He received his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Connecticut. He was an Ordnance Corps officer in the United States Army for 12 years, serving in several military research centers and at the Military Academy at West Point. He served as assistant head of the physics department at the University of Connecticut for 23 years. While at UCONN he published numerous articles in scientific journals, worked closely with graduate students, taught courses in Physics and environmental science, and was an enthusiastic researcher. Over the years he developed a sense of how physics could be taught at the high school level to ensure student success at the college level. He pursued Connecticut teaching certification in physics and chemistry and after retiring from UCONN he went on to teach physics for UCONN credit at E.O. Smith High School in Storrs. A dedicated teacher, he made the classroom a space for fun and creative learning, using exciting experiments to demonstrate the theories of physics while dressed as a wizard! After retirement from E.O. Smith, he spent time traveling and volunteering his time to combat climate change. He was a founding member of Eastern Connecticut Green Action.
Gary touched many lives and will be greatly missed. A Celebration of Life will be held at the Unitarian Society of Hartford at a later date. In lieu of flowers, a donation in Gary’s memory can be made to the Covenant Soup Kitchen in Willimantic Connecticut at covenantsoupkitchen.org, Eastern Connecticut Green Action at easternconnecticutgreenaction.com or Food and Water Watch at foodandwaterwatch.org.
The 2023 High Energy Astrophysics Division’s Early-Career Prize is awarded to Dr. Chiara Mingarelli for her leadership in the analysis of pulsar timing array data and her contributions to our understanding of the stochastic gravitational wave background.
For more information about the Prize, see https://head.aas.org/awards/earlycareer/earlycareer.prize.html
Daniel McCarron, a physics professor, received a grant from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research for his work analyzing the quantum mechanical behavior of a simple hydrocarbon molecule: CH, or methylidyne. A highly reactive gas, methylidyne is abundant in the interstellar medium, and its simple composition promises to allow researchers to study the role of quantum mechanics within organic chemistry.
In order to expose the quantum nature of these molecules, Prof. McCarron has devised a way to cool them down to a millionth of a degree above absolute zero using laser light. At such a low temperature, “quantum effects are amplified and can reveal themselves in the lab,” he says. “You don’t really get that in a beaker at room temperature – things just happen too quickly and too chaotically.”
The AFOSR is funding the purchase of a high-powered laser to assist in slowing down beams of CH radicals from about 100 meters per second to several centimeters per second. This laser-cooling and trapping technology will allow amplifying and better study of the quantum behavior of this organic molecule, with an eye toward furthering scientific knowledge about the role of quantum mechanics in chemical reactions in general—a field where successful research has been scarce.
Quantum matter and materials have grown to be active areas of modern condensed matter. The fascinating properties of quantum materials might lead to technological applications such as spintronics, quantum technologies, and quantum sensors. The combination of new materials discoveries and the development of new probes of quantum matter has helped shape these topics into an exciting area. Recent dynamic and pumped probe experiments reveal a strong promise of Dynamic Quantum Matter as a new research direction. We strive to measure, understand and predict transient correlations and coherences in quantum materials upon different driving conditions. Therefore, we introduce it as a new topic at this year’s quantum matter conference. We seek to have an active discussion on hidden, entangled, and dynamic orders that emerge in quantum matter and the potential applications beyond it.
The main focus for this upcoming conference will be on the modeling and experimental observations of Quantum Matter. Overall, the goal of this workshop is to bring together researchers to discuss and highlight emerging topics and develop ideas for future research.
The workshop is sponsored by the University of Connecticut, the Nordic Institute for Theoretical Physics, and the University of North Florida.
Venue: Innovation Partnership Building, UConn Tech Park
Charles Ahn – Yale University
Pamir Alpay – UConn
Boris Altshuler – Columbia University
Daniel Arovas – University of California San Diego
Alexander Balatsky – University of Connecticut and NORDITA – Organizer
Victor Batista – Yale University
Kenneth Burch – Boston College
Paola Cappellaro – Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Rodrigo Cortiñas – Yale University
Ilya Drozdov – Brookhaven National Laboratory
Benjo Fraser – Stockholm University
Andrew Geraci – Northwestern University
Sinéad Griffin – Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Jason Haraldsen – the University of North Florida – Organizer
Menka Jain – University of Connecticut – Organizer
Yonathan Kahn – University of Illinois
Robert Konik – Brookhaven National Laboratory
Walter Krawec – University of Connecticut
Leonid Levitov – Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Daniel McCarron – University of Connecticut
Anatoli Polkovnikov – Boston University
Lea Santos – University of Connecticut – Organizer
James Sauls – Louisiana State University – Organizer
Daniel Sheehy – Louisiana State University
Ilya Sochnikov – University of Connecticut
Boris Spivak – University of Washington
Boris Svistunov – University of Massachusetts Amherst
William Terrano – Arizona State University
Carlos Trallero – University of Connecticut
Chandra Varma – University of California Riverside
Ilya Vekhter – Louisiana State University
Pavel Volkov – Rutgers University
Justin H. Wilson – Louisiana State University
Qin Yang – University of Connecticut
Science’s “Perspective” by Physics Professor Chiara M. F. Mingarelli and graduate student J. Andrew Casey-Clyde discusses the gravitational wave background and perspectives of pulsar timing arrays for its detection.
Prof. Chiara Mingarelli is the Inspiring Women in Science awards 2022 Scientific Achievement Runner-Up.
The Inspiring Women in Science awards celebrate and support the achievements of women in science, and all those who work to encourage girls and young women to engage with STEM subjects and stay in STEM careers around the world.
Prof. Nora Berrah received the Honorary Doctoral Degree from the University of Turku in Finland. The ceremonial conferment was on October 8, 2021. This honor comes with the University of Turku Doctoral Certificate as well as a “Hat and a Sword”, the latter symbolizing the “Doctors’ Rank but also Sharpness of Thought and Role in Defending Science”. A picture of the hat and sword is shown.
Two UConn Physics graduate students were recently awarded the Directed Energy Professional Society (DEPS) scholarship to support their work in the field of directed energy. Brandin Davis and Zhanna Rodnova received awards for their research on developing long-wavelength infra-red radiation sources. They were among 20 national winners. DEPS awards students scholarships of up to $10,000 to students carrying out promising research in directed energy technology, high-power laser development, high-power microwaves, and ultrashort pulse lasers. Brandin and Zhanna are both part of Prof. Carlos Trallero’s research group, which focuses on studies of light-matter interaction using high-power ultrashort pulse lasers.
The University of Connecticut, Department of Physics, is proud to announce that on September 23, 2022, Professor Donna Strickland of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Waterloo will be presenting the 2020 Distinguished Katzenstein Lecture. Prof. Strickland is one of the recipients of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics for developing chirped pulse amplification with Gérard Mourou, her PhD supervisor. They published this Nobel-winning research in 1985 when Strickland was a PhD student at the University of Rochester in New York State. Together they paved the way for the most intense laser pulses ever created. The research has several applications today in industry and medicine, including the cutting of a patient’s cornea in laser eye surgery and the machining of small glass parts for use in cell phones.
Prof. Strickland earned a Bachelor in Engineering from McMaster University and a PhD in optics from the University of Rochester. She was a research associate at the National Research Council Canada, a physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and a member of technical staff at Princeton University. In 1997, she joined the University of Waterloo, where her ultrafast laser group develops high-intensity laser systems for nonlinear optics investigations. She is a recipient of a Sloan Research Fellowship, the Ontario Premier’s Research Excellence Award, and a Cottrell Scholar Award. She received the Rochester Distinguished Scholar Award and the Eastman Medal from the University of Rochester.
Prof. Strickland served as the president of the Optical Society (OSA) in 2013 and is a fellow of OSA, the Royal Society of Canada, and SPIE (International Society for Optics and Photonics). She is an honorary fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Physics. She received the Golden Plate Award from the Academy of Achievement, is in the International Women’s Forum Hall of Fame, and holds numerous honorary doctorates.
UConn’s collaboration with the Department of Defense Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is launching a new project. It is titled Multiscale Modeling and Characterization of Metamaterials, Functional Ceramics and Photonics. This is a $4.7 M contract with $1M for Physics. The project’s goal is to explore and advance the understanding of electronic, photonic, magnetic, and multiferroic materials, with future applications in the aerospace industry. Two experimental condensed matter physicists Dr. Menka Jain and Dr. Ilya Sochnikov will contribute to the understanding of magnetic and multiferroic materials. The project supports 4 graduate Research Assistants in the Physics Department and is a unique life-transformative and career-building opportunity for them.