Postings created for publication in the Physics Department web page news feed.

Research of Professor Trallero’s group featured in Advances in Engineering

A recent publication by Geoffrey Harrison, Tobias Saule, Brandin Davis, and Carlos Trallero from the Department of Physics, University of Connecticut is featured in Advances in Engineering. The publication presents a novel method for mitigating the bit-depth limit by increasing the phase precision of the Spatial Light Modulators (SLMs). The technique is based on adding irrational linear slopes in addition to the desired phase to increase the device’s effective bit-depth through an effect similar to volume averaging. The research is published in Applied Optics.

Spatial light modulators (SLMs) are devices that can modulate properties of light waves, such as phase, amplitude and polarization. SLMs are extensively used in numerous applications, including data storage, material processing and optical microscopy. With the widespread application of SLMs, the need to address the bit-depth and spatial resolution problems common to most SLMs is urgent.

The publication by Prof. Trallero’s group presented a technique for overcoming the bit-depth limitations of SLMs and verified it experimentally. The authors expressed confidence that the presented method could be used to gain multiple orders of magnitude with more precision beyond what was measured and obtained in their study.

About Advances in Engineering: Advances in Engineering ensures that the results of excellent scientific research are rapidly disseminated throughout the world, in a fashion that conveys their significance for advancing scientific knowledge and developing innovative technologies. Content is mainly targeted to an educated audience of engineering and physics students, scientists, and professors. Engineering fields covered are Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Materials Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Nanotechnology Engineering as well as General Engineering (aerospace Engineering, communication Engineering, computer Engineering, Agricultural Engineering, and Industrial Engineering).

UConn STARs Visit Hartford High School

The UConn STARs visited Hartford High School on May 8th and 11th, 2023. We visited junior engineering students in the classroom of Mrs. Melissa Adams and the high school football team lead by Coach Jackson. We taught them all about quantum mechanics, solar telescopes, gravity, and of course electricity and they taught us as well. We had a blast with these bright young scientists in the making!

The UConn STARs program is for undergraduate students in physics, aimed to recruit and retain students from historically excluded groups in physics (including gender identity, sexual orientation, race, socioeconomic status, first generation status, documented status, disability status, as well as additional categories). We hold regular meetings throughout the academic year to build community, offer academic and advising submit, as well as professional development opportunities. Each Spring, we visit a local classroom in an under-served community to inspire the next generation of STARs.

Passing of Frederick Edward Steigert

Frederick Edward Steigert, of Westerly, RI passed away surrounded by the love of his family on Monday, May 29, 2023. He was the husband of Judith Carol (Lance) Steigert. Born in New York, New York on September 11, 1928, he was the son of the late Karl and Margarete (Shuppert) Steigert.

Frederick was a dedicated teacher and scholar. He was educated at Union College in Schenectady, New York. He received his PHD in Nuclear Physics at the University of Indiana. He was Director of Undergraduate Studies at Yale University followed by a career teaching and as an advising professor at the University of Connecticut where he was beloved by his students to whom he was a mentor. Frederick was an avid runner, storyteller and a dedicated historian. He served on the school board of Amity Regional High School in Woodbridge, Connecticut. He was a volunteer fireman in Bethany, Connecticut. He loved carpentry and masonry.

Besides his loving wife Judith Steigert, he leaves behind his daughters Heidi Polhemus and Cassandra Olesen. He also is survived by his sons Frederick W. Steigert and Richard E. Steigert and many grandchildren and great grandchildren. He was predeceased by his daughter Christine Spencer.

All services will be held privately at the convenience of the family.

Department of Physics is hosting Summer School on Electron-Ion Collider

The Department of Physics is hosting UConn-NSF summer school on Parton Saturation and Electron Ion Collider (EIC). The School will take place in Storrs, from August 1 to August 10, 2023. The school chair is Professor Alex Kovner. The school website can be found at

The Electron-Ion Collider is the next big experiment in high-energy nuclear physics. It is going to address a plethora of questions about the structure of protons and nuclei. One of the main exciting phenomena that it is intended to clarify is the manifestations of parton saturation. This has been predicted to occur in hadrons at high energy as well as in nuclei at lower energies. Although tantalizing hints of saturating behavior have been observed at Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) in Brookhaven National Lab and the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, no cut-and-dry experimental case has been made for it yet. We hope that the experiments on nuclei at EIC will provide a convincing case for saturation. Another important aspect of EIC physics is scattering on polarized proton beams, which should improve our understanding of the so-called “proton spin crisis”.

The school is intended to graduate students and postdocs who want to extend their physics horizons or plan to pursue research in this or related areas. A preliminary list of lecturers at the school includes A. Mueller (Columbia), O.Hen (MIT), N. Armesto (Santiago de Campostela), A. Dumitru (CUNY, Baruch College), Yu. Kovchegov (Ohio State), L. Jin (UConn), V. Skokov (North Carolina State), B. Schenke (BNL). The schedule of lectures is available on the school website at

Remembering Jeff Schweitzer, colleague and mentor

Jeff Schweitzer (second from right) shown together with PhD student Fridah Mokaya (second from left) following her PhD defense in May, 2018. Also shown standing beside Fridah are husband Jonathan and daughter Jenise, with faculty advisors Richard Jones (left) and Peter Schweitzer (right).

Jeff Schweitzer passed away unexpectedly last year on May 31, 2022 in his home in Ridgefield, CT. Jeff was a faculty member in the physics department for 25 years (1997-2022). Jeff earned his B.S. in Physics from the Carnegie Institute of Technology (1967), and his M.S. (1969) and Ph.D. (1972) in physics from the Purdue University conducting research in low-energy nuclear physics. After his postdoctoral research at the California Institute of Technology (1972–1974) he worked as scientific advisor at Schlumberger-Doll Research (1974–1996) where he employed his expertise in nuclear experimental techniques to applications in geology and developed several patents. Jeff served for 35 years on the editorial boards of the Journal of Nuclear Geophysics (1987-1993) and Applied Isotopes and Radiation (1993-2022). A skilled nuclear experimental physicist, Jeff applied his expertise to a wide variety of fields: from fundamental experimental nuclear physics, to astrophysics, to studies of the nanoscale kinetics in cement chemistry, to instrumentation development with applications in medical physics, forensic science, and planetary mission satellites and landers.

Jeff taught at the Waterbury campus for several years, and was a devoted mentor for his students. At UConn, he was the PhD advisor for Nada Jevtic (Phd 2003) who is now faculty at the Bloomsburg University, Tim Spillane (PhD 2008) who works now as data scientist at Hiya Inc, and James Zickefoose (PhD 2011) who is now Senior Research Scientist at Mirion Technologies, Inc. in Meriden, CT. Jeff was the mentor and co-advisor for many more PhD students including Fridah Mokaya who was Jeff’s most recent advisee. Jeff also mentored junior UConn faculty including Howard Winston and Peter Schweitzer (not related to Jeff despite the same last name).

Howard Winston recalls that Jeff went out of his way to help him during his early days at UConn. He was extraordinarily generous with his time explaining his teaching philosophy and sharing course materials. While doing so, Jeff was never overly didactic. He enjoyed talking about areas where his approaches could be customized or improved. Jeff loved to keep in touch to see how things were going. In common with others, Howard misses his warm smile and sage advice.

Fridah Mokaya recalls: “I will forever treasure this memory as it is a constant reminder of Jeff’s dedication as an advisor and mentor. Jeff greatly influenced the career path I took, I remember when I was not certain of what to do or which path to take post graduation, his words of wisdom and guidance enabled me Identify my strength and passion. He was not only an advisor and mentor but also a great friend, who would constantly call, text, email and visit to check on how everything was progressing. I will greatly miss his advice and words of wisdom.” The picture taken after Fridah’s PhD defense shows Jeff Schweitzer (second from the right) together with Fridah, her husband and daughter (middle), Richard Jones (left, main advisor) and Peter Schweitzer (right, associate advisor).

More information about Jeff can be found in the news article of the Institute of Materials Science, in Jeff’s obituary and in the article in the journal Applied Radiation and Isotopes. Many of Jeff’s articles and scientific contributions can be found on the Research Gate website.

Research of Professor Daniel Angles-Alcazar featured in UConn Today

Galaxy clusters are the most massive objects in the Universe: a single cluster contains anything from a hundred to many thousands of galaxies, alongside collections of plasma, hot X-ray emitting gas, and dark matter. These components are held together by the cluster’s own gravity. Understanding such galaxy clusters is crucial to pinning down the origin and continuing evolution of our universe. An article recently published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences describes using of machine learning algorithms to solve a fundamental problem in astrophysics: inferring the mass of galaxy clusters.  “Measuring how many clusters exist, and then what their masses are, can help us understand fundamental properties like the total matter density in the universe, the nature of dark energy, and other fundamental questions,” says co-author and UConn Professor of Physics Daniel Anglés-Alcázar.


For more information about the research, check UConn Today article at

Chapter of Optica, UConn starts up

A University chapter of Optica (formerly known as OSA), the largest professional society for Optics and Photonics, has started at UConn. Physics graduate students Zhanna Rodnova and Kevin Watson, and Electrical and Computer Engineering graduate student Gokul Krishnan started the chapter in the Fall of 2022 to help students, undergraduate, and graduate, learn more about the world of optics and the professional opportunities within the field. Chapter of Optica, UConn is also organizing tours of laser and optics companies to give students further insight into possible careers after graduation. Additionally, the Optica Chapter holds social events, with the next social on Wednesday, April 12th at 6:30 pm at Hops 44, where everyone is welcome to learn more about optics and photonics research.

On April 21st, the Chapter will host its first Traveling Lecturer. Dr. Gregory Quarles, CEO of Applied Energetics, Inc. and former Chief Scientific Officer of Optica, to talk about career paths for students and early-career professionals. The colloquium will be at 3:30 pm in GW-002, with refreshments served in the Gant Light plaza. For any information, contact

Founding members of the UConn Chapter of Optica (from left): Kevin Watson,, Zhanna Rodnova, and Gokul Krishnan

UConn Physics showing strong at the 2023 APS March Meeting

This year, international conferences have begun to come back into their pre-pandemic form. For the American Physical Society’s annual March Meeting, it was bigger than ever with over 12,000 participants in the world’s largest meeting ever devoted to physics. UConn showed strong as graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, research scientists, and faculty researchers attended the meeting in Las Vegas March 5-10 and showcased their newest results. The team rolled in deep and gave diverse presentations to an international audience on many topics in condensed matter physics, ranging from high-fidelity electronic structure calculations and material modeling, synthesis and characterization of new materials with competing states, advances in industrial science related to advanced manufacturing, synchrotron-based investigations of correlated materials, nanoscale magnetic imaging studies, the development of new cryogenic instrumentation, twistronic effects, vortices in topological materials and circuit-based quantum information science. See you next year!

From left to right: Jacob Pfund, Bochao Xu, Joshua Bedard, Ilya Sochnikov, Gayanath Fernando, Jacob Franklin, Jason Hancock, Donal Sheets, Kaitlin Lyszak
Not pictured: Krishna Joshi, Guang Chen (MSE), Jorge Chavez, Priya Sharma, Alexander Balatsky, Pavel Volkov.

The passing of Dr. Garry Bent

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, Eastern Connecticut Green Action at or Food and Water Watch at

Gary Bent’s scholarly publications are available at

Gary Bent obituary is at