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

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

The Milky Way Laboratory Contributes to Art Exhibit at the University of Hartford

Prof. Cara Battersby’s researcMilky Way Lab at UHart Art Exhibith group, the Milky Way Laboratory, was invited to collaborate with Genevieve de Leon, the 2022-23 Koopman Distinguished Chair in the Painting Department at the University of Hartford, for an exhibition focused on the intersection between the Maya calendrical cycles and scientific studies of the cosmos.

From the Milky Way Laboratory, H Perry Hatchfield, Jennifer Wallace, Dani Lipman, and Samantha Brunker contributed scientific figures that are displayed as part of the exhibition.  These figures demonstrate the ongoing research focused on understanding the universe around us through the use of data and scientific analysis.  These figures balance well with Genevieve de Leon’s original, large-scale paintings of constellations in the Maya Zodiac which were created in a methodical, focused way similar to how large-sky surveys are observed.  Genevieve has studied Maya timekeeping extensively, and, through this exhibit, focuses on the intersection of various systems of knowledge.

Additionally, the exhibition includes multimedia work made by indigenous artists in the Native Youth Arts Collective and students at the Hartford Art School which focus on personal connections with the night sky.

Milky Way Lab at UHart Art Exhibit - Orion

Milky Way Lab at UHart Art Exhibit - GalleryMW Lab UHart Art Exhibit - group2

The exhibit, “To Order the Days/Para Ordenar Los Días”, is located in the Donald and Linda Silpe Gallery at the University of Hartford, and will be available from February 23, 2023, to March 25, 2023.

More information can be found at:

Post written by Dr. Samantha Brunker

Prof. Jonathan Trump interviewed by The Conversation about JWST Discoveries

The Conversation interviewed Prof. Jonathan Trump about his recent work with the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), with an article and podcast interview available at this link. The interview includes discussion of Prof. Trump’s recent journal paper that used spectroscopic observations from JWST to understand the chemical enrichment of galaxies in the early Universe.

2023 HEAD Early-Career Prize is awarded to Prof. Mingarelli

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

Prof. McCarron received a grant from Air Force Office of Scientific Research

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.

For more information: Four UConn Researchers Take DoD University Research Equipment Awards

UConn Physics hosts Quantum Matter Conference, Dec 19-22

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

Confirmed Speakers:

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

For more information:,

Visit by Dr. Sylvester James Gates

The University of Connecticut Department of Physics is pleased to announce the upcoming colloquium by Dr. Sylvester James Gates Jr. on November 18th in Gant West 002 from 3:30-4:45PM. Dr. Gates is a theoretical high-energy physicist who has made significant, pioneering contributions to supersymmetry, supergravity, and superstring theory. His colloquium will concern the ongoing efforts to construct a mathematical foundation for supersymmetry (SUSY).

Alongside the colloquium, there will be additional events during Dr. Gates’s visit, organized by the Physics Diversity and Multiculturalism Committee with help from the Physics Graduate Student Association:

  • Undergraduate and graduate physics students are encouraged to attend a lunch meet and greet with Dr. Gates from 12:15 to 1:15 pm in Gant South room 117, where pizza will be provided.
  • Students, postdocs, and faculty from all departments are all encouraged to attend a DEI panel discussion: “Bringing Diversity into the Physical Sciences,” featuring Dr. Gates as well as faculty from multiple departments in CLAS at UConn. The panel will take place in Gant South rooms 117 and 119 from 1:30 to 2:30 pm.

List of Panelist Speakers: 

  • Prof. Jim Gates – Clark Leadership Chair in Science, Distinguished University Professor and Regents Professor, University of Maryland

  • Prof. Ronald Mallett – Professor Emeritus and Research Professor, Department of Physics 

  • Prof. Nora Berrah – Professor, Physics Department 

  • Prof. Amy Howell – Professor, Chemistry Department 

  • Prof. Marisa Chrysochoou – Professor and Department Head, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering 

  • Prof. Masha Gordina – Professor, Department of Mathematics 

Professor Gates Bio:

Gates received Bachelor of Science degrees in both physics and mathematics and a Ph.D. in physics from MIT. At the University of Maryland, he became the first African American to hold an endowed chair in physics at a major U.S. research university. Gates is the past president of the American Physical Society (APS), a role to which he was elected in 2019. He has received numerous awards and accolades, including the 2013 Mendel Medal and the 2013 National Medal of Science from former President Barack Obama. In 2013, he was also elected to the National Academy of Sciences, becoming its first African American theoretical physicist recognized in its 150-year-old history. He also served on former President Barack Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. In addition, Gates has just been named as the 2023 recipient of the prestigious Hans Christian Oersted Medal, presented by the AAPT in honor of his outstanding leadership and impact in physics education.

Dr. Gates was until very recently the Theoretical Physics Center Director, Ford Foundation Professor of Physics, and Affiliate Mathematics Professor at Brown University. He has since moved back to Maryland where he is the Clark Leadership Chair in Science, Distinguished University Professor and Regents Professor at the University of Maryland.

CT Space Grant Award for Andrea Mejia

Second-year graduate student Andrea Mejia received in Fall 2022 the CT Space Grant Award for her Graduate Research on “Constraining Black Hole Binaries and Mergers” where she studies, by means of numerical simulations, how Active Galactic Nuclei form and eventually merge stellar mass black hole binaries, see In addition, Andrea successfully secured in May 2023 an ACCESS Explore Grant. These grants are designed specifically for graduate students in need of advanced computing and data resources for research purposes. Andrea’s grant provides 716,800 cpu-hours on high-performance computing systems to be used by May 2024. Originating from Andrea’s undergraduate research at her prior institution, Hunter College, this well-funded research will help to interpret data on gravitational waves from black hole mergers observed by LIGO and VIRGO. For her graduate studies at UConn, however, Andrea plans to pursue a different career path and switch from mergers of stellar mass black holes in theoretical astrophysics to collisions of subatomic particles in theoretical particle and nuclear physics.

UConn Physics welcomes two new faculty in quantum science

This year, the Department of Physics proudly welcomes two new faculty members.

Pavel Volkov
Prof. Pavel Volkov

Pavel Volkov joins the Department of Physics as an assistant professor. He is a condensed matter physicist, specializing in the theory of strongly correlated and quantum materials. He earned his Ph.D. at Ruhr-Universität Bochum in Germany, followed by a postdoc at Rutgers University. His work covers topics such as superconductivity, frustrated magnetism, ferroelectricity, and materials with nontrivial topology, often inspired by new experimental discoveries made around the world. During this academic year, Pavel will be on leave at Harvard University, working on the theory of two-dimensional Moiré materials, created by stacking single-atomic layers. He also enjoys mentoring students at all levels and bringing cutting-edge science into the classroom.


Lea Santos
Prof. Lea Ferreira dos Santos

Lea Ferreira dos Santos joins the Department of Physics as a full professor. She earned her Ph.D. in theoretical physics from the University of São Paulo, Brazil, and was a postdoctoral fellow at Yale University, Michigan State University, and Dartmouth College. She then took a position at Yeshiva University for 15 years, where she climbed the ranks to full professor and chair of the Department of Physics. Her research on many-body quantum systems has been continuously funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). It influences a broad range of disciplines across condensed matter, atomic physics, and quantum information science. Her awards include the Simons Fellow in Theoretical Physics, Outstanding Referee for the American Physical Society, NSF CAREER Award, and member of the U.S. delegation to the 3rd IUPAP International Conference on Women in Physics.

Welcome, Lea and Pavel!