In 1919, UB’s department of physics was formed. 101 academic years later, the department has conferred thousands of bachelors, masters and PhD degrees. Although the centennial celebration was postponed due to the pandemic, the commemorative spirit was still strong. The department celebrated the occasion on June 5, 2021 with virtual sharing of engaging stories, impressive research and creative initiatives from current and emeritus faculty members, alumni, students and friends of the department.
The department’s annual Graduate Research Symposium went virtual this spring on March 20, 2021. This event was co-organized by the Graduate Studies Committee and Graduate Recruitment Committee. The symposium was held with the format of flash talks. Each speaker was asked to present a short talk that lasted for five minutes, with one minute for quick questions, mimicking the flash talks in major scientific conferences such the American Physical Society March Meetings and Materials Research Society Annual Spring/Fall Meetings. Prospective students who got accepted into the department’s graduate program were also invited to participate.
The symposium was chaired by Priya Banerjee. Eleven students from biological physics, condensed matter physics and high energy physics and cosmology sub-fields within our department gave talks. Their topics ranged from viscoelasticity in phase separated liquids, silicon based quantum computing, spin lasers, emerging chalcogenide semiconductors to Z boson production in Large Hadron Colliders. After the conclusion of the symposium, a happy hour was held virtually. Aside from questions and answers for the talks, faculty members and students from the department mingled with prospective students, introducing them to the culture of our department and answering their questions.
All students gave excellent talks, which made it difficult for the committee to decide the winners of Best Presentation Awards. At the end, Mr. Guangpeng Xu from Tim Thomay’s group won the First Prize. The title of his talk was “Quasi real-time characterization and categorization of photon states using machine learning”. All the other ten students won the second prize. They are: Bilal Tariq, Rance Solomon, Taranpreet Kaur, Chang Huai, Garvita Agarwal, Michael Zucker, Xiucheng Wei, Peter Young, Ibraheem Alshareedah and Hsin-Wei Hsia. Congratulations to our excellent cohort of graduate students and their faculty mentors!
Professor Emeritus Francis M. Gasparini’s 80th birthday was celebrated in the department in October 2021. Professor Krotscheck and department chair Professor Ganapathy coordinated a “surprise” party and invited Professor Gasparini and his wife Lucille. Many students and post-docs from Professor Gasparini’s research group were contacted to share their wishes and memories. Happy 80th Frank!
After a longer pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic, on October 1, 2021, the physics department hosted the 26th Moti Lal Rustgi Memorial Lecture in person. The lecture titled "The Many Worlds of Quantum Mechanics" was delivered by Professor Sean M. Carroll from California Institute of Technology and was very well attended. Professor Carroll's research focuses on foundational questions in quantum mechanics, cosmology, and gravity. He is the author of many popular books about modern science, and a textbook in general relativity. He appeared on TV shows such as The Colbert Report, PBS’s NOVA, and Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman, and frequently serves as a science consultant for film and television. He also hosts a very popular weekly Mindscape podcast.
Next Article: Student Awards and Recent Graduates
In this Issue: