A silicon substrate with 2D heterostructures on top of a coin. Photo: Douglas Levere

In this Issue:

Support your Department

With gifts from alumni and friends, we can access crucial resources to enhance our department and support students, research projects and new programs.

Message from the Chair

Sambandamurthy Ganapathy writes:

Dear alumni and friends,

I hope you had a healthy and successful year. It is that time of the year when I look forward to sharing some inspiring and wonderful stories of our students, alumni and faculty members. To start off, two of our undergraduate students, Paul Dewan Jr. and Krish Patel, are the recipients of the prestigious, nationally competitive Barry M. Goldwater scholarship 2022 for excellence in education. Professor Zutic and his post-doctoral fellow Dr. Xu mentored Krish Patel and Professor Banerjee mentored Paul Dewan Jr.

Headshot of Sambandamurthy Ganapathy, Chair and Professor of Physics.

Department News

Dative epitaxy

Prof. Hao Zeng and his former postdoc Dr. Mengying Bian are co-authors on a recent paper in Advanced Materials, which discusses a new technique to grow epitaxial thin films on a van der Waals template, taking advantage of a special type of chemical bond called dative bond formed at the interface.

Prof. Hao Zeng (left) and Dr. Mengying Bian (right). Photo: Douglas Levere

Faculty News

Changjiang Liu, PhD, Assistant Professor (left) and  Herbert F. Fotso, PhD, Associate Professor (right).

Meet our New Faculty Members

The department is excited to introduce two new faculty members, Herbert F. Fotso, PhD, Associate Professor, and Changjiang Liu, PhD, Assistant Professor.

Faculty Awards

Professor Igor Žutić

Professor Igor Žutić, received a Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) grant titled “Epitaxial Phase-Biased Josephson Junctions,” from the U.S. Office of Naval Research, which built on a previous collaboration with the experimental group of Professor Javad Shabani at the New York University. This team effort, led by Professor Shabani and also involving researchers from Yale University, the University of Maryland, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, will build on the discovery of topological superconductivity to provide a platform for manipulating elusive Majorana bound states, a key element for the fault-tolerant quantum computing.

Professor Sambandamurthy Ganapathy

Professor and Department Chair Sambandamurthy Ganapathy has been selected as a MAC Fellow 2022-2023 to participate in the 2022-2023 Mid-American Conference (MAC) Academic Leadership Development Program (ALDP). Up to four outstanding individuals are selected each year to serve as UB's MAC-ALDP Fellows under the mentorship of the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs. This fellowship provides an opportunity for UB faculty to gain valuable knowledge and experience in academic leadership by working closely with select administrators from other colleges and universities in the MAC. 

Professor Hao Zeng

Professor Hao Zeng has received the 2022 UB Exceptional Scholars: Sustained Achievement Award. Established in 2002, this award honors outstanding professional achievement that has been focused on a particular body of work over a number of years. This award was created to recognize an unprecedented accomplishment in a senior scholar's career, distinguishing a body of work of enduring importance that has gone beyond the norm in a particular field of study.

Professor Benedikt Harrer

Professor Benedikt Harrer (Co-PI) together with Virginia J. Flood (Assistant Professor of Learning Sciences, Graduate School of Education, PI) have received an award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) titled ”Dialogic gesture in collaborative sense making in physics” to investigate the role nonverbal communication plays in undergraduate physics students’ group problem solving success. The study will examine how students pay attention to, exchange, and interact with each other’s gestures as they make sense of physics problems together. This interdisciplinary project is funded through NSF’s Education and Human Resources Core Research program, which supports fundamental STEM education research.

Professor Priya Banerjee

Professor Priya Banerjee received a St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Collaborative Grant on the Biophysics and Biology of Phase Transitions in Living Cells which started in March 2022. This 5-year grant will fund the joint research and administrative efforts amongst 6 collaborative members: Paul Taylor (HHMI/St Jude), Tanja Mittag (St Jude), Richard Kriwacki (St Jude), Rohit Pappu (Wash U at St Louis), Cliff Brangwynne (HHMI/Princeton), and Priya Banerjee (UB). In 2015, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital launched Research Collaboratives as part of their strategic plan to bring together the world’s experts, regardless of where they work, to tackle some of the toughest questions pertaining to current human health and diseases. These projects are chosen based upon the potential to transform science and medicine. The research projects of this collaborative will leverage the collective expertise of its members in polymer physics, biophysics, soft matter physics, structural biology, molecular biology, and cell biology to further our understanding of disease mechanisms that arise from aberrant phase transitions in living systems.

Professors Sambandamurthy Ganapathy (left) and Hao Zeng (right)

Professor Sambandamurthy Ganapathy (left) and Prof. Hao Zeng (right) have received an award from the National Science Foundation - ECCS division, titled “Acquisition of Magneto-optical-high-frequency cryogen free probe station for research and education”. The PI is Prof. Uttam Singisetti (UB Department of Electrical Engineering  (EE)) and fellow Co-PIs are Prof. P. Q. Liu (EE), and Prof. Q. Jia (UB Department of Materials Design and Innovation).

Student News

VITAL scholar Margaret Ikape visits the Physics department

By Murthy Ganapathy, PhD

Margaret Ikape, a PhD candidate in the Dunlap Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of Toronto, visited UB and the Department of Physics as a member of UB’s inaugural class of 2022 VITAL scholars.

A headshot of Margaret Ikape.

Margaret Ikape.

Alumni News

Professor, Emmanuel I. Rashba, in front of his house in Jerusalem.

Former UB Department of Physics Research Professor, Emmanuel I. Rashba, in front of his house in Jerusalem. Photo credit: AIP Emilio Segrè Visual Archives, Rashba Collection.

Former Research Professor wins 2022 Oliver E. Buckley Prize of the American Physical Society (APS)

By Bruce D. McCombe, PhD

Gene Dresselhaus and Emmanuel I. Rashba shared the 2022 Oliver E. Buckley Prize of the APS in Condensed Matter Physics For pioneering research on spin-orbit coupling in crystals, particularly the foundational discovery of chiral spin-orbit interactions, which continue to enable new developments in spin transport and topological materials.” 

Michael Morse (left) and Benjamin Cammett (right) at the 2022 Berlin Marathon in Germany.

Alumni Michael Morse (left) and Benjamin Cammett (right) at the 2022 Berlin Marathon in Germany.

Personal Bests in Berlin

UB Department of Physics Alumni Michael Morse (PhD 2020) and Benjamin Cammett (MS 2019) at the 2022 Berlin Marathon in Germany. They both set new personal bests, with Ben and Michael beating their old records by about  10 minutes and 30 minutes, respectively. After Berlin, they were heading to Munich for Oktoberfest. 

Give to the Department of Physics

Thank you for your support of the Department of Physics. With the support of alumni and friends, we can provide vital resources to enhance our department and provide support for students, research projects and programs. We are grateful for your generosity.

You can support your department and help to provide for our students by making a gift online.