Department News

Jun 02, 2017 - OU student named astronaut scholar

HDL student Matthew Peters has been named one of the 2017/18 Astronaut Scholars of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF). This scholarship recognizes an elite group of students in the US with exemplary academic performance, ingenuity and unique aptitude for research.

The incoming Astronaut Scholars are invited to attend the ASF Innovators Gala in Washington DC in September, where they will receive the Neil Armstrong Award of Excellence, recognizing their achievements. An astronaut will present all Astronaut Scholars with their award on stage during the Saturday night gala.  

Great job Matthew!

May 22, 2017 - Alison Roeth Named Goldwater Scholar

University of Oklahoma honors student Alison Roeth has been named a 2017 Goldwater Scholar. The prestigious scholarship is awarded on the basis of potential and intent to pursue research careers in mathematics, the natural sciences or engineering.

Roeth, a junior pursuing dual degrees in physics and Chinese, is from Charlotte, North Carolina. She is working with Ian Sellers, OU assistant professor of physics and astronomy, to research intermediate band solar cells. She has presented her work with Sellers at the American Physical Society March Meeting 2017. In addition, Roeth participates in ongoing projects with Kate Scholberg, professor of physics and Bass Fellow, Duke University, to research supernova neutrinos. Her work with Scholberg has produced two publications presentations at the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment collaboration meetings in September 2016 and January 2017, and the 2016 Fall meeting of the Conference Experience for Undergraduates/American Physical Society Division of Nuclear Physics. This past January, she joined researchers from the collaboration to continue work on her project at Fermilab. Her summer plans are to complete an intensive Chinese language immersion program in Taiwan. Upon graduation from OU, she plans to pursue a Ph.D. in physics and conduct research in experimental particle physics and teach at the university level.

Roeth is a member of the OU Honors College, president of the Chinese Language Club, and has been active in several organizations, including the Society of Physics Students, the Society of Undergraduate Philosophers, and Honors College reading groups. A National Merit Scholar, Roeth’s honors and awards include the William Schriever Award for Outstanding Scholarship in Physics and Astronomy, the Lowell and Frances Dunham Scholarship from the Department of Modern Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics, and the J. Clarence Karcher Scholarship for the study of Physics, Astronomy, Astrophysics and Engineering Physics, which she has won twice. She also is proficient in Mandarin Chinese.

The national scholarship competition is conducted by the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program. This year, 1,286 college sophomores and juniors across the country competed for the 240 scholarships. 307 students received Honorable Mentions. The one- and two-year scholarships will cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.


May 05, 2017 - Graduate student wins NASA award

Disk Detective team lead by graduate student Steven Silverberg has been awarded NASA's Robert H. Goddard Exceptional Achievement Outreach Award. Disk Detective is a citizen science project that leverages the talents and efforts of people across the globe to identify new debris disks, which are systems where planets are likely to have formed recently.  Steven served both as one of the primary liaisons to the project's citizen scientists and was the leader for most of the science output of the project. Congratulations!

Apr 17, 2017 - HLD faculty receives OU Presidential award

Professor Bruno Uchoa was recently awarded with the Ted and Cuba Webb Presidential Professorship. The Presidential Professorships were established to recognize those faculty members who excel in all of their professional activities and exemplify to their students and to their colleagues (both at OU and within their disciplines nationwide) the ideals of a scholar through their endeavors in teaching, research and creative scholarly activity. Congratulations!

Apr 13, 2017 - HLD Faculty receive Patent Award

In a recent tribute to OU faculty, HLD faculty Mike Santos and Matt Johnson received a Patent Award for their work in helping develop a tunable diode laser.  Working in collaboration with a team of OU physicists and electrical engineers, they developed a semiconductor laser where the infrared emission wavelength is strongly dependent on bias voltage. A key feature of the design is that negative and positive charge carriers are located in adjacent quantum wells. Tunable infrared lasers are enabling components for gas sensing systems that can detect multiple types of molecules.


Mar 21, 2017 - OU Alumni Reunion

The department of Physics and Astronomy will host a Retirement Banquet and Alumni Reunion on Saturday May 06. The reunion will honor some of the faculty who have contributed to the department over many years. The honorees include professors emeriti Dick Henry, Ron Kantowski, Kim Milton, John Moore-Furneaux and Deborah Watson, and the current department chair Greg Parker. The event will also honor retired staff Andy Feldt, Bill See, Adrianne Wade and Joel Young. 

The retirement banquet will be held in the OU Sam Noble Museum. 

More info and registration:

Feb 17, 2017 - Nielsen Hall Radio Telescope Online

A group of undergraduate and graduate students, led by OU Astronomy Professor John Tobin constructed a 10 foot radio telescope on the the
 roof of Nielsen Hall last November and December.  The dish was brought fully online in early February. The group followed the small radio telescope (SRT) plans made available by MIT Haystack Radio Observatory and constructed the dish entirely from off the shelf equipment. 

The radio telescope presents exciting teaching and outreach opportunities because it operates in a fundamentally different way from optical telescopes. Instead of observing the light from stars and planets, this radio telescope  observes the matter between the stars, the interstellar medium, through  spectroscopy. The radio telescope specifically observes Hydrogen atoms throughout our Milky Way Galaxy emitting at a wavelength of 21 cm, from which the rotation of the Galaxy can be clearly seen through the Doppler effect. Introductory Astronomy students and those attending outreach events will see the operation of a radio telescope first-hand and observe the spectral line from Hydrogen in real-time. More advanced students will learn the fundamentals of radio astronomy and will carry out experiments such as mapping Hydrogen in space  and measuring the rotational velocity of our Galaxy.

The project had the participation of undergraduate students Brian Stephenson, Lisa Patel and Jacob Gill, and of graduate students Nick Reynolds, Rajeeb Sharma, Hyunseop Choi and Paul Canton. Congratulations!

Oct 26, 2016 - OU-Led Team Discovers Rare, Newborn Tri-Star System

Prof. John J. Tobin led a global team of researchers who discovered a rare triple star system surrounded by a disk with a spiral structure.  Recent observations from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array—a revolutionary observatory in northern Chile, commonly known as ALMA—resulted in the discovery, lending support for evidence of disk fragmentation—a process leading to the formation of young binary and multiple star systems. Until ALMA, no one had observed a tri-star system forming in a disk like the one discovered by the OU team.

More info: Featured research

Oct 25, 2016 - Department accepted to join APS Bridge Program

The Department has been accepted to join the APS Bridge Program, which seeks to increase the number of physics PhDs awarded to underrepresented minority students, including African American, Hispanic American, and Native American students:

Acceptance into the program affirms the commitment of the department to enhancing diversity in physics.  OU represents the only institution in Oklahoma that has been accepted to join the program.

Oct 21, 2016 - OU Astronomers Team with Citizen Scientists to Discover a Rare Circumstellar Disk

A team led by a University of Oklahoma astronomy graduate student Steven Silverberg discovered a rare and surprising new circumstellar disk: the oldest of its kind.  Read more here and here

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CMP Journal Club

Jul 26, 2017 12:00 pm

Nielsen Hall 103 - Delaram Nematollahi


Sep 07, 2017 4:00 pm

Nielsen Hall 170 - John Wisniewski


Sep 28, 2017 4:00 pm

Nielsen Hall 170 - Alberto Marino