Department News

Feb 20, 2020 - Wisniewski helps to validate sub-Neptunian size exoplanet

 A multi-university team of researchers, including OU's John Wisniewski, has validated that a candidate planet signal originally detected by the Kepler space telescope is an exoplanet—a planet orbiting a star outside of our solar system. The planet, called G 9-40b, is about twice the size of the Earth and orbits its low mass host star (an M dwarf star) only 100 light years away, making it the second-closest transiting planet discovered by the K2 mission to date.  Read more here

Jan 24, 2020 - Department holds successful Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics

The Department of Physics and Astronomy hosted the Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP2020 @ OU) on January 17-19, 2020. The conference was attended by about 130 undergraduate students, mostly women, from Oklahoma, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Following a formal application to the American Physical Society (APS), which coordinates the conference series, OU was selected as one of 12 sites across the US to host CUWiP over the MLK weekend.

OU’s CUWiP was organized under the leadership of third-year physics graduate student Amber Roepe, who spear-headed bringing CUWiP to OU and served as Chair of the Local Organizing Committee (LOC). Doerte Blume served as the Faculty Chair of the conference. The majority of the LOC was made up of undergraduate and graduate students from the Department of Physics and Astronomy. In addition, several staff and faculty members generously donated their time. The feedback from the student participants and presenters was overwhelmingly positive. One student participant wrote after the conference “Thank you so much for such a great weekend. I learned so much.” MacArthur Fellow Prof. Margaret Murnane from the University of Colorado, Boulder/JILA, who gave the after-dinner talk on Friday, said “Terrific conference! I think everyone benefitted from the wonderful exchanges---and it will motivate us to keep pushing for better environments for members from underrepresented groups!"

The conference program touched on all aspects of undergraduate students’ lives, including the challenges and isolation frequently felt by members from underrepresented minorities. The undergraduate student attendees had the opportunity to visit experimental facilities in Nielsen and Lin Halls, to learn about graduate programs and internships, to enjoy talks by internationally renowned speakers, to interact with OU alumni who are now pursuing highly successful careers in academia, to hear about how to cope with mental health challenges, to learn about unique challenges encountered by underrepresented minorities and the LGBTQ+ community, and to engage in networking.

The conference organizers would like to acknowledge the financial support of the conference by the APS, through their NSF and DOE grants; nine OU Departments, Colleges, and Offices; EPSCOR Mississippi; as well as individual donors who donated through OU’s Thousand Strong crowdfunding efforts. 

Congratulations to all!

Dec 02, 2019 - Bruce Mason wins APS Award on Physics Education

HLD Professor Bruce Mason was a recipient of the 2020 Excellence in Physics Education Award offered by the National Science Foundation. The award was shared with other members of the Open Source Physics Team "for sustained commitment to computational physics education through creating and disseminating programming environments, books, software, simulations, and other tools to support computational thinking, and for research establishing the value of these tools and best practices for their use." Bruce was involved in building and running some of the digital resources of the project, including the ComPADRE Collection of online educational content. Congratulations!

For more info, see APS page.  


Nov 12, 2019 - CQRT Director interviewed by KGOU

The CQRT director Alberto Marino was interviewed by KGOU at the inauguration of the Center for Quantum Technology. The area of quantum physics could generate billions of dollars worth of technology over the next decade. The interview can be found at

Oct 23, 2019 - Presidential Dream Course on Quantum Hybrid Systems

A second quantum technology revolution is upon us! The first used the laws of quantum physics to design systems in which the energy is “quantized,” to allow only certain values. This idea is at the heart of technology ranging from TV remotes to supercomputers. Now, two other features of quantum mechanics, entanglement and superposition, are becoming accessible to control. To do so we must unite the incredible delicacy and uniformity of single atoms with the robust control and reproducibility of larger devices, forming “quantum hybrid systems.”

This Presidential Dream course will give students competence in the fundamentals so that they may pursue research and careers in this field. As part of the course world experts will come to OU to give lectures and meet with students.

For more info:

Oct 02, 2019 - CQRT Dedication Ceremony on October 25

The dedication of the Center for Quantum Research and Technology (CQRT) will take place on Friday, October 25 at 2:30pm. The ceremony will be attended by the Oklahoma governor, OU President, Provost and Dean. The event will be followed by tours in Lin Hall, the state of the art laboratory where the CQRT is housed, and by three lectures in Nielsen Hall. One of the lectures will be offered by Neal Lane, a Senior Fellow in Science and Technology Policy, Professor Emeritus at Rice University and current member of the Board of Visitors of the HLD Department of Physics and Astronomy at OU. All are welcome to attend!  

See press release:

Aug 26, 2019 - CQRT hiring multiple faculty: applications due by October 20

The Homer L. Dodge Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Oklahoma (OU) invites applications for five faculty appointments in the areas of Atomic, Molecular, and Optical (AMO) and Condensed Matter (CM) physics. The hires are part of an initiative in fundamental research that enables quantum technology. The Center for Quantum Research and Technology (CQRT) has recently been established with support from donor endowments, the state legislature, and the university. A new state-of-the-art physics building hosts 18,000 square feet of laboratory space that meets NIST-A specifications on vibrations, temperature, humidity, and electromagnetic interference. Campus resources include cleanroom facilities and supercomputer access. 

Position 1: Director of the CQRT and Homer L. Dodge Chair in AMO or CM physics. Candidates are expected to be internationally recognized leaders in their field. The Center Director will take the lead role in determining the scientific direction of the CQRT through hiring of Center faculty and allocation of Center resources.  This endowed position comes with an annual research stipend. Start-up funds commensurate with the candidate’s research agenda will be made available. Please contact Michael Santos ( if you have questions regarding this position. To submit your application, go to  

Position 2: Tenure-track Assistant Professor or Associate/Full Professor in experimental quantum physics with a research focus in AMO physics. Exceptional candidates will be considered for an endowed Chair position. Please contact Alberto Marino ( if you have questions regarding this position. To submit your application, go to  

Positions 3 and 4: Tenure-track Assistant Professor or Associate/Full Professor in experimental quantum materials or quantum physics with a research focus in CM physics. Two positions are available. Exceptional candidates will be considered for an endowed Chair position. Please contact Michael Santos ( if you have questions regarding these positions. To submit your application, go to 

Position 5: Tenure-track Assistant Professor or Associate/Full Professor in theoretical quantum physics with a research focus in AMO or CM physics. Exceptional candidates will be considered for an endowed Chair position. Please contact Doerte Blume ( if you have questions regarding this position. To submit your application, please go to  

Applicants should have earned a Ph.D. in physics or a related field and have post Ph.D. experience. Successful candidates are expected to teach effectively at both the undergraduate and graduate levels (one class per semester), maintain an outstanding record of original published research, and develop an independent, internationally recognized, externally funded research program that complements and expands existing research efforts at OU on ultracold atoms, molecules, and gases; microelectronic, photonic, and quantum devices; quantum optics; precision spectroscopy; quantum information and entanglement; scanning probe microscopy; quantum, topological, and strongly-correlated materials. The department is interested in candidates who have a demonstrated commitment to excellence by providing leadership in teaching, research, or service toward building an equitable and diverse scholarly environment.

Applications consisting of a cover letter, CV, list of publications, statement of research interests, and statement of teaching interests should be uploaded directly to the web addresses provided above. Applicants for the Center Director position should submit names and contact information for five references through interfolio. Applicants for all other positions should arrange for the submission of three letters of reference through interfolio. Screening of applications will begin October 20, 2019. These positions will remain open until filled. 


OU is a Carnegie-R1 comprehensive public research university known for excellence in teaching, research, and serving the educational, cultural, economic and healthcare needs of the state, region, and nation. The 277-acre Research Campus in Norman was named the #1 research campus in the nation by the Association of Research Parks in 2013.

Additional Information can be found at the following links:

The University of Oklahoma is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer. Protected veterans and individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply.

Jul 30, 2019 - OU physicists awarded European Physics Society prize

The CDF and DZero collaborations, the latter of which includes several current and former OU physicists, were awarded the 2019 High Energy and Particle Physics Prize from the European Physical Society for "the discovery of the top quark and the detailed measurement of its properties."  This prestigious prize is awarded every two years for outstanding contributions to the field.  OU made substantial contributions to the DZero experiment, without which the discovery would not have been possible.  Faculty members Brad Abbott, Phillip Gutierrez, Patrick Skubic, and Michael Strauss oversaw the work of seven PhD students, six postdoctoral research associates, and a research scientist (Horst Severini) on the DZero experiment.

The discovery of the top quark was announced jointly by the CDF and DZero collaborations in 1995.  At the time, the top quark was the only remaining matter particle predicted by the standard model yet to be observed.  Discovery was made challenging by the large mass of the top quark, which necessitated careful analysis of billions of high-energy proton-antiproton collisions produced by the Tevatron at Fermilab in Illinois.  The large mass of the top quark is also what makes it so fascinating; it is the heaviest of all known fundamental particles, with a mass at the electroweak scale.

In addition to discovering the top quark, the CDF and DZero experiments performed a number of important measurements of its properties.  The top quark mass was measured with a precision of 1%.  The cross section for production of a top-antitop pair was measured with a precision of 10%.  The production of a single top quark is much rarer, being mediated by the weak interaction.  However, the CDF and DZero collaborations also later observed this production mode, thanks in part to significant work from an OU postdoc (Supriya Jain)

The OU group continues to study top quark properties today, using collisions produced by the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.  Recently, Phillip Gutierrez and postdoc Muhammad Alhroob published the first 3-sigma evidence for the production of a single top quark in association with a Z boson, which is also mediated by the weak interaction.  Along with graduate student Dylan Frizzell, they are now finalizing a publication with incontrovertible >5-sigma observation of this process.

For more information, see:

Jul 29, 2019 - Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics

CUWiP, also known as Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics, is an annual conference series that has been running since 2006. Since its start, conference participation has been growing non-stop. In January 2020, twelve different sites across the US will be hosting CUWiP; the Department of Physics and Astronomy at OU’s Norman campus will serve as one of these host sites. A thirteenth conference will be hosted in Canada at the same time.

Being coordinated under the umbrella of the American Physical Society, all host sites share the same goals and mission. During the three-day conference there will be one national keynote speaker that will be live streamed to all thirteen sites. The remainder of the conference program is being developed independently by each of the thirteen local organizing committees.

Conference Website:

Donations are gratefully accepted!! Thank you!

May 23, 2019 - Schwettmann wins NSF Career Award

OU Physics Professor Arne Schwettmann is the recipient of a National Science Foundation CAREER (Faculty Early Career Development Program) Award for research on ultra cold atoms.

Collisions between atoms in gases happen all around us, for example in the air that we breathe every day. At room temperature, the collisions are random and very difficult to control. By cooling a gas to ultracold temperatures near absolute zero (below minus 273 degrees Celsius) and trapping it in the center of a vacuum chamber, collisions can be controlled and used to develop new technologies such as quantum-limited sensors for impurities. An ultracold gas behaves like a single quantum mechanical object, a matter wave. Collisions still take place in the matter wave, but they now happen in a predictable fashion. In a sodium matter wave, the collisions can be controlled precisely via microwave radiation. The colliding atoms behave like small magnets with magnetic north and south poles determined by the direction of their atomic spin. During collisions, atoms experience each other's magnetic fields and change their spin directions. As they change directions, the atomic spins become correlated with each other at the quantum level, a phenomenon known as quantum entanglement. Quantum entanglement is useful when atoms are used as sensors. All entangled atoms react to external influences in unison, increasing the sensitivity of a sensor. This research project will use controlled collisions in sodium matter waves to study quantum-enhanced sensing and other quantum technologies. This project will study the role of impurities and will also explore differences and similarities compared to experiments with entangled beams of light. The research will improve our experimental understanding of quantum technologies based on matter waves under realistic conditions, in the presence of loss and impurities. This has practical applications for development of robust quantum-enhanced sensors, for development of quantum-enhanced probes for ultracold gases, and for improving our understanding of how we can control spin in matter waves at the quantum level.

The initial award is $311,908. This is a continuing grant expected to total $500,000 over five years. For more information, go to

Page 3 of 6 pages:  < 1 2 3 4 5 >  Last ›