Rice University logo

Departmental News Archive 2012

Department faculty member elected fellow of the AAAS  (11/29/12) 
Physics and Astronomy faculty member Douglas Natelson is on of 6 Rice professors to be elected fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

Department mourns loss of recent graduate  (11/03/12) 
Kevin Strecker, who earned his Ph.D. from the Rice University Department of Physics and Astronomy in 2004, died suddenly and unexpectedly Saturday, November 3.

Rice mourns loss of CAREER award-winning physicist  (7/18/12) 
July 18, 2012 - Adilet Imambekov, an assistant professor of physics and astronomy, died while mountain climbing in his home country of Kazakhstan. He was 30. To contribute to a Memorial Fund for Adilet Imambekov's family, send a check, payable to Adilet's wife, Aigerim Kabdiyeva, to Ms. Valerie Call in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Online contributions may be made at www.indiegogo.com/adilet. A memorial service will be held at 4 pm on September 27, 2012 at the Cohen House on the Rice University campus.

Hundreds of visitors to Rice witness the 2012 transit of Venus accross the Sun  (6/06/12) 
On Tuesday, June 5, 2012, several hundred visitors to the Rice campus attended a lecture and obtained first hand views of this once in a lifetime opportunity.

Physics and Astronomy Celebrates the UnConvention  (4/13/12) 
On Friday, April 13, 2012, over 100 members of the Physics and Astronomy Department and friends from the Houston community gathered to celebrate the history of Physics and Astronomy at Rice.

Open House at Rice Campus Observatory, Friday, March 30, 2012
Dr. Pat Hartigan of the Physics and Astronomy Dept. will host an open house at the Campus Observatory from 8-11pm on Friday, March 30, with Saturday, March 31 as a bad-weather backup date. Featured objects include the Moon, several planets such as Venus, Mars, and Saturn, and a variety of clusters and nebulae. The Rice Observatory is located on the 4th floor of Brockman Hall for Physics.
Please see the Observatory website at http://www.ruf.rice.edu/~ruco/observatory.html for the latest information and for weather closures.

Rice Space Institute names new director  (3/06/12) 
On March 6, 2012, the Rice Space Institute names Physics and Astronomy professor David Alexander as its new director.

Rice biophysicist Huey Huang wins Avanti Award  (2/28/12) 
Huey Huang of the Physics and Astronomy Department will receive the 2012 Avanti Award in Lipids from the Biophysical Society for his unique and seminal work that defines how drugs and poreforming proteins and peptides interact with lipid bilayers.

Department's own Rose Berridge named a Centennial Star  (2/2/12)
On February 2, 2012, Rose Berridge, a senior department administrator in the Physics and Astronomy Department was honored as a Centennial Star on the Rice University campus.

Discover Magazine names Patrick Hartigan's Hubble Space Telescope movies of stellar jets as one of the Top 100 Stories of 2011  (1/09/12) 
On January 9, 2012, Discover Magazine recognized the work of Patrick Hartigan of the Physics and Astronomy Department who used the Hubble Space Telescope to study the physics of stellar jets in ways never before possible.

Physics & Astronomy graduate student Wilson Cauley wins American Astronomical Society's Chambliss Award  (1/08/12) 
The AAS awards the research presented by graduate student Wislon Cauley at the 219th meeting of the Society held Jan. 8-12, 2012 in Austin, TX

Departmental News Archive 2011

Brockman Hall for Physics featured in Institute magazine  (9/14/11) 
The magazine of the American Institute of Architects features the new Brockman Hall for Physics

Physics & Astronomy graduate student Jeffrey Reep wins NASA Fellowship  (9/12/11) 
NASA will support the research of Rice student Jeffrey Reep as he works to unlock the secrets of solar flares

Imambekov reaches new peak  (8/31/11) 
Adilet Imambekov has a passion for peaks, having climbed the 24,757-foot Muztagh Ata, and for pinpoints, having peered into nanostructures to learn their quantum secrets.

Brockman Hall for Physics profiled in video  (10/3/11) 
The new Brockman Hall for Physics and its world leading research was profiled in an Around Campus video which aired Sept. 27, 2011.

Brockman Hall for Physics wins architectual design award  (9/11) 
The new Brockman Hall for Physics wins design award from Texas Architect

Three renowned scientists recruited for cancer, physics and chemistry research at Rice  (5/27/11) 
Herbert Levine, José Onuchic and Peter Wolynes will bring leading national labs to Rice’s BioScience Research Collaborative, including an NSF Center for Theoretical Biological Physics, thanks in part to a CPRIT grant.

Reverse NanoJapan: Rice to host 25-30 Japanese students  (5/25/11) 
In the wake of the March 11 earthquake and rolling blackouts that are severely affecting university research laboratories across Japan, the award-winning undergraduate internship program NanoJapan is scrambling to run its annual summer program in reverse; rather than having U.S. undergraduates travel to Japan for lab internships, NanoJapan is offering partner labs in Japan the opportunity to send 25-30 students to Rice University laboratories for three months.

Dreaming of a shuttle  (4/12/11)
Patricia Reiff, professor of physics and astronomy and director of the Rice Space Institute, will comment on NASA shuttle announcement

Rice University seeks LEED for physics hall  (4/01/11) 
Architectural firm Kieren Timberlake designed Rice University's Brockman Hall for Physics, which is expected to contend for LEED Gold certification.

Rice University unveils state-of-the-art physics research facility  (3/25/11) 
Federal, Rice officials dedicate Brockman Hall, which drew $11 million in stimulus funding.

Prof. Paul Padley quoted in a story about the threat of nuclear meltdown  (3/14/11) 
Paul Padley, professor of physics and astronomy, is quoted in a story about the threat of nuclear meltdown in the wake of the recent Japan earthquake and tsunami. See other related news stories: KPRC-TV,   KRIV-TV,  >KHOU-TV 

Complex lab equipment moved intact to minimize downtime (3/04/11)

It looked like a scene from “Mission: Impossible”: A laser table the size of a car was moved through a hole in a wall, lifted by crane, pushed by hand on pneumatic carts and lowered through a trap door into a high-tech basement lab.

Face to Face with Jason Hafner  (2/25/11)
Jason Hafner sweats the small stuff, but the Rice University professor can’t help it. When moving molecules around, it goes with the territory.

CNN International  (2/24/11)
Patricia Reiff, professor of physics and astronomy and director of the Rice Space Institute, provided live commentary on CNN International's coverage of the final launch of the space shuttle Discovery.

Obama resists research cuts  (2/15/11)
Increases for science and technology in the 2012 U.S. budget prioritize innovation over reductions in the national deficit. Neal Lane, the Malcolm Gillis University Professor and professor of physics and astronomy, is quoted.

Gustavo Scuseria wins Feynman Prize  (1/20/11)
Rice computational chemist Gustavo Scuseria, whose research is incorporated into software used in thousands of laboratories around the world, has been awarded the Feynman Prize for theoretical nanotechnology for 2010.

Michael Deem named AAAS fellow  (1/12/11)
Mary "Cindy" Farach-Carson, associate vice provost for research and professor of biochemistry and cell biology, and Michael Deem, the John W. Cox Professor in Biochemical and Genetic Engineering and professor of physics and astronomy, have been named fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world's largest general scientific society and the publisher of the journal Science.

Emilia Morosan wins PECASE award  (11/05/10)
The White House announced 85 researchers as recipients of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers. Rice University physicist Emilia Morosan is one of this years winners of this prestigious award. 

Departmental News Archive 2010

Rice Campus Observatory Moves to new home  (11/04/10)
The Rice University Campus Observatory, a landmark in the middle of the North Annex Parking Lot since 2002, moved to the east end of the new Brockman Hall for Physics. 

Rice physics student wins Samsung Scholarship  (11/04/10)
Wooyoung Hong was drawn to Rice University by its reputation for nanotechnology research, but he will depart with a much broader perspective. 

Naomi Halas selected OSA director at large  (11/04/10)
The Optical Society of America (OSA) announced recently three directors at large were chosen at this year’s election, including Naomi J. Halas of Rice University, Eric Mazur of Harvard University and Jannick P. Rolland of the University of Rochester’s Institute of Optics. 

'Solar Week' aims to link kids to leading scientists  (10/19/10)
David Alexander, professor of physics and astronomy, is quoted in an article about the biannual Solar Week at the University of California, Berkeley Space Science Laboratory's Center for Science Education.

Professor Appointed Associate Dean  (08/06/10)
Rice University complimentary research associate, Gary Morris, has been appointed associate dean of Valparaiso University’s College of Arts and Sciences. 

Scuseria is Rice’s first ACS fellow  (08/05/10)
Gustavo Scuseria has been named a fellow of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

Deem receives AIChE Professional Progress Award  (08/04/10)
Rice University's Michael Deem is the 2010 recipient of the Professional Progress Award in Chemical Engineering, one of the highest achievements bestowed by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. 

Rice wins $3M NSF grant for supercomputer  (06/04/10)
'Workhorse' system will include Rice's first 3-D visualization facility.

Halas, West are State Bar Inventors of the Year   (06/02/10)
Rice University researchers Naomi Halas and Jennifer West have been named Inventors of the Year by the State Bar of Texas for their patented process to use light-activated gold nanoparticles in cancer therapy.

Rice physicists building long-lasting ties with China  (05/28/10)
Last week's Zhejiang workshop is latest effort to foster collaborations.

Ultra-cold physics will be a hot topic  (05/23/10)
Randy Hulet, the Fayez Sarofim Professor of Physics and Astronomy, is featured in a Q-and-A discussing the importance of atomic physics.

Congratulations, 2010 Physics and Astronomy Department Award Recipients! (05/10)
Tom Bonner Book Prize: Michael Eastwood (Sophomore), Wooyoung Hong (Junior), Brian S. Henderson (Senior), Heng Ji and Dirk Lorenz (1st year graduate student)
Heaps Prize: Brian S. Henderson
Chuoke Award: Ivan Knez (2nd year graduate student), Kui Bao (3rd year graduate student)
William and Elva Gordon Fellowship: Yi Chen
Wilson Award: Yenny Natali Martinez.

Congratulations, David! 
David Alexander, Professor of Physics and Astronomy, has been elected 2011 Chair of the Solar Physics Division of the American Astronomical Society (AAS).

Four Rice students win Goldwater Scholarships (04/23/10)
Sophomore physics majors, Michael Eastwood and Tal Einav, have been named recipients of a prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship.  

Top 10 Ranking! 
The Atomic/Molecular/Optical (AMO) group in the Physics and Astronomy Department has been nationally ranked 9th in U.S. News &World Report's 2011 edition of "America's Best Graduate Schools."

Brockman Hall gets Heavy Air-Handling unit (03/31/10)
More than 40 tons of air-handling equipment was lifted to the fourth floor of the structure, which is coming together on the north side of campus, sandwiched between Hamman and George R. Brown halls.

Physics Professor mentioned in Science Magazine article (3/12/10)
Dr. Qimiao Si is mentioned in an article titled "Ironing Out Consensus on the Iron-Based Superconductors" from the March 12 2010 Volume 237 of Science Magazine.
Brockman Hall for Physics reaches its maximum height 
The new Brockman Hall for Physics was crowned with the Stars and Stripes and a live oak tree in a topping-out ceremony last week as Facilities, Engineering and Planning marked a major milestone in the facility's construction.
Alumni to spend six months on International Space Station(3/8/10)
Dr. Shannon Walker who received her PhD from Rice in 1987 will blast off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in June 2010 for a six-month stint aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
Related Article from Houston Chronicle: Space City finally sends one into space

Physics professor published in the March issue of Physics Today  (3/10)
Dr. Thomas C. Killian co-authors a article called "Ultracold Neutral Plasmas" in the March 2010 issue of Physics Today.

Physics & Astronomy professor receives 2010 Sloan Research Fellowship
Dr. Adilet Imambekov, an assistant professor of physics and astronomy, focuses on quantum mechanical condensed matter theory. "Since I do theoretical research, I don't have much equipment," Imambekov said, "so I'm not sure how I'll spend the grant. But I'm honored to have the award." He joined Rice last summer after serving two years as a postdoctoral researcher at Yale.

Rice physicists kill cancer with 'nanobubbles'(2/4/10)
Using lasers and nano particles, scientists at Rice University have discovered a new technique for singling out individual diseased cells and destroying them with tiny explosions. The scientists used lasers to make "nano bubbles" by zapping gold nano particles inside cells. In tests on cancer cells, they found they could tune the lasers to create either small, bright bubbles that were visible but harmless or large bubbles that burst the cells

Houston Chronicle interviews Rice physicist Paul Padley about new fusion research developments(1/28/10)
Beyond smaller research projects there are two major efforts afoot to develop commercial fusion power, tokamaks like the large ITER facility being built in France, and another called inertial confinement fusion. The new Science paper concerns this latter approach, which is being tested by the National Ignition Facility in California, the world´s largest and highest-energy laser.

Randall G. Hulet was named among the 157 APS Outstanding Referees for 2010
Initiated in 2008, the Outstanding Referee program expresses appreciation for the essential work that anonymous peer reviewers do for our journals. Each year a small percentage of our 42,000 referees are selected and honored with the Outstanding Referee designation.Selections are made based on the number, quality, and timeliness of referee reports as collected in a database over the last 20 years. The program will recognize about 150 referees each year, although larger groups were selected in 2008 and 2009.

Departmental News Archive 2009

Rice Professor named Fellow of American Physical Society
Dr. Junichiro Kono, Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering and Professor of Physics and Astronomy, has been elected fellow by the Council of the American Physical Society (APS) “for contributions to optical processes in semiconductor nanostructures, including magneto-optical studies of Aharonov-Bohm physics in carbon nanotubes.”
Former Rice Professor Frank James Low, dead at 76
His Obituary appeared in the March 2010 issue of Physics Today. On 11 June 2009 Frank James Low, one of the founders of infrared astronomy, died in Tucson, Arizona, following a long illness. “His influence on astronomy was so large that simply mentioning ’Frank’ with no surname was sufficient for many years to identify him unambiguously,” said the University of Arizona’s announcement of his passing.

Physics and Astronomy Professor to receive Athelstan Spilhaus Award forEnhancement of the public understanding of Earth and Space Science
Dr. Patricia Reiff, Director of the Rice Space Institute will receive the Athelstan Spilhaus Award for Enhancement of the Public Understanding of Earth and Space Science this Spring. The award will be presented to Dr. Reiff at the AGU meeting in Toronto in May 2009. The Athelstan Spilhaus Award recognizes members of the American Geophysical Union who have devoted portions of their lives to expressing the excitement, significance, and beauty of the Earth and space sciences to the general public.  

Bill Gordon, former provost, father of Arecibo Observatory, dead at 92
William E. "Bill" Gordon, who conceived, built and ran the famed Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico prior to joining Rice University for a 20-year career as both dean and provost, died Tuesday at his home in Ithaca, N.Y., at the age of 92.

Rice physicist is appointed to three-year visiting professorship at Zhejiang University
Dr. Qimiao Si of the Physics and Astronomy department has been appointed to a three-year visiting professorship at The Chang Jiang Scholars program, sponsored by China's Ministry of Education. This appointment is through a nation-wide competition based on nominations made by Chinese universities.

Rice alumni officially named president of Texas A & M University
Seven months after its former president resigned under fire, Texas A&M University is close to having a new leader. The school's governing board on Thursday capped months of campus turmoil by agreeing unanimously to name R. Bowen Loftin the sole finalist to become its 24th president. He received his MA from Rice in 1973 and then his PhD in 1975 also from Rice.
Related articles

A&M's Loftin says he's learned from Ike
Loftin sole finalist to be A&M president

Rice professor Emilia Morosan wins NSF CAREER award  (9/16/09)
Emilia Morosan's career is starting to heat up. The Rice physicist, who uses furnaces in her lab to create compounds with novel magnetic properties, has landed a highly coveted CAREER Development Award from the NationalScience Foundation (NSF).

Rice Professor participated in a discussion of life-prolonging research
Naomi Halas, the Stanley C. Moore Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering and professor of chemistry, of biomedical engineering and of physics and astronomy, participated in a discussion of life-prolonging research. Halas is also quoted in a story and article on her research to use nano shells to fight cancer. Amit Joshi, adjunct assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, is mentioned.

New airport screeners could save time, energy
Using several new advances in T-rays, or terahertz radiation, airport scanners could soon determine if a vial of white powder in a suitcase is common sugar or illegal drugs.

Former Rice Space Physicist publishes autobiography
The former Andrew Hays Buchanan Professor of Astrophysics, an original member of the university's pioneering Department of Space Physics and Astronomy has published an autobiography that details his professional and personal growth through decades of rapid advancements in his field.

Has Dark Matter finally been detected on Earth?
For the past six years, the CDMS, the world's most sensitive dark matter detector, sat deep beneath the Minnesotan countryside, watching super-cooled Germanium crystals for evidence of material abundant in the Universe, but almost non-existent on Earth. Today, rumors are flying on the Web that the team has finally found the weakly interacting particles (WIMPs) that physicists have long searched for,which could be the key to understanding the fundamental makeup of the universe.

Rice awarded $5M for light-based crystal simulator
A Rice University-led team of physicists at seven U.S. universities has won $5 million from the Department of Defense to build a simulator capable of tackling high-temperature superconductivity, one of the most vexing mysteries of modern physics. Click on title for full article.

Physics & Astronomy Graduate receives Research Experience for Teachers Grant
Sarah Nagel, who received her PhD from Rice in 2008 and was a Weiss Instructor from 2008-2009, received a Research Experience for Teachers grant to work with Associate Professor Tom Killian. She developed course materials for AP High School Physics based on ultra cold atoms and lead a three week summer camp on lasers for four students from YesPreparatory High School, where she is the physics instructor. The students, Sussy Aguirre, Nayeri Rodriguez, Nancy Nieto, and Edgar Umanzor learned the basics of optics, electronics, and experimental science, and presented a poster at the RQI Summer Research Symposium.

Rice Alumni is awarded the National Medal of Science
Inan October 7, 2009 ceremony President Obama awarded James E. Gunn, former recipient of a Sloan Research Fellowship, the National Medal of Science in recognition of his contributions to the field of Astronomy. Dr. Gunn received his Bachelor's degree in Physics & Astronomy fromRice in 1961.            Related Article 

Physics & Astronomy Professor's book about the Sun is published by Greenwood Press

The Sun Dr. David Alexander's book The Sun is published as part of the Greenwood guides to the Universe series. The book was published on May 20, 2009. A description of the book from theGreenwood Press website states Our knowledge of the universe has increased tremendously over the last century, and our discoveries are not over - there remain scientific mysteries that the next generation of astronomers and planetary scientists will need to solve. This volume in the Greenwood Guides to the Universe series covers the Sun, and provides readers with the most up-to-date understanding of the current state of scientific knowledge. Scientifically sound, but written with the student in mind, The Sun is an excellent first step for researching the exciting scientific discoveries of the star at the center of our solar system.

Physics Professor's article is published in June 2009 issue of Physics World
In the June 2009 issue of Physics World there is a article entitled "Towards the ultimate transistor" written by Rice Associate professor Dr. Doug Natelson.

2008-2009 Physics and Astronomy Student Awards
Tom Bonner Book Prizes:
Sophomore Recipient--Wooyoung Hong
Junior Recipient--Brian ScottHenderson
Senior Recipients-- Jeffrey Russom and Dvir Kafir
1st Year Grad Student Recipient--Jedediah Pixley
Alexander J. And Lorraine H. Dessler Award In Space Physics:
Lauren Ilsedore Cleeves
Sigma Pi Sigma Inductees:
Andrew David Altheimer, Paul W. J. Anzel, Lauren Ilsedore Cleeves, and Jeffrey N. Russom
Heaps Prize:
Andrea Albert and Lauren Ilsedore Cleeves
Chuoke Award:
Second Year Graduate Student Recipients--Pedro Duarte-Gelvez and Liang Zhao
Third Year Graduate Student Recipients--Yen Sun and Jorge Zuloaga
Umland Award:
Kristjan Stone
Wilson Award:
Deirdre Wendel
William F. Marlar Scholorship:
Deirdre Wendel
William And Elva Gordon Fellowship:
Jian Yang