Peter Shawhan Awarded the 2016 Richard A. Ferrell Distinguished Faculty Fellowship

Peter Shawhan has received the 2016 Richard A. Ferrell Distinguished Faculty Fellowship, which recognizes outstanding personal effort and expertise in physics as well as dedicated service to the UMD Department of Physics. The Fellowship, established in 2001, honors Dr. Richard A. Ferrell, a deeply-respected physicist who joined the University in 1953, served 40 years, and remained active in the department even after his retirement. Dr. Ferrell died in 2005 at his nearby University Park home.

Shawhan is an Associate Professor researching gravitational waves, astrophysics and time-domain astronomy. He is a member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration and of the UMD Joint Space Science Institute and Center for Experimental Fundamental Physics. 


Tom Cohen Contributing to "Democracy Then & Now" Series on Oct. 20

Democracy Then & Now is a campus-wide initiative exploring the central role of public education in the development of American democracy. DTN asks students, faculty, and staff to consider what good public education means now in terms of civic participation, political representation, and full citizenship rights for all people in this country.

On Thursday, Oct. 20, Professor Tom Cohen will discuss American Democracy and Science at 4 pm in the lobby of the Physical Sciences Complex, with light refreshments at 3:30 p.m.

Katharine Gebbie: 1932-2016

Katharine Gebbie, founding Director of the Physical Measurement Laboratory of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), died on August 17, 2016.


Katharine spent her career at NIST, where she oversaw the work that led to four Nobel Prizes in Physics (Bill Phillips, Eric Cornell, Jan Hall, and Dave Wineland).  This achievement was directly due to her management style,
which placed the science and scientists above all else. In her words, "get the best people, steer them in the right direction, give them the resources they need and let them run.” 

She was a fascinating individual, the niece of Katharine Blodgett, of
Langmuir-Blodgett film renown.  Katharine credited her aunt with inspiring her devotion to science.  She received a PhD in astrophysics from University College (London), and joined NIST in Boulder as a postdoc.  She moved to Gaithersburg in the late 80’s and was the only director of the Physics Lab, which was in existence for 20 years.

In addition to her special role at NIST, she had a deep and important relationship with UMD Physics.  The existence of the Joint Quantum Institute (JQI) is in large part due to Katharine.  She had seen first hand the success of JILA in Boulder and was enthusiastically encouraging and supported the creation of the JQI in 2006. 

In addition to her connection to the department through the JQI, she was dedicated to working to increase the opportunities in physics for women and under-represented minorities.  She was a co-organizer with Donna Hammer and Angie Hight Walker, from NIST, of a Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics in 2014, which brought over one hundred undergraduate female physics majors to campus.  With Donna and Angie, she was working on a Conference for Undergraduate Minorities in Physics to be held this October, which will be the first of its kind in the country.

Everyone who knew Katharine will miss her and her wry sense of humor.  She was a special individual.