Jonathan D. Moreno Named Third Milchberg Lecturer

Jonathan D. Moreno,  the David and Lyn Silfen University Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, gave the third Irving and Renee Milchberg Endowed Lecture on Tuesday, April 4, 2023.

Moreno's talk addressed Bioethics and the Rules-Based International Order.   Jonathan Moreno. Credit: University of PennsylvaniaJonathan Moreno. Credit: University of Pennsylvania

Moreno, an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, studies medical ethics and health policy, the history and sociology of science, and philosophy. He received  his Ph.D. in philosophy from Washington University in St. Louis and was an Andrew W. Mellon post-doctoral fellow. His book The Body Politic: The Battle Over Science in America was a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year and a Scientific American Book Club selection. More recently, he wrote Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven but Nobody Wants to Die: Bioethics and the Transformation of Healthcare in America with former Penn President Amy Gutmann.

Moreno received the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities. 

The Irving and Renee Milchberg Endowed Lectureship was established by Prof. Howard Milchberg and his wife Rena, to remember Howard's parents, who survived the Holocaust and the distortions of truth that accompanied and facilitated it.  Milchberg’s mother and father, who died in 2017 and 2014, respectively, never received formal education, but Milchberg describes them as “remarkably open-minded and tolerant” and as “wide-ranging thinkers and skeptics.” 




Faculty, Staff, Student and Alumni Awards & Notes

We proudly recognize members of our community who recently garnered major honors, began new positions and more.

Faculty and Staff 
  • Alessandra Buonanno recevied the 2022 Tomalla Prize for her research in gravitational wave physics.
  • Josiland Chambers received the department's Staff Excellence Award.
  • The American Physical Society (APS) has honored Professor Emeritus Alex Dragt with the 2023 Robert R. Wilson Prize for Achievement in the Physics of Particle Accelerators
  • Clay Daetwyler received the Lorraine DeSalvo Chair's Award for Outstanding Service.
  • Sankar Das Sarma has again been included on Clarivate Analytics list of Highly Cited Researchers, a compilation of influential names in science.
  • Manuel Franco Sevilla received the CMNS Board of Visitors’ Junior Faculty Award.
  • Jim Gates was quoted in a The New York Times story about the Webb telescope and again about Ukraininan scientists.
  • Alexey Gorshkov was elected a Fellow of Optica. He also spoke with the Caltech Heritage Project about quantum science advances.
  • Xiangdong Ji was quoted in Physics World.
  • Müge Karagöz was elected Vice President of Chesapeake Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers (CSAAPT) for a 1-year term. 
  • Dan Lathrop was quoted in Physics Today.
  • Wolfgang Losert was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • Rob McIntire received the department's Sibylle Sampson Award.
  • Ed Ott retired on December 31
  • Lester Putnam joined the department as a machinist.
  • Bruce Rowley retired from the machine shop.
  • Naomi Russo received the department's Staff Excellence Award.
  • Roald Sagdeev gave the John S. Toll Lecture.
  • Bonnie Seal-Filiatreau received the department's Staff Excellence Award.
  • Stephanie Williams joined the department as an academic advisor.
  • Victor Yakovenko and the LecDemo operation were credited by Sam Teitelbaum (BS., '10) for inspiring a love of physics.
  •  At a recent luncheon, Physics staff members were recognized for their years of service to the state of Maryland
    • Allen Monroe, 40 years
    • Doug Bensen, 35 years
    • Sally Megonigal, 35 years
    • Jack Touart, 30 years
    • Bonnie Seal-Filiatreau, 25 years
    • Cheryl Ekstrom, 20 years
    • Melissa Britton, 15 years
    • Mark Conners, 15 years
    • LaVita Williams, 15 years
    • Roy Arunkumar, 10 years
    • Omar Torres, 5 years
  • Siegfried Bleher (Ph.D., '89) accepted a position at Middlebury College.
  • Marten L. denBoer (Ph.D., '79) was named Radford University’s interim provost for academic year 2022-23.
  • Emily Edwards (Ph.D, '09) was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society
  • Alexei Fedotov (Ph.D. ’97) was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society.
  • Alan Henry (B.S., '02) discussed his book "Seen, Heard and Paid" with Ebony magazine.  
  • Tian Li (Ph.D., '17), of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, is developing a new microscopy technique.  
  • Slava Merkin (Ph.D. ’04) of the APL Center for Geospace Storms is the PI of a new NASA $15M, five-year research project understand and predict space weather.  
  • Ana Maria Rey (Ph.D. ’04) was featured by Optica in The (Atomic) Clockmaker. 
Department News
In Memoriam

December Physics Discovery Days!

On Saturday, December 10th, local elementary and middle school students participated in Physics Superspies, a Physics Discovery Day outreach event on WavAudience participation! Angel Torres and audience volunteer demonstrating the power of an electromagnet.Audience participation! Angel Torres and audience volunteer demonstrating the power of an and Satellites.  Outreach Coordinator Angel Torres kicked off the program with a series of captivating demonstrations that had students energized! The demonstration show was designed to prepare students for a fun series of hands-on activities that further demonstrated the properties of the electromagnetic spectrum and how scientists use different wavelengths to study the universe.  Thanks to the expertise of physics majors Jade LeShack, Lincoln Doney, Wenxi Wu, David Bour and Bergen Dahl, the attendees learned new concepts as they completed their Discovery Day physics passport at each activity station. Undergraduate volunteers were able to utilize their knowledge beyond the classroom to answer questions from inquisitive participants.

Attending parents enjoyed the program and were appreciative of the activities. One parent stated, “My son is a huge physics and math fan. He had a great day learniA miniature model of a galaxy in "infrared" light.A miniature model of a galaxy in "infrared" through fun interactive demonstrations. Thanks for having such a cool event!” Activity stations included simulating the launch of a satellite into orbit using stomp rockets, creating waves across the visible spectrum with Slinkys, and understanding the effects of magnetic fields on satellites through iron filings and magnets.

This Discovery Days program was developed by Outreach Coordinator Angel Torres and Director of Education Donna Hammer.  New to the program, a collection of “miniature galaxies” in bottles using colored Jell-O and tiny pieces of candy was developed by Torres. By using specific colored filters, attendees were able to reveal the galaxy inside Time to Launch! Undergraduate Bergen Dahl, Donna Hammer, and attendees posing with their rockets.Time to Launch! Undergraduate Bergen Dahl, Donna Hammer, and attendees posing with their rockets.of an opaque bottle (universe). These galaxies allowed students to personally engage with using different wavelengths, through light filters, to see all the features of a galaxy.  In order to demonstrate the curvature of spacetime, Hammer designed a model of personal spacetime hoops. Each participant was able to simulate satellites orbiting a celestial body using metal spheres and marbles. Students increased the number of “satellites” until they created a solar system.

The Physics Outreach Team is excited to host more events this Spring. Discovery Days are geared toward upper-elementary school students and are complemented by Physics is Phun for high school audiences. To stay informed on future Discovery Days and upcoming outreach events, visit our outreach page and join our mailing list.

UMD Establishes Endowed Professorship in Quantum Computing

The University of Maryland’s College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences (CMNS) will establish the IonQ Professorship with a $1 million gift from IonQ (NYSE: IONQ), an industry leader in quantum computing. IonQ’s gift is being matched by $1 million through the Maryland E-Nnovation Initiative (MEI), a state program created to spur basic and applied research in scientific and technical fields at the state’s colleges and universities.

The IonQ Professorship will be held by a faculty member in either the Department of Physics or the Department of Computer Science who conducts quantum computing research.

“IonQ is a revolutionary startup born out of physics research at the University of Maryland and the first publicly traded pure-play hardware and software company in the quantum computing space,” said UMD President Darryll J. Pines. “We are grateful to IonQ and the state of Maryland for their continued investment in research, programming and the overall quantum ecosystem at the University of Maryland. This is another step forward in building the Capital of Quantum.”

IonQ also supports UMD’s Quantum Startup Foundry, Quantum Technology Center, Corporate Partners in Computing, and Bitcamp and Technica student-run hackathons. In addition, UMD and IonQ established the National Quantum Lab at Maryland (Q-Lab) to accelerate practical quantum computing applications by providing privileged access to a commercial-grade quantum computer and IonQ experts to UMD-affiliated students, researchers and partners across the country.

“IonQ is delighted to continue their close ties with the University of Maryland and stimulate their already leading stature in quantum science and technology,” said Christopher Monroe, IonQ co-founder and chief scientist, and College Park Professor of Physics at UMD.

IonQ was founded in 2015 by Monroe and Duke University’s Jungsang Kim based on 25 years of pioneering research. The company, which is located in the UMD Discovery District with over 100 employees, received the 2021 Innovation Award from the Association of University Research Parks and was named to the TIME100 Most Influential Companies list in 2022.

“The new endowed IonQ Professorship will allow us to attract top talent from premier universities, government labs or companies who are doing the most interesting and translational work in quantum science, computing and information,” said CMNS Dean Amitabh Varshney.

UMD is already an established powerhouse of quantum discovery and innovation, with over 200 researchers on campus, partnerships with government laboratories, strong connections with industry and an international research network. These UMD scientists and engineers are working to develop quantum computers capable of currently impossible calculations, ultra-secure quantum networking and exotic new quantum materials.

Today, UMD boasts 12 quantum research centers:

UMD also organizes and facilitates the Mid-Atlantic Quantum Alliance (MQA), a rapidly growing hub of quantum technology research, development, innovation and education with 32 university, government, industry and nonprofit partners. Together, MQA members are building a vibrant and diverse ecosystem designed to foster U.S. and regional leadership in the coming quantum technology revolution.

“Maryland is consistently one of the top-ranked states for innovation, and our colleges and universities are critical drivers of cutting-edge research and bold new ideas,” said Maryland Commerce Secretary Mike Gill. “We’re thrilled to support the groundbreaking and forward-thinking work being led by our higher education institutions.”



Department Hosts PhysCon 2022 Attendees

As a 2022 Physics Congress (PhysCon) local host, UMD Physics was a popular destination for undergraduate attendees to visit on the first day of the conference. Over 80 undergraduate students from US colleges and universities visited campus during the 2022 National Physics Congress (PhysCon) event held in Washington, DC. PhysCon Lunch at UMD PhysCon Lunch at UMD Although the students had different ideas about their futures, they shared a passion for physics and an interest in learning more about graduate school at the University of Maryland.

PhysCon SPS Chapter ShowcasePhysCon SPS Chapter ShowcaseVisitors arrived on campus to find a large group of UMD physics majors and graduate students waiting to welcome them to the department. The program for the day was designed to give a snapshot of the department by showcasing exciting research including Quantum Mechanics and Quantum Computing, Biophysics, Particle Physics, Geophysics, and Astrophysics. Yanda Geng and  2022 PhysCon attendeesYanda Geng and 2022 PhysCon attendeesTo provide a window into graduate life at UMD, a graduate student panel engaged visitors in a discussion about their personal trajectories and career goals with a PhD in physics.  A highlight of the day was the Undergraduate Quantum Association (UQA)’s interactive quantum-focused discussion during lunch. Following the lively lunch, the day ended the way every event should, with a bang, as Angel Torres, Outreach Coordinator, propelled a pencil through a piece of plywood!

The packed day of activities was organized by Director of Education and SPS Advisor, Donna Hammer.  Pleased with the outcome of the visit, Hammer shared, “Our physics department is home to an extraordinary group of students, faculty, and staff.  Their dedication and commitment to the physics community is the foundation of today’s success.”

Please see UMD PhysCon video highlights: