Physics Spring 20 newsletter

Well, to say it has been an interesting year is an understatement. You may or may not know that we had to switch all classes and labs to online delivery in the middle of March. It went surprisingly well thanks to the faculty, staff and graduate teaching assistants. I want to give a special shout out to Melissa Ed- wards, our Undergraduate Lab Coordinator, for handling the most difficult task associated with the Covid transition. Well done, Melissa. As for the fall semester, we are offering online lectures to our large undergraduate courses, and for the most part, providing in-person lec- tures in our upper division and graduate courses. Let me tell you, giv- ing 75 minute lectures wearing an N-95 mask and a face shield is an interesting experience. So far, the department has remained healthy and mostly avoided Covid. In terms of research, quite a few of our labs shut down for three months, with a few carefully staying open for business. As of now, we are back up to full productivity. We’ve experienced a lot of changes over the past year, with numerous retirements and training by fire of our five new faculty members. Talk about crazy. You can learn more about them and their research by vis- iting our website. Drs. John Mintmire (former Head of Physics) and Pe- ter Shull retired this past summer. Thank you both for your service and wisdom. In terms of the staff, Charles Hunt retired in January. He was the longtime staff member in charge of the Crystal Growth Labor- atory on the 5 th floor of PS II. Thanks for your service, Charles! Even more shocking is the retirement of Susan Cantrell! She has been the rock of the department for over 30 years. Susan had to make a tough decision between staying with the department or starting a new chap- ter in her life. Wisely, Susan chose to pursue new and exciting experi- ences in life. Susan, we will miss you and thank you for helping so many of us over your long career! Even with all the challenges of Covid, the department is prospering. We will be hiring a new astronomer or planetary scientist to replace Dr. Peter Shull and a theoretical atomic molecular physicist to replace Dr. John Mintmire. We hope to make a third hire next year (delayed by Covid). Our undergraduate and graduate students are doing well and actively involved in the social fabric of the department and research. We continue to recruit the best and brightest students and I am pleased to say that we are succeeding. I hope all of you are healthy and safe and leading as normal a life as can be expected. Please enjoy what you read in this year’s newsletter. We have more exciting news than we can fit into the newsletter. So I recommend you visit our website over the course of the coming year for timely updates. Lastly, I want to thank Beth Bridenstine for putting this newsletter together. Letter from the DEPARTMENT HEAD @physics145 @OkstatePhysics In this issue:  Faculty Highlights  End of an Era  Featured Publication  Alumni News  Department News  Faculty Retiring This Year  Observatory News  Faculty Research Projects  Society of Physics Students  Student Awards  Physics Banquet  Degrees Granted NEWSLETTER