Turning Student Research into Reality

January 22, 2019

Ph.D. candidate Avinash “Avi” Thakur helps design nanomaterials that could improve cancer detection

Avinash “Avi” Thakur, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Physics, recently made headlines with his role in the development of a novel class of nanomaterials that could possibly improve cancer detection. To read the complete article, visit SU News


Syracuse Doctoral Student Earns LIGO Inaugural Award in Detector Characterization

January 15, 2019
The LIGO Laboratory in November named Davis an inaugural winner of the LIGO Laboratory Award for Excellence in Detector Characterization and Calibration. Davis shares the award with T.J. Massinger, now a postdoctoral scholar at Caltech who earned his Ph.D. in physics from Syracuse in 2016. Visit SU News to read the full article.

Syracuse Intensifies Search for New ‘Ghostly’ Particles

January 7, 2019

Physicists in the College of Arts and Sciences (A&S) are playing an important role in a multinational neutrino experiment that could lead to major breakthroughs in the study of the universe.

Mitch Soderberg, associate professor of physics, oversees a group of researchers in A&S studying neutrinos—tiny, elusive particles that hold clues about the origin of the universe. His group has led the U.S. effort to build two major components for an experiment at the Department of Energy’s Fermilab, a high-energy particle physics laboratory near Chicago.

Read more at SU News

A Star is Born

January 7, 2019

For Gabriela González G’95, life is a honeymoon—to quote a recent country hit. No sooner had the renowned physicist returned from her own honeymoon than she and her husband, fellow Argentinian theorist Jorge Pullin, moved the party to Syracuse in 1989. Swapping modest digs in Central Argentina for similar ones in Central New York, the newlyweds found themselves at the future epicenter of gravitational-wave astronomy.

At Syracuse, Pullin worked as a postdoc, while González chipped away at a Ph.D., mastering the finer points of spacetime measurement—a mathematical model supporting Einstein’s general theory of relativity, which posits that Earth’s rotation warps space and time.

Spacetime also underpins González's prize-winning research into gravitational waves, which are invisible “ripples” caused by the collisions of dense, massive objects, such as black holes.

From 2011-17, González was spokesperson of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) Scientific Collaboration, an international community of researchers that hunts for gravitational waves. González’s involvement with LIGO led to her induction into both the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, as well as her inclusion on Nature magazine’s 2016 list of 10 people who matter in science.  

“Jorge and I like to think we have proven Einstein wrong, since he said his theory was not to blame for people falling in love,” jokes González, who, along with Pullin, is on the physics faculty at Louisiana State University. “When I was at Syracuse, I never thought that learning how to measure spacetime would make scientific history. It’s rewarding to do what you love.”

The College of Arts and Sciences (A&S) recently caught up with González, who admits that her honeymoon is far from over. 

To read the full interview, visit A&S News

Physicist Applies Nanotechnology to Detect Protein-Protein Interactions

Liviu Movileanu

December 20, 2018

A physicist in the College of Arts and Sciences hopes to improve cancer detection with a new and novel class of nanomaterials.

Liviu Movileanu, professor of physics, creates tiny sensors that detect, characterize and analyze protein-protein interactions (PPIs) in blood serum. Information from PPIs could be a boon to the biomedical industry, as researchers seek to nullify proteins that allow cancer cells to grow and spread.

Movileanu’s findings are the subject of a paper in Nature Biotechnology (Springer Nature, 2018), co-authored by Ph.D. student Avinash Kumar Thakur. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has supported their work with a four-year, $1.17 million grant award. More on SU News


2018-11-29 A Moral Vision of Science

November 29, 2018

Physicist Joel L. Lebowitz G’55, G’56, H’12 believes science and morality are inextricably linked


Joel L. Lebowitz G’55, G’56, H’12 credits his longevity to luck and good genes. “I’ve always had a healthy constitution,” says the 88-year-old scientist and Holocaust survivor, who is the George William Hill Professor of Mathematics and Physics at Rutgers University.

Born and raised in Central Europe, Lebowitz narrowly escaped the Auschwitz gas chambers to settle in the United States, where he earned degrees from Brooklyn College and Syracuse University. Lebowitz spent the first two years of his professorial career at Stevens Institute of Technology, followed by 18 years at Yeshiva University. 

In addition to his scientific work, Lebowitz has taken up the cause of oppressed scientists around the world. Through his leadership of such organizations as the Committee of Concerned Scientists and the New York Academy of Sciences, he has put pressure on the former Soviet Union to respect human rights agreements.

Along the way, the New Jersey resident has published more than 600 research papers, and has a cornucopia of science awards, including the Boltzmann, Max Planck and Poincare prizes, as well as an extremely selective membership in the National Academy of Sciences. 

The College of Arts and Sciences recently caught up with Lebowitz to discuss his multifaceted life and career. Full interview at A&S News


Former Syracuse University Professor of Physics, Abhay Ashtekar, awarded Einstein Prize

Abhay Ashtekar

November 5, 2018

The Department of Physics congratulates Abhay Ashtekar on the award of the 2018 Einstein Prize for research on gravitational physics. Ashtekar was a Professor of Physics at Syracuse University from 1980 – 1993, when he took his present position at Pennsylvania State University. Previous recipients of the prize include Peter Bergmann, the inaugural recipient who was a professor here for almost forty years, and Ezra Ted Newman, who received his doctorate from Syracuse.

Physicist's Discovery Recasts 'Lifetime Hierarchy' of Subatomic Particles

October 1, 2018

Researchers in the College of Arts and Sciences have determined that the lifetime of the so-called charmed omega—part of a family of subatomic particles called baryons—is nearly four times longer than previously thought.

In an article in Physical Review Letters (American Physical Society, 2018), Steven Blusk, professor of physics, explains that the new measurement is based on proton-proton collision data from the Large Hadron Collider beauty (LHCb) experiment at the CERN physics laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland. 

Blusk and his colleagues found that after analyzing collision data from nearly a thousand charmed-omega decays, the particle’s lifetime is 268 femtoseconds. A femtosecond is a millionth of a billionth of a second, or 0.000000000000001 seconds. For more, visit AS News

Syracuse Professor Lisa Manning Named to Science News’ SN 10: Scientists to Watch

September 28, 2018
The College of Arts and Sciences is pleased to announce that Lisa Manning, associate professor of physics, is included in the Science News’ SN 10: Scientists to Watch. For the fourth year, Science News is spotlighting 10 early- and mid-career scientists on their way to widespread acclaim for tackling the big questions facing science and society.

Manning, 38, describes cells’ behavior in terms of the mechanical forces they exert on one another. Her approach has led to a new understanding of a whole host of biological processes that involve cells on the move, including embryonic development, wound healing and even asthma and cancer. Visit AS News

Physicist Britton Plourde part of interinstitutional team revolutionizing quantum computing

September 28, 2018

Researchers at Syracuse University, working with collaborators at the University of Wisconsin (UW)-Madison, have developed a new technique for measuring the state of quantum bits, or qubits, in a quantum computer.

Their findings are the subject of an article in Science magazine (American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2018), which elaborates on the experimental efforts involved with creating such a technique.

The Plourde Group—led by Britton Plourde, professor of physics in Syracuse’s College of Arts and Sciences (A&S)—specializes in the fabrication of superconducting devices and their measurement at low temperatures. Visit AS News

Professor Lauded for Contributions to Experimental Particle Physics

September 26, 2018
The American Physical Society (APS) is recognizing a professor in the College of Arts and Sciences (A&S) for his contributions to particle physics.

Sheldon Stone, Distinguished Professor of Physics, is the 2019 recipient of the APS’ prestigious W.K.H. Panofksy Prize in Experimental Particle Physics.

The prize consists of $10,000, a travel allowance to the meeting where Stone will be honored and a certificate citing his ongoing research into the fundamental forces and particles in the universe.

“We applaud [Stone’s] transformative contributions to flavor physics and hadron spectroscopy, in particular through his intellectual leadership on detector construction and analysis on the CLEO and Large Hadron Collider beauty [LHCb] experiments, and for the long-standing, deeply influential advocacy for flavor physics at hadron colliders,” says APS President Roger W. Falcone. For detailsl, please visit A&S News

Cristina Marchetti wins the inaugural Leo P. Kadanoff Prize of the APS

September 13, 2018

The Department of Physics congratulates Prof. Cristina Marchetti, who is the winner of the 2019 Leo P. Kadanoff Prize of the American Physical Society. The $10,000 prize was established in 2018, and Marchetti is the inaugural awardee; she’ll be honored at an upcoming meeting of the Society. Marchetti’s prize citation reads: “For original contributions to equilibrium and non-equilibrium statistical mechanics, including profound work on equilibrium and driven vortex systems, and fundamental research and leadership in the growing field of active matter.”

Marchetti was the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Physics at Syracuse until her departure last summer for the University of California at Santa Barbara. She came to Syracuse in 1987, and previously held appointments at University of Illinois – Chicago, City University of New York, Rockefeller University, and the University of Maryland. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Florida. She is a recipient of Syracuse University’s Chancellor’s Citation for Exceptional Academic Achievement, and is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Professor Liviu Movileanu develops biosensors to identify proteins in leukemia, cancer

September 6, 2018

A physicist in the College of Arts and Sciences is using a major grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to support ongoing research into protein detection.

Liviu Movileanu, professor of physics, is the recipient of a four-year, $1.2 million Research Project Grant (R01) from NIH's National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS). The award supports the development of highly sensitive biosensors to identify proteins in aggressive lymphocytic leukemia and various cancers.

The project involves researchers from Syracuse University and SUNY Upstate Medical University, the latter of whom are led by Michael Cosgrove G’93, G’98, associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology.

“Our mission is to design, create and optimize novel biophysical tools that detect tiny amounts of biological molecules," says Movileanu, a member of the Biophysics and Biomaterials research group in the Department of Physics. "We will devise protein-based detectors that benefit molecular biomedical diagnostics." More details


PHY 101: Outstanding Introductory Physics/astronomy Course for 2017-2018

August 27, 2018
PHY 101, taught in fall 2017, has been selected as the Outstanding Introductory Physics/astronomy Course for 2017-2018. Jen Schwarz was the professor, with graduate teaching assistants Kyung Eun Kim, Kenneth Ratliff, Hangyi Wu, and Abhilash Yallappa Dombara.

Britton Plourde recongnized as Outstanding Referee by APS

August 27, 2018
Last spring, Britton Plourde was selected by the American Physical Society as an Outstanding Referee; this lifetime designation is awarded to about 150 people each year. For more information, visit the APS website

Congratulations Simon Catterall on new new DoE subaward “Foundations of Quantum Computing for Gauge Theories and Quantum Gravity”

August 20, 2018
Simon Catterall is the PI for a new DoE subaward “Foundations of Quantum Computing for Gauge Theories and Quantum Gravity”. Eight universities are involved in a $1.3 M effort led by University of Iowa. Anticipated expenditures at Syracuse are $130 k over 2 years. Note that this is an award for research on using quantum computers to do theoretical physics; Syracuse also has a substantial effort related to actually making quantum computers.

Congratulations Stefan Ballmer and Duncan Brown on new NSF award “Collaborative Research: The Next Generation of Gravitational Wave Detectors”

August 20, 2018
Stefan Ballmer and Duncan Brown are the PIs for a new NSF award for “Collaborative Research: The Next Generation of Gravitational Wave Detectors”. Their award is linked to a $2.1 M effort including MIT, Caltech, CalState Fullerton and  Penn State. Anticipated expenditures at Syracuse are $240 k over 3 years.

Syracuse Awarded $3.7 Million for Particle Physics Research

August 13, 2018

High-Energy Physics Group using NSF grant award to support ongoing data analysis, construction of new tracking device


Physicists at Syracuse University are closer to understanding what happened after the Big Bang nearly 14 billion years ago, thanks to a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The High-Energy Physics (HEP) Group in the College of Arts and Sciences (A&S) is the recipient of a three-year, $3.7 million NSF award, supporting ongoing research into the fundamental forces and particles in the universe. The group’s project centers on the physics of heavy quarks. More on A&S News

Congratulations Liviu Movileanu on NIH RO1 award

The translocation of a barnase molecule through a molecular tunnel_ Courtesy of Prof. Ioan Andricioaei (Univ. California, Irvine)

August 13, 2018
Liviu Movileanu is the PI for a new NIH RO1 award “Disentanglement of the MLL-WDR5 Protein-Protein Recognition Events.” Anticipated expenditures are $1.48 M over 4 years.

New Faculty Snapshot: Alison Patteson

Alison Patteson

May 4, 2018

The new research assistant professor of physics comes to Syracuse from the University of Pennsylvania

Alison Patteson joined the Department of Physics in January, coming to Syracuse after earning her doctorate in mechanical engineering and applied mechanics from the University of Pennsylvania in 2016. She credits good mentors and a longtime interest in hands-on projects for her research path.

A National Science Foundation graduate research fellowship supported Patteson’s Ph.D. research on biophysical problems involving swimming bacteria. Her dissertation won the 2018 Dissertation Award in Statistical and Non-Linear Physics from the American Physical Society. Patteson says she’s pleased to have found a research home in the University’s Soft and Living Matter Group, a multi-disciplinary program dedicated to research and education in soft and biological matter.

To learn more about Prof. Patteson, visit A&S News

Britton Plourde Works to Develop Tools for Quantum Computer

Britton Plourde, right, works with JJ Nelson, a postdoc in his research group, on the vacuum sputter deposition tool in his research lab that is used for growing thin films of superconducting metals.

January 18, 2018

Britton Plourde, professor in the Department of Physics in the College of Arts and Sciences, has received a new grant from the National Science Foundation to work on developing tools for building a quantum computer. This is a collaborative project with a group in the Physics Department at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

“One of the remarkable recent discoveries in information science is that quantum mechanics can lead to efficient solutions for problems that are intractable on conventional classical computers,” Plourde says. “While there has been tremendous recent progress in the realization of small-scale quantum circuits comprising several quantum bits (‘qubits’), research indicates that a fault-tolerant quantum computer that exceeds what is possible on existing classical machines will require a network of thousands or millions of qubits, far beyond current capabilities.” For more about Professor Britton Plourde's project, visit Syracuse University News

Fast Talker

Scotty Ely

January 12, 2018

PhD candidate in physics, Scott Ely, was recently awarded top honors for “Lightning Round” talk at the U.S. Large Hadron Collider Users Association Meeting.

he Large Hadron Collider, located on the border of France and Switzerland, is known for its powerful ability to sling particles near the speed of light. Here at Syracuse University, physics Ph.D. candidate Scott Ely is gaining a reputation for slinging scientific concepts almost as fast.

Ely was recently honored at the U.S. Large Hadron Collider Users (US LHC) Association Meeting this past fall for his winning “Lightning Round” talk. During the US LHC meeting, young scientists are given the opportunity to discuss their research in several quick-fire sessions. The presentations, which must be under 10 minutes, cover a wide range of topics from physics analyses to computational developments and hardware improvements. When the smoke cleared, Ely was named among the top presenters at the international conference. For more on this news please visit A&S News