Another busy year comes to a close.
Two new faculty members joined the department last fall. Jocelyn Read and Geoffrey Lovelace are theoretical gravitational-wave astrophysicists and join the department's new Gravitational-Wave Physics and Astronomy Center GWPAC with director Josh Smith. The department celebrated the facility's grand opening Sept. 28 with several prominent gravitational-wave scientists from around the country including plenary talks by Caltech's Kip Thorne and LIGO collaboration spokesperson Gabriela Gonzalez. Some 30+ guests and friends of the department attended.
Josh has received an NSF CAREER award for his proposed project entitled "Gravitational-Wave Detector Characterization and Science Education in the Advanced LIGO Era." His award will provide a total of $450,000 over a five-year period to support an integrated research and education program in gravitational-wave science for Josh and his students at CSUF.
Jocelyn and Geoffrey have been both awarded NSF startup grants for their proposals submitted last fall for theoretical gravitational-wave research within GWPAC and with CSUF students. Both grants have been funded for three years for $126,000 each.
Pat Cheng has been awarded an NSF grant funded for $153,000 over three years to support her project with Lambda Boo Stars.
With the ongoing funded research of Mike Loverude (NSF), Morty Khakoo (NSF-REU), and Jim Feagin (DOE), the department now has seven of our 11 faculty members federally funded.
Heidi Fearn has been elected as a Fellow of the Institute of Physics "for her very high level of achievement in physics and her outstanding contributions to the profession."
Professor Emeritus Jim Woodward and longtime friend of the department has published a widely-received book on the science of intersteller transport.
The department conferred $40,700 in scholarships and awards this past academic year.
We have been approved to open a search for a new faculty member in experimental atomic, molecular, optical (AMO) science, a legacy strength in the department. Modern AMO experimentalists are also data imaging specialists, and we will target candidates who can contribute to the college's new Center for Computational and Applied Math.
The department is coordinating with Mike Loverude, director of Catalyst, and Catalyst post-doc scholar Sissi Li, to introduce a redesign of our introductory physics courses to replace part of the traditional lecture format with learning activities based on class discussion and peer instruction.
Professor Homeyra Sadaghiani from Cal Poly Pomona will be on sabbatical from Pomona with Catalyst next spring to help us expand our redesign efforts. Her General Physics course Phy 133 at Pomona has been selected by the Chancellor's Office for one of the "proven redesign summer eAcademies," and we have five faculty and one staff physicist signed up to attend a three-day session with Homeyra at Pomona later this summer.
The university approved our request to change the name of our GE Introduction to Astronomy course from PHYS 120 to ASTR 101. Evidence from universities around the country indicates that students are reluctant to enroll in physics courses, and simply renaming the course from PHYS to ASTR is found to increase enrollment. A laboratory companion course ASTR 101L has been approved by the university and will be offered in the fall to fulfill a GE B.3 requirement.
We have revived our Dan Black Phys-Bus Program in close consultation with Dan Black, and Ionel Tifrea will take over as program director in the coming year and coordinate our program with John Jackson, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship in Mihaylo College. We have two new and now a total of three Dan Black Phys-Bus scholars.
The American Institute of Physics Statistical Research Center has recently ranked the physics department 6th out of 63 master's-granting departments across the US awarding more than seven BS degrees per year from 2008 to 2010, tied with San Francisco State and ahead of CSU Fresno and CSU Long Beach (though both are in the top 10). We totaled nine degrees in that period.
Physics enrollments reached an all-time high of 314 FTES the first week of spring semester. This was due to increased enrollments in our life-science introductory physics sequence but also to larger recent numbers of engineering majors enrolling in our calculus-based introductory sequence. The department has worked over the past two years to roughly double our introductory laboratory capacity and thereby help eliminate scheduling bottlenecks. We have also seen a record increase in majors over the last two years compared to the past decade.