Skip to main content

A Message from the Chair

Michael Stavola standing with students

Michael Stavola

This has been such a terrific year for the Department of Physics that there is only space to highlight a selection of the recent successes of our junior faculty!  

The CAREER programs at the National Science Foundation and at the Department of Energy make the most prestigious awards in support of early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education. In 2022/23, Lehigh Physics faculty have won two such awards! 

Bitan Roy has won an NSF CAREER Award in condensed-matter theory titled “Novel platforms for topology and non-Fermi liquids: From projected topological branes to non-Abelian and fractional materials.” Anders Knospe is one of only 83 people to win the DOE CAREER Award this year and is the only person in his field of relativistic heavy-ion collisions to do so. His award is titled “Heavy Flavor at RHIC” and will support the work of his students at the Brookhaven National Laboratory. Knospe’s award further advances Lehigh’s highly successful program in nuclear physics in which Rosi Reed (a CAREER award winner from 2020) has been appointed to the DOE/NSF Nuclear Advisory Committee that will chart the direction of research in nuclear physics in the coming decade. 

These CAREER awards have not been the only achievements of our junior faculty. Aurelia Honerkamp-Smith has won a prestigious 5-year grant from the US Department of Health and Human Services titled, "Full sail ahead, How membranes move and respond to flow," that follows her work supported by the Kaufman Foundation. A recent article that Honerkamp-Smith has written for the Biophysical Journal was accompanied by an editor-invited “new and notable” to draw attention to the results of her research.  And a joint NSF grant won by Sera Cremonini and Timm Wrase helps to establish a string theory group at Lehigh.

Lehigh’s Physics Department is dedicated to teaching an innovative and exciting course program. Ariel Sommer, for example, has added an engaging hands-on component to his quantum mechanics classes where students are introduced to IBM’s Quantum Platform where they can run algorithms on real quantum computers. Ginny McSwain’s efforts to develop Python simulations to teach astronomy laboratories are attracting international attention. And Jerome Licini won this year’s teaching award in the College of Arts and Sciences for his efforts to reach students at all levels in our large introductory mechanics and electricity and magnetism courses.

Physics is fortunate to have fellowship support from a generous donor that supports up to 6 graduate students per year which has helped expand our graduate program to 48 students. This fellowship program has been extended recently to support Lehigh graduate students for at least another 5 years! Additional donor support allows undergraduate and graduate students to present their work at conferences as well as to participate in international conferences and internships.

The outstanding success of our faculty and students and the generosity of our donors ensure that the future is bright for Lehigh’s Department of Physics! If you would like to visit, or just get in touch, don’t hesitate. You are most welcome.