This Year's Highlights

In 2020, so much about what we know to be normal came to a grinding halt for the Washington University in St. Louis community. One week in March, we were looking ahead to a spring “break,” then suddenly it was a hiatus lasting a couple of months that turned into a way of life. A sea change that no one really saw coming. Yet the work of the university went on as the pandemic spilled into 2021.

Our community worked together to maintain a safe and productive educational environment. The department adhered to health and safety guidelines; our instructors and their assistants found new ways to teach, both in person and remotely; and our staff made sure we all had the tools and support we needed.

Faculty members in the department were awarded 19 grants from NASA, DOE, NSF, and other agencies. A major renovation of the Crow building got underway.  We hired three new faculty as part of the university's Digital Transformation Initiative, and look forward to welcoming them to our department next summer.

Despite the challenges, we've had a successful year.

New YouTube Channel

The Department of Physics has added a new YouTube channel to our social media. Just click the YouTube image on the bottom of the website to access and subscribe!

New DEI fellowship

The Department of Physics has awarded the first Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Summer Research Fellowships to support undergraduate students in Physics.

Lindsey Lisalda

Lindsey Lisalda has won an Association of Women Faculty 2021 Student Award. The award recognizes academic excellence and leadership potential among women students whose research, teaching, or service benefits women and gender minorities.

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Garrett King

Garrett King has been awarded a DOE NNSA Stewardship Science Graduate Fellowship. As part of its science and national security missions, the U.S. Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE NNSA) supports a broad spectrum of basic and applied research in science and engineering.

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Erin Barillier

Erin Barillier received the Baines Family Planetary Science Scholarship.

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Jackson Butler

Jackson Butler received the Barry Goldwater Scholarship, a prestigious award that honors students who conduct research in the natural sciences, mathematics and engineering.

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Faculty Awards & Recognition

James Buckley

Professor of Physics James Buckley has been elected Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS) upon the recommendation of the APS Division of Astrophysics.

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Erik Henriksen

Associate Professor of Physics Erik Henriksen has received an NSF CAREER award. This highly competitive grant is a wonderful recognition of his pioneering research in condensed matter and materials physics.

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Nan Liu

Research Assistant Professor of Physics Nan Liu has been been named as the 2021 recipient of The Meteoritical Society's Nier Prize recognizing outstanding research in meteoritics and closely allied fields by young scientists.

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Sachiko Amari

Research Professor of Physics Sachiko Amari received the H. C. Urey Award from the European Association of Geochemistry for outstanding contributions advancing geochemistry over a career.

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Maria Piarulli

Assistant Professor of Physics Maria Piarulli is a recipient of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Early Career Research Program funding.

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Li Yang

Professor of Physics Li Yang conducted research with black phosphorus — a material with a thickness of just a few atomic layers — in a study hailed as a milestone of the past 50 years by the Physical Review B (PRB), an academic journal of the American Physical Society (APS).

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Kater Murch

Professor of Physics Kater Murch has been promoted to Professor of Physics.

Erik Henriksen

Associate Professor of Physics Erik Henriksen has been promoted to Associate Professor of Physics.

Jeffrey Gillis-Davis

Research Professor of Physics Jeffrey Gillis-Davis has been promoted to Research Professor of Physics.

Degrees Conferred

May 2021

Bachelor's Degrees

AB in Physics

  • Jeffrey Ahlers
    High Distinction
  • Samuel Brusilow
  • Edward Flaherty
  • Yu Xi (Max) Huang
  • Eleanor Hunt
  • Asa Kalish
    High Distinction
  • Alana Labaschin
  • Viktoria Ohstrom
  • Chipo (Cathrine) Raranje

Master's Degrees


  • Nurken Nurlybekov
  • Valeria Villegas

Doctoral Degrees


  • Quincy Abarr
    X-rays from Warped Black Hole Accretion Disks (Henric Krawczynski)
  • John Cavin
    Computational Design of Two-Dimensional Transition Metal Dichalcogenide Alloys and Their Applications (Rohan Mishra/Li Yang)
  • Benjamin Groebe
    Flux Variability in Gamma-Ray Blazars (Henric Krawczynski)
  • Zachary Hughes
    Toward an Understanding of High-Mass Gamma-Ray Binaries: an Investigation Using Current Observatories and the Development of a Future GeV Instrument (James Buckley)
  • Jonathan Monroe
    Partial Measurements of Quantum Systems (Kater Murch)
  • Arefeh Sherafati
    Separating Signal from Noise in High Density Optical Tomography (Joseph Culver/Ralf Wessel)
  • Min Kyung Shinn
    Specificity of SSB binding to Its Interacting Proteins and Multiple Allosteric Effects of SSB C-terminal Tail on Assembly and DNA (Anders Carlsson/Timothy Lohman)
  • Siera Stoen
    Peer-Led Team Learning in Calculus-Based Introductory Physics: Implementation and Evaluation (Mark McDaniel/Francesc Ferrer)
  • Yicong (Steven) Sui
    New Physics with Ultra-High Energy Neutrinos (Bhupal Dev)
  • Nathan Walsh
    SuperTIGER Elemental Abundances for the Charge Range 41 ≤ Z ≤ 56 (Martin Israel)
  • Hui Wang
    Development, Validation, and Application of Electromyometrial Imaging (EMMI) to Noninvasively Image Uterine Contractions (Yong Wang/Anders Carlsson)

Michael W. Friedlander, professor emeritus of physics, died Thursday, April 29, 2021, in St. Louis. He was 92. He came to Washington University in 1956 to replicate the cosmic ray laboratory that he had known at University of Bristol. Friedlander’s research concerned cosmic rays and related infrared and gamma ray astronomy, and he was an original member of the McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences.

Michael Friedlander


John Scandrett, emeritus professor of physics, passed away on February 21, 2021 at age 87. He started his career at Washington University in 1966. In addition to being a professor, he was a cellist who performed for many years in the St. Louis Philharmonic and later played in classical string quartets with friends.

John Scandrett


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