This Year's Highlights

As the initial crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic has faded, this was a year of returning to normalcy. Classes and research were back in person and our community continued working together to maintain a safe and productive educational environment. The Society of Physics Students and the Outreach Committee were able to enjoy live programming this year as well.

After ten successful years under the guidance of department chair Mark Alford, new leadership started in July with the appointment of Henric Krawczynski as Chair and Saori Pastore as Co-Chair. Three new faculty members have joined the department this summer and one more has been hired to start next July. In addition to the new members, existing research efforts are thriving with 29 awards from NASA, DOE, NSF, NIH, and other agencies.

NSF is investing $3 million in a new graduate student training program for aspiring scientists and educators who want to explore careers in quantum science at St. Louis-area research laboratories, private companies, and other facilities. Sophia Hayes, vice dean of graduate education and professor of chemistry, and Kater Murch, professor of physics, will lead the effort to establish a convergent quantum sciences and engineering graduate training program across the St. Louis region.

The Department of Physics hosted a very successful international conference on Particle Physics and Cosmology at the Knight Center in June. We had 168 registered attendees from countries all over the world.

Associate Chair of the Department of Physics

Saori Pastore

Saori Pastore has been named the inaugural Associate Chair of the Department of Physics effective July 1.

Kevin McKeegan, Distinguished Professor of Cosmochemistry and Geochemistry, University of California - Los Angeles.

Sampling the Solar System: A key in our quest to understand Earth's origin and evolution

Lorenzo Andreoli

Postdoctoral Research Associate Lorenzo Andreoli has been selected for the Universities Research Association’s Visiting Scholars Program. He is working in the Quantum Monte Carlo Group for Nuclear Physics. Andreoli will spend eight weeks at Fermilab collaborating with Drs. Gardiner, Hobbs, and Betancourt on implementations of nuclear response functions in GENIE.

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Jason Bub

Graduate student Jason Bub is the recipient of a Summer 2022 BAND Fellowship. He is working in the Quantum Monte Carlo Group for Nuclear Physics. Bub will spend time this summer at Northwestern University and Ohio State University. The BAND collaboration began its efforts to build a Cyberinfrastructure Framework that will facilitate the Bayesian Analysis of Nuclear Dynamics.

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Abdullah Kuziez

Senior Abdullah Kuziez received the prestigious Marshall Scholarship, which provides American students the opportunity to earn an advanced degree in the United Kingdom. Kuziez plans to earn a master’s degree in biomedical engineering at the University of Oxford as part of his ongoing search for cancer treatments that are both effective and accessible.

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Lauren Pusey-Nazzaro

Senior Lauren Pusey-Nazzaro was selected for the National Science Foundation five-year Graduate Research Fellowship Program. He plans to attend graduate school at the University of Minnesota. The highly competitive Graduate Research Fellowship Program recognizes outstanding students in NSF-supported STEM disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees.

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Faculty Awards & Recognition

Alexander Seidel

Professor of Physics Alexander Seidel has been promoted to Professor of Physics. Seidel is working on the theory of quantum many-body systems in condensed matter physics. His main interests lie in strongly correlated systems, where new phenomena emerge that cannot be understood even at a crude level without properly taking into account the interactions between particles.

Saori Pastore

Associate Professor of Physics Saori Pastore has been promoted to Associate Professor of Physics. Pastore’s research is focused on understanding how nuclear properties emerge from the underlying nucleonic dynamics, with the broader goal of contributing to ongoing experimental efforts in nuclear physics, fundamental symmetries, and neutrino physics. The dean’s letter makes special mention of Saori’s record of outstanding scholarship, work as a skilled and committed teacher, and service contributions.

Brian Rauch

Research Associate Professor of Physics Brian Rauch has been promoted to Research Associate Professor. Brian Rauch’s research focus is in cosmic ray astrophysics. He was involved in ultra-heavy galactic cosmic ray (UHGCR) research with the Trans-Iron Galactic Element Recorder (TIGER) experiment as an undergraduate and graduate student, with SuperTIGER as a postdoc and research scientist, and is now the Principal Investigator (PI) for SuperTIGER-II.

Mairin Hynes

Teaching Professor Mairin Hynes has been promoted to Teaching Professor. Her research focuses on analyzing students’ conceptual understanding, problem-solving methods, and attitudes towards physics in order to enhance the Introductory Physics courses and laboratories.

Li Yang

Professor of Physics Professor Li Yang has been named to the Institute for Scientific Information’s list of Highly Cited Researchers for 2021.

Manel Errando

Assistant Professor Assistant Professor Manel Errando participated in a faculty panel discussion on creation and selection of course materials based on student access and affordability.

Degrees Conferred

May 2022

Bachelor's Degrees

AB in Physics

  • Daphne Dai
  • Gianna Glenn
  • William Ho
  • Mario Jauregui
  • Deepthi Kailash
  • Michael Mansour
    Highest Distinction
  • Angelina Minocha
  • Karinne Summers
    Highest Distinction
  • Dylan Welsch
  • Daniel Wendt

AB in Astrophysics

  • Ben de Jonge
    Highest Distinction
  • Emilia Topp-Johnson
  • Robert Walters

Doctoral Degrees


  • Maryam Abbasi
    Experimental Investigation of Non-Hermiticity in Quantum Systems (Kater Murch)
  • Dawson Huth
    A Torsion Balance Search for Long-range Interactions Coupling to Baryons and Leptons and Cosmic Ray Transport for Spatially and Temporally Continuous and Discrete Sources (Ramanath Cowsik)
  • Andrew West
    Spectro-Polarimetric and Time Domain Characteristics of Dynamically Evolving Accretion Flows from the General Relativistic Raytracing of General Relativistic Magneto-Hydrodynamical Simulations (Henric Krawczynski)
  • Linghan Zhu
    Quasiparticle and Excitonic Effects in Two-Dimensional van der Waals Materials (Li Yang)
  • Wolfgang Zober
    Abundances of Ultra-Heavy Nuclei With CALET (James Buckley/Brian Rauch)

Graduation Day: Devon Finlay, Abdullah Kuziez, Rebecca Lim, Erin Barillier, Audrey Pilgrim, Minerva Pappu, Blake Bal, Byung Ha, Chengcheng Gan, and Zach Paragas

Some of Our Graduating Seniors

May 2022

Rich Schmaeng retired from the Department of Physics on June 30 after almost 50 years of service.

Rich Schmaeng

Senior Computer Systems Manager

Several members from the Outreach Committee participated in a summer camp for children who live within the historic The Ville neighborhood in northeast St. Louis hosted by the community and organized by the Claver House. An array of physical phenomena were discussed and presented to the camp students: Angular Momentum, Physics of Waves, Thermal Physics, and Light & Optics.

Outreach at Claver House

Summer 2022

The Washington University in St. Louis chapter of the Society of Physics Students resumed activities and meetings this year. They visited the St. Louis Science Center, including a trip to the McDonnell Planetarium and a movie night. They’re looking forward to a full return of activities this year.

Society of Physics Students

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