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Graduate Student Awards 2019

On Friday, December 6, the physics department hosted its annual poster session event and recognition of the 2019 graduate student award recipients. Congratulations to all award recipients (listed below).

Charles F. Hooper Jr. Memorial Award

This award is made annually to senior graduate students in physics who have shown distinction in research and/or teaching. The Award honors the memory of Professor Charles (“Chuck”) Hooper who made seminal contributions to the Department as a Chair, as a distinguished researcher, and as a beloved mentor/teacher.

Tyler Reynolds

During the past year Tyler has demonstrated distinction in research (on Dark Matter redirect detection searches as part of the SuperCDMS experiment) in two areas: 1. Driving the development of the SuperCDMS sensitivity projection package. This is a tool used by the collaboration to determine the scientific reach of the SuperCDMS SNOLAB experiment. 2. Being a key part of the ionization yield measurement carried out by the SuperCDMS collaboration over the summer of 2019. Tyler’s work in this area is best described by collaborators at PNNL and Northwestern University who have worked directly with him for this measurement. Dr. Ziqing Hong (Northwestern University) says that “Tyler has been a core member of the IMPACT@TUNL operation, and has done a consistent high-quality job. After the 3-week-long operation, he has been leading the task of understanding the beam input and response of the detector, by putting together a detailed simulation with the beam, the detector, and every pieces of material in between.” Dr. Raymond Bunker (PNNL) mentions that “Tyler has been single handedly leading the simulation effort for the IMPACT@TUNL measurement (a critical calibration for the SuperCDMS program). While at PNNL he has been providing mentorship for an undergrad intern. Tyler has really gone far above and beyond what is expected of graduate students in the SCGSR program.” – Tarek Saab

Tyler Reynolds receives award from department chairman, Kevin Ingersent.

Wayne R. Bomstad II Memorial Awards

These are awarded annually to two Teaching Assistants who have displayed excellence in teaching in either the laboratory or the discussion sections. The awards honor the memory of Wayne Bomstad, who was for some years an important member of the graduate student teaching team. It was made possible by contributions from his family and friends.

Dustin Tracy (Discussions)

“Dustin has by far been the most innovative in running his discussion sections. Over the course of the Spring 2019 semester, he developed a new way of engaging his students that we had not previously tried in our physics classes. Dustin led his students through the process of developing their own physics problems, eventually having his students write their own problems every week on the relevant physics concepts. He then typed up and corrected his favorites, presenting them back to his students as a self-made study guide. The students really took to this idea over time, to the point that the instructors of the Summer 2019 undergraduate Physics 1 course used it in all of their discussion sections. From my point of view as a physics instructor interested in developing active learning strategies, I was very impressed with Dustin’s idea. I have discovered from my experience teaching Physics 1 that the students in this class struggle with properly interpreting physics word problems. Guiding students through the process of writing their own problems is a brilliant way to help them work through the comprehension challenges they face.” – Kathryn McGill

Dustin Tracy receives award from department chairman, Kevin Ingersent.

Moinul Rahat (Labs)

“Throughout his four years teaching in the lab, Moinul has consistently progressed to the point where he is now one of our best instructors. His students appreciate his straightforward explanations for the range of phenomena they investigate in the laboratory and consistently give him excellent evaluations. Easy going but professional, he is always clearly in charge. Moinul spends little time sitting at the instructor table, preferring to check on his students’ progress and offering help and suggestions getting them through the many tasks that experimental studies entail. He knows how to explain the basics of data acquisition and analysis procedures as well as the physics under investigation to undergraduates at multiple levels. Administrative duties include preparing for the upcoming experiments, grading laboratory reports, and assigning final grades. Moinul handles these tasks superbly and in a timely manner. He is also quick to help out if a substitute instructor is needed. Moinul stands out as one of our best lab instructors and is deserving of a teaching award to show our appreciation of his efforts.” Bob DeSerio

Moinul Rahat receives award from department chairman, Kevin Ingersent.

Tom Scott Memorial Award

This award is made annually to a senior graduate student in experimental physics who has shown distinction in research. The award honors the memory of Professor Tom Scott who made significant contributions to the Department both as a Chair and as a noted researcher.

Yang Yang

“Yang has been leading work with an inter-university collaboration on understanding and observationally probing binary black hole mergers occurring in the disks of active galactic nuclei (AGNs). He showed that such mergers could frequently occur in the universe to explain about 10% of LIGO’s observed mergers. He characterized for the first time that the mass and spin distribution, redshift distribution, and other properties of such binaries that enable their comparison to observations. He then led the work to probe a particular merger, GW170729, and found that its properties are suggestive of having come from an AGN disk. The source model he found is the result of mergers from multiple black holes, representing a new black hole formation channel distinct from stellar evolution. This latest work was recently published in Phys. Rev. Lett, and was recognized as an “Editors’ Suggestion” and received a “Featured in Physics” editorial, and was reported (and is being reported) in the new media. Overall, Yang has three published papers in high-end journals (PRL, ApJ Lett. and ApJ). There are two additional papers in preparation where he produced the results and is working on the manuscripts. Yang’s results are of considerable interest to the transient astrophysics community, and may become even more so with the exponential growth of LIGO’s detection rate. Overall, I find Yang to be a highly motivated, hard working and talented scientist, and I am confident that he will go on to be highly successful in his future career.” – Imre Bartos

Yang Yang receives award from department chairman, Kevin Ingersent

E. Raymond Andrew Memorial Award

This is a new award given to a senior graduate student in physics for distinction in research. This award honors Professor Raymond Andrew who was world-renowned physicist particularly noted for his seminal contributions to the field of Magnetic Resonance Imaging. Professor Andrew was a Graduate Research Professor in the Department from 1983 until 1998.

Jie Gu

“Jie Gu played a central role in making some of the recent theoretical progress at M2QM, our Energy Frontier Research Center. In addition to helping with a number of projects at the center, he was the main driver behind three theoretical works, including a proposed adiabatic spin pump through a magnetic molecule, a free-energy model for spin cross-over phase transition in Mn(taa), and a mechanism for many-body localization based on random magneto anisotropy in single chain magnets. He has published three papers, two of which as the first author, a fourth paper with him as the first-author is in the review process, and he is still working on another manuscript in preparation for publication. For his outstanding academic achievement, Jie Gu was awarded University of Florida’s International Student Achievement Award in 2018.” – Xiaoguang Zhang

Jie Gu receives award from department chairman, Kevin Ingersent.

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