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Graduate Student Awards 2021

On Friday, December 10, the physics department hosted a graduate student event to announce physics graduate student award recipients for 2021. 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.

Alexandria Tucker nominated by advisor, Cliff Will

Graduate student Alex Tucker with physics chairman, Stephen Hagen
Graduate student Alex Tucker with physics chairman, Stephen Hagen

“Alex is a sixth-year PhD student, on track to finish and graduate this year. She has already published two papers on her work, one in Classical and Quantum Gravity, and most-recently a major paper in Phys. Rev. D on the expected residual eccentricities in the orbits of inspiralling compact binaries when they reach the LIGO/Virgo detection threshold (to be published next week). She is also collaborating with me and my Paris colleague Luc Blanchet on a problem concerning gravitating N-body systems in general relativity, likely to produce a paper early next year. Alex received a prestigious Chateaubriand Fellowship from France, which gave substantial support for her to spend up to nine months (curtailed, unfortunately by Covid) at the Institut d’Astrophysique of Paris (IAP), interacting with me and Luc Blanchet. She also just received a National Dissertation Fellowship from the American Association of University Women, to support her final year. She has given talks on her work at several APS meetings and at the 22nd International Conference on General Relativity and Gravitation in Valencia, Spain in 2019. She also gave an invited seminar on her work on October 25 at the IAP in Paris. By all accounts she has also been an excellent TA, primarily serving the online course PHY2020, taught by Kevin Ingersent. There were around 100 students, and her role was to answer their questions in an online discussion forum as well as systematically to update the library of problem sets and solutions. A few semesters there was additionally an in-class component where she was expected to help write worksheets, exams and their solutions. This version was taught by John Yelton and by Khandker Muttalib, and had up to 80 students. I think that Alex has a bright future in research and is very deserving of this award.” -Cliff Will

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.

LAB:  LingQin Xue nominated by Robert Deserio

LingQin Xue
Graduate student LingQin Xue with physics chairman, Stephen Hagen

“LingQin is always prepared and very good one-on-one with students in the lab. He is always working the lab room and can answer student inquiries socratically when appropriate and directly when that is the right choice. He can be funny and/or serious when interacting with students and has a good understanding of their motivations in lab. He has made several good suggestions for improving the lab handouts. He has been totally reliable in attending training sessions, office hours, help session hour, his lab sections, and he grades student submissions in a timely fashion. I have been very impressed with his performance this year and believe he would be a great candidate for Wayne R. Bomstad II Memorial Award.” -Robert DeSerio

Discussion:  Ioannis Michaloliakos nominated by Shawn Weatherford, Sujata Krishna and Paul Avery

Ioannis Michaloliakos
Graduate student Ioannis Michaloliakos with physics chairman, Stephen Hagen

“For his excellence in teaching the discussion sections in PHY2053 and PHY2054 and his contributions to the management of large enrollment courses during our fully online instruction during COVID-19.  One of his most significant contributions includes authoring and publishing a python package called AutoCanvas. This package allows instructors to populate availability window times for the weekly online quizzes for a course’s 20+ discussion sections. And, it allows instructors to arrange extended time accommodations for DRC students for all time assessments in a semester. Secondly, Ioannis built a script to override the grading of online quiz numerical questions, a feature that is currently missing from Canvas. If there is an error in the solution for a question, the script calculates the corrected solution answer, compares this to the student input, and rescores the question if there is a mismatch. Both contributions were well beyond the call of duty and initiated by Ioannis recognizing how a little programming with the Canvas API would drastically improve efficiency of large course management. Finally, Ioannis was an instructor of record for the 2020 Summer C PHY2053 course when the department offered online only courses for the first time in its history, co-teaching with last year’s winner William Perry. He was faced with many student challenges, including processing how to continue instruction during the George Floyd murder, addressing inequities with student access to internet and campus resources when it was closed, and maintaining high academic integrity standards when a cheating scandal was discovered. We are incredibly grateful for these tools and wish to recognize Ioannis in this nomination to offer appreciation for his service and excellence in the teaching mission of the Department of Physics.” -Weatherford, Krishna, and Avery


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.

Jake Rosenzweig nominated by advisors, Andrey Korytov and Guenakh Mitselmakher

Jake Rosenzwieg
Graduate student Jake Rosenzweig with physics chairman, Stephen Hagen

“Daniel “Jake” Rosenzweig’s research project is to measure the Higgs boson mass using the Higgs boson’s decay mode to four leptons via two intermediate Z bosons (H->ZZ->4l); the measurement is based on the dataset collected by the CMS experiment during the 2016–2018 running period, or LHC Run 2. The analysis is in its final refining steps with the publication expected in the next year. In comparison to the previously published analyses, this measurement, besides being based on a larger dataset, will have a new improved reconstruction of muons, developed specifically for this analysis, and significantly reduced systematic uncertainties. The measurement is still blinded while the analysis currently undergoes the scrutiny by the CMS collaboration. The measurement accuracy is expected to be near 0.1%, the world’s best single measurement accuracy to date. The measurement will be about a factor of two more accurate than the previous result published by CMS using this decay mode with the 2016 dataset alone. Jake is expected to graduate in spring or summer of 2022.” – Andrey Korytov and Guenakh Mitselmakher

Vladimir Martinez nominated by advisor, David Tanner

Vladimir Martinez
Graduate student Vladimir Martinez with physics chairman, Stephen Hagen

“Vladmir is an excellent student, completing his thesis this semester. Vladimir came to Florida from the New Jersey Institute of Technology, where he worked on infrared ellipsometry with Andrei Sirenko. Vladimir has studied ultrapure samples of single-crystal silicon. The material is a candidate for test masses in a cryogenic gravitational-wave detector, planned to be installed in the LIGO vacuum system in six to eight years. In collaboration with Stanford, Vladimir has studied the effect of annealing, finding a process where the donor-induced free-carrier absorption is reduced by more than an order of magnitude. This reduction seems to be what is needed to make the silicon absorption acceptable for use in the interferometer. Vladimir is a very careful and able experimenter. He is also very self-reliant, making his own plans for experiments, carrying them out, and doing the analysis. He also has excellent experimental skills. I’d place him in the top 10% of the graduate studenstudents that have worked with me. I recommend him strongly for the for the Tom Scott Memorial Award.” -David Tanner

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.

Ammar Jahin nominated by advisor, Yuxuan Wang

(Not pictured)

“Ammar is in his 8th semester at UF and has worked with me for 3 years. His expected graduation date is 2023. He has already published two papers with me and working on a third one. He is rapidly growing into an independent researcher — other than being knowledgeable in the field of his the research projects, he is also doing research on quantum computation. He entered the IBM quantum challenge in 2020 and ranked higher than 81% of the participants. Over the summer of 2021, Ammar had an internship at Fermilab and studied simulating the Kitaev model on a quantum computer. Without any of my input he finished a preprint with his collaborators in Fermilab. He has presented his research in our group meeting, which also served as an introduction to quantum computation to us.” -Yuxuan Wang

Todd Kozlowski nominated by advisor, Guido Mueller

(Not pictured)

“Todd Koz?owski works on the ALPS experiment at the Deutsche Electron Synchrotron (DESY) in Hamburg, Germany. ALPS uses 250m of straightened HERA magnets and laser technology originally developed for gravitational wave observatories to search for axion like particles. As is apparently often the case in medium sized research projects which are not too big to fail, delays — in this case with the installation of the magnets and preparation of the infrastructure — at the prime partner cause significant problems for other groups. In our case, well trained postdocs and senior graduate students moved on and could not be replaced due to funding cuts. In this situation Todd stepped up and took on commissioning tasks that were originally assigned to two postdocs and one other graduate student. In particular, Todd took control of the 10m prototype at DESY and used it to characterize and improve the length actuators for the production cavity length control system. This includes testing a new digital length phase lock loop controller. Following the installation of the 250m long magnet string and the vacuum system, Todd also supported the installation and preparation of the clean rooms in the HERA North experimental hall and the HERA tunnel. Since then he leads the commissioning and characterization of the input optics of the master laser system for the ALPS experiment which he used to also test our length and alignment sensing and control system on a 250m(!) long optical cavity. This was a milestone in ALPS as it not only showcased his experimental skills but also that ground motion and environmental noise in the HERA tunnel is low enough such that ALPS can proceed without expensive seismic isolation systems. The ALPS collaboration consists of six groups and Todd has been recognized as the leading graduate student in the entire collaboration. I expect him to graduate in the summer of 2022 following the first science run of ALPS.” – Guido Mueller


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