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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

Letter from the Chair

Jennifer Ross

Posted on: Dec. 15, 2021

Dear Physics Community Members,

Fall semester of 2021 is wrapping up just now. It has been challenging for many reasons. We have been excited to get back together, but we have struggled with doing everything we missed while rebuilding our stamina for in person work. This made it harder than other fall semesters I remember. It’s like when you go on vacation and have double the work when you get back.

This semester was also difficult as our community suffered the loss of a long-time faculty member, Professor Sheldon Stone. Professor Stone was the leader of the LHCb group that searched for new physics among the quarks. Please read the memorial article for Professor Stone.

Despite the struggle, there have been some inspiring, bright points this fall semester that I want to share with you. Please read below and the stories highlighting these events in the links!

First, our undergraduate students have been amazing! Under the leadership of Matt Cufari (class of 2023) and Daniel Paradiso (class of 2022), the students have reinvigorated the Society of Physics Students (SPS) with weekly meetings that have 15-25 students attending regularly. The pizza helps to draw in people, but they have also had fun events. Just this week, they celebrated a birthday and had an “integration bee” where they challenged each other to solve increasingly difficult integrals. We just found out that they were cited as a 2021 Notable Chapter from the American Institute of Physics. Their work has been essential to continue to build community and help our recovery from isolation. Please read the wonderful article highlighting their work.

Second, using gift funds, we have made some visual improvements around the department. Led by Professor Joey Paulsen, a group of faculty and staff including Yudaisy Salomon Sargenton (Main Office, Operations Specialist), Phil Arnold (Machine Shop, Lab Manager), and Professor Mitch Soderberg, have made several visual improvements including posting beautiful equation cling art and hosting a 10x10 science art competition. The winners of the competition had their beautiful science pictures printed onto canvas boards and hung in the hallway. The group has just recruited undergraduate physics and visual and performing arts major, Corrine Motl to create large wall clings to represent each research group to be hung near their research areas on the 2nd and 3rd floors. Another update will be to the lighting on these floors. Updated brighter lighting will help us all cope with the gray Syracuse winter months. These projects have made the physics building a more cheerful and happy place to work and study, and they have been made thanks to your generous gifts to the Physics Department Fund! Thank you!

Physics Building updates.

Finally, we have gotten back together for a variety of in person parties. At the beginning of fall, we gathered at Green Lakes Park for the annual fall picnic. With the return of the fall picnic was also the return of the Faculty Vs. Students competition. This year’s events were trivia, hosted by Professor Walter Freeman, the egg drop, and the rope pull. The undergraduates won trivia, which was decidedly “meme-heavy” but the faculty battled back with a win at the egg drop. It all came down to the rope pull, and the faculty demolished the undergraduate students. The Penny Davis Trophy now resides in the Physics Main Office for the year until the next games.

At the end of the semester, we had the Physics Department Holiday party. This year, we played “Physics Party Bingo” and “Physics Babies.” In Physics Party Bingo the boxes were filled with activities you might hear at a physics party like arguing over Python vs. C++ or Professor Freeman trying to recruit undergraduates to become coaches in our large courses. The Physics Babies game showed pictures of members of the Physics Department as small children and challenged the players to guess who was who. Can you tell who these physics babies are?

Members of the physics department as babies.

Please continue reading the rest of the December newsletter to learn more about our new faculty and about some of the amazing work of our students, faculty, and staff since the last newsletter. Alumni, please connect with us to give updates for our summer newsletter! You can send your updates to phyadmin@syr.edu. Include any information and please send pictures!! And thank you again for reading and for your support of Syracuse Physics!

Go Orange!

Jenny Ross

Chair of Physics Department

Syracuse University