SPA Newsletter

School of Physics & Astronomy Newsletter
July 12, 2021


Current Issue | Awards & Recognition | Archive

Letter from the Head

Dear Friends of the School of Physics and Astronomy,

It is a pleasure to share this update on our activities as we look forward to a full resumption of our on-campus teaching and research activities in the months ahead.  This transition comes with a new addition to our faculty, Assistant Professor Alex McLeod, an experimental condensed matter physicist from Columbia, who will be joining us at the end of the summer.  This newsletter highlights recent work from four current members of the condensed matter group, including two experimentalists (Ke Wang and Vlad Pribiag) and two theorists (Fiona Burnell and Rafael Fernandes), who collaborated in a project supported by the National Science Foundation’s Materials Research Science and Engineering Center’s Superseed program.  There has been plenty of other activity by new faculty throughout the School, and I hope you will enjoy reading about Assistant Professor Nadja Strobbe’s search for new particles beyond the standard model.  Professor Strobbe is a member of the Compact Muon Solenoid collaboration at CERN, along with her Minnesota colleagues Roger Rusack and Jeremy Mans.  

With the close of the past academic year, we were lucky to be able to recognize a record number of graduate and undergraduate students who received departmental scholarships, fellowships, and awards.  You can read more about them below, but I will take this opportunity to thank all of our alumni and friends who have supported these academic opportunities for students as well as other activities in the School.  Your contributions continue to help strengthen the School as we emerge from the disruptions of the pandemic.  I encourage you to return to campus for a visit.

A man in a white shirt wearing glasses



-Paul Crowell

School News

Collaboration uncovers unique properties of a promising new material

Vlad Pribiag, Fiona Burnell, Rafael Fernandes and Ke Wang


A collaboration that includes four faculty members of the School of Physics and Astronomy, Vlad Pribiag, Fiona Burnell, Rafael Fernandes and Ke Wang, has discovered that a unique superconducting material has unforeseen properties when it was studied in a very thin layer.

Searching for Stealth SUSY

Strobbe and Hiltbrand image



Nadja Strobbe, who joined the School as an assistant professor in 2019,  is leading an investigation into what she calls “stealth Supersymmetry (SUSY).”

Fernandes receives research award

Rafael Fernandes



Professor Rafael Fernandes of the School of Physics and Astronomy has received the 2021 George W. Taylor Award for Distinguished Research from the College of Science and Engineering.

Skillman named CSE Distinguished Professor

Evan Skillman



Professor Evan Skillman of the School has been named a College of Science and Engineering Distinguished Professor.  These professorships were established to recognize distinguished faculty members within the College who have been judged to be exceptional through: unusual efforts in, and contributions to teaching; reputation in their scholarly fields; and genuine commitment to the College and its activities.

2021 Graduate Awards and Fellowships

There are 14 graduate award and fellowship recipients in the School for 2021.

2021 Undergraduate Scholarships recipients

There are 29 undergraduate recipients for 13 separate scholarships.

Alumni News

Amanda Gatto Lamas is a recent graduate of the School and a recipient of a 2021 Homer Hagstrum Award. Lamas also received the 2020 Alfred O.C. Nier Scholarship in Physics. Lamas plans to use the award  to assist her transition to studying theoretical condensed matter physics in graduate school at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Read more here.