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Fall 2016 Letter from the Chair

Dear Physics Community of Alumni, Parents and Friends,

The Fall semester has been going well. We welcomed a new faculty member, Andrew Potter, who joined us as Assistant Professor in September. Drew’s theoretical research focuses on the dynamics of complex quantum systems, addressing fundamental questions of physics that may ultimately have important applications in quantum information storage and processing. These are topics of growing importance, and they will receive more attention in our Department in the future.

Recently we hosted a visit by one of our former PhD graduates, David Reitze, who is currently the Executive Director of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO). As you probably know, in February LIGO announced the first observation of gravity waves, confirming a prediction made by Albert Einstein almost 100 years ago. That was a major event for the physics world. We were pleased to sponsor a public lecture by Dave Reitze. It was very well attended, and I hope that many of you were in the audience. In the future our Department will sponsor similar events, but I cannot guarantee that all the topics will be as earth shaking (no pun intended). While Dave was in Austin, Dean Linda Hicke also presented him with the 2016 College of Natural Sciences Distinguished Alumnus Award, well-deserved recognition of his leadership in LIGO and further evidence that what starts here changes the world.

We now have more than 480 undergraduate physics majors, many of whom will soon be seeking careers in industry. To help them prepare we have begun an Alumni Speaker series that brings in alumni who hold industrial positions to address groups of our students about different career options open to physicists. If you are interesting in contributing, I would like to hear from you.

As my colleagues and I in the Physics Department strive to provide the best possible educational opportunities to our students, both undergraduate and graduate, and to carry out cutting-edge research, we are always mindful of how much our future success depends on the generosity and advocacy of our former students, their families, and other friends of the Department. We appreciate your continued support.  


Jack Ritchie
Chair, Department of Physics

Phil Morrison's dynamics
Remembering Larry Shepley


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