Department of Physics

  • Physics graduate finds passion for space, studying coronal mass ejections thanks to UAB mentorship

    For one UAB student, a passion for physics can help keep the Earth safe from space weather events.

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  • Department of Energy funds four different projects making impact in fields of chemistry and physics

    Grants totaling more than $3 million have been awarded to UAB researchers in Chemistry and Physics by the Department of Energy, signaling continued investment in UAB projects.

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  • Harbert Institute honors Innovation Award winners, inducts first UAB class of National Academy of Inventors members

    At their annual Innovation Awards, UAB’s Bill L. Harbert Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship celebrated innovators from all corners of campus for their accomplishments, inventions and ingenuity.

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  • NSF grant brings state-of-the-art materials research equipment to the UAB Department of Physics

    The grant will enhance research capabilities at UAB by facilitating acquisition of a Physical Properties Measurement System.

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  • NSF award will help UAB researchers develop and understand high-temperature-resistant materials

    Through this grant, Catledge will explore and develop a class of materials known as high-entropy ceramics.

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  • UAB graduate students receive Alabama EPSCoR Graduate Research Scholars Program Round 17 awards

    Five UAB graduate students received more than $118,000 in awards to strengthen graduate research projects.

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  • NSF award will boost UAB research in machine-learning-enabled plasma synthesis of novel materials

    The $20 million National Science Foundation award will help UAB and eight other Alabama-based universities build research infrastructure. UAB’s share will be about $2 million.

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  • More faculty share the stories behind their development grants

    Plant-based diets, biased language in the courts and the trouble with night lights: Recipients of 2022 Faculty Development Grant Program awards explain how they will use their funds.

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  • Center for Nanoscale Materials and Biointegration partners in $20 million statewide effort funded by NSF

    Nine Alabama universities and one private firm are partnered in a new $20 million, five-year effort to develop transformative technologies in plasma science and engineering.

    Yogesh Vohra, Ph.D., working with physics graduate student Chris Perreault.Nine Alabama universities and one private firm are partnered in a new $20 million, five-year effort led by the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) to develop transformative technologies in plasma science and engineering (PSE) funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR).

    The grant is entitled “Future Technologies enabled by Plasma Processes” (FTPP) and will be for a five-year duration (2022-2027) to explore plasma synthesized novel materials, surface modified biomaterials, food safety and sterilization, and space weather prediction.

    Yogesh Vohra, Ph.D., associate dean for University of Alabama at Birmingham’s (UAB) College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) and professor university scholar in the Department of Physics, serves as a co-principal investigator and UAB’s Institutional lead for this statewide award. The UAB research team, led by Vohra, includes the following members from the UAB Center for Nanoscale Materials and Biointegration (CNMB), which is based in CAS:

    Scott Snyder, Ph.D., professor in the UAB School of Education, will provide internal evaluation for this grant and will monitor management, statewide workforce issues, and internal projects.

    The grant will support two postdoctoral research scholars at UAB—along with several graduate students—who will work synergistically with other academic institutions and an industrial partner in this consortium. In addition, the grant offers the opportunity for faculty, graduate students, and postdoctoral scholars to take the laboratory-based pilot synthesis of novel materials to their full commercial potential.

    “The funding is the result of a team effort from the co-investigators in assembling the group, who generated the concepts and ideas underlying the proposal and executed the plan by writing a successful proposal,” said Gary Zank, Ph.D., FTPP’s principal investigator, director of UAH’s Center for Space Plasma and Aeronomic Research (CSPAR) and the Aerojet Rocketdyne chair of the Department of Space Science.

    Although different in aims, research goals, and scope from a previous $20 million NSF EPSCoR grant awarded in 2017, the new FTPP grant will continue to build plasma expertise, research, and industrial capacity, as well as a highly trained and capable plasma science and engineering workforce, across Alabama.

    Yogesh Vohra. “Plasma is the most abundant form of matter in the observable universe. PSE is a technological and scientific success story, translating advances in fundamental plasma science to technologies that address society’s needs,” said Vohra. “UAB’s role in this consortium is to develop future transformational technologies enabled by PSE including data-driven approaches in plasma synthesized high-entropy and quantum materials.”

    According to Vohra, the research team will employ machine learning techniques to speed up the process for materials discovery and guide the materials synthesis effort using microwave plasma chemical vapor deposition and plasmas generated by high-powered lasers. The plasma synthesized materials will be especially designed for their applicability in extreme environments, including elevated temperatures as well as thin-film superconductors which can be used in quantum information devices. An additional effort is devoted to plasma assisted metal nanoparticle deposition for their antimicrobial properties to be employed in biomedical devices for reduction in infection rates.

    Partnered with UAH and UAB are the University of Alabama (lead: Dr. R. Branam), Auburn University (lead: Dr. E. Thomas), Tuskegee University (lead: Dr. V. Rangari), the University of South Alabama (lead: Dr. E. Spencer), Alabama A&M University (lead: Dr. R. Mentreddy), Alabama State University (lead: Dr. K. Vig), and Oakwood University (lead: Dr. A. Volkov), together with a commercial/industrial partner CFD Research Corporation (lead: Dr. V. Kolobov), that specializes in computational fluid dynamics software and is located in Cummings Research Park.

    In addition, FTPP cooperatively partners with three national laboratories: Los Alamos National Lab, Sandia National Lab, and Princeton Plasma Physics Lab. FTPP will harness and share cooperatively the project team’s collective expertise, resources, and workforce.

    “Not only are the problems to be investigated in the FTPP program among the most challenging intellectually, they have enormous societal benefits and commercial implications,” said Zank.

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  • Yager selected for a NASA Space Technology Graduate Research Opportunities fellowship award

    Yager is the first UAB student to receive the NASA Space Technology Graduate Research Opportunities fellowship award since its inception in 2011.

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  • Vohra receives $540k grant from U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration

    A UAB physics professor has received a grant to synthesize novel materials for hypersonic applications and study their response under extreme conditions.

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  • 22 faculty receive grants to fund developmental projects at UAB

    The grant program funds early-career faculty to advance their skills and careers across campus and beyond.

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  • 22 faculty receive grants to fund developmental projects

    The UAB Faculty Development Grant Program supports junior faculty with funding to pursue research, creative works and scholarly activity.

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  • Five Blazers accepted to Clinton Global Initiative University

    Clinton Global Initiative University engages student leaders in developing innovative solutions to campus, community or global challenges.

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  • UAB Professor Emeritus honored through gifts to his academic department – and one of his favorite pastimes

    The sister of Dr. Edward L. Wills chose to celebrate her brother’s career in physics and his lifetime of trumpet-playing.

    When giving back to the University of Alabama at Birmingham in her brother’s memory, Physics Professor Emeritus Edward L. Wills’ sister Mary Buckman chose both a professional and a personal recipient: Naturally, the Physics department, housed within the College of Arts and Sciences, and the UAB Summer Community Band, which Wills participated in each summer and deeply enjoyed.

    A $100,000 gift to the Department of Physics in the College of Arts and Sciences established an endowed scholarship in his name, The Edward L. Wills Endowed Scholarship in Physics. Alongside it, a $50,000 gift was given to the UAB Summer Band, comprised of adult amateur and professional musicians from around the Birmingham metro. The band rehearses Monday nights in June and performs an annual Fourth of July concert on UAB’s campus. Wills played the trumpet in the band while a student at Auburn University (he’d later return annually to Homecoming to play on the field with the Auburn Alumni Band). After retirement, he joined the UAB Summer Community Band, where he formed friendships and continually honed his trumpet-playing skills before his death in September 2020.

    “Ed spent a lot of time in his last years playing the trumpet with the Birmingham Community Concert Band, and also played each Fourth of July with the UAB Summer Band that has always performed before the fireworks show at UAB,” said Todd DeVore, Ph.D., one of Wills’ colleagues in the UAB Department of Physics. “One of his yearly highlights, until his very last years, was playing with the Auburn Alumni Band at the halftime of Auburn’s Homecoming football game. He is missed by friends who knew him from all these activities.”

    Wills’ gift to the Summer Community Band will allow it to grow as an ensemble, said Dr. Sean Murray, Director of Bands at UAB.

    “We will use this support to offer more diverse musical offerings and allow for a more professional presentation at our annual July 4 concert,” he said.

    Wills was born and raised in Birmingham and graduated from Woodlawn High School before heading off to Auburn and, later, the University of Virginia for graduate school and the University of Georgia for a post-doctoral appointment, where he studied nuclear physics.

    “Ed loved Birmingham, so getting hired by UAB Physics in the early days of the department was a good fit for him,” DeVore said. “Ed quietly supported several Birmingham institutions and organizations he cared about over the years. When I attend an event at the Alabama Theatre, I like to sit in the chair with his name on it.”

    Wills was committed to seeing his hometown of Birmingham thrive, DeVore said; he was equally as passionate about UAB. In his later years, Wills–known affectionately as “Doc” to his closest friends at UAB–bought season tickets to UAB football games and, even when he was no longer well enough to attend himself, shared his tickets with others who might enjoy attending. As a professor, students appreciated his down-to-earth nature and sense of humor, DeVore said, and his $100,000 gift to the department will help others appreciate the discipline as much as he did.

    “I would say his gift is important to physics because it helps support scholarships for Alabama students who may follow in his physics footsteps,” DeVore said. “We have many talented high school students in this state, but many do not see regular evidence of STEM opportunities we have here in Alabama and at UAB. Scholarships are an important tool to help students and they help us promote the attractive physics tracks we have to offer.”

    After joining the UAB faculty in 1973, Wills oversaw the undergraduate lab program for many years and was involved in numerous experimental research efforts while at UAB, including blood flow studies with the Department of Neurology. He taught both undergraduate and graduate classes and, when he wasn’t teaching or playing trumpet, was an avid organizer of class reunions for his fellow graduates of Woodlawn High School. He was also a board member of Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve and a frequent supporter of Birmingham’s Jimmie Hale Mission.

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  • Refer a Future Blazer and kickstart the next generation of UAB students

    The Refer a Future Blazer Program gives UAB employees the information needed to support an undergraduate student who may be considering UAB.

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  • Two UAB College of Arts and Sciences professors recognized for research efforts by NSF CAREER Awards

    Researchers in UAB’s Departments of Physics and Biology have been awarded distinguished research grants by the National Science Foundation.

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  • Seven students receive 2022 Dean’s Awards for Outstanding Undergraduate and Graduate Students

    Each academic year, the UAB College of Arts and Sciences receives departmental nominations for the Dean’s Awards for Outstanding Undergraduate Students and Outstanding Graduate Students.

    Each academic year, the UAB College of Arts and Sciences receives departmental nominations for the Dean’s Awards for Outstanding Undergraduate Students and Outstanding Graduate Students. The dean’s selection committee gives these awards to exceptional undergraduate and graduate students in the College who have made significant contributions to the UAB community.

    After carefully reviewing the 2022 nominations—which include detailed recommendation letters from faculty members and mentors—Dean Kecia M. Thomas, Ph.D., and her committee have selected four undergraduate students and three graduate students for the awards. At the upcoming 2022 commencement ceremonies, the College will acknowledge and celebrate the recipients.

    Congratulations to the following students for receiving this prestigious award:

    2022 Undergraduate Dean’s Awards

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    2022 Graduate Dean’s Awards

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  • Searching for the holy grail of room-temperature superconductors with seriously big data and supercomputing

    With a prestigious NSF CAREER grant, physicist Cheng-Chien Chen, Ph.D., is working on a problem that could lead to a new generation of electronics — and giving UAB students a front-row seat to the action.

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  • $417,000 in grants awarded to Research Experiences for Undergraduates program

    UAB’s College of Arts and Sciences was awarded two grants that will help fund its Research Experiences for Undergraduates program.

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