February 1999 Physics Department Newsletter

Greetings from the Chair

This is our first newsletter, which we hope to make a regular event--at least whenever we can convey items of interest to our physics department alumni/ae. Any ideas that you can give us about what you would like included in this newsletter would be greatly appreciated.

We are also attempting to get in touch with all of our graduates. We want to find out where you are now, what you have done since graduating from Davidson, and what we did or might have done to prepare you for your future. Please make sure we have current addresses for you. The addresses with which this mailing was done were received from the Alumni Office. We will share any changes with them.

I have enclosed a one-page survey and hope that everyone will take a few minutes to complete it. Many of you will have previously returned such a survey, but we would like to hear from those who did not return one or update it if you did. The survey asks a number of questions which will give us some information that our current students always want to know, primarily, "what kind of career can I have with my physics degree?" It also asks you to give us some information that will help us as we prepare our students for the future.


We hope you will give us permission to put some of this information on our web page.

Please send us your home page or email addresses, even if you donít fill out the survey, so we can add them to the alumni list on our home page. My email address is lacain@davidson.edu. I hope you will share with us whatever information you feel might be interesting. We will include some alumni information in our next newsletter. We look forward to hearing from everyone!

I encourage you to look at our current home pages on the World Wide Web. Davidsonís web address is www.davidson.edu. The Departmentís is www.phy.davidson.edu.

I hope you enjoy this newsletter and that you will keep in touch.

Larry Cain


Professor Frey Retires

Professor Bill Frey officially retired at the end of December, although he is still serving the department this semester as we make several job searches. Bill served Davidson College and the Physics Department well for more than thirty-eight years. His excellent teaching and laboratory work and his good comradeship will be missed. Many of you will remember the well-organized classes and labs that you had with Bill. The College and the Physics Department will formally recognize his retirement in May.

Dana Renovation

Dana Science Building is undergoing extensive renovations as part of the construction of the Watson Life Science Building and the creation of the Baker-Watt Science Complex. Last summer new air handling and power systems were installed in the basement. The remainder of the basement is almost completely renovated, with all physics equipment being removed and every room being redone. This semester and summer the remainder of the building will be renovated. We invite you to come visit and see the new offices, labs, classrooms and Science Computation Center --in September after the construction is over!

Faculty and Staff Briefs

Our current departmental assistant is Ann Callahan, without whom nothing would get done around here.

The current Physics department faculty includes:

New Professors

John Yukich: His new position as an assistant professor of physics at Davidson College is a dream come true for John Yukich, who has been certain for many years that he wanted to teach at a small liberal arts college. John grew up in Oberlin, Ohio, where many of his friends' parents were on the college faculty. His four older siblings all attended small liberal arts colleges. John was a physics major at Kenyon College and went directly to the University of Virginia for graduate school. He finished there in December 1995 and received his Ph.D. in atomic, molecular and optical (AMO) experimental physics, studying the basic science of negative ions. While in grad school, one of John's friends (and bicycling partner) was Joe Louderback, í90.

Four days after defending his Ph.D. dissertation, John and his wife, Shirley, moved to southeast Michigan. There, John took a position as a research scientist at the University of Michigan, studying molecular physics. Now, John says "I feel very blessed and grateful to be at Davidson."

In his first year at Davidson, John's focus is primarily on teaching. This year, he is teaching non-calculus introductory physics, as well as a general-education survey course of physics. He's also eagerly awaiting opportunities to teach intermediate and upper-level courses, and has enjoyed getting to know the majors, partly through his role as the new Society of Physics Students advisor.

In addition to teaching, John is building a new program in AMO physics here, to be carried out primarily in one of the new faculty research laboratories recently completed in the basement of Dana. John is looking forward to engaging students in hands-on experimental work to study the basic interactions of atoms and molecules with laser light.

John and his wife Shirley have two children, Peter (2) and Paul (1), with a third on the way. John enjoys spending time with his family and has put numerous hobbies on hold. He looks forward to some day spending more time with carpentry, bicycle building, running, bicycling, volleyball, and chess. In the meantime, he invites all Davidson alumni to stop by and visit him in his office or lab.


Mario Belloni: Mario Belloni is a visiting assistant professor, coming to Davidson for the 1998-1999 academic year from a year of teaching at Eckerd College in Florida. A California native, he attended the University of California at Berkeley, then earned his masterís and Ph.D. degrees at the University of Connecticut.

His research is in theoretical physics, specializing in quantum chromodynamics. He hopes to continue that research, investigating why quarks stick together in groups of three to form protons and neutrons. Mario is also interested in mathematical methods of quantum theory, specifically the formulation of supersymmetric (SUSY) quantum mechanics.

In November, Mario gave a talk with Wolfgang Christian entitled "The Pedagogic Effectiveness and Student Reaction to Web-based Interactive Problems" at the fall meeting of the North Carolina Section of the AAPT.

In the fall, he taught introductory physics and supervised labs. This spring he is again teaching introductory physics as well as an intermediate level course in electricity and magnetism.

He has a longstanding interest in Davidson because his spouse, Nancy Bondurant, is a 1984 graduate. She works now as a registered nurse with Hospice in Charlotte.

This and That

Current Searches (These searches were completed Spring 1999.)

We are currently conducting two searches for tenure-track assistant professor positions. One position is a replacement for Professor Frey upon his retirement, while the second is to replace Professor Robert Cline, who left Davidson in August 1998 to take a position with Spectra Physics in California.

Physics Endowment Fund

With the encouragement and support of the Dean of the Faculty and several alumni who majored in Physics at Davidson, the Department is pleased to announce an initiative to raise funds for a departmental endowment. Such endowments are common across the disciplines at Davidson. Such a fund would strengthen our program in Physics in a variety of ways, including:

  1. Establishment of a Physics Award to be presented at Spring Convocation;
  2. Purchase of teaching aids and equipment beyond that provided through the annual operating budget; and
  3. Provision for equipment maintenance.

Dr. David Mast,í73, Associate Professor of Physics at the University of Cincinnati, will lead an effort this spring to contact all departmental majors to ask for a pledge to this endowment. This is a timely and appropriate opportunity for alumni to make a real difference for our current and future Physics students. The department and the College are grateful for Davidís leadership and encourage your participation.

APS Centennial Meeting

Professors Belloni, Boye, Cain, Christian and Yukich will be attending the centennial meeting of the American Physical Society, to be held in Atlanta from March 20-26, 1999. Dr. Belloni will be there from Sunday through Tuesday. Dr. Boye will be there from Sunday through Monday and again on Friday to deliver paper ZC32.09. Dr. Cain will be there from Sunday through Monday and again on Thursday to deliver paper

WC 32.02. Dr. Christian will be there from Sunday through Wednesday to deliver paper FB15.05 on Monday and paper JC41.04 on Tuesday. Dr. Yukich will be there from Sunday through Tuesday night. We will also have a contingent of current Davidson students with us on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. We would love to talk with you and invite you to look us up.


Further Information

For further information, please contact Dr. Laurence S. Cain, Chair, Department of Physics, Davidson College, P. O. Box 1719, Davidson, NC 28036 or call (704) 892-2347 or e-mail: lacain@davidson.edu. If you would like to tour our facilities, including our labs, classrooms, etc., please contact Dr. Cain and schedule an appointment. We would welcome your visit at any time.


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