Recep Avci to lead MSU portion of $7.5M Multi-University Research Initiative (MURI) project. Read more... 

Congratulations to all of our graduating students for AY 2009-2010

B.S. (17)

Fall 2009:
Robert "Jake" Hitzroth; William Johnston; Aaron Kreitinger – Honors; Keith Mashburn – Highest Honors; Steven Smith.
Spring 2010
Shane Atwood – Honors; Aaron Dalbey; Alex Destefano – Honors; Erin Egbert; Cassandra Knierim - Highest honors, Department Honors, University Honors Program; Matthew LaDue – Honors; Carolyn Laufer; Edward Marshall; Richard Mecklenburg; Jayson Nissen – Honors; Promethea Pythaitha – Highest Honors; Garret Vo.

M.S. (10)

Bridger Anderson; Hans Courrier; Gregory Gabrielsen (Su ‘09); Todd Gelbord (Su ’10); William Johnson; Jonathan Jorgenson (Su ’10); Wenjuan Liu; Gary Lowe; Ben Todt; Jeremy Wolf (Su ‘09)

Ph.D (7)

Spring 2010
Joey Shapiro Key (Advisor: Neil Cornish)
Dissertation: “Characterizing Astrophysical Sources of Gravitational Waves”
Nikolay Makarov (Advisor: Aleks Rebane)
Dissertation: “Ultrafast Two-Photon Absorption in Organic Molecules: Quantitative Spectroscopy and Applications”

Summer 2010
Michael Kopczyk (Advisor: Dick Smith)
Dissertation: “The Structure of Low-Coverage Deposition of Ti and V on the Al(001) Crystal Surface”
Laura Lediaev (Advisor: Hugo Schmidt)
Dissertation: "Finite Element Modeling of Piezoelectric Bimorphs with Conductive Polymer Electrodes".
Anna Malanushenko (Advisor: Dana Longcope)
Dissertation: “Twist in Coronal Magnetic Fields”
Joseph Plowman (Su) (Advisor: Ron Hellings and Sachiko Tsuruta)
Dissertation: Constraining Massive Black Hole Population Models with Gravitational Wave Observations”
Chih-Long Tsai (Su) (Advisor: Hugo Schmidt)
Dissertation: “Ceramic Processing and Electrochemical Analysis of Proton-conducting Solid Oxide Fuel Cells”
Dick Smith (06/08/10)


MSU robot to dig "moon dirt" in national contest at Kennedy Space Center. Several of the participants work as student employees in the Physics Department. Read more...


LaserFest: A Yearlong Celebration marking 50 Years of Laser Innovation! ( May 16th, 2010, marked a milestone important for both physics and the broader community. The world's first laser light made its appearance on this date in 1960 in Theodore Maiman's lab at Hughes Research Laboratories in Malibu, California. Since that time, the laser has become an indispensable scientific tool, and has spawned innumerable commercial, industrial and medical applications, including numerous companies in the Gallatin Valley. APS, in partnership with OSA, SPIE and IEEE-Photonics, is spearheading LaserFest, a yearlong celebration of this anniversary. APS is engaged in a broad spectrum of outreach events and has created an exciting and informative website, On May 4 a resolution recognizing the anniversary was passed by the House of Representatives; and on May 12, President Obama issued a message in which he joins the celebration and comments on the significance of the laser. Additional information on laser-related research in MSU's Department of Physics can be found at


Congratulations to Anton Vorontsov on his recent NSF CAREER award for young investigators. This CAREER award supports theoretical and computational research and education to investigate the nature of superconductivity in materials that are highly non-uniform, have special arrangements of atoms, or display an interplay between magnetism and superconductivity. This research inspires demonstrations of some of the most powerful principles of condensed matter physics, such as symmetry and emerging complexity in many-particle systems. It also forms the basis of the education component which involves the development of new courses at both graduate and undergraduate levels, and the development of an educational website with graphical demonstrations and links to other physics, chemistry and biological research conducted at Montana State University. For more information on the award and the related research visit NSF website.
Dick Smith (05/12/10)


Crowd views new Solar Images that MSU helped capture.
Dick Smith (04/21/10)


Please join me in congratulating Carla Riedel who has been selected to receive the College of Letters and Science Outstanding Teaching Award for 2010. Carla is one of the very few instructors in this department whom students petition to have for their next class. According to one letter of support, the way in which students speak of her teaching "borders on hero worship". "Hers is the type of classroom we want for our undergraduate students", says another. One of Carla's career goals is to have taught every class in the entire curriculum of undergraduate physics courses. I am doing my best to help her accomplish that goal, but she added that she would prefer to have more than one semester to do so. Congratulations, Carla. This award is long overdue and well-deserved.
Dick Smith (04/19/10)


Please join me in congratulating Charles Kankelborg, just announced recipient of the 2010 Charles and Nora L. Wiley Faculty Award for Meritorious Research and Creativity. The award will acknowledge Charles' many contributions in the area of solar physics and development of instrumentation to remotely sense the solar atmosphere. Congratulations, Charles. This award is well deserved!
Dick Smith (04/09/10)


Congratulations to Neil Cornish who has been awarded a sabbatical leave for Spring semester 2011. Neil's sabbatical proposal has two themes: (1) the detection of un-modeled gravitational wave signals for both LIGO-Virgo and LISA, and (2) using gravitational wave observations to test Einstein's theory of gravity. Neil will work with collaborators at the University of Florida which offers great opportunities to pursue both of these research projects. It is home to one of the largest gravitational wave research groups in the world, with experts in detector development, data analysis and theoretical modeling. Congratulations, Neil!
Dick Smith (03/05/10)


Sad news: MSU Physics Professor Mac Rugheimer, died peacefully in his sleep early on February 4, 2010


MSU helped design solar telescopes to be launched this week. Solar physicists at Montana State University helped design and calibrate four telescopes that are now scheduled to be launched Wednesday, Feb. 10, from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Click here for the full MSU News story... Should the launch be delayed, the viewing event will be rescheduled. Updates will be available on the Montana Space Grant Consortium's Web page and on the MSU Solar Physics Group's Web page. For more information on the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), visit the SDO webpage.
Dick Smith (02/08/10)


Congratulations to Jayson Nissen for his 2010 Alumni Association/Chamber of Commerce Award for Excellence. The Award for Excellence signifies exceptional achievement - both academically and in community leadership - over a student's entire MSU career. The selection for this award recognizes Jayson as one of MSU's most outstanding seniors. In turn, each student winner chooses a faculty or staff person who has served as a great inspiration as well as a great mentor during the student's time at MSU. This person also receives an Award for Excellence. Jayson selected Dr. Carla Riedel, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Physics, for her exceptional guidance and inspiration. Congratulations, Jayson and Carla! We are all proud to celebrate your excellence.
Dick Smith (02/05/10)


In case you haven't seen the news in your otherwise busy days, NASA Headquarters has officially announced this week, through their press release, the selection of the SSEL Explorer-1 Prime nanosatellite to ride into space with NASA's Glory Spacecraft on November 22 of this year. This is a historically important event because, to our knowledge, NASA has never launched a satellite for a university other than official NASA satellite missions selected under their highly- controlled Science research Program. Montana State shares this unique distinction with University of Colorado, and a consortium of Kentucky universities. This represents the first, of what NASA anticipates will be multiple launch opportunities for university- built CubeSats to get rides into space on rockets launched from United States soil. A large number of Montana State undergraduate students (more than 100) have been working on this project for well over two years. The satellite was designed, built, and is being tested in the Space Science and Engineering Laboratory. Montana Space Grant Consortium is the project sponsor.
Links to two relevant articles:
NASA article
MSU News Service
Dick Smith (01/30/10)


Dr. Brian Welsch from Space Sciences Lab, Berkeley, is the 2010 winners of the Karen Harvey prize. The citation reads: "The 2010 Karen Harvey prize is awarded to Brian Welsch for his role in the development of correlation techniques to measure velocities at the solar surface". Brian obtained his Ph.D. at MSU in 2002, working in the group of Professor Dana Longcope. The Karen Harvey Prize was established in May 2002 in honor of the late Karen Harvey. The award is given by the Solar Physics Division of the American Astronomical Society in recognition of a significant contribution to the study of the Sun early in a person's professional career. Previous winners of the Karen Harvey prize in our department include Dana Longcope (2003) and Jiong Qiu (2007). Congratulations to Brian and Dana!
Dick Smith (01/22/10)


The NASAMontana Space Grant Consortium (MSGC) is pleased to announce Dr. Angela Des Jardins as the new Director. Dr. Des Jardins was previously the Deputy Director and Interim Director of MSGC. Her responsibilities will also include directing Montana NASA EPSCoR. Dr. Des Jardins received her BS and Ph.D. degrees in physics from Montana State University. During her time as a student at MSU, Dr. Des Jardins was involved in several NASA and MSGC programs, including the NASA Academy and the Space Public Outreach Team (as a presenter and a manager). Under Dr. Des Jardins' leadership, MSGC will continue to strive to raise the level of accomplishment of its goals, which are to: develop and connect interdisciplinary aerospace education programs that will build and enhance opportunities for involvement in space-based science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in Montana; strive to build a Montana aerospace workforce, integrating women, under-represented minorities and persons with disabilities; network Montana colleges, universities, aerospace industries, and government with national aerospace programs in government and industry, especially NASA centers and other Space Grant Consortia; and to expand and enhance aeronautics and NASA-related research activity in Montana colleges and universities.
Dick Smith (01/22/10)


The 2009-2010 issue of Confluence magazine is now available. In case you're not familiar with it, Confluence is the annual magazine for the College of Letters and Science at MSU. Copies of the magazine were sent to all L&S faculty and staff via campus mail. If you did not receive a magazine and would like a copy, please send an email to Jody Sanford (jody.sanford at Montana dot edu). The magazine is also available online as a PDF file. Note in particular the articles on pages 8, 12, 13, 17, and 25.
Dick Smith (1/05/10)



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