The planetarium has seen record attendance levels this past year, engaging over 5,000 visitors, largely thanks to graduate students Aaron Weaver and Megan Jones. We added two new shows to our collection: “Earth, Moon, and Sun” is great for meeting science standards with school groups, and “From Earth to the Universe” is a beautiful, up-to-date exploration of our universe.
In September and October, we are participating in the WVU Campus Read events with a feature introduction “Hidden Figures in the Stars” to celebrate the contributions of West Virginia native Katherine Johnson to NASA and the space race. The Hidden Figures intro accompanies our “Ultimate Universe” film.
Finally, the planetarium’s public image got a makeover this year. With the help of the Eberly College Media Team, we now have professional photographs of our staff giving presentations, a tri-fold educator brochure, a digital flyer, an updated mailing list template for our Mountaineer Skies newsletter, and new donation cards, envelopes, and online interface. We have also moved into the digital age with a social media presence on Facebook and Twitter.
Ned Flag receives Cottrell Scholar Award
Faculty Member Edward Flagg Receives Cottrell Scholar Award
2016 Ph.D. Graduates of the WVU Department of Physics and Astronomy
1. Derek Bas: “Optical and Terahertz Measurements of Spintronic Materials” Faculty Advisor/Supervisor: Dr. Alan Bristow
Astronomy Outreach News
The West Virginia Science Public Outreach Team (SPOT) hosted the fourth annual Ambassador Fall Training Weekend in Green Bank on September 16-18th. Twenty-nine college ambassadors from WVU, Wesleyan, Fairmont State, Marshall, and WV State learned the SPOT presentation, “The Invisible Universe 2.0,” which features the Pulsar Search Collaboratory and Fast Radio Bursts, engaging hands-on activities for sharing with students, and public speaking and science communication skills. Ambassadors are currently working to pass practice presentations to become certified to visit K-12 schools around the state and fill over 40 teacher requests that continue to come in!
New Faculty Join WVU Department of Physics and Astronomy
Several new faculty members have joined the Physics and Astronomy Department this year.
Professor Mohindar Singh Seehra Retires
After 47 year service as a faculty member at WVU. Prof. Seehra has retired effective August 16, 2016. During this period, he directed the research of 65 students (14 Ph.D. dissertations, 29 MS theses and 22 postdocs) using funds provided by over 50 research grants and published over 300 research papers, many of them jointly with his students. Broadly, his research focus has been in magnetic, dielectric and nanomaterials and their applications. The above photograph was taken at the May 2016 commencement with his last 3 Ph.D. students (L to R: Dr. Zhengjun Wang now postdoc at Georgia Tech, Prof. Seehra, Dr. Kelly Pisane now employed at Nokomis Inc., and Dr. Vishal Narang, now a postdoc at CUNY, NY). Prof. Seehra has an enviable ability to produce exceptionally successful graduate students and postdocs. Many have gone on to win national research awards, succeed in faculty positions, and rise to significant positions in industry.
Professor Holcomb’s Research on Magnetic Thin Films
Dr. Mikel “Micky” Holcomb and her group have recently received 3 grants to study their work related to magnetic thin films. Magnetic materials have a wide variety of current and potential applications, including attraction, repulsion, storage, sensing, energy scavenging and advanced computation.
2016 Physics and Astronomy Student Awards
James Franek and Derek Bas received the Dr. Mohindar S. Seehra Research Award “in recognition of doctoral student who is advancing research in physics by publishing research in high-quality peer-reviewed physics journals”.