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News & Highlights


August 24, 2018

 UNC Physics Fry Research


Physics major Jacob Fry received funding from the UNC Office of Undergraduate Research for his summer research with Prof. Sung. Jacob has been looking at a variety of shark tooth samples to differentiate imaging capabilities and limitations between AFM (Atomic Force Microscopy) and SEM (Scanning Electron Microscopy), as well as developing a new pedagogical approach of introducing nanoscience research into undergraduate curriculum.


February 1, 2018

2018 Undergrad Research Mentor Award Semak


Congratulations to Dr. Semak! He was awarded the Undergraduate Research Mentor of the Year Award at the NHS Excellence Awards Ceremony.


October 21, 2017

APS Physics Logo


UNC Physics presented three talks and four posters at the APS Four Corners Section Annual Meeting held at CSU: 

Doing Research with Undergraduates in a Bachelor's-only Physics and Astronomy Department: Challenges and Successes (Dr. Semak), Ionization Dynamics in Intense Bicircular Laser Fields (Dr. Chaloupka), Thermodynamic Studies of Phase Transitions in Inflationary Cosmology  (Dr. Mallory), Measuring Atmospheric Muon Flux during the 2017 Solar Eclipse (Fender, Ringler, Morse), Electroencephalography and the Mechanical Operation of an Exoskeletal Arm (Helms, Zadina), Postural Control: A Sample Entropy Approach to One-Legged Stance (McMillan), Biomimicry: Designing and Building a Multilegged Robot (Sweitzer).


August 2, 2017

classical trajectories of helium in bicircular fields


UNC Physics teamed up with CU-Boulder, publishing their recent work on "Observation of Ionization Enhancement in Two-Color Circularly Polarized Laser Fields" in Physical Review A.


March 26, 2017

UNC Physics Academic Awards


Congratulations to the Physics & Astronomy Academic Scholar Award winners, seen here with Professor Matt Semak at the NHS College event. (top, L-R): Semak, William Mendoza, Ryan Fabian, Arick Sweitzer, (bottom, L-R): Alexandra Briggs, Kourteney Zadina, and Zachary Rossiter.


April 29, 2017

UNC Physics at CoWy AAPT


UNC Physics was well represented at the Colorado-Wyoming Section Meeting of the AAPT, where students presented FIVE posters:

Biomimicry: Design and Construction of a Mulitlegged Robot (Sweitzer), Investigating the Impact of a Solar Eclipse on Atmospheric Radiation (Fender, Ringler, Morse, Angstead), Postural Control: A Sample Entropy Approach to One-Legged Stance (McMillan, Semak, Heise), Electroencephalograpy and the Mechanical Operation of an Exoskeletal Arm (Helms, Zadina), Psychoacoustics: Understanding Sonic Intelligibility (Briggs)


April 15, 2017


UNC Physics & Astronomy students Ryan Angstead, Cody Helms, Arick Sweitzer, and Brandon Williams participated in the 2017 COSGC Robotics Challenge at the Great Sand Dunes National Park on April 15. Check out the video for footage of Arick's award winning multi-legged robot!


April 6, 2017

2017 UNC Research Day Posters


UNC Physics & Astronomy presented five posters at UNC Research Day, on topics of processing power in robotic rovers, control of exoskeletal arms, biomimicry in robotics, solar eclipse research, and entropy analysis of postural control.


February 17, 2017

Zach Armstrong


Congratulations to Zach Armstrong (UNC Physics Alumn and Greeley West high school science teacher) for being named one of nine nationwide PhysTEC teachers of the year!


January 6, 2017

UNC Physics Dynamics Days


UNC Physics presented their work on "Postural Control: A Study of One-Legged Stance" at the Dynamics Days 2017 conference held in Silver Spring, MD.


December 10, 2016

UNC Physics Fall 2016 Grads


Congrats to our Fall 2016 UNC Physics grads (L-R): Derek Bernard, Veronica Buchanan, Shelby Burns, Carolyn Shaw (Math), Stefan Lamb.

October 21, 2016

FiO dynamics talk


UNC Physics presented work on "Ionization dynamics in intense two-color circularly polarized laser fields" and "Surface profilometry using vortex beams" at the OSA Frontiers in Optics conference in Rochester, NY.

September 21, 2016

 PRL2016 cover


UNC Physics teamed up with CU-Boulder, publishing their recent work on Controlling Nonsequential Double Ionization in Two-Color Circularly Polarized Femtosecond Laser Fields in Physical Review Letters.

PRL Fig1

August 22, 2016

UNC Physics Ansel Foxley


UNC Physics welcomes new faculty member Ansel Foxley!

July 25, 2016

UNC Physics 2016 AAPT Summer Poster


UNC Physics presented their work on "Can a Nonverbal Intelligence Test Predict FCI Performance" at the AAPT Summer Meeting in Sacramento, CA.

July 13, 2016

UNC Physics Kepler Poster


UNC Physics presented their work on "RR Lyrae Stars in M4" at the Kepler Asteroseismic Science Consortium Conference held in the Azores.

May 7, 2016

atom bear


Congratulations to our UNC Physics & Astronomy Grads! Among those at the May 7 commencement ceremony: Chad Garcia, Grant Harris, Lauren Hoots, Casey Montoya, Patrick Morales-Mendoza, JJ Peek, and Matt Svetic!

May 4, 2016

alex lidiak


UNC Physics and Philosophy double major Alex Lidiak profiled on UNC website.

April 17, 2016

UNC Physics ASA award winners


Congratulations to the 2016 Physics & Astronomy Academic Scholar Award winners: Derek Bernard, Brad Holmes, Phakawat Manusnon (top, L-R) and Veronica Buchanan, Margaret Hodge, Lauren Hoots (bottom, L-R).

April 9, 2016

unc physics demosat 2016


UNC Physics participated in a successful DemoSat balloon launch. Members of the team include Ryan Angstead, JJ Peek, Mike Nuzum, Alexandra Briggs, Arick Sweitzer, and Taylor McMillan (L-R).

April 8, 2016

unc physics chaloupka prl


UNC Physics published their work on the Dynamics of Strong-Field Double Ionization in Two-Color Counterrotating Fields in Physical Review Letters.


prl artwork


December 16, 2015

perc paper 2015


UNC Physics article "Can students learn from PhET Sims at home, alone?" published in the 2015 PERC (Physics Education Research Conference) Proceedings.

November 1, 2015

physics teacher paper 2015 


UNC Physics article "Sparking Curiosity: How Do You Know What Your Students Are Thinking?" published in The Physics Teacher.

May 9, 2015

donovan and amber


Two of our happy graduates at commencement: Donovan Anderson (L) and Amber Bekkali (and proud dad!) (R). Also present: Lee Ismay, Kyle Nachbar, Casey Rogers, Anthony Saccomanno, Graham Stringert, Derek Weigle, and John Wood.

April 18, 2015



UNC Physics students presented their research at the Colorado Space Grant Symposium held in Boulder, CO. Clockwise from upper left: JJ Peek & Graham Stringert, Lee Ismay, Jeremiah Schwartz, Lee explaining his work.

April 12, 2015

ASA winners


Congratulations to the 2015 Academic Scholar Award winners: Alex Lidiak, Amber Bekkali, Patrick Morales-Mendoza (L-R top), Taylor Plantt, Steven Rutherford (L-R bottom), and Anthony Saccomanno (not pictured).

April 11, 2015



UNC Physics students Donovan Anderson, Amber Bekkali, and Ryan Fabian participated in a successful DemoSat balloon launch.

April 11, 2015


UNC Physics presented their work on Supercontinuum Optical Vortices at the Colorado Ultrafast Photonics Initiative (CUPhI) workshop held in Granby, CO.

April 4, 2015


robot 9news


UNC Physics students JJ Peek, Anthony Saccomanno, and Graham Stringert participated in the NASA Colorado Space Grant Consortium Robotics Challenge at the Great Sand Dunes National Park.

January 18, 2015

amber maggie 1

amber maggie 2


Maggie Hodge (L) and Amber Bekkali (R) attended the 2015 APS Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics at UT-Brownsville.

October 22, 2014

2014 osa


UNC Physics presented their work on Color Schlieren Imaging with Monochromatic Sources at the 2014 OSA Frontiers in Optics conference in Tucson, AZ.

October 9, 2014

csgs zach hafen


UNC Physics major Zach Hafen presented his work on modeling balance with stochastic processes at the Colorado Space Grant Symposium at CU-Boulder.

July 26, 2014

aapt poster

aapt poster 


UNC Physics presented posters (a,b) on Physics Education Research at the summer meeting of the American Association of Physics Teachers in Minneapolis, MN.

May 10, 2014

2014 unc physics grad


Congratulations to the 2014 UNC Physics graduates: Ben Carlson, Steve Champion, Zach Daubert, David Garrett, Eric Gregg, Zach Hafen, Marius Herlea Jr, Sean Higgins, Tim O'Neill, Michael Schmidtbauer, Jeremiah Schwartz, Danny Thistle, and Josh Wadle.

April 7, 2014

robotics 2014

robotics 2014


UNC Physics was well represented at the Colorado Space Grant Consortium Robotics Challenge held April 5 at the Great Sand Dunes. Graham Stringert, David Garrett, JJ Peek and Anthony Saccomanno piloted their rover across challenging terrain.

March 30, 2014

2014 asa winners


Congratulations to the 2014 Physics Academic Scholar Award winners: Danny Thistle, Zach Hafen, Lee Ismay (top, L-R), Marius Herlea Jr, Casey Rogers (bottom, L-R).

March 28, 2014

2014 optics express


UNC Physics published their work on color schlieren imaging with a two-path, double knife edge system in the journal Optics Express. The work was carried out by Dr. Chaloupka and Maurice Woods and Danny Thistle (UNC Physics undergrads) and Jacob Aas and Jessamyn Hutchins (FSI high school students).

UNC Physics two-path schlieren

January 17, 2014



UNC Physics major Amber Bekkali attended the American Physical Society 2014 Rocky Mountain Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.

January 4, 2014

aapt poster


UNC Physics presented "Clarifying the Force Concept Inventory via Think-Aloud Interviews" at the AAPT Winter Meeting.

October 7, 2013

vortex rainbow


The UNC Physics - San Diego State University collaboration presented their work on "Vortex Interference Effects from a Segmented Spatial Light Modulator and a Supercontinuum Source" at the OSA Frontier in Optics Meeting in Orlando, FL. In the image above, brilliant full-color images of vortex interference are demonstrated by theory (L) and experiment (R).

August 23, 2013

vortex triangle


An image of a supercontinuum optical vortex diffracted through a triangular aperture from the recent article in JOSA B. Since the extreme spatial chirp is compensated for in the experiment, the topological charge can be determined by counting the spots along each side of the triangle. UNC Physics, SDSU, and Universidade Estadual de Campinas in Brazil teamed up for this work.

May 10, 2013

2013 unc physics grads


Congratulations to the 2013 UNC Physics Grads (L-R): Herve Tonye Tonye, Joe Gasteiger, Audrey Wall, Isaac Lorentz, Travis Day, Albert Einstein (not a UNC grad), Carlos Gallegos, Bronson Pausa, Michael Clay, Richard Pacheco.

March 10, 2013

asa winners


Congratulations to the 2013 UNC Physics Academic Scholars: Michael Clay & Travis Day (L-R, top) and Karin Ficek & David Garrett (L-R, bottom).

June 20, 2012

devils vortex


Images of the Devil's vortex pattern from the recent article in Applied Optics. Experiment (top row) and theory (bottom row) show exquisite agreement. UNC Physics and SDSU teamed up for this work.

June 5, 2012

2012 venus

2012 venus


Above, images from the public viewing of the Venus Transit organized by Prof. Dietz. Below, an image contributed by V. Chaloupka of Santa Fe, NM.

May 3, 2012

2012 unc physics grads

2012 grads willis

2012 grads bus


Congrats to UNC Physics grads Aaron Adamson, Rob Shiely, Jordan Aken, Maurice Woods, John Arko (L-R), and Rachel Bennet (front). Below, distinguished Professor Emeritus Courtney Willis congratulates our grads at the department celebration.

April 14, 2012

2012 demosat


UNC Physics student Jordan Aken with Dr. Matt Semak at the DemoSat balloon launch.

April 12, 2012

2012 research day

2012 research day

2012 research day


UNC Physics students presented their work at the UNC Research Day (top: Rachel Bennet, middle (L-R): Joe Gasteiger & Travis Day), and at the NHS Research Celebration (bottom (L-R): Jordan Aken, Maurice Woods III, Robert Shiely).

March 23, 2012

asa winners


UNC Physics celebrates its 2012 Academic Scholar Award winners! Congratulations to Richard Pacheco, Audrey Wall, Jeremiah Schwartz and Zach Hafen (L-R).

September 19, 2011

2011 cosgc


Members of the Colorado Space Grant Consortium pose at the University Center at this year's annual meeting.

April 29, 2011

unc baseball semak pitch


Dr. Semak explores the physics of his wicked split-finger fastball as he throws out the first pitch at the UNC baseball game.

April 8, 2011

2011 robot

2011 robot team


Above, the UNC Robot maneuvers an alien landscape. Below, Jordan Aken, Aaron Adamson, and Diego Alcala (L-R) recreate a scene from the critically acclaimed film Capricorn One.

February 21, 2011

unc rocksat team


The distinguished RockSat Team poses for a photo outside Ross Hall.

December 13, 2010

2010 fall grads


Congratulations to our Fall 2010 UNC Physics graduates (L-R): Chris Walker, Motoaki Honda, and Jessica Gage!

June 30, 2010

unc rocksat team

rocksat rocket

rocksat cartoon


Five UNC students designed, built and tested an experiment that measured fuel sloshing during a rocket launch. The students working on the project (top) were physics majors Sage Andorka, Motoaki Honda, Zach Sears, Maurice Woods, and meteorology major Dan Welsh (L-R). The RockSat rocket launch (middle) from June 24, 2010. The intrepid UNC RockSat Team (L-R): Zach Sears, Motoaki Honda, Dan Welsh, Sage Andorka, and Maurice Woods (bottom) (Cartoon by M. Woods).