Jocelyn Bell Burnell inadvertently discovered pulsars as a graduate student in radio astronomy in Cambridge, opening up a new branch of astrophysics – work recognised by the award of a Nobel Prize to her supervisor.

She has subsequently worked in many roles in many branches of astronomy, working part-time while raising a family. She is now a Visiting Academic in Oxford, and the Chancellor of the University of Dundee, Scotland.  She has been President of the UK’s Royal Astronomical Society, in 2008 became the first female President of the Institute of Physics for the UK and Ireland, and in 2014 the first female President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. She was one of the small group of women scientists that set up the Athena SWAN scheme.

She has received many honours, including a $3M Breakthrough Prize in 2018.

The public appreciation and understanding of science have always been important to her, and she is much in demand as a speaker and broadcaster.  In her spare time, she gardens, listens to choral music and is active in the Quakers. She has co-edited an anthology of poetry with an astronomical theme – ‘Dark Matter; Poems of Space’.

Dr. Eric Scerri
Faculty and Lecturer
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
University of California, Los Angeles
Thursday, February 18, 2021 4 PM EST
Via Video Conference (contact for link information)

All interested persons are cordially invited to join the Zoom call.


In his lecture, Dr. Scerri will discuss episodes from, “A Tale of Seven Scientists”, a book which examines the work seven little known scientists at the borders of early 20th century atomic chemistry and physics. These scientists include John Nicholson, Anton Van den Broek and Charles Janet. The study is part of an ongoing project that seeks to understand priority disputes, multiple discovery and the role of minor contributors in the development of science. The lecture will conclude with some speculations on how these studies might contribute to attempts to understand ‘the nature of science’.

BIOSKETCH (adapted from

Dr. Scerri is Lecturer at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). He is also Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Foundations of Chemistry, a triannual a peer-reviewed academic journal. Scerri is widely acknowledged as an authority on the Periodic Table, appearing in the PBS documentary The Mystery of Matter. He received his bachelor’s of science degree from Westfield College, the University of London, his MPhil from the University of Southampton, and his Ph.D. from King’s College London. He is the author/editor of 12 books and over 150 publications.

Scerri is a chemist but also a noted historian and one of the pioneers of the philosophy of chemistry, a subdiscipline that began to take shape in the mid-1900s. In particular, his work on the Periodic Table has crossed disciplines, and he has worked on conceptual problems involving the reduction of chemistry to quantum mechanics (typically considered part of the philosophy of science). In 2015, Scerri was appointed by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) to make a recommendation on the composition of “Group 3” in the periodic table, selecting the elements that should be included. Scerri’s latest book, published in 2020, is titled The Periodic Table, Its Story and Its Significance. Scerri maintains a blog to go further in-depth on this topic and others;

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Professor Martin Guthold, Department of Physics, Wake Forest University
George P. Williams, Jr. Lecture Hall, (Olin 101)
Wednesday, October 17, 2018, at 4:00 PM

There will be a reception with refreshments at 3:30 PM in the lounge. All interested persons are cordially invited to attend.


Blood coagulation leads to the formation of a blood clot. Blood clots are beneficial in hemostasis as they prevent life-threating blood loss in the event of injury. However, blood clots can also be harmful when they block healthy blood flow (thrombosis); they are the underlying cause of such diseases as heart attacks, stroke and venous thromboembolism, with the first two diseases accounting for 25% of deaths worldwide.

Blood clots perform the mechanical task of stemming the flow of blood. To improve our understanding of blood clots it is, therefore, important to understand their structure and mechanical behavior. The main structural and mechanical component of a blood clot is a mesh of microscopic fibrin fibres.

We have developed an AFM/inverted optical microscope-based technique to study the mechanical behavior of single, microscopic fibers, including fibrin fibres. I will present this technique and the results we have obtained on fibrin fiber mechanical properties, and discuss them in the context of blood clotting, clot lysis, and the properties of other microscopic fibers.


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Honors, Awards, and Graduate Recognition Day

April 26, 2017

On Wednesday, April 26, 2017, the Department of Physics took the day to recognize those who have achieved great things and have worked hard in their fields.  We are very proud of their accomplishments!  We heard Honors Theses Presentations, initiated new Sigma Pi Sigma members, recognized graduating seniors and graduate students, welcomed 17 new Physics majors, presented Major Field Test Achievement Awards, and presented awards to those who have worked hard to make the Physics Department great!   All are listed below.

Outstanding Teaching Assistant  –  Ryan Godwin

William E. Speas Award Recipient – Angela Harper

Excellence in Teaching Award Recipient –  Dr. Eric Carlson

Outstanding Service Award RecipientDr. Keith Bonin


2017 Graduating Seniors:

Samuel Anich
Charlotte Antoni
Austin Bauersmith
Elizabeth Gianino
John Gorelick                
Daniel Griffin              
Angela Harper        
Jacori Hayes            
Bella Hunt             
Connor Johnstone          
Charlie Jonas
Emily Kim
Matthew Marrero          
Julia Minnetian
Julien-Fabrice Momo
Daniel Nelli
Taylor Rhoads
Henry Robbins
Andrew Schall
Linqi Shao
Brandi Swain
Briana Thompson
Yaqi Yang

Honors Graduates:

Elizabeth Gianino
Angela Harper


ΣΠΣ (Sigma Pi Sigma) Inductees:

Shengcheng Chen
Daniel Griffin
Zoe Hurtado
Laura Jennings
Mary Kinney
Zach Lamport
Josiah Low
Gabriel Marcus
David Ostrowski
Linqi Shao
Jack Treadwell
Jiajie Xiao

Major Field Tests Achievement Awards:

Linqi Shao
Jeffrey Johnston
Daniel Griffin
Brandi Swain
Taylor Rhoads
Matthew Marrero


Dr. Tamara Bogdanovic – Associate Professor in the Center for Relativistic Astrophysics, School of Physics, Georgia Tech
George P. Williams, Jr. Lecture Hall, (Olin 101)
Wednesday, April 18, 2018, at 4:00 PM

There will be a reception with refreshments at 3:30 PM in the lounge. All interested persons are cordially invited to attend.


Gravitationally bound supermassive black hole binaries are thought to be a natural product of galactic mergers and growth of the large-scale structure in the university.  They, however, remain observationally elusive, thus raising a question about characteristic observational signatures associated with these systems.

In my talk, I will discuss current theoretical understanding and latest advances made in the observational searches for supermassive black hole binaries.


Zachary Lamport, PhD Candidate
Public Presentation in ZSR Library, Room 404
Thursday, April 19, 2018, at 10:30 AM
Oana Jurchescu, PhD, Advisor

The defense will follow.


The electrical properties of devices based on an organic compound result from the structure of the molecules, their solid-state packing, efficiency of charge injection from the electrodes, and the fabrication procedures. The length scales of interest can also vary widely, ranging from a few nanometers in the case of charge transport through single molecules or two-dimensional molecular ensembles, to tens of micrometers in devices focusing on thin films or molecular crystals. The work outlined in this thesis examines the characteristics of electronic devices at both extremes by incorporating organic molecules in molecular rectifiers and organic field-effect transistors (OFETs).

We successfully designed and fabricated molecular rectifiers based on self-assembled monolayers and identified relevant structure-function relationships. We elucidate the dependence of the rectification behavior on molecular length and structure, and found that the degree of rectification is enhanced in shorter molecules and linearly dependent on the strength of the molecular dipole moment. We further developed compounds that, when included into the molecular diodes, rectified current by as much as three orders of magnitude depending on their structure. This performance is on par with that of the best molecular rectifiers obtained on a metallic electrode, but it has the advantage of lower cost and more efficient integration with current silicon technologies, which may yield hybrid systems that can expand the use of silicon towards novel functionalities governed by the molecular species grafted onto its surface.

We then explored charge transport in OFETs using the organic semiconductor 7,14-bis(trimethylsilylethynyl)benzo[k]tetraphene (TMS-BT). We produced thin-film OFETs which exhibited more efficient electronic transport than single crystal devices of the same material, in spite of the inherent presence of grain boundaries. We explained these findings in terms of charge transport anisotropy and electronic trap formation at the interface between the semiconductor and dielectric. We further reduced aggressively the contact resistance in small molecule and polymer OFETs by varying the metal deposition rate, which resulted in over 5 times improved charge carrier mobility compared with the best reported devices with identical composition and structure. The obtained contact resistance normalized over the channel width was 500 Ωcm, and the corresponding devices exhibited charge carrier mobilities of 19.2 cm2/Vs for 2,8-difluoro-5,11-bis(triethylsilylethynyl) anthradithiophene (diF-TES ADT) and 10 cm2/Vs for indacenodithiophene-co-benzothiadiazole copolymer (C16IDTBT), with minimal dependence on the gate voltage.

Special WFU Physics and Chemistry Seminar

TITLE: “Ionogels for Energy Storage: The Determining Effect of the Interface Between Host Network and Confined Ionic Liquid”
SPEAKER: Jean Le Bideau
Institut des Matériaux Jean Rouxel,
Université Nantes – CNRS, France

TIME: Fri. Oct. 6, 2017 at 3:00 PM
PLACE: Olin 103

There will be a reception with refreshments at 2:30 PM in the lounge. All interested persons are cordially invited to attend.


Ionogels represent a route to biphasic materials, for the use of ionic liquids (ILs) for all-solid devices. Confining ILs within host networks enhances their averaged dynamics, resulting in improved charge transport. Fragility, short relaxation times, low viscosity, and good ionic conductivity, all them appear to be related to the IL / host network interface. The presence of ILs at interface neighborhood leads to the breakdown of aggregated, structured regions that are found systematically in bulk ILs. This “destructuration”, as well as segregative interactions at interface, coupled with percolation of the bicontinuous solid/liquid interface, make these materials very competitive solid electrolytes, since they could provide (i) a route to lower locally the viscosity of ILs, and (ii) an easier path for diffusion of charged species. Several types of ionogels demonstrate this effect: the host networks studied range from fully inorganic to hybrid, polymeric, organic-inorganic matrices. This general approach can be applied to several all-solid devices, including lithium batteries. Overall high performances were shown on these last two devices, along with the advantageous intrinsic, sometimes heightened, properties of the chosen ILs: charge transport, nonflammability, non volatility. Herein we will emphasize the results of a systematic study of the effect of pore size for silica-based ionogels, where pores sizes were finely prepared, eforehand for the sake of this study.

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