Department of Physics

West Chester University

Chair: Anthony J. Nicastro
127 Merion Science Center
West Chester, PA 19383
Phone: 610.436.2497
Fax: 610.436.3013

News & Events

Welcome new faculty!

We would like to welcome the new Physics faculty member, Dr. Tianran Chen, who is joining the department in Fall 2014. Dr. Chen joins the department as an assistant professor following her PhD work at University of Minnesota. Her research focuses on disorder effects on electron transport in nanocrystal assemblies and topological insulators. Dr. Chen will be teaching the Introductory Physics, PHY 130 this fall. Please stop by Merion 128 to say a quick hello and welcome her to the department!

Dr. Aptowicz Awarded $168,000 Army Research Office Grant

The Environmental Sciences Division of the Army Research Office (ARO) recently awarded a grant to Dr. Kevin Aptowicz in the amount of $168,000 over three years. The grant titled Angularly-Resolved Elastic Light Scattering of Atmospheric Particles: Experimental Measurements and Model Verification blends the exploration of an unsolved puzzle in aerosol characterization with well-designed and pedagogically sound research projects for undergraduates. The scientific question at hand is deceptively simple: how do aerosol particles scatter light? The answer to this question turns out to be quite complex for a number of reasons but mainly because of the diversity of aerosol particles in the atmosphere. By using a newly devised approach to analyze single-particle scattering patterns, Dr. Aptowicz hopes to evolve our understanding of light scattering from atmospheric aerosol particles and provide urgently needed experimental data for light scattering model validation and refinement.

Welcome new faculty!

We would like to welcome the addition of two new tenure-track Physics faculty members who will be joining us beginning in Fall 2012. Dr. Anil Kandalam will be joining us from MacNeese State, where he has been specializing in computational studies of nanomaterials. Our other new faculty member, Dr. Shawn Pfeil, has been doing a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Pfeil develops and applies new experimental tools to understand the physics of biochemical systems. Drs. Kandalam and Pfeil will be heading the Introductory Physics sequence, PHY 130 and PHY 140, this fall. Please stop by Merion this to say a quick hello and welcome them to the department!

Dr. Aptowicz Awarded $200,000 NSF Grant

The Division of Materials Research at the National Science Foundation (NSF) recently awarded a grant in the amount of $204,000 over three years to Dr. Kevin Aptowicz to conduct research on the Origins of Mechanical Fragility in Disordered Systems.

His research, which will actively engage West Chester University undergraduate researchers, explores an open question in the field of condensed matter physics: `What is the link between the mechanical response of a disordered solid and the underlying structure and dynamics of the constituent particles?' The grant proposal underwent a competitive peer-review process and was awarded funds based on its intellectual merit and broader impact.

Dr. Kandalam hosts conference on Clusters and Nanostructures

Dr. Anil K. Kandalam, Assistant Professor of Physics, recently organized an international conference, "5th Jekyll Island Conference on Clusters and Nanostructures." This conference was held at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel in Jekyll Island, Georgia from April 21 - 25, 2013. The conference focused on the unique properties of size-selected clusters and nanostructures and their applications in various fields of physics, chemistry, and materials science. About 40 leading researchers in the fields of cluster and nanoscience from 10 different countries attended this conference to discuss the current status of the field and to guide its future directions.

Modern Physics Study Abroad 2013

The Summer 2013 Modern Physics (PHY 240) Study Abroad Program is in the planning stages. For this program, we will speed the first 2 weeks of the 5-week summer session at West Chester University completing the first one-half of the course material and content. Then we will travel to London, England for the remaining 3 weeks of our course. Please let Dr. Waite know if you are interested or click here for more.- no committment is needed as of yet, but we need to know that there is enough interest to proceed.

2012 Physics Awards

Award Winners

Congratulations to those students who, at the end of the 2011-2012 academic year, received WCU Department of Physics awards. The award recipients included physics majors Ryan Margolis, Jacqueline Sugar, Michael Savoy, Ian Snyder, Curran Kneebone, and Christopher Weindel. The yearly awards ceremony features a reception and colloquium, both of which are open to friends and families of the students being recognized. This year's colloquium was delivered by Dr. Laurence A. Marschall, a Professor of Physics at Gettysburg College, who gave a talk entitled: "The Transit of Venus, The Space Race of of the 19th Century," in light of this year's transit event.

WCU Taking Part in 6-meter Telescope in Chile


For the past five years, Physics Professor Robert Thornton has been part of a collaboration led by Princeton University and the University of Pennsylvania to build a 6-meter telescope in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile. The collaboration was recently awarded $10M to build a new instrument for the telescope.

The new camera, "ACTPol," is designed to detect the degree to which the Cosmic Microwave Background, the afterglow of the Big Bang, is polarized. Prof. Thornton and West Chester Physics students are be involved with the optical, mechanical, and cryogenic design of the estimated 1500-lb camera over the next several years.