Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Physics Ph.D. Program

The Physics department celebrated the 50th anniversary of its Ph.D. program on October 16, 2009 by organizing a symposium and a banquet honoring its emeritus and former faculty members. Among those honored on this occasion were Emeritus Professors Raymond Hughes, Otto Zinke, Arthur Hobson, and Charles Richardson, and Former Professors Stephen Day and Richard Anderson. Professor Raymond Hughes was the primary author of the successful proposal to start the Ph.D. program in Physics fifty years ago, and then oversaw and helped nurture it for over 15 years. Other honorees, who joined the department between 1959 and 1966, helped lay the foundations for the development of the department’s graduate program and continued growth of the undergraduate program.

Some former faculty members came from as far as the East and West Coasts to participate in these celebrations. The first Ph.D. in Physics was granted to William Pendleton in 1964 under the direction of Professor Hughes. Pendleton, now an Emeritus Professor of Physics at Utah State University, traveled from Utah to join in the celebrations. Professors Pendleton, Hughes, Zinke, Day, Hobson, Richardson, and Anderson gave talks reminiscing about the early days of their tenure here in the two-hour symposium. The symposium was attended by physics faculty and students and the audience got a glimpse of the past events that provided the building blocks for what the department is today. Currently 40 students are enrolled in the Physics Ph.D. program. The department offers over 80 courses and conducts research in lasers, quantum and nonlinear optics, nano-science and condensed matter physics, biophysics, astronomy, and physics education. It is internationally recognized for research in these areas. Research conducted in the department has appeared in prestigious journals such as Science, Nature and Physical Review Letters. In the past three years alone, faculty, students, and postdocs have published more than 200 papers and books and accumulated over 3,000 citations to their work.

The symposium was followed by a banquet in honor of the Emeritus/Former Faculty, where they were individually recognized for their contributions to the department. Associate Dean Patricia Koski represented the Graduate School and Associate Dean Jeannine Durdik represented Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences at the banquet.

(Photos: Courtesy Ken Vickers)