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October 7, 2020

Parthasarathy named a fellow of the American Physical Society

UO biophysicist Raghuveer Parthasarathy has been selected as a fellow by the American Physical Society. The selection recognizes those who have made exceptional contributions in physics research, important applications of physics, leadership in or service to physics, or significant contributions to physics education.

Parthasarathy, an Alec and Kay Keith Professor in the Department of Physics, explores the structure and dynamics of biological materials such as cellular membranes and microbial communities in developing animals. In selecting him as a fellow, the American Physical Society cited his creative and innovative contributions to biological physics, especially to the understanding of the gut microbiome and lipid bilayers.

“Each of us is home to a vast community of gut microbes that influence many aspects of health and disease,” Parthasarathy said. “We’re realizing that the physical properties of these communities – how they move, come together, and fall apart – are important to how they function.”

Researchers in Parthasarathy’s lab have been peeking into the gut microbiome, analyzing it from a physical point of view. The team is also focused on the lipid bilayers that form the basis of all cellular membranes, which illustrate how physical character influences what biology is able to do, Parthasarathy said.

You can read the full Around-the-O article here.


September 29, 2020

UO physicist Tien-Tien Yu receives New Horizons prize

Theoretical physicist Tien-Tien Yu has received the New Horizons in Physics award for her collaborative work with an international research team and their contributions to the field of “light dark matter.”

Part of the prestigious Breakthrough Prizes, Yu’s New Horizons award is one of six accolades handed out for early-career achievement in physics and math. She will split a $100,000 prize with her three collaborators, Rouven Essig, an associate professor of physics at Stony Brook University; Javier Tiffenberg, an associate scientist at Fermilab; and Tomer Volansky, an associate professor at Tel Aviv University.

“Given the amount of time and effort that has gone into this work, it’s nice to receive this level of recognition,” Yu said. “However, it is also very humbling to receive such an award as there are many other qualified people who are equally deserving.”

The New Horizons prize recognizes early career scientists who have already made a substantial impact on their fields. Yu and her colleagues have pioneered a new approach in the search for dark matter, the mysterious substance that accounts for about 80 percent of all matter in the universe. Specifically, the team has led the way in the hunt for a class of low-mass dark matter known as light dark matter through the experiment known as SENSEI.

You can read the full Around-the-O article here.

August 11, 2020

UO Physics Faculty Collaborate on New National Quantum Centers

The development of a quantum internet is one of the most ambitious and transformative engineering endeavors of the 21st century,” said Raymer, a Philip H. Knight Professor Emeritus in the Department of Physics.

Raymer will co-lead the UO’s efforts on the grant with Smith, who directs the Oregon Center for Optical Molecular and Quantum Science.

“The quantum internet will push the frontiers of science while potentially revolutionizing computer science, data privacy, pharmaceuticals discovery and materials design, among others,” Smith said.

The new Center for Quantum Networks is the latest in a series of important developments for UO researchers involved in quantum information research. David Allcock and Nobel laureate David Wineland, both Department of Physics faculty, are named participants in another newly announced quantum research center, Q-SEnSE: Quantum Systems through Entangled Science and Engineering, to be led by the University of Colorado.

You can read the full Around-the-O article here.

June 22, 2020

Visionary Science: Building a Bionic Eye

How did the Six Million Dollar (Bionic) Man inspire a future scientist?

How can you transfer a signal from an implant into the retina so that it can pass to the brain?

Where can you find the intersection of Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Neuroscience, Computer Science, Medical Science and Psychology?

Click here to find out!


March 19, 2020

NOTICE: Physics Department Office Closed

In order to reduce the risk of exposure to students, staff, and faculty, and in response to the emergent COVID-19 situation, the Physics Department administrative office will be closed beginning March 17, 2020 for the coming weeks. Updates about university closures can be found here

During this period, the office will provide service remotely. Email and phone messages will be checked regularly.

Refer to your March 20th ‘Package Deliveries’ e-mail for more information on FedEx, UPS, USPS delivery process.

Please use the following contact information for specific questions.

  • For questions about Winter 2020 final exams and Spring 2020 courses, please contact your instructor, see the “People” link at
  • For University mental health support resources, please visit the Counseling Center website ( or call the health center crisis hot line 541-346-3227
  • For undergraduate-related inquiries, please email Scott Fisher at or call 541-346-4799
  • For graduate-related inquiries, please email Dean Livelybrooks at or call 541-346-5855
  • For personnel-related inquiries, please email Anthony Fichera at or call 541-346-4768
  • For accounting-related inquiries, please email
  • For payroll-related inquiries, please email
  • For Physics operations-related inquiries, please email Anthony Fichera at or call 541-346-4768
  • For grant-related inquiries, please email
  • For budget-related inquiries, please email Anthony Fichera at or call 541-346-4768
  • For purchasing and travel-related inquiries, please email Jani Scallion at or call 541-346-5208

Thank you for your flexibility and understanding. Stay vigilant.

Richard Taylor                         Anthony Fichera
Department Head                    Business Manager

January 15, 2020

Ben Farr’s Work with LIGO Featured in Discover

For just the second time, scientists have used gravitational waves (ripples in space-time) to detect the merger of two colliding neutron stars. The neutron stars — each fitting roughly the mass of the Sun into a city-sized space — have a combined mass greater than any other pair of neutron stars ever observed.

“From conventional observations with light, we already knew of 17 binary neutron star systems in our own galaxy and we have estimated the masses of these stars,” said Ben Farr, a LIGO team member from the University of Oregon, in a press release. “What’s surprising is that the combined mass of this binary is much higher than what was expected.”

After the collision of these two particularly hefty neutron stars, researchers say the final merged product was likely massive enough to collapse into a black hole, gobbling up any stray matter and light located nearby.

You can read the full article here.

November 13, 2019

Allcock Lab Featured in the Emerald

The University of Oregon has invested in the promise of quantum technology. Quantum physicist David Allcock recently joined the UO Physics Department to continue his research on quantum computer technology, according to Around the O.

Allcock likened his work to developing early computer components. “No one really thinks about that. They think about algorithms and operating systems and servers. On some level, some electrical engineer has to figure out, ‘What are the tolerances on all these voltages?’ And that’s kind of the level where we’re working on,” Allcock said.

Early computers were larger and much less powerful than the microprocessors most of us carry around in our pockets today. It took years of research and engineering to make the technology compact and efficient. That is where Allcock’s research comes into play. It doesn’t take a lot to make a single atom move, and that’s precisely what makes quantum computing so difficult. Small interferences, from even just a particle of dust, can disrupt the system.

You can read the full article here.

November 5, 2019

Fishergroup, undergraduate research at PMO featured in the Oregon Quarterly

Thompson, Odelia Hartl, and Nicole Ringsdorf are members of an undergraduate research group named Fishergroup, under astronomy lecturer Scott Fisher. Thompson and Ringsdorf both decided to become physics majors after they took Fisher’s wildly popular 100-level astronomy class. They also signed up for summer volunteer work at the UO Pine Mountain Observatory, which sits on a remote mountaintop about 30 miles southeast of Bend.

Last September, during one of those late-night observing runs, Rose, Thompson, and Hartl took roughly 250 images of an asteroid named Minerva over a three-hour period. Asteroids, rocky objects that orbit the sun in the so-named Asteroid Belt between Mars and Jupiter, are not very big, and they are very distant from Earth. (Minerva, for example, is only 60 miles across and is roughly 250 million miles away.)

In the case of Minerva, the team knew that it rotates once every six hours, so they knew that approximately three hours of data would give them the information needed. The trio wrote code that calibrated the data by removing irrelevant light from the images; then they created a light curve by measuring the brightness of the target in each image. The final light-curve data was compiled and sent to colleagues in Kobe, Japan, for further analysis, including the creation of a 3D model of Minerva.

“I feel like a lot of people don’t realize how special PMO is,” she says. “It is a hub of opportunity. I really love it up there—being able to interact with telescopes and also leading the public nights. Science is such a beautiful thing, and I would like to be a bridge between science and the rest of the world.”

You can read the full Oregon Quarterly article here.

October 17, 2019

University of Oregon invests in its quantum legacy with new lab

The local scientists will capture and manipulate tiny particles, one possible step in building a quantum computer.

Fantastically small particles will drive the computer brains of the future, and University of Oregon scientists soon will be learning to catch and control them.

The university’s decades-old reputation in the study of quantum physics will be furthered next year by a new laboratory where those whizzing particles can be captured and studied, giving local scientists a place in the hunt for the next big breakthrough in computing.

UO scientists currently are tearing out space in the basement of Willamette Hall, home of the physics department, to build a lab that will make it possible to do in miniature the same kind of research done by global companies racing to build the first true quantum computers. And because of research to be done in that lab, those companies may one day be relying on UO grads.

You can read the full Register Guard article here.

August 5, 2019

Laura Jeanty Recipient of DOE Early Career Award

Laura Jeanty’s search for new particles that may shed light on dark matter and explain why the Higgs Boson has the mass it does has landed the UO physicist five years of financial support from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Early Career Research Program.

Jeanty, an assistant professor of the Oregon Center for High Energy Physics, was one of only 73 U.S. scientists chosen for an early career award.

Jeanty is seeking fundamental particles produced by high-energy proton collisions at CERN. Predicted by a theory called supersymmetry, she said, “these particles could clarify the enigma of dark matter, could explain the mass scale of the Higgs boson and might be essential to help unify the theories of the fundamental forces.”
In October, Jeanty will become co-leader of the ATLAS team that is searching for supersymmetry. The UO’s research group is looking for signatures of such particles that might travel through the ATLAS detector for some distance before decaying.

You can read the full Around-the-O article here.

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