Greetings From Department Chair Bob Echols 2015
Hello friends of the Physics Department and welcome again to our annual newsletter. I started as department chair on September 1 when Matt Moelter passed me the baton.
We have a busy fall quarter with two tenure-track searches running. A new catalog cycle and program review are also underway, prompting us to take a close look at everything we do with an eye toward improvement.
The foundation of our program of course is our dedicated faculty and staff. We are grateful for two new staff members — Jenny Cruz and Kevin Thompson. Jenny, our new administrative assistant, is taking over for Kathy Simon who is now in the Biological Sciences Department. Jenny did a fabulous job managing all the department needs at the start of fall quarter when Shirley was on personal leave. Jenny and I are both grateful Shirley is back.
Kevin, a Cal Poly physics alumnus, is thrilled to return “home.” As an instructional support technician, Kevin is taking over many of Steve Soderberg’s tasks, and Steve is focusing on the upper division labs.
With the addition of a new tenure track hire, Stephanie Wissel, and three new lecturers, Adeel Ajaib, Robert Duffin and Fariha Nasir, we now have 43 full-time faculty.
A record number of 15 incoming transfer students and a large freshman class of 66 brings our total majors to nearly 220. The American Physical Society recently informed us that we are second in the country for number of graduates from a solely undergraduate program, granting an average of 30 degrees a year from 2012-14.
As chair, I have the opportunity to meet with prospective students and their parents. On a recent visit, a parent asked, what makes Cal Poly physics special? I responded that we have supportive faculty and staff who are dedicated to providing an excellent undergraduate education with faculty teaching all lectures and labs to a relatively small number of students.
I emphasized that outside the classroom, physics majors have the opportunity to engage personally with our faculty in world-class research. This past summer, we had 27 students working with 16 faculty members in our College Based Fee research program. Many other students conducted research with faculty mentors thanks to research grants. I hope you can take a moment to read about some of these exciting projects. We look forward to even more undergraduate research opportunities in the future.
We couldn’t provide as many high quality research experiences as we do without your help. Thank you. You can see the kind of impact your donations have in the article on Professor Emeritus Randy Knight’s gift.
If you haven’t been by to see our beautiful new building, do visit soon. We have another building, by the same architects, in the planning phase with a hopeful completion date of 2020. If you are interested in the new building, do let me know.
Please keep in touch,
Dr. Bob (Echols)