Ben Whiteley, right, with Prof. Janet Tate and Elaine Whiteley at the COS awards earlier this year.

Ben Whiteley, who with his wife Elaine, had been long term supporter of Physics at Oregon State, passed away in Portland on May 4th. Ben was CEO of Standard Insurance from 1983-1994 and a leader in Oregon business and philanthropy. The Whiteley’s have sponsored the Whiteley Materials Research Fund, which supports research in Materials, and in memory of Elaine’s father – Edwin Yunker, long-serving chair of Physics – the Yunker Lecture series that brings famous scientists to our Department every year.  He was a long-serving OSU trustee. Ben and Elaine received the College of Science Distinguished Service Award in 2016.


Ben’s impact on Oregon and our Department cannot be overstated, we’ll miss him and send our deepest condolences to Elaine and his family.

Obituary from the Oregonian

Bethany Matthews has been awarded the Ben and Elaine Whiteley Endowment for Materials Research Fellowship.  This endowment, established in 2007, provides support for materials research in the College of Science.

Ms. Matthews is a fourth-year PhD student working with Prof. Janet Tate. Her research involves the design, synthesis, and characterization of thin film semiconductors for the improvement of renewable energy applications such as solar cells, thermoelectrics (materials which can convert heat to usable energy), or piezoelectrics (materials which can convert a mechanical stress or push to a usable energy). These semiconductors are stabilized in higher energy states than they would normally be found in through alloying and appropriate temperature control to improve their properties and make them more suitable for devices. She is particularly interested in studying the microstructure (e.g. size, composition, structure, and orientation of crystals on a very small scale) of these materials by electron microscopy and learning how changes to that microstructure explain changes to properties on a much larger scale. This fellowship will allow her to study these materials and similar systems in greater detail at the microscopy facility at the National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden, Colorado and to explain anomalous property behaviors which, if they can be controlled, could greatly increase device efficiency.

Physics students and faculty have received a total of 7 SURE Science Awards.

The SURE Science Awards support an undergraduate student for a summer of research in a faculty member’s lab.

our student and faculty awardees are:

Cassandra Hatcher (Physics) in the Lazzati Group
Garret Jepson (Physics) in the Schneider Group
Michelle Zhou (Physics) in the Johns Lab (Vet-Med)
Youngmin Park (BB) in the Qiu Lab
Theresa Dinh (Biology) in the Sun Lab
Dublin Nichols (Physics) in the Minot Lab
Attila Varga (Physics) in the Hadley Group

Congratulations to all – we’re looking forward to hearing your reports at the end of the summer.

SPIE – the international society for optics and photonics has chosen Matt Graham as one of 10 Rising Researchers for 2017.  He will be honored at their meeting in Anaheim next week!–commercial-sensing/rising-researchers    has the story.

(Graham group member Hiral Patel received the poster award at SPIE last year. Go Micro-Femto group!)

Shane Larson, BS 91, has won the Vth Fermilab Physics Slam – a public contest in which scientists are given 10 minutes on stage to explain what the heck they do to over 1000 people in a sold out auditorium.  has a Chicago Tribune article about the contest.

Shane works  at the Adler Planetarium and teaches at Northwestern University.  He gave a talk here in 2016 on the LIGO gravitational wave discovery.


OSU Cascades in Bend, Oregon  has an opening for a full-time Physics Instructor

Bend, Oregon – photo J. Schellman

– the full consideration date is 3/17/2017 but applications will be considered until the position is filled.

Please see to apply.





Position Information

Department Acad Prog / Student Aff (LCB)
Position Title Instructor
Job Title Instructor – Physics
Appointment Type Academic Teaching/Research Faculty
Job Location Bend
Position Appointment Percent 100
Appointment Basis 9
Faculty Status Regular
Tenure Status Fixed-Term
Pay Method Salary
Recommended Full-Time Salary Range Salary is commensurate with education and experience
Position Summary Oregon State University-Cascades, in Bend, Oregon, in partnership with the College of Science at Oregon State University-Corvallis, invites applications for a full-time, (1.0 FTE), 9-month, fixed term Instructor rank faculty position in Physics. Reappointment is at the discretion of the Dean.

The successful candidate will have the important role of bringing innovative teaching practices to the new Physics program at Cascades.

The person in this position is assigned to work at Oregon State University-Cascades, located in Bend, Oregon. The ideal candidate performs teaching, maintains currency, and performs service.

Oregon State University’s commitment to student success includes hiring, retaining, and developing diverse faculty to mentor and educate our undergraduate and graduate students from entry through graduation. Our Strategic Plan (
articulates the strategies we believe critical to advancing and equalizing student success. As part of this commitment, OSU has established a hiring initiative designed to support these strategies.

Salary is commensurate with academic preparation and professional experience.

About OSU-Cascades: Oregon State University’s branch campus in Bend, Ore., features outstanding faculty in degree programs that reflect Central Oregon’s vibrant economy and abundant natural resources. Nearly 20 undergraduate majors, 30 minors and options, and four graduate programs include computer science, energy systems engineering, kinesiology, hospitality management, and tourism and outdoor leadership. The branch campus expanded to a four-year university beginning fall 2015; its new campus opened in fall 2016.

The anticipated start date is 9/16/17.

Position Duties 80% Student related activities
– Teach regular undergraduate credit courses as assigned. This includes in-class activities, laboratory supervision, class administration and regular office hours, in keeping with the highest professional standards.
-Curriculum development, aimed at improving lectures, studio sessions, recitations, and labs in courses taught.
-Evaluation and purchase of suitable laboratory and audiovisual equipment in cooperation with Physics and Cascades academic leadership.
-Sustained commitment to creating and maintaining an inclusive learning environment for all students.
-General advising of students.10% Maintaining Currency
May include, but not limited to, any of the following:
-Maintain familiarity with recent developments in evidence-based instructional practices.
-Make contributions to general teaching resources such as online learning systems and development of new laboratory experiments.
-Disseminate ideas and methods within the Department, University and broader community.10% Service
May include, but not limited to, any of the following:
-Service on departmental and university committees related to instruction.
-Assisting other faculty members as needed, e.g. mentoring part-time instructors.
-Acting as official adviser for various student organizations and clubs.
-Participation in activities that increase diversity and inclusion, for example Search Advocate training and mentoring students from underrepresented groups.
Minimum/Required Qualifications -Master’s degree in Physics or related fields (examples of related fields may include, but are not limited to, Electrical Engineering, Astrophysics, Geophysics, Applied Mathematics, etc.) by the start of the appointment.

-Experience with or demonstrated potential for teaching Physics at the college or university level. This can include service as a Teaching Assistant and/or formal training in pedagogy at any level.

-Faculty at OSU-Cascades are committed to undergraduate and graduate student success. We seek faculty who have evidence of educating and mentoring a diverse group of learners, which may include experience with sponsoring student research or internships, developing study abroad opportunities, service learning courses, or the use of innovation pedagogies such as hybrid or online learning.

-A demonstrable commitment to promoting and enhancing diversity and inclusion.

Preferred (Special) Qualifications -Doctoral degree in Physics or related field.

-Previous classroom experience.

-Experience in using and designing online materials. Facility with computer operating systems, web design tools and/or Latex.

-Experience operating and constructing laboratory equipment.


-Numerical computation experience

At the most recent Astronomy Open House, on February 17th, many tried to reach for the… planets?

The newly formed OSU Astronomy Club and the Department of Physics hosted the most recent Open House with invited activities by the Corvallis Public Library and the Corvallis Arts Center. The event also featured Tom Carrico of the local amateur astronomer club: Heart of the Valley Astronomers who talked about how to view an eclipse safely.

At the event, parents, college students, and children alike, learned about how telescopes work, how astronomers identify what stars are made of, what causes the seasons, and the different types of shadows formed by an eclipse! Once each person completed their activity sheet, they were able to get a free commemorative eclipse poster about the upcoming Total Solar Eclipse in August.

Everyone seemed to love the event, and the OSU Astronomy Club is working to make the event even better than it already is, especially with anticipation growing for clear weather for the next Open House! So be sure to keep an eye on to hear about the next exciting Astronomy open House! We hope to see you there!



A paper just published in Nature Communications by the Single-Molecule Biophysics Laboratory of Assistant Professor Weihong Qiu reports an unexpected mechanical property of a “motor” protein that offers new insights into how motor proteins help build and maintain the mitotic spindle, the American football-shaped macromolecular structures that animal and fungi cells depend on to ensure accurate chromosome segregation during cell division. Located inside cells, motor proteins are tiny molecular machines that convert chemical energy into mechanical work. They interact with train-track-like structures called microtubules to transport cargos or exert forces.

[continued below]

The motor protein KlpA moves in one direction on a single microtubule track and switches to the opposite direction between a pair of microtubules. Illustration credit: Kuo-Fu Tseng, Oregon State University.
[click on image to see the motion] The motor protein KlpA moves in one direction on a single microtubule track and switches to the opposite direction between a pair of microtubules. Illustration credit: Kuo-Fu Tseng, Oregon State University.
In this study, Qiu and colleagues focused on a particular motor protein called KlpA, and used a high-sensitivity microscopy method to directly visualize the motion of individual KlpA molecules on microtubules. The Qiu team shows that, while all other KlpA-like motor proteins are believed to move in only one direction on the microtubule track, KlpA has a “reverse” gear that allows it to go in different directions. This enables KlpA to behave differently in when it is operating at different locations within the mitotic spindle. This research may open the door to understand the similar KlpA-like motor proteins in mammals that are implicated in cancer cell proliferation. Understanding the design principle underlying the bidirectional motion of KlpA may also guide the engineering of motor protein-based molecular devices for targeting drug delivery in a controllable manner.