Brandon Brown (Ph.D., 1997, Tate group) recently published, “Sharing our Science: How to Write and Speak STEM,” (2023, MIT Press). For more details, see; the book is already garnering great reviews! Brown is Professor of Physics at the University of San Francisco. This is his 3rd book, following a biography of Max Planck and a history of the Apollo Project from the perspective of its engineers. Prof. Brown will visit OSU Physics in Spring 2024 to share his ideas on science communication in our colloquium series.

For International Women’s Day, I’m reposting a history of one of our most distinguished alumni, Dr. Chung Kwai Lui. Dr. Lui was the first woman to receive a doctorate in any field from OSU and was nationally recognized for her work on the Manhattan project and at Westinghouse on phosphor development. The Wei Family Private Foundation has established a scholarship in honor of her and her husband Hsin Hsu Wei.

This was originally posted on our website as  OSU’s First Woman Physics PhD by Ken Krane.

There is more information about Dr. Lui and legacy provided by the Wei Family Private Foundation in this article from the College of Science.

Dr. Chang Kwei Lui

Chung Kwai Lui was born in Canton, China in 1909. In 1929, she enrolled at Lingnan University, which had been established as a Christian college in 1888 by American missionaries in Guangzhou. The reputation of the college grew quickly, and by 1918 the leading U.S. universities, including Harvard, Yale, and Stanford, were accepting its students for graduate programs. Miss Lui chose physics as her major and completed her undergraduate degree in 1933. In addition to the regular curriculum of physics courses, she also took courses in science teaching, and from 1933 until 1936 she taught physics at the middle-school level. At the same time she enrolled in graduate courses in physics at Lingnan University.

In 1936, the Oregon State chapter of Phi Kappa Phi (an academic honor society) offered Miss Lui an exchange scholarship, which covered her tuition and room. She moved into Snell Hall, which was then a women’s dormitory. She was one of thefirst two students to enroll in the newly formed physics graduate program at Oregon State. Within one year, she had completed and defended her M.S. thesis, Diffusion Phenomena in Strong Magnetic Fields, under the supervision of Professor Willibald Weniger, who was also chair of the Physics Department. Her experimental work studied the magnetic field and temperature dependence of the time for the diffusion of aqueous dye solutions. She continued on to study for a Ph.D. inphysics, which she completed in 1941 under the supervision of Professor James Brady. Her thesis, The Crystal Photoeffect in D-Tartaric Acid Single Crystals, concerned a process analogous the better-known photoelectric effect in metals, in which light shining on certain crystals causes a current to flow. She immediately published her Ph.D. thesis work in the Physical Review, the leading U.S. journal of physics research, as a single-authored paper (vol. 60, pages 529-531).

Following the completion of her Ph.D. she taught as an instructor at Oregon State for several years, and then she was hired by the Westinghouse Lamp Research Laboratory in New Jersey, where she studied phosphors and fluorescent lamps. Westinghouse was also investigating materials for possible use as filaments in incandescent lighting, among which was uranium. So during the Manhattan Project, which was the highly secret U.S. effort to develop the atomic bomb during World War II, the Westinghouse expertise in purifying microscopic quantities of uranium was instead applied to kilogram quantities, and Dr. Lui turned her skills to that project.

Although she had originally entered the U.S. on a student visa, which would normally have required her to return to China to apply for admission as a permanent resident (the path to citizenship), the U.S. government did not want her knowledge of the atomic research program to fall into the hands of the Communist Party, which had taken over control of China. So in 1949 the Congress passed, and President Harry Truman immediately signed, a bill “for the relief of Doctor Chung Kwai Lui,” which read in part “the Attorney General is authorized and directed to record Dr. Chung Kwai Lui as having entered the United States in 1936 for permanent residence.” This bill in effect retroactively changed the status under which she had entered the U.S. and thus permitted her to stay. Also in 1949 she married Mr. Hsin Hsu Wei, who had emigrated from China after the war, received a master’s degree in electrical engineering from Columbia University, and also was employed by Westinghouse.

Dr. Chung Kwai Lui Wei remained at Westinghouse, mostly doing research into the properties of phosphors, until she retired in 1974. She published several papers in physics journals on her work with phosphors, and she is the holder of 2 patents, one in the U.S. and the other in Canada. She died in 2008 at the age of 98. She and her husband (who died in 2000) recognized the value that higher education had played in their lives, and they left their estate to establish the Wei Family Private Foundation, which supports scholarships for students of Chinese ancestry who are studying engineering or science at Oregon State or electrical engineering at Columbia. This wonderful legacy will continue to provide support for students at OSU who hope to follow the exemplary path established by the first woman to earn a physics Ph.D. at Oregon State.

Emeritus Professor of Physics Kenneth Krane and his wife, Paula, are recipients of this year’s Distinguished Service Award from the OSU College of Science for the many scholarships and endowments the couples have made to support students across the university.  Read more at

Dr. Walsh received College of Science Faculty Scholar award for recognition of his exceptional contributions to his discipline and Oregon State University. This is a three-year titled endowed position. See more details at

It was a banner day for Physics at the College of Science Awards Ceremony on Tuesday, February 22, 2022 (lots of twos, too).

Liz Gire won the Frederick H. Horne Award for Sustained Excellence in Teaching Science. A master innovator in teaching, Liz earns accolades for her skill in communicating difficult topics and her ability to pitch physics at the right level for her students. A student wrote, “Her level of dedication to the genuine support and inclusion of the students in her courses is something I’ve never seen in an educator before. She backs that up with her skill and experience in education and communication that makes difficult content still accessible and enjoyable to learn.” Read more at the College of Science Impact Magazine.

Matt Graham was presented with the Industry Partnership Award for his work on harnessing waste heat. Matt has worked with several companies over the past several years on projects that have led to Ph.D. theses for his students.

Davide Lazzati earned this year’s Milton Harris Award for his outstanding work in the field of high-energy astrophysics. His pioneering considerations of electromagnetic signatures of neutron star mergers hav produced some of the most detailed predictions of compact binary mergers, perhaps one of the most exciting topic in astrophysics in the past decade. Read more at Impact Magazine.

Heidi Schellman is this year’s Gilfillan Awardee. The F.A. Gilfillan Award for Distinguished Scholarship honors faculty members in the College of Science whose scholarship and scientific accomplishments have extended over a substantial period of time, especially faculty whose research careers have had a significant impact on his or her field. Heidi’s work in neutrino physics is just part of her work leading to 700 peer-reviewed publications and an h-index of 113. She has contributed to several well-known scientific collaborations and currently serves in a leadership position for the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE). Read more at Impact Magazine.