Elaine and Ben Whiteley were honored with the College of Science Distinguished Service Award on Friday, November 18th, 2016 at a dinner and award ceremony in the Memorial Union.  Mr. and Mrs. Whiteley are pictured at the awards dinner with Prof. Janet Tate.  The Whiteleys are OSU alumni who graduated in 1951 and 1953 respectively, and are long-time friends of the Physics Department and the College of Science.  They contribute generously to the endowment for the Yunker Lecture series, in honor of Elaine Yunker Whiteley’s father, Prof. Edwin A. Yunker, who was on the physics faculty for 43 years and was department chair from 1949 to 1966.  They have also created a scholarship for students in Materials Science that bears their name.  Many of our students have received the Whiteley Materials Science Fellowship and we all continue to enjoy the intellectual vibrance that the annual Yunker Lecture brings.  Congratulations and thank you both for your support and friendship!


Congratulations to Dr. Scott Clark who is the 2016 recipient of the  College of Science’s Young Alumni Award.  Scott is co-founder and CEO of SigOpt in San Francisco, a startup company for tuning complex systems and machine learning models.  He’s a 4th-generation Beaver and earned 3 B.S. degrees (in Physics, Computational Physics and Mathematics,) from Oregon State University in 2008! He did research with Prof. Rubin Landau (Physics) and Prof. Malgo Peszynska (Math) while at OSU.  He earned his Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics and his M.S. in Computer Science from Cornell University and then spent 2 years at Yelp developing black-box Bayesian global optimization techniques.  He subsequently founded SigOpt with his business partners and has raised millions of dollars in start-up funds.  (https://www.linkedin.com/in/sc932)

We were delighted to host Scott in the department and the college, where he talked with current students and visited his old stomping grounds! On Friday evening, November 18th, Scott accepted his award at a banquet in the Memorial Union.  He was accompanied by family members, including his wife, Dr. June Andrews, who also has a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics from Cornell and is a  data scientist at Pinterest.

Scott said that what he liked best about OSU was the encouragement to pursue whatever he wanted and the excellent problem-solving and analytical skills he developed in our physics program!  Thanks Scott, and congratulations!

IMG_2954Bethany Matthews and James Haggerty, graduate students in Janet Tate’s research group, attended the 2015 Fall MRS Meeting in Boston, MA.  Each submitted a poster on their work with the DOE-funded EFRC, Center for Next Generation Materials by Design: Incorporating Metastability.  Both posters were nominated for “best poster” in their respective sessions – congratulations!  Bethany is pictured with her poster, “Growth and Characterization of the Metastable Heterogeneous Alloys (Sn1-xCax)S and (Sn1-xCax)Se“.  James’s poster was entitled, “Sb2Ox polymorphic thin films using pulsed laser deposition“.

Alum Brandon Brown (Ph.D. 1997) has written a biography of Max Planck entitled Planck – Driven by vision, broken by war, published by Oxford 51abHwqgpDL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_University Press in 2015.  Brandon’s long-standing interest in science communication led him to the Science Communication program at UC Santa Cruz after he earned his Ph.D. from OSU. He joined the faculty at the University of San Francisco in 1998, and is now is Professor of Physics. Asked where the idea for the book came from, Brandon said, “I’ve been fascinated by Max Planck’s life and times for at least the last 27 years or so. As a student, I was struck by the sadness in his old face and by the fact that he made his most important contribution in his 40’s. That’s not so common, especially in physics.” Brandon’s website for his book is http://www.brandonrbrown.net/.