Archived News

Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 May 2014 16:22

Spring 2014

Exciting New Year for Physics at UTEP

2014 is going to be an exciting year for the physics department.  Dr. Vivian Incera has stepped down as Chair, after 5 years and wonderful accomplishments.  She is delighted to now be able to do more research and teaching.  Dr. Eric Hagedorn accepted the Dean's invitation to be Interim Chair while the national search for a permanent chair progresses.  The search for an assistant professor in experimental condensed matter physics has progressed to the interview stage.  The first interview will be on the 23rd (more details coming).  In very exciting news about our students:  24 physics majors made the Dean's List for Fall 2013 (see below)!  This final piece of good news reminds us who the department is really here for in 2014.

Physics Majors who made Dean's List for Fall 2013

Hermann Armenta
Andrea Baltazar
Israel Chavarria
Adrian Cosio
Rafael De Almeida
Benjamin Deutsch
Brian Frescas
Victor Garcia
Sebastian Gomez
Joscelyne Guzman
Kevin Hatch
Matthew Hilding
Erin Hodson
Habiba Khan
Gregory Martinez
Omar Medrano
David Morris
Marina Paggen
Ruben Ramos
Ryan Saenz
Jeremiah Steed
Luis Suarez
Eduardo Urias
Brian Zamarripa Roman
Congratulations to you all!

2013 Good Byes

While 2013 included wonderful accomplishments by our students, faculty, and staff, there were four significant good byes.  Dr. Clarence "Kiki" Cooper retired (supposedly for the last time).  Terry Weber, our incredible office manager, took another position in the College of Health Sciences.  We wish them both the very best.  Finally, with sadness we remember two professors emeritus who passed away in 2013:   Dr. Rufus Bruce, Jr. and Dr. John Brient.

Special REU Seminar:  Thursday December 5th

Dr. Cagliyan Kurdak of the University of Michigan will hold a 4:00 pm meeting in PSCI 115 with students interested in pursuing a research experience this coming summer at the University of Michigan.   For more information:

Congratulations Banner Bearer Brandan Garcia!

Brandan Garcia, a physics major in the Medical Physics Concentration, has been selected to be the December Graduation Banner Bearer for the College of Science.  Again, congratulations.

Fall 2013

SPS Election Results

President:  Celia Garcia Amparan

Vice President:  Emma Sundin

Secretary:  Andrea Montgomery

Treasurer:  Ed Lattner

Historian: Sebastian Gomez

Congratulations and thank you for offering  your service!

SPS Meeting this Friday, September 27 at 11:45 am in SPS Room (PSCI 128)

Former long-time faculty member John Brient passes away

We are sad to announce the passing of Dr. Brient, who was a faculty member here for 35 years.  He was hired in 1962 to start the Master's program in physics.  He was an innovative teacher and productive researcher in Solid State Physics.  He was one of the original founders of the Physics Circus.  Our condolences to the family.

Former student, Dr. José Luis Cruz-Campa presented talk about research at Sandia National Labs

On Friday, September 13th at 10:30 am in the Business Administration  Building Room 328, Dr. Cruz Campa presented:  Tech Talk:  Solar Microsystems Research.

Congratulations to Dr. Chunqiang Li for Receiving a Interdisciplinary Research Enhancement Award!

Working with Dr. Li on the project:  Using hybrid microscopic methods to study highly movable biological objects are

Dr. Chuan Xiao, Chemistry, UTEP

Dr. Igor Almeida, Biological Sciences, UTEP

Dr. Wei Qian, Electrical and Computer Engineering, UTEP

Dr. Matthias Fischer, Max Planck Institute for Medical Research, Germany

Dr. Xiujun Li, Chemistry, UTEP

NOAA Visitors Lunch on Tuesday, Sept. 10th at noon in PSCI 213

Dr. Michelle Hawkins Aguilar and Dr. Vankita Brown from the National Weather Service, will hold a pizza lunch for physics majors interested in hearing about careers in and fellowships from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  If you are a physics (or related science) major interested in attending, please RSVP to Dr. Rosa Fitzgerald: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Society of Physics Students Pizza Meeting:  Friday, Sept. 6th!

SPS will hold its first meeting at 11:45 in PSCI 128, the SPS Room on the first floor, next to the machine shop and across from Dr. Li's lab.  Pizza will be served as business is conducted.

Congratulations and Best Wishes to our Graduated Master's Students

Eight students successfully completed their master's degrees under the direction of our faculty.  They are listed alphabetically below with their advisor in parenthesis.

  1. Sajib Barman - MS in Physics (Incera)
  2. Courtney Bose - MS in Med Physics (M. Manciu)
  3. Lidens Cheng - MS in Physics (Incera)
  4. Richard Medina - M.S in Computational Sciences (Fitzgerald)
  5. Massoud Mollae - MS in Physics (Botez)
  6. Israel Portillo - MS in Computational Sciences (Ferrer)
  7. Judith Rivera - MS in Med Physics (Li)
  8. Erik Valdez – MS in Physics (M. Manciu)
Sajib has gone onto the doctoral program at UT Arlington.  Lidens and Massoud are now in the doctoral program at U. Arizona.  Israel and Richard are in the doctoral program in Computational Sciences at UTEP.

First High School Physics Teacher Produced by Department in Over 10 Years Hired by EPISD

It's been a long time since a high school physics teacher came from our program, but Mr. Fernando Villa, a Noyce Scholar, graduated in December of 2012.  During the Spring he worked as a substitute teacher for EPISD and last week was hired to teach physics at Austin High School. Congratulations Fernie!

New Doctors in the House!

Congratulations to Dr. Luis Basurto and Dr. Marco Olgin, who successfully defended their doctoral dissertations the last week of July.  They are students of Drs. Tunna Baruah and Rajendra Zope.

Summer 2013

Former long-time faculty member Rufus Bruce, Jr. passes away

We are sad to announce that Dr. Bruce, who served as department chair and was a faculty member for 30 years, has died in Diamondhead Missouri, the small town to which he had retired. Rufus was born on March 20, 1926 in New Orleans LA. He was the only son of Rufus E. Bruce Sr, and Lucy Adele Salles, both of New Orleans. Rufus attended and played football at LSU, and was a member of Phi Delta Theta Fraternity.  Our condolences to the family.

Summer Programs in the Department

Currently, high school students from El Paso and Brownsville are participating in the summer portion of the NSF supported Partnerships for Astronomy and Astrophysics Research & Education Grant.  Dr. Paul Mason is PI of the grant with Dr. Chunqiang Li as Co-PI.  Mr. Omar Medrano, a UTEP physics major and Noyce Scholar is working with the high school students as they analyze observational astronomical data.

Dr. Rosa Fitzgerald's NOAA supported Weather Camp was held from July 8th through the 12th. Participants learned a great deal about weather and atmospheric physics as a major and future career.

During the first two weeks of June, six of our majors considered whether they might become high school physics teachers as they participated in the 3rd Annual Noyce Summer Internship Program.  Dr. Eric Hagedorn (PI) with Drs. Ron and Amy Wagler (Co-PI's), Dr. Olga Kosheleva (Co-PI), current Noyce Scholars, and both teachers and administrators from EPISD and YISD, provided our students with a lively two weeks of teaching and learning math & science using inquiry pedagogies.

UTEP Invited to APS Summer Bridge Program Meeting

The American Physical Society is wholeheartedly committed to increasing the number of underrepresented minorities with Ph.D.'s in Physics.  To this end they are encouraging and supporting "bridge programs" which help promising students earn their master's degrees on the way to entering some of the best physics doctoral programs in the country.  Our own graduate, Mr. Tony Rodriguez Lopez is participating in MIT's Bridge Program.  This year's summer meeting was held June 27-29, 2013 at the American Center for Physics in College Park, MD.  For more information go to:

Spring 2013

Departmental Award Winners

Departmental Awards were presented on Friday May 17th before a great potluck dinner.
Congratulations to the following undergraduate students:
Best Physics Freshman:  Kevin Vallejo
Best Physics Sophomore:  Kevin Honsaker
Best Physics Junior:  Jeremiah Steed
Best Physics Senior:  Jessica Salazar
Outstanding Undergraduate TA:  Armando Garcia
Outstanding Research Excellence:  Matthew Quiroz
All Around Excellence:  Armando Garcia & Joshua Morris
Congratulations to the following graduate students:
Outstanding Graduate for Academic Excellence:  Lidens Cheng & Massoud Mollae
Outstanding Graduate TA:  Judith Rivera

Congratulations Graduates!!

Best wishes and hearty congratulations to all our graduates.

Bachelors in Applied Physics:  Demetrio Corralez

Bachelors in Mathematics & Physics:  Matthew Quiroz

Bachelors in Physics: William Davis Burman; David Carbajal, Olga Ruiz Gonzalez, Jessica Salazar, Robert Wilkins

Bachelors in Physics & Mathematics:  Armando Garcia

Masters in Physics:  Lidens Cheng

Masters in Medical Physics:  Courtney Bosse; Judith Rivera

Real Physics LIVE:  Friday, May 10, 2013:

It wasn't dead at all on Dead Day in Physics!  Over 200 EPISD high school physics students and teachers from Andress, Austin, Bowie, Burgess, El Paso, Franklin, Jefferson, Silva and the Trans Mountain Early College High School.  Special thanks to everyone who made this possible:  staff, student volunteers and faculty.  We really showed a lot of people the kind of warm, vibrant place this is!

Congratulations Carlos!

Our Carlos Diaz presented a poster entitled: Electronic Structure of Planar Aggregates of Boron Clusters, at the COURI Research Symposium on Saturday, April 20, 2013.  This poster was chosen as the BEST student presentation in the Computer Science, Physics & Mathematics category.  The authors on the poster were Carlos Diaz, Luis Basurto, Dr. Tunna Baruah, and Dr. Rajendra Zope.  Dr. Zope is Carlos' mentor.  Again:  Congratulations!!

PREM Scholar Opportunity

The Partnerships Research Education Materials (PREM) project supports students who participate in research projects on "The Fundamental Molecular and Interfacial Design for Next Generation Photovoltaic Systems." Our Dr. Baruah is a member of this interdisciplinary and interinstitutional team. Go to for details.

Electronic Structure Group a Presence at March APS Meeting!

2.- Endohedral fullerene as acceptor: A DFT study on charge transfer states of Sc3N@C80-porphyrin complex.

Congratulations to Dr. Chunqiang Li

Earlier this month, Dr. Li was invited to give a seminar to the Department of Physics at the University of Arizona, entitled:  "Femtosecond laser spectroscopy and microscopy."  For more information, click here. The talk was given on 3/8/2013.

Comet Gazing on Saturday and Sunday, March 9th and 10th, 2013

Francisco "Paco" Carreto, who lectures for both UTEP Physics and EPCC, has organized "Comet Gazing" on the west-facing observation parking lot near the top of Transmountain.  This begins at 6:30 pm on Saturday and at 7:30 pm on Sunday.  See slides above for a photo of the comet and detailed viewing instructions.

Congratulations to our Master's Students for acceptance into Ph.D. programs!

Lidens Cheng, Massoud Mollaee, and Judith Rivera have each been accepted into Ph.D. programs!  Lidens will be attending the University of Utah for a Ph.D. in Physics.  Massoud will be attending the University of Arizona for a Ph.D. in Physics.  Judith has been accepted into a combined Biomedical Engineering program at the University of North Carolina and North Carolina State.  She has also been accepted into a Medical Physics Ph.D. program at Purdue and is interviewing for a Biomedical Engineering Ph.D. position at Tufts.  Hearty congratulations to all of you!

Amazing Department Seminar on Friday, March 1, 2013

We were very fortunate to have Dr. Johann Rafelski of the University of Arizona present: COMPACT ULTRA DENSE OBJECT (CUDO) IMPACTS. The topic of this talk may revolutionize our understanding of meteorite and comet impacts.  Click for more details.

Fall/Winter 2013

Congratulations to Our Students Who Made Dean's List!

Armando Garcia
Brandan A. Garcia
Victor L. Garcia
Renil B. George
Sebastian Gomez
Kevin A. Hatch
Christian B. Honsaker
Kevin M. Honsaker
Youssef Khamsi
Edward A. Lattner
Omar Medrano
Joshua L. Morris
Ricardo E. Munoz
Victor Rios
Anibal Ruiz
Jeremiah T. Steed
Luis R. Suarez
Emma M. Sundin
Kevin Vallejo
Anthony J. Vasquez
We are very, very proud of all of you!

Physics Circus performs at Insights El Paso Science Museum final day

On Saturday, December 15th, the Insights El Paso Science Museum was open to the public for the last time.  During this bittersweet occasion, the Society of Physics Students put on two Physics Circuses for a huge crowd.  We all hope Insights finds a new home soon!!

Congratulations Graduates!

B.S. Physics:  David Carbajal and Joseph Escobar (Fall).  Jesus Valdez (Summer)

B.S. Mathematics/Physics:  Alex Price (Fall)

M.S. Physics:  Sarah Jane Vega-Marchena (Fall) and Karla Carmona Miranda (Summer)

Noyce Program:  B.S. Mathematics:  Nancy Aguirre, Miriam Esparza, Miguel Valles, Fernando Villa (certified in physics!) 

Dr. Fitzgerald's receives NOAA grant of $155k.

Our own Dr. Rosa Fitzgerald has received a grant entitled:  "NOAA Center for Atmospheric Sciences" with Howard University.  This grant supports three graduate students (2 Ph.D. and one M.S.).  Congratulations Rosa!

Dr. Manciu's awarded grant by Mayo Clinic to study neurotransmitters.

Our own Dr. Felicia Manciu has received a $51k, one year award from the Mayo Clinic to study neurotransmitters using Raman spectroscopy.  Congratulations Felicia!

Dr. López' paper spotlighted by American Physical Society

Our own Dr. Jorge Lopez is co-author with C. O. Dorso and P. A. Giménez Molinell on a mouth watering paper entitled:  "Topological characterization of neutron star crusts,"  which appeared in Physical Review C.  Why mouthwatering?  Because the different phases of neutron star crust are named after Italian delicacies:  gnocchi, spaghetti, and lasagna.  For a link to the paper click here.  For the APS spotlight, click here.  Congratulations Jorge!

Luis Basurto wins Texas Section APS Outstanding Presentation Award

Computational Sciences doctoral student, Luis Basurto, who is working with Physics' Drs. Tunna Baruah and Rajendra Zope, won an "Outstanding Presentation Award" at the Texas Section American Physical Society meeting held at Texas Tech in October.  Congrats Luis!

UTEP Graduate Students Present at Texas Section APS Meeting

Fatemeh Amerikheirabadi, Luis Basurto, and Paul Springsteen presented their research at the Joint Meeting of the Texas Section of the American Physical Society, the American Association of Physics Teachers, and Zone 13 of the Society of Physics Students, Friday-Saturday, October 26-27 in Lubbock, TX.  Texas Tech hosted this Fall's meeting.
Dr. Ramon Ravelo's Paper Cited in Nature Materials:  News & Views

 "Virtual Melting as a New Mechanism of Stress Relaxation Under High Strain Rate Loading" by Dr. Valery I. Levitas (Iowa State) and our own Dr. Ramon Ravelo is exciting enough to have made the "News & Views" of Nature Materials.  Check it out!

UTEP Department of Physics’ Accomplishments Featured in a Publication of the American Physical Society

The sharp enrollment increase in the physics programs and the success in student research mentoring and research productivity that have happened in the UTEP Department of Physics during the last three years have attracted the attention of the physics community and specifically the American Physical Society. The APS invited Dr. Vivian Incera, the Physics Chair, to write the editorial article for the Fall 2012 issue of the CSWP & COM Gazette of the APS describing the key elements that allowed this very positive transformation to take place. The link to the editorial article titled “Making Cinderella Shine Without Magic” is provided below.

Dr. Eric Hagedorn Recognized with Regents' Outstanding Teaching Award

AUSTIN – Sixty-five faculty members from institutions across The University of Texas System were honored Wednesday (Aug. 22) by the UT System Board of Regents as recipients of the 2012 Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award. For more information on the 10 UTEP honorees click here.

Dr. Vivian Incera Honored with Dr. C. Sharp Cook Chair in Physics

Dr. C. Sharp Cook came to UTEP as Department Chair in 1970, shortly after heading the Physics Division of the Naval Radiological Defense Lab.  Dr. Cook was a member of many prestigious professional and honor societies, including being named a Fellow of the American Physical Society (an honor also shared by current faculty member, Dr. Jorge Lopez).  In addition to endowing a graduate scholarship fund, Dr. Cook established this endowed chair named in his honor.  He passed away in 2002.  Dr. Vivian Incera, our current department chairperson, was awarded this honor earlier in August.  Congratulations!

Physics Department Undergraduate Enrollment Hits New High

This fall, we are proud to serve 94 undergraduate physics majors!  Thanks to all who contributed to our outreach efforts, participated in new student orientations, and generally make this a department worth joining.

Dr. Ramon Ravelo Publishes Invited Paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Dr. Ravelo and co-author, Dr. Valery I. Levitas from Iowa State, recently had "Virtual Melting as a New Mechanism of Stress Relaxation Under High Strain Rate Loading" published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Click here for link.

New Noyce Planning Grant Ties to Existing Grant Held by Department

Dr. Elsa Villa of the College of Engineering, was just awarded a Noyce Planning Grant of $287,703 over the next two years for a project entitled:  "Building Capacity for Preparing Teacher-Engineers for 21st Century Engineering."   Dr. Villa is Principal Investigator of this grant with Drs. David Carrejo (Teacher Education), Eric A. Hagedorn (Physics),  and Patricia A. Nava (Electrical & Computer Engineering) as co-PI's.  Dr. Hagedorn's current Noyce Grant ($1.2 million) provides scholarships for science and mathematics students who wish to become high school teachers.  This new grant lays the foundation for engineers to become high school teachers too!

Dr. Ramon Ravelo Co-PI on Exciting Computational Physics/Chemistry/Materials Science Grant

A grant entitled: "A Co-design Approach for Advances in Software and Hardware," has been approved for funding a collaborative project between UTEP, Iowa State, and U. Tennessee - Knoxville.  More details to come!!

Dr. Baruah's Work in Photovoltaics Provides Opportunities for Students

Congratulations to Dr. Cristian Botez for Receiving New NSF Grant!

Drs. Cristian Botez (PI) and Lourdes Echegoyen (Co-PI) will be directing a new project sponsored by the National Science Foundation through a recently awarded $199,482 grant. The project centers on high-level undergraduate research carried out by faculty mentor – student fellow teams throughout the College of Science, and seeks to integrate some of the research results within courses or laboratory sections. One key idea is to generate evidence that first-rate research is relevant to the basic course curriculum. The project is ultimately expected to enhance STEM undergraduate research and learning, as well as overall student success.

 Summer 2012

Congratulations to Enrique Ramirez-Homs

This summer, Enrique has been selected to attend the International Neutron Scattering School in Rome, Italy - all expenses paid!  Enrique, who just graduated, will be returning in the fall to begin his Master's work.

Congratulations to Luis Basurto and Marco Olguin

This summer, Computational Science Ph.D. students Luis Basurto and Marco Olguin both received Student Research Experience scholarships from the Provost. Their research, under the guidance of Drs. Tunna Baruah and Rajendra Zope, is related to software development to study light-harvesting molecular complexes and its applications. Congratulations gentlemen!

1,275 Visit "Space Science Day" at Insights El Paso.  UTEP Physics was there!

The Society of Physics Students performed a Circus at Insights El Paso immediately following a presentation by El Paso's own astronaut Dr. Danny Olivas.  Physics major John Morales experienced the bed of nails for the first time, surviving a concrete block being smashed on his chest with a 20 lb sledgehammer.

Two Summer Programs Bring Local Students to the Physics Department

In July, the NOAA sponsored summer Weather Camp, brought local high school students to UTEP.  The director of the program, Dr. Rosa Fitzgerald, and her coordinator, Ms. Barbara Levine showed participants some of the mathematics and science that underlie meteorology. In June, the NSF funded Noyce Program, brought high school and undergraduate students interested in science & mathematics together to consider high school teaching as a career option.  Faculty member Dr. Eric Hagedorn organized and ran this two week workshop with the help of colleagues at YISD and EPISD and the UTEP Noyce Scholars.

Spring 2012

Congratulations to Physics Majors Making Spring Dean's List:

Armando Garcia

Brandan Garcia

Punam Ghimire

Sebastian Gomez

Kevin Hatch

Kevin Honsaker

Youssef Khamsi

Isaac Lopez

Joshua Morris

Jessica Salazar

Jeremiah Steed

Emma Sundin

Eduardo Urias

 Your outstanding academic efforts make us very proud!!

Congratulations to Physics Students and Faculty Honored at Pre-Commencement

The following awards were presented to our graduating students at the College of Science Pre-Commencement on Friday, May 4th:

Academic Excellence-Undergraduate Student:  Jose "Tony" Rodriguez

Research Excellence-Undergraduate Student:  Jason Keith

Academic Excellence – Graduate Student:  Karla CarmonaPhysics

Department Honors Award Undergraduate Student:  Enrique Ramirez

Outstanding Thesis for the College of Science:  Churna Bahadur Bhandari

Dr. Eric Hagedorn received an award for "Excellence in Teaching" from the College of Science

Congratulations to all!

One HUGELY Successful Physics Outreach Event!

The Physics Circus presented a special half-hour program to over 3800 elementary school children for Opportunity Days in the Memorial Gym.  The 33 foot bowling ball pendulum, roaring PVC pipes, non-Newtonian fluid jumping, and bed of nails demonstrations were well received.  Thanks to our students Richard Flores, Armando Garcia, Celia Garcia, Alex Price, Matt Quiroz, Enrique Ramirez, Jose "Tony" Rodriguez, and Jesus Valdez.  Thanks also to Drs. Jessica Dunmore and Eric Hagedorn.  Special thanks to Tai Subia from Geology!

Real Physics LIVE Engages 200 High School Students

Close to 200 students from Andress, Bowie, Delta Academy, Franklin, Irvin, Jefferson, Silva, and the Transmountain Early College High School visited the department.  They enjoyed a presentation about physics from our Chairman, Dr. Incera, a mini-Physics Circus, and most importantly lab visits and interactions with our student poster presenters.  Thanks to all who helped make this a roaring success!

USA Science & Engineering Festival Team Wows Washington!

A team of UTEP's female physicists (undergraduates, graduate students & faculty) shared the physics of jewelry with hundreds of engaged visitors to UTEP's SPS booth at the 2nd national science & engineering festival in Washington D.C.  Topics included the conductivity of metals vs. gemstones, the spring coefficient of earlobes, and how graphite and diamond are both carbon, but not the same substance.  For more information. 

Congratulations to COURI Symposium Presenters and our two Award Winners!

On Saturday April 21st, seven Physics undergraduate students presented their research at the Second Annual COURI Symposium. Josh Morris won "Best Student Poster" in the "Mathematics, Bioinformatics & Modeling Category" and Aurelio Paez won "Honorable Mention" in the same category.  Way to go gentlemen and thanks to your mentors!
  • Armando Garcia: Super Resolution Microscopy with Stimulated Emission and Ground State Depletion, with Dr. Chunqiang Li*
  • Jason P. Keith: Equation of State of a Strongly Coupled Fermion System, with Dr. Efrain J. Ferrer*
  • Joshua L. Morris: Superspin Relaxation Times in Fe3O4 / Hexane Magnetic Fluids Measured by Frequency-Resolved AC Susceptibility, with Drs. Michael P. Eastman, and Cristian E. Botez *
  • Andres Ortiz: Derivation of Hill's Equation from Scale Invariance, with Dr. Vladik Kreinovich*
  • Leo Paez: Optical Photometry of the Black Hole Candidate SWIFT J1753.4-0126, with Drs. Edward L. Robinson, Amanda J. Bayless, and Paul A. Mason*
  • Alex Price: Observations of Ellipsoidal Variations in the LMXB V1727 Cygni, with Drs. Edward L. Robinson, and Paul A. Mason*
  • Paul Springsteen: Electric Susceptibility for Strongly Magnetized Electron-positron Plasma at Finite Temperature and Density, with Drs. Efrain J. Ferrer *, and Angel Sanchez.

Department Seminars Completed for Spring Semester 2012

UTEP Team begins final preparations for USA Science & Engineering Festival

Society of Physics Students who will be attending the USA Science & Engineering Festival in Washington D.C. the weekend of April 27-29th met Thursday, March 29th with Drs. Incera, Fitzgerald, Felicia Manciu and Hagedorn.  Because this year's focus is on interesting girls in physics, they are working to prepare hands-on activities related to the "The Physics of Jewelry."  These activities will include demonstrating the conductivity of metal jewelry and the insulative properties of gem stones as well as plotting the spring coefficient of ears!  For more information.

New Physics Circus Performers Entertain over 50 Home Schooled Visitors

On Friday, March 30th, undergraduate physics majors Emanuel Gonzalez, J. P. Regalado, and Emma Sundin took the stage to share the wonders of physics with local home schooled students who visited the Department.  "Old timers" who assisted included Dr. H, Enrique Ramirez-Homs and Jesus Valdez.  Sebastian Gomez again took wonderful photographs.  Thanks everyone!!

Our students busy between March 22nd and 24th

Eight of our students helped put on two Physics Circuses during the "Downtown Kids Palooza" at the Insights Science Museum on Saturday March 24th, while five other of our students were attending the Texas Section APS/AAPT/SPS meeting at Angelo State University.  See "Latest News" slides above for pictures of each event.



UTEP Chapter of Society of Physics Students receives national recognition!

The national office of the Society of Physics Students commended the UTEP Chapter of SPS for "its fine program and recognizes it as an OUTSTANDING CHAPTER."  Congratulations to the officers, members, and advisor who work so hard, particularly in bringing the "Physics Circus" to El Paso!  Click here for UTEP's related news story.



Dr. Jorge López invited to give talk to prestigious Mexican Academy of Sciences

To mark his selection as a Corresponding Member of the Mexican Academy of Sciences, Dr. Lopez has been invited to present a talk at the Instituto de Física de la UNAM in Mexico City on April 12th.  The talk is entitled:  “CAMBIO DE FASE NUCLEAR LÍQUIDO-GAS: ¿QUÉ HEMOS APRENDIDO?” ("Change of Phase of the Nuclear Liquid-gas:  What have we learned?")

Dr. Hagedorn invited to address the Arkansas Junior Science and Humanities Symposium

 On Friday March 9th, Dr. Eric Hagedorn, gave the keynote address to over 100 high school students from across Arkansas who have completed original research in STEM (science, technology, engineering or mathematics).  His talk is entitled:  "A Job that Gives you Goose Bumps!."  This was the 46th annual Arkansas Junior Science and Humanities Symposium.

Dr. Incera invited to PhysTEC Conference

The Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PTEC), of which UTEP is a member since 2006, invited Dr. Vivian Incera to participate in two panel discussions during their 2012 Conference in Ontario California from February 3 through 4th:  Solving Low Enrollment Through Teacher Education and Cultural Perspectives on Teacher Education.  For more information on the PhysTEC 2012 Conference.

Winter 2012

Dr. Incera invited to PhysTEC Conference

The Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PTEC), of which UTEP is a member since 2006, invited Dr. Vivian Incera to participate in two panel discussions during their 2012 Conference in Ontario California from February 3 through 4th:  Solving Low Enrollment Through Teacher Education and Cultural Perspectives on Teacher Education.  For more information on the PhysTEC 2012 Conference.

Best wishes to Liz Rodriguez!

Liz Rodriguez, who has been with us for four years, received a well deserved promotion to a new position in the Alumni Association Office. She begins February 1st. We will miss her badly, but are glad her new office is right across the Admin Parking Lot.



Congratulations to Physics Majors who made Dean's List during Semester

The following Physics Majors (in alphabetical order) made Dean's List this past semester, Fall 2011.  Congratulations to all of you!
Luis Barreda
Carlos Diaz
Brandan Garcia
Renil George
Sebastian Gomez
Rudy Gonzalez
Kevin Hatch
Kevin Honsaker
Harold Hughs
Youssef Khamsi
Omar Medrano
Joshua Morris
Jessica Salazar
Jeremiah Steed
Eduardo Urias

Fall Semester 2011

Department End-of-Semester/Holidays Party

The department "End-of-Semester/Holidays" party was held on Friday, December 2.  The food, from around the world, was INCREDIBLE!  Better yet, was sharing it as a department.

Dr. Jorge López elected to Mexican Academy of Sciences!

On November 7th, the Membership Committee of the Academia Mexicana de Ciencias (AMC), elected Dr. Lopez a corresponding member.  For more information about this great honor see:  UTEP News & Achievments or this article in El Diario.  Congratulations Jorge!

Physics major Enrique Ramirez-Homs presents at national APS meeting!

Enrique traveled to East Lansing, Michigan to the APS Division of Nuclear Physics 2011 meeting to present his research entitled:  "Characterization and development of photocathodes using laser induced time-of-flight spectroscopy."  Way to go Enrique!!

Physics Students Present at Texas Section APS Meeting in Commerce, TX

Undergraduate Posters:

Lorena Monroy (with Paul A. Mason and E. L. Robinson): McDonald Observations of J1118+480.

Aurelio Paez (with Paul A. Mason and E. L. Robinson): Optical Observation of Low Mass X-Ray Binary J1753.4-0126.

Alex Price (with Paul A. Mason and E. L. Robinson): Optical Observation of Low Mass X-Ray Binary V1727 Cygni.

Jason Keith (with Efrain Ferrer): Equation of State in a Strongly Interacting Relativistic System.

Graduate Presentation:

Israel Portillo, Masters student in Physics (with Efrain Ferrer): Equations of state of a system of fermions in a uniform magnetic field at finite density.

Graduate Posters:

Luis Basurto, Ph.D. student in Computational Science (with Tunna Baruah, Rajendra Zope, Jose Rodriguez): Photoinduced Charge Transfer Process.

Young Yun, Ph.D. student in MASE (with Felicia Manciu, William Durrer, James Howard &  Chintalapalle Ramana):  Spectroscopic analysis of temperature dependent growth of WO3 and W0.95Ti0.05O3 thin films.

Physics Major, Armando Garcia, Honored at NSHP & NSBP Conference

Armando's poster entitled: The Hartree-Fock Molecular Orbital Method as Applied to the Coronene Molecule" was recognized at the Joint Conference of the National Society of Black Physicists and the National Society of Hispanic Physicists from 9/21-24/2011

Congratulations to Dr. Rosa Fitzgerald for Grant with Howard University

Department member Dr. Rosa Fitzgerald is receiving roughly $204,000 from Howard University over the next two years to investigate the: "Measurements and modeling of the effects of black carbon on photolysis rates and regional air quality under a warming climate."  Congratulations Rosa!

Physics Department Homecoming Picnic Well Attended on Friday, Oct 21st!

Close to 50 physics alumni, students, faculty, staff, and their families joined for a lovely evening of socializing and eating discada (a Northern Mexican dish prepared in a large disk-like pan).  It was GREAT to see the alumni and our students together!

Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers Honors Jorge Lopez

 The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers announced recently that Dr. Jorge A. Lopez, UTEP professor of physics, is its 2011 Educator of the Year. The society will present its awards during a black-tie gala Oct. 29 in the Anaheim (Calif.) Convention Center. The celebration is part of the organization's annual conference.  Congratulations Jorge!

Small Grant Represents BIG Opportunity

Congratulations to Dr. Felicia Manciu for her new research agreement with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.  Dr. Manciu's study "Raman Detection of Neurotransmitters at the Physiological Level" is supported with $14,556 over one year, but represents a very valuable new relationship for a department with a Medical Physics program.

Undergraduates Present Research on Wednesday, October 5th.

At 4:30 pm in Room 208, our undergraduates will share, through 10 minute presentations, their experiences with research:  either off-campus during summer internships or REU's, or at UTEP with our faculty.  All our undergraduates are encouraged to come to this special seminar!!

The Department Welcomes All New & Returning Students!

This fall semester, 2011 is an exciting one!  We welcome 15 new physics majors and 6 new physics graduate students.  We also welcome a new lecturer:  Dr. Jessica Dunmore.  This year we are offering critical courses more often:  those that were every other year will be offered yearly, some that were offered in only Spring or Fall will be offered during both semesters.  Several of our faculty members have received new research grants (details forthcoming).  All in all, we are off to an excellent year!

Four Physics Majors visit Indio Mountain Research Station

From July 29th through the 31st, undergraduate physics majors Ed Lattner, Isaac Lopez, Richard Gutierrez, and Rudy Gonzalez visited UTEP's 40,000 acre desert field station.  The 10 in  reflecting telescope they brought was very popular with the field biologists working at IMRS.  At night, the lack of light pollution leads to unbelievably clear skies.


Physics Department Seminars end for 2010-2011 Academic Year

Heartfelt thanks to our many wonderful speakers during Fall 2010 and Spring 2011!

UTEP Physics Students Present at First Annual COURI Symposium

On Saturday April 16th, four Physics Department Undergraduate students presented their research at the First Annual COURI (College Office of Undergraduate Research Initiatives) in the UGLC.

Jason Keith presented a poster entitled: Equations of State of a Strongly Interacting Dense Fermion System

Andres Ortiz presented a poster entitled: Mathematical Analysis of the Quantum Mechanical Model of the Hydrogen Atom

Jose "Tony" Rodriguez' poster was entitled: Modeling of Solvent Electrostatic Effects

Jesus Valdez' poster was entitled: Two-photon-excited Tryptophan Microscopy for Leukocytes & Cancer Cells Imaging

Congratulations to Jose for winning an Honorable Mention Award!


Congratulations Tu!

On March 26, 2011 our masters student Tu (Kanokporn Chattrakun) received a gold level "President's Volunteer Service Award" from the President's council on service and civic participation for her work in the local Thai community during 2010.

Congratulations to John Briceño!

On Friday, March 25, 2011 John Michael Briceño, was awarded a "Miner Hero Award" for "Philanthropy/ Community Service." John is a masters student in our Medical Physics Program. We are very proud of you John!!

Congratulations to Graduate School Banner Bearer!

Physics Master's student Mr. Churna Bhandari has been selected to be the Spring 2011 Graduate School Banner Bearer. He will march at the 7 p.m. ceremony on Saturday, May 14, 2011.

Congratulations to Marco Olguin!

Marco Olguin, doctoral student in Computational Sciences, was awarded the best poster presentation at the March Meeting of the American Physical Society in Dallas, TX. His poster was entitled: "Charge transfer energies of tetraphenyl-porphyrin-fullerene dyads." Marco is the student of Dr. Raj Zope and Dr. Tunna Baruah. In addition to the honor, Marco won a $250 prize.

Department Professor on the Airwaves!

Dr. Jorge A. López is part of a team that received an American Physical Society Outreach Mini-Grant. Quoting from the APS site:

"One of the successful proposals, by Ixlan Communications and the University of Texas at El Paso, is for their "Hispanic Physics Radio Education Project." The program will produce a series of one- and two-minute long radio stories about physics in both English and Spanish. They will distribute the pieces to English and Spanish language radio stations in markets across the country, as well as post the stories as downloadable podcasts that can be accessed by the general public and educators.

"The main idea is that Hispanics don't have too many role models to get inspired about studying science," said Jorge López, a professor at the University of Texas at El Paso. "It's going to be composed of capsules that will be distributed to many radio stations showcasing Hispanic scientists and telling what they do."

Dr. Lopez was also recently interviewed about the nuclear threat of the damaged Japanese reactor on "Breaking it Down with DT" on AC Nation.

UTEP Students present at Texas Section American Physical Society Meeting

On March 4th and 5th, four UTEP students advised by Dr. Tunna Baruah and Dr. Raj Zope presented at the Texas Section AAPT/APS/SPS meeting at Stephen F. Austin State University, in Nacogdoches, Texas. On Friday, March 4th, Jose Antonio Rodriguez Lopez (Physics UG) presented a poster entitled: "Electronic Structure and Stability Study of ZnS Nanocages." On the same day, Luis Basurto (Computational Science Doctoral Student) presented a poster: "Simulating Solvent Effects on Excited States. " On Saturday morning, Rubén Casillas (Chemistry UG) presented a talk entitled: "Density Functional investigation of competition between planar and non-planar structures of neutral and charged B21 clusters." Immediately following, Marco Olguin (Computational Science Doctoral Student) presented: "Orthogonality-Constrained DFT Excited State Method for Charge-Transfer Excitations." Congratulations to these students and their very capable mentors!

COURI Awardees

Congratulations to Physics Majors Jason Keith (working with Dr. Ferrer), Jose Rodriguez-Lopez (working with Dr. Baruah), and Jesus Valdez (working with Dr. Li) for receiving College Office of Undergraduate Research Initiatives grants! More details soon!!

Congratulations to Drs. Incera & Ferrer!

Dr. Vivian Incera and Dr. Efrain Ferrer recently received news that they had been awarded a $182,000 U.S. Department of Energy Grant for their project: "Quark Matter under Extreme Conditions." The purpose of this project is to continue and expand the PIs investigations on the phase space of quark matter under a variety of extreme conditions that can include temperature, density and a magnetic field. The project activities are divided in two areas, depending on the region of the QCD phase diagram that will be explored. The outcome of the first set of activities will be relevant for the physics of neutron stars and for the next generation of heavy ion experiments that will explore higher baryon density regions like FAIR in GSI, and NICA in JINR. The other group of tasks aims to unveil new exotic states of matter in the presence of very strong magnetic fields occurring at the technically challenging region of intermediate densities and temperatures being explored in heavy ions collision experiments at RHIC and other collaborations. The need of doing the proposed studies in the presence of an external magnetic field is supported by recent evidence of the generation of very strong magnetic fields during non-central collisions by the STAR Collaboration.

Change in Undergraduate Advisor

The Department of Physics would like to thank Dr. Rosa Fitzgerald for her service as Undergraduate Advisor as well as welcome Dr. Eric Hagedorn to the position. Dr. Marian Manciu remains undergraduate advisor to Medical Physics students.

Congratulations to new graduate: Mario Bencomo!

Mario Bencomo, a dual physics and mathematics major, MARC scholar, and active SPS member, graduated on Saturday, December 11th. He will be with us one more semester while taking several graduate classes. Congratulations!!

Congratulations to Juan Gustavo Arias Ugarte!

Congratulations to Juan Gustavo Arias Ugarte on receiving his M.S. this December 11th. Gustavo received his Masters in Environmental Science under the supervision of Dr. Rosa Fitzgerald. He has also been a TA for the department. Congratulations!

Congratulations Dr. Mason!

Dr. Paul A. Mason, Research Associate and Astronomy Lecturer at UTEP has been awarded a $570,000 grant from the National Science Foundation as part of the Partnerships for Astronomy and Astrophysics Research and Education program. The grant is a partnership between the UTEP Department of Physics and the University of Texas at Austin Department of Astronomy and McDonald Observatory. Dr. C. Li (UTEP) and Dr. E.L. Robinson (UT-Austin) are Co-Investigators on the project to conduct observational astrophysics research on interacting binary stars, especially black hole and neutron star accreting binaries and to support astronomy and astrophysics education within the UTEP Physics Department. Hector Noriega-Mendoza will lead the operation of the campus observatory for the project. Lorena Monroy and Aurelio Paez are undergraduate students working on the project.

UTEP Physics Honored by Distinguished Visitor.

The Department of Physics was honored to have been visited by Dr. Douglas Osheroff, the J. G. Jackson and C. J. Wood Professor of Physics at Stanford University and the 1996 Nobel Prize winner in Physics. During the two days that Prof. Osheroff was here, he interacted very kindly with our students, faculty, and staff. His public lecture on Wednesday, Nov 17th was very well attended. His lecture to the department on Thursday, Nov 18th provided a more technical look at his work, but was equally delightful. The Department is very grateful to the American Institute of Physics, for funding Dr. Osheroff's travel, to Dr. Diana Natalicio for all the assistance that she and her office provided, and finally to Jocabel Michel Reyes for her behind the scenes help.

UTEP participates in USA Science & Engineering Festival!

Four UTEP Physics students: Enrique Ramirez-Homs, Jose Tony Rodriguez, Jesus Valdez and Mario Bencomo and three faculty members: Drs. Sergio Flores, Eric Hagedorn and Mr. Felipe Tovar shared The Physics Circus at a booth in the Freedom Plaza with hundreds of visitors to the USA Science and Engineering Festival, in Washington, D.C.. They also presented Quantum Theater, a 20 minute skit on the strange world of electrons on the Freedom Plaza Stage on Saturday 10/23 and on the Woodrow Wilson Plaza Stage on Sunday 10/24. Congratulations!

While the team was in Washington, department member Dr. Jorge López was at the Austin Science & Engineering Festival, one of close to fifty regional events held in conjunction with the USA Science & Engineering Festival. Dr. López coordinated the excellent lecture series at this event. Congratulations Dr. López and thank you for your hard work!

Research by Physics Department faculty member included in graduate textbooks

Research work done by Dr. Rajendra Zope when he was a graduate student [R. R. Zope, Phys. Rev. A 60, 218–223 (1999) ] has been included almost entirely in a recent book on the density functional theory. The work extends the new local effective-potential-energy theory of electronic structure called the quantal DFT to the two-component electron-positron system. A review of the book by Steven Valone of the Los Alamos National Laboratory published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society recommends it for both the beginner and advanced graduate students. The book is entitled "Quantal Density Functional Theory II. Approximation Methods and Applications" by Viraht Sahni. Other recent work by Dr. Zope on the development of an efficient electronic structure calculation method for large molecules and nanocrystals (analytic DFT) has also been incorporated in another recommended textbook entitled "Electronic structure modeling: Connections between theory and software" by Carl Trindle and Donald Shillady. Both the books are available in the UTEP library.

News release on highlights Dr. Botez' recent Nanotechnology article

Dr. Cristian Botez' paper "Evidence of low-temperature superparamagnetism in Mn3O4 nanoparticle ensembles" has been selected by the editors of Nanotechnology among the "Latest Journal Highlights Articles" and a news release emphasizing the main results of this work was placed on, the sister website of Nanotechnology journal. receives over 45,000 unique visits every month and has a weekly newswire audience of more than 24,000 subscribers, from academia, industry, and funding agencies. We are delighted to have research done in our Physics Department put in front of such a great audience. Please take a look at the news release "Researchers from the University of Texas at El Paso re-examine the superparamagnetic behaviour of Mn3O4 nanoparticles" at

Congratulations to Department Grant Awardees

Dr. Murat Durandurdu was awarded a $199,023 grant from the Office of Naval Research. The grant, titled: "Pressure-induced phase transformation of metallic glasses" was funded Feb 1, 2010 and will run until January 31, 2013. Description: An understanding of the atomic structure of metallic glasses at ambient and extreme conditions (high temperatures and pressures) is very important for their technological applications. In this project, we propose a unique approach to model metallic glasses and study their amorphous-to-amorphous phase transformations using constant pressure ab initio simulations. The success of this proposal will be a major step forward in our capabilities to understand the metallic glasses at ambient and extreme pressure conditions.

Dr. Tunna Baruah was recently awarded $120,000 by the U.S. Department of Energy. Her grant is titled: "Solvent effects on charge transfer excited states of organic donor-acceptor molecular systems." Description: A realistic description of light harvesting molecules requires the inclusion of solvent molecules that can play a very important role in stabilizing charge transfer excited states. These states generally have large dipoles that can polarize the solvents. The solvent molecules in turn produce a reaction field that stabilizes the excited state. This effect is significant and cannot be ignored if one strives to obtain accurate excitation energies. We propose to develop a method to extend our successful excited state method to include solvent polarization effects.

Dr. Eric Hagedorn was recently awarded $1.2 million by the National Science Foundation to recruit, prepare, and support new science & mathematics high school teachers. The grant is titled: "Robert Noyce Scholarships for Teaching Miners." Because the Texas Education Code has recommended all high school graduates take four years of science, the need in Texas for physics teachers is great. This grant will allow the department to support physics majors seeking high school teacher certification. Helping Dr. Hagedorn are Drs. Laura Serpa (Geosciences), Amy Wagler (Mathematical Sciences), Ron Wagler (Teacher Education), and Olga Kosheleva (Teacher Education).

Congratulations to new Associate Professors!

Drs. Cristian Botez, Felicia Manciu and Marian "Mickey" Manciu have recently received tenure and have been promoted to Associate Professor. Congratulations!

Physics Professor is awarded MAES Outstanding Maestro Award

The Society of Mexican American Engineers and Scientists has selected Prof. Jorge Lopez for the "Outstanding Maestro Award 2010". The Outstanding MAEStro Award seeks to recognize individuals for their proactive and supporting efforts to increase the number of Latino students successfully completing high school and continuing on to pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees. It also recognizes those individual's academic achievements, research portfolio, and commitment to diversity. The award will be presented on Friday, October 1, 2010, in Anaheim, CA. ¡Congratulations Jorge!

Liz Rodriguez wins President's Staff Scholarship!

Lizabeth Rodriguez, our department Administrative Assistant, won the President's Staff Scholarship for the 2010-2011 Academic Year. She was formally awarded by Dr. Natalicio at the Staff Council Info Fair on August 18th. Congratulations Liz!