2021 Physics Newsletter

Department of Physics, CCAS seal

Message from the Chair
Department Spotlights

Alumni Class Notes
Faculty Kudos

Message from the Chair

Chryssa Kouveliotou





Greetings to all of our alumni from the GW Department of Physics,

This last year we were definitely challenged to provide first class education via remote teaching and learning. It taught us valuable lessons and we are now stronger for it! Now, I am pleased to report that we are back on campus and once again enjoying the benefits of in-person engagement and collaboration. In this newsletter, you’ll read about a few of the exciting things happening in the department, including the achievements of our physics community. 

Thank you so much for your support and involvement. Please stay in touch.


Dr. Chryssa Kouveliotou
Physics Department Chair

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Department Spotlights 




NASA Pact Rockets Astrophysics Group

A new agreement with NASA will propel faculty and students from the GW Astrophysics Group to greater heights in space exploration science, expanding on expertise in areas such as gamma-ray bursts and designing the next generation of telescopes. The partnership was profiled in CCAS Spotlight.





Chryssa Kouveliotou Honored For Magnetar Advances

Professor and Physics Department Chair Chryssa Kouveliotou shared the prestigious Shaw Prize in Astronomy with McGill University Professor Victoria M. Kaspi for their contributions to our understanding of magnetars—highly magnetized neutron stars. She was featured in GWToday.





Physics Collaboration Sheds Light on Particle Formation

CCAS physicists are leading an international research team that is expanding technological capabilities at a Virginia lab in an effort to explain how particles were formed in the microseconds after the Big Bang. The research effort was covered in GWToday.

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Alumni Class Notes

  • Derek Jones, BS BA ’11, is an active lighting designer and programmer for performing arts, events, film, television, hospitality and themed environments in the Los Angeles area.
  • Naomi Manabe, MA ’82, operates a small seafood wholesale company in Kent, Wash.
  • Matt Palmer, PhD ’01, works as a quantitative analyst at Bank of America, and was elected board chair of the Atlanta Shakespeare Company. He was recently selected as a recipient of a company-wide award for volunteering at Bank of America for his board service.
  • Reyna Pratt, MPhil ’95, went back to teaching high school physics and had her second child, while working on her doctorate in theoretical nuclear physics. She loves her work as the science department chair for all grades at a K-12 independent school in Washington, D.C.

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Faculty Kudos

  • The GW Society of Physics Students was recognized as a 2019-2020 Outstanding Chapter by the SPS National Council.
  • Andrei Alexandru received a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy for his project on QCD, the theory of the strong interaction between quarks and gluons, involving quantum simulators and computers.
  • Evangeline Downie was appointed to the U.S. Department of Energy/National Science Foundation Nuclear Science Advisory Committee.
  • Sylvain Guiriec received multiple grants from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, was quoted by Pour la Science and interviewed by Ouest France.
  • Neil Johnson was quoted by UPI, Vice News, USA Today, Agence France-Presse, The Daily Beast, CGTN, NBC News, Columbia Journalism Review, The Washington Post and Sinclair Broadcast Group. He spoke with BBC World Service, CNN, WJLA-ABC7 and WAMU‘s 1A.
  • Oleg Kargaltsev received multiple grants from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, a grant from the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and a grant from the NASA's Stennis Space Center.
  • Chryssa Kouveliotou received a grant from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, a grant from the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and was quoted by Science Magazine.
  • Weiqun Peng received a grant from the Hackensack Center for Discovery and Innovation to study differentiation among human T-cells.
  • Nicholas White received a grant from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center to study gamma-ray bursts and afterglow emissions.
  • George Younes received multiple grants from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, a grant from the NASA Shared Services Center and a grant from NASA's Stennis Space Center.

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