Archive for ‘Department’

The Research Special

0 Commentsby   |  07.16.13  |  Department, Research

We are proud to have students and Faculty at prestigious research labs and universities for summer research projects.  We can be found at our typical summer haunts working at ACU, Brookhaven National Lab in New York, FermiLab near Chicago, and the Albert Einstein Institute in Hannover, Germany.  We also have a new project at the University of Illinois, and two students on summer REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) projects at Illinois and the Colorado School of Mines.

We are thrilled that ACU has produced a new video highlighting our summer research!  Enjoy this Wildcat Video Minute (ok, two-and-a-half minutes):

WVM header

Notice that this is linked to a playlist on our spiffy new Youtube Channel!

Want to learn more about our research?  Want to know what it is like to be an ACU student at the lab?  No problem, have some DANGO.  Here’s the June issues of our DANGO (the Doings ANd Goings On) newsletter–now with the picture of the week:


-Dr. D



Summer 2013 – DANGO #1


0 Commentsby   |  05.27.13  |  Department, Fun, Research

Happy Memorial Day!

This year, I am spending mine in the PHENIX control room at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider in New York along with Dr. Towell and 4 ACU students.  We have been responsible for running a $100 million experiment from 8 am – 4 pm since last Tuesday.  So far, the all-ACU crew has done a great job: no explosions, no fire balls, no oxygen masks, no black holes, and lots and lots of physics.

There is a real chance that this year we will record enough data to make the first W-boson measurement with the muon arms which will give a very important clue on the structure of the proton.  Simulations for this measurement were started in 2002. A grant from the NSF was awarded to ACU, UIUC, and two other universities in 2005. The detectors were constructed and installed in 2011. If this run is successful and we can fast track the analysis, then hopefully we will finally publish results in 2014–making this a 12 year project that has involved dozens and dozens of ACU students.

For the last 18 years we have a long-standing tradition of writing a summer department newsletter called DANGO (the Doings ANd Goings On).  Today, we continue this hallowed tradition:

DANGO 2013 Issue #1

-Dr. D


ACU’s First Director of Engineering

0 Commentsby   |  07.18.12  |  Department, Engineering

ACU’s Engineering Program officially launches this fall with a new class of entering freshpeople.   We are pleased to announce that Dr. Ken Olree will be the first director of the engineering program.  The ACU press release says:

“I am extremely excited to be directing the new engineering program at ACU,” says Olree, the new director of engineering. “This is a unique time in history. Never before have the needs been as great, and the technology as available, to solve the problems that exist in the world today.”

Our new engineering program will greatly strengthen the offerings and options in the department.   So far, many of our physics majors have gone on to engineering fields after graduation.  In fact, the national averages show that 1 in 3 physics undergraduates are employed in engineering and 1 in 5 who attend grad school will do so in engineering.  The new engineering program will give students more options and the ability to focus on their discipline of choice.  This program also seeks to offer ACU’s first ABET accredited engineering degree.

UPDATE: The Abilene Reporter News has also covered the story.



Physics Department Update


0 Commentsby   |  07.22.11  |  Department, Engineering

I’d like to give you a short status update on the physics department.  I’m motivated to do this do because during the past two weeks I’ve had the opportunity to:

  • welcome 16 of the new students joining our department this fall,
  • attend the ninth Christian Engineering Education Conference, and
  • see first hand how our students are contributing to research at ACU, BNL, and LANL.

If I’m allowed to speak presidentially, then I’d say the state of our department is outstanding.  We have a current group of students that are excellent and accomplishing great things this summer.  Read our latest DANGO reports for more details (see below).  We have a very promising group of students arriving this fall and there are more scheduled for the August passport session that I haven’t had the opportunity to welcome to campus yet, but I look forward to doing that soon.

Finally, the faculty of the Department of Physics has worked extremely diligently over the past year to develop a plan to change us into the Department of Physics and Engineering.  Experts in Engineering, Business, Finance, and Recruiting from both inside and outside of the university have reviewed our plan and everyone has been very supportive.  Clearly there is a great student demand for Engineering and we believe we can develop a world-class engineering program that will compliment our current physics program.  It was exciting to me to attend the Christian Engineering Educators Conference and hear about how Christians who engineer are leading and serving for Christ.  I heard about how faculty and students participate in engineering mission trips and I participated in some discussions of how God is the ultimate designer.  There is definitely a place for engineering at ACU.  Currently we are looking for the right Christian engineering professor to help develop and lead this program.  If you know of a professor that may be qualified, please pass their name on to me.

God has blessed us in many ways and I’m excited about what is in store for the Department of Physics (and Engineering?).

–Dr. Rusty Towell, Department Chair

ACU in the news

0 Commentsby   |  08.24.10  |  Department

Two recent rankings of American universities recognize Abilene Christian University as an outstanding institution:

First, U.S. News & World Report lists ACU as the #1 “Up and Coming” school in the West Region (the very fact that Texas is considered ‘West’ shows the immense size of this region).  The study also puts us at #19 overall in the region, and #12 in the “Great schools at great prices”.

Second, Forbes Magazine ranks ACU in the top 7% of America’s Best Colleges.  In their consideration of 6,600 accredited post-secondary institutions in the U.S., they place ACU at #484 placing us “among the best in the country”.

While the methodologies are highly subjective, I would like to think that our department’s unique research program makes a big difference in national rankings such as these.  However, our real reputation doesn’t come from magazines, but from the people who have passed through the physics department over the years.  Keep up the good work.

-Dr. D

In the news

0 Commentsby   |  06.16.10  |  Department, Research

As part of the backlog of posts, see this recent ACU news story about last summer’s crew in Los Alamos.  My favorite section from the story:

That may sound complicated or impossibly complex. But Sarvagya has no problems with it.

“I did the fun stuff,” he said.

The bottom of the article briefly mentions the Hawaii conference, which probably deserves more press time.  Hopefully I can get some of the students to tell you about it soon.  Come to think about it, most of the great trips in my life have been physics conferences (though that my say more about me then the trips themselves).  This year, the fall DNP conference moves from Hawaii to sunny Santa Fe, which probably has a little less marketing potential.  Last time I was in Santa Fe, my wife was hobbling around on a shattered ankle which diminished the experience somewhat.  So I’m looking forward to a less eventful visit this fall.

-Dr. D

Hello, world!

0 Commentsby   |  06.16.10  |  Department

Hello, world!  Welcome to the official blog of the Abilene Christian University Physics department.  The summer is already a few weeks old by now, and it is looking to be our most exciting one yet.  We have fifteen undergraduate students doing research at five national labs–definitely a new record.  Our conference calls have gotten fairly complicated since we are literally spread across the country from the coast of California to Long Island on New York.

We’ll be spending some time looking at the different students, projects, and labs in more detail as the summer progresses.  I suppose there may also be a few non-physics related activities here and there, since we do occasionally let the students leave the lab.  We also really look forward to hearing from any alumni who have experienced the joys of summer research for themselves.

It is going to be a busy summer, so let’s get started.

-Dr. D