Orange Alert

Faculty and Staff Highlights - December 2022

Posted on: Dec. 12, 2022

New Positions and Promotions

New Staff

Cassandra Ellis headshot

In January 2022, the department hired our Administrative Assistant Cassandra Ellis. Cassandra moved here from FL where she graduated from Florida Gulf Coast University with a degree in Philosophy. Cassandra comes with years of experience thanks to prior administrative support and leadership positions she has held in a variety of organizations. We are incredibly happy to have Cassandra in our team.

Kristine Weisblatt headshot

Another terrific addition to our staff is our new academic coordinator, Kristine Weisblatt. Kristine brings a few years of experience working in the registrar’s department at Syracuse University. Kris joined our team June 2022, and we could not be happier to welcome her.

Kevin Garvey headshot

The department recently hired Kevin Garvey to join the Physics Department staff team. In his role as Program Manager, he will provide support to the Center for Gravitational Wave Astronomy and Astrophysics and Manning’s group. Kevin brings over 15 years of experience in customer relations, compliance, leadership, and computer systems to name a few. We are incredibly pleased to have Kevin as part of our team.

New Faculty


We welcomed a new faculty member to our department. Dr. Kim comes to us from NYU where she worked as a teaching professor. She joined our department this semester as a Visiting Teaching Assistant Professor for the AY 2022-23 and taught PHY 212 during this fall semester.


We officially welcomed Professor Rafael Silva Coutinho to the faculty this fall as an Assistant Professor. Rafael works in particle physics on the Large Hardon Collider Beauty (LHCb) experiment. He is an expert in using machine learning to analyze the “big data'' coming off the instrument. Learn more about Rafael by reading the New Faculty Highlights article.

Our gravitational waves experimental search successfully landed Georgia Mansell and Craig Cahillane. Georgia will start as an assistant professor in January 2023 and Craig will start as an assistant professor in August 2023. We also were allowed to hire Alex Nitz as a tenured associate professor. He works on observational astronomy using gravitational wave detectors. Alex will also start his Associate Professor position next year. We will highlight them as new faculty in our summer 2023 newsletter.

Duncan Brown

Professor Duncan Brown appointed as Vice President for Research and head of the Office of Research here at Syracuse University.

Syracuse University Board of Trustees approved promotions for members of our faculty

  • To Full Professor: Jay Hubisz, Mitchell Soderberg and Scott Watson
  • To Associate Professor with Tenure: Joseph Paulsen

Awards and Recognition


Professor Stefan Ballmer named the first director of the new Center for Gravitational Waves Astrophysics and Astronomy.

Professor Stefan Ballmer received a new NSF award to continue his outstanding work on gravitational wave detector technology development.

Professor Duncan Brown was awarded a new grant for his research on gravitational waves! The grant is highlighted in an A&S News article.

Professor Eric Coughlin Received the Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award from Syracuse University

Postdoctoral researcher Mengfei He from Professor Joseph Paulsen’s group, received one of two awards for lightning-talk presentation at the BioInspired Symposium held Oct 7, 2022.

Professor Lisa Manning has been awarded the chancellor citation for excellence in research award for 2022! She was honored at Syracuse University’s One University Awards Ceremony that took place April 22, 2022.

Professor Lisa Manning is the recipient of a new grant from the National Science Foundation to fund a new conference and workshop on BioInspired Design Convergence Accelerator.


Professor Mirna Mihovilovic Skanata was awarded a McKnight Foundation Technology Award for her outstanding work directly stimulating and measuring neurons in live animals “Two-photon tracking technology to read and manipulate neural patterns in freely moving animals” She is one of only three awardees. Her achievement was highlighted on the Arts and Sciences News.

Professor Alison Patteson was recognized as the faculty recipient of the Social Justice and Community Building Award 2022. Professor Patteson was recognized for her continued work on the EID committee, community surveys, and graduate student communications work.

Joey and Chris

Professor Joseph Paulsen was awarded a BioInspired Seed Award with co-PI Professor Chris Santangelo to study “Wet-a-materials: Harnessing elasto-capillarity and structural instability to design novel wet metamaterials.”

Britton Plourde

Professor Britton Plourde is the PI on a new grant from New York State Department of Economic Development for the CNY Quantum Technology Corridor project. This funding will help to establish more quantum information experiments on campus and in the region.

Britton Plourde is the lead PI on a new project, Characterizing and Mitigating Phononic and Photonic Poisoning in Solid-State Qubits, funded by the Army Research Office for up to $5,600,000 over four years. Ivan Pechenezhskiy is a Co PI on the project, along with Co PIs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Stanford University, and the Jülich Research Center in Germany

Professor Britton Plourde received an award from the Oak Ridge Institute for Science (ORISE) and Education/DOE. The grant is to support former Kenneth Dodge, who recently defended his dissertation, as doctoral fellow.

A&S Physicist Britton Plourde Named Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Read more on A&S News

Professor Eric Schiff honored with Technology Alliance of Central New York (TACNY) Lifetime Achievement Award. His achievement was highlighted on the Arts and Sciences News.


Professor Mitch Soderberg, was awarded a CUSE grant for new efforts on using Neutrino Physics Detector Technology for Medical Imaging.

Professor Soderberg also received a new grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Physics Assistant Professor Denver Whittington, is a co-PI on the grant. Their project is called “Neutrino Research at Syracuse University.”

The Physics Department was awarded with two fellowships from the Graduate School to support students through the Research Excellence Doctoral Funding Program (REDF) mechanism. Chair Jenny Ross, Assoc. Chair Mitch Soderberg, and Director of Graduate Studies, Chris Santangelo were responsible for the application.

Four faculty were recognized for their outstanding teaching this year based on student evaluations

  • Duncan Brown for small major’s course, PHY524
  • Ivan Pechenezhskiy for graduate-level class, PHY661
  • Joey Paulsen and Eric Coughlin for large enrollment service course, PHY212

Other News


Professor Marina Artuso in collaboration with the late Professor Sheldon Stone and Dr. Gino Isodori have written a new book on New Physics in b Decays published by World Scientific Press. You can view and download the book by visiting World Scientific Publishing.


LHCb group and collaborators complete the first detector box: UT-c. The Syracuse LHCb group together with the colleagues in the Upstream Tracker construction team reached an important milestone: the first detector box, UT-c is completed! In this photo you can see Professor Artuso, the project leader, inspecting some components, and Syracuse graduate student Hangyi Wu, who coordinated the mounting of the staves. Additional members of the Syracuse team at CERN comprises postdocs Elisa Minucci, Dimitra Andreou and former Syracuse University postdocs Xuhao Yuan. Graduate student Joe Shupperd and Professor Skwarnicki were also part of this monumental effort. We are now poised to proceed to the next half to be completed by the end of the year.

Professor and Vice President for Research Duncan Brown, Professor Stefan Ballmer and affiliated faculty Steven Penn collaborated with the Special Collections Research Center to Contributes to the Art Museum’s Exhibition ‘Precious Metal: Gold Across Space and Time

Liviu Movileanu

Professor Liviu Movileanu along with his students Lauren Mayse, and Ali Imran published a new paper in Nature Communications on a new nanopore sensor they developed. Their work can be read in Nature online

Paulsen Nature publication

Professor Joseph Paulsen published his research in Physics Today. Read pages 19-20 to see the highlight of Joey Paulsen’s research in Physics Today – Volcano Issue! Read it on Physics today online.

Professor Jennifer Ross presented a biology department seminar titled: “Biophysical Studies of the Microtubule Severing Enzyme, Katanin.”


Physics Research Professor Antun Skanata just had a new paper accepted in Environmental Science & Technology Letters that is relevant for COVID-19 spread in the air. Skanata and his collaborators developed a method to determine exposure risk to airborne pathogens in closed spaces and applied it to discover that long-range transmission is significantly reduced at ambient humidity above 40%.


Professor Jennifer Schwarz led the effort to make Syracuse Physics a partner institution with the APS Bridge program. The APS Bridge Program is a post-baccalaureate program lasting one to two years that provides students with research experience, advanced coursework, and coaching to prepare them for a graduate school application. Find out more in the A&S News article.

Prof. Paul Souder

Professor Paul Souder was recognized for his work co-organizing the recent INT 22-81W workshop, “Parity-Violation and other Electroweak Physics at JLab 12 GeV and Beyond.”

In the Media

Physics Professor Stefan W. Ballmer was featured in A&S News story about his new NSF grant to continue his gravitational wave detector research collaboration with MIT researchers. He was also featured in another article with Assistant Research Professor Georgia Mansell, in another article titled “A&S Physicists Part of NSF PAARE Grant to Diversify Astrophysics”. The article explains their participation in the NSF-funded PAARE project and the goal to help diversify the field of gravitational-wave astrophysics.

Duncan Brown, Charles Brightman Professor of Physics in the College of Arts and Sciences, was quoted in the Business Insider article “Black hole image supports Einstein’s theory of gravity, disappointing scientists who are probing for cracks”

Professor Lisa Manning wrote a Q&A about her work at the intersection of physics and biology for the journal “Current Biology”

Liviu Movileanu, (Bio)Sensing Protein Interactions

The Paulsen group’s recent work on pattern formation in elastic shells was written up in Quanta Magazine. This work compares a new theory by Ian Tobasco (UIC) with experiments by Yousra Timounay and Graham Leggat (Paulsen Lab) and simulations by Eleni Katifori and Desislava Todorova (UPenn).

Professor Joey Paulsen’s work is featured in Physics Today!

Professor Santangelo was featured on WCNY’s Cycle of Health in January 2022. He participated in an episode of Cycle of Health: titled Biomedical Technology.

Prof. Santangelo was also featured an Arts Sciences News article titled 3D Bioprinting at the Frontier of Medical Innovation