News and Events


  • USF Physics featured on APS TV.


  • Physics Prof. Xiaomei Jiang has been awarded an NSF grant of $480k.
    The project title is "Study of spin photocurrent in 2D hybrid organic-inorganic perovskite multiple quantum wells."
  • Physics Prof. Robert Hoy has been awarded an NSF grant of $315k.
    The project title is "Stress Testing Theories of the Glass and Jamming Transitions Using Hyperellipsoids." 

  • The DOE Office of Science the Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on Theory and Experiment (INCITE) program has awarded 300,000 node-hours (dollar equivalent $3,000,0000) to collaborative project led by USF Physics Professor Ivan Oleynik.
    The project is titled “Predictive Simulations of Phase Transitions in Dynamically Compressed Materials”. It aims to perform quantum-accurate multi-million atom simulations with machine-learning interatomic potentials to uncover fundamental physics of phase transitions in materials subjected terapascal pressures (P) and temperatures (T) up 100,000 K in High Energy Density (HED) regime. The team institutions include USF, the Royal Institute of Technology (Prof. Anatoly Belonoshko) and Sandia National Laboratories (Drs. Stan Moore, Aidan Thompson, and Mitchell Wood). Prof. Belonoshko and Dr. Thompson are also affiliated faculty at our Physics Department.

  • Three physicists and a chemist at USF are the recipients of a 3-year $449K NSF research grant for computational and experimental investigation of Ferroelectric materials.
    The PI of the grant is Dr. Inna Ponomareva, and the co-PIs are Drs. Sergey Lisenkov and Sarath Witanachchi from Physics, and Dr. Shengqian Ma from Chemistry.

  • Distinguished University Professor George Nolas has been awarded a II-VI Foundation grant for his research in thermoelectric materials.
    This is the 10th consecutive year that he has received this award from industry, racking up over $800,000 in research funds.

  • Profs. Dario Arena and Denis Karaiskaj in Physics have been awarded an NSF grant total of ~$375k.
    The title of the grant is "All Optical, Tunable THz Magnonic Devices."

  • Prof. Matthias Batzill received an award notice for the 2-year creative extension of an NSF-DMR project on ‘2D-Heteromaterials’.
    The extension provides roughly $280k research funding. According to NSF, “The objective of such extensions is to offer the most creative investigators an extended opportunity to attack adventurous, "high-risk" opportunities in the same general research area, but not necessarily covered by the original/current award.” To date, Prof. Matthias Batzill has received over $4.5M in federal funds as the PI for his research at USF.

  • Prof. Inna Ponomareva has been awarded a 3-year $405K grant by DOE for a computational investigation of complex ferroics.
    This is a renewal that brings the total DOE award to $1.6M. She has been a prolific researcher in Physics and a recipient of the NSF CAREER award. Up to date she has brought in close to $2.5M for her research program.

  • Profs. Hariharan Srikanth and Manh-Huong Phan have received a $563,247 three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.
    Their research is on "Complex Magnetism and Emergent Phenomena in Correlated Materials." This is the pair's fourth successful renewal of DOE funding. Profs. Srikanth and Phan continue to produce an impressive amount of impactful research. Over the past three years (2017-2019), they have published 61 indexed journal articles and received over 2,000 citations to their past work. In the same period, they graduated at least four Ph.D. students. All of their graduates go on to successful careers, many in academic, government, or industrial research.

  • Distinguished Professor George Nolas has just received a grant from the II-VI Foundation to study and optimize thermoelectric half-Heusler alloys.
    This will be the eighth consecutive year the foundation has supported Prof. Nolas's research. The foundation rarely renews its awards, except for Prof. Nolas's. The grant will support both research and graduate education. New thermoelectric devices are anticipated to play a role in reducing energy consumption by increasing harvesting of waste heat, among other applications. Prof. Nolas's expertise in thermoelectrics and materials generally is recognized internationally and well funded from federal sources as well as this private foundation.

  • Prof. Denis Karaiskaj as the recipient of the 2019 Emery H. and Barbara B. Jewell Faculty Excellence Award.
    The committee selected Prof. Karaiskaj "for his contributions to time-resolved THz spectroscopy of solids in high magnetic fields and to the elucidation of optical and electronic processes in the solid state." The award is made in recognition of Prof. Karaiskaj's discovery of Dicke superradiance in a naturally occurring mineral, his exploration of multi-excitonic states in two dimensional dichalcogenides, and his probes of quantum coherence between Landau levels. The committee recognizes equally Prof. Karaiskaj's development of the ultrafast spectroscopic techniques that have supported his scientific work. As described in his recent article in Reviews of Scientific Instruments, he now has a broad-band device that can be brought to a high-magnetic-field facility, enabling him to probe systems in entirely new regimes of short time scales and high fields.

  • Prof. Ivan Oleynik in the Department of Physics has just been awarded a new three-year, single-PI, $630K grant by the U.S. Department of Energy.
    The project is to study "Phase Transitions under Dynamic Compression: Carbon, Silicon and Germanium." This grant continues Prof. Oleynik's work in the computational study of matter under extreme conditions and will bring his career external funding at USF to over $5M. Prof. Oleynik's interests in computational solid-state physics have spanned diverse topics, including diamond, graphene devices, high explosives, and the cores of planets. Prof. Oleynik and the department wish to acknowledge the institutional investment in computational infrastructure that has helped amplify his research.

  • Profs. David Rabson and Humberto Rodriguez Gutierrez have been awarded $388,312 through March 2022 for the NSF-REU site in Applied Physics at USF.
    This grant builds on the success of the REU sites in the physics department started in 2000 by Prof. Ivan Oleynik and continued by Prof. Sarath Witanachchi. Over nine years, the summer REU students have been co-authors on more than 22 peer-reviewed papers and over 30 conference presentations. Many of us in Physics look forward to working with REU students in the coming summers. The program also serves as a mechanism for recruiting highly effective and motivated applicants to our graduate program.

  • Physicists honored for global work.
    Prof. Sarath Witanachchi was awarded the (unique) honorable mention for Global Research Achievement. The announcement was made at the awards ceremony by Vice President for USF World Roger Brindley and Assistant Vice President Kiki Caruson, who spoke at length about Prof. Witanachchi's research collaborations and educational programs in Botswana, Vietnam, Chile, and Peru. The award was presented by President Genshaft. At the same event, Prof. Dario Arena was recognized for his Fulbright fellowship, which took him to Sweden this past summer. Lastly, Dr. Sayandeb Basu (Director of the Office of National Scholarships and a theoretical particle physicist) and his team won the group award for their work with undergraduates pursuing competitive scholarships for overseas study.

  • Distinguished University Professor Emeritus of Physics Dennis Killinger has been serving on panels of national prominence.
    Prof. Killinger is one of five members of NASA's Active Optical Assessment and Recommendation Team, reviewing all active optical laser instrumentation and research programs within the agency's eleven centers (Goddard, Langley, JPL, etc.). Prof. Killinger is serving as a panel member for the National Academy of Science's review of physics programs within all the U.S. Army's research, development, and engineering centers. Prof. Killinger is co-chairing an Optical Society of America (OSA) conference to be held next year on the theme of Optics and Photonics for Sensing the Environment. Prof. Killinger's continued work not only contributes to the advancement of interdisciplinary laser science and to national security but also raises the profile of USF.

  • Research Prof. Manh-Huong Phan has just received a three-year research grant of $433,792 from the VICOSTONE-USA company.
    This project aims to promote a collaborative cutting-edge research program on “Novel Low-Dimensional Nanomaterials for Next-Generation Devices”, which will greatly impact future technologies and the society. This is a collaborative project with Prof. Pham Thanh Huy (Co-PI) at the Hanoi University of Science and Technology, Vietnam. The fund will be used to support the faculty, postdocs and graduate students from both sides to perform the jointly designed experiments.

  • Prof. Jiangfeng Zhou in Physics and Prof. Lu Lu in Mathematics and Statistics have just received a grant of $419K from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.
    The grant is titled "Reversibly Reconfigurable 3D Micro- and Nano-Photonic Devices by Magnetically Programmable Polymeric Composites." The project will develop reconfigurable metasurface photonic devices using magnetically programmable polymeric composites to actively control the phase, amplitude, and polarization of light. Statistical experimental design, analysis and machine learning methods will be used to understand the device structure, predict and optimize the metasurface performance. This grant involves interdisciplinary collaboration and will support graduate students from both departments.

  • Prof. Lilia Woods in Physics has received a three-year grant from the Department of Energy.
    The grant is titled "Materials with Nontrivial Topology as a Platform for Fluctuation-Induced Phenomena." This is a highly competitive area of research, and one of Prof. Woods' strengths has to be her well-established expertise in the detailed mechanism of interlayer coupling, as well as in intricate band-structure and optical calculations. This new grant comes on the heels of a grant she and Prof. George Nolas announced just a month ago and also several recent grants in the department on the general topic of two-dimensional materials. Along with Prof. Woods' Review of Modern Physics article from 2016, these development solidify USF's reputation as a major center in one of the hottest areas of solid-state physics.

  • Prof. Sarath Witanachchi in Physics has just been awarded a $299,969 NSF-IRES grant.
    The grant, International Research Experiences for Students, is titled "USA-Botswana collaborative research towards portable power generation in rural Africa." The project is to develop a portable energy source for rural Africa. It will also be a great learning experience for students.