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Charles Sukenik Named Physics Chair at ODU

Charles Sukenik

Charles Sukenik, a professor of physics and University Professor, has been named chair of the Department of Physics at Old Dominion University. He has been instrumental in establishing ultracold research in atomic physics at ODU and has won four major faculty awards since joining the faculty in 1997.

As a member of ODU's experimental atomic, molecular and optical physics group, he has done research using the Free Electron Laser at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in Newport News.

In addition to his research, he has taken a leading role in undergraduate physics education, having served both as undergraduate program director and chief departmental adviser. The College of Sciences (COS) Distinguished Teaching Award that he shared in 2010 with Larry Weinstein, professor of physics and University Professor, was recognition of their work to bring SCALE-UP (Student-Centered Active Learning Environment for Undergraduate Programs) to physics classrooms at ODU. He also has mentored five students who received Ph.D. degrees in physics from ODU and 10 undergraduate students who have carried out or are currently conducting senior thesis research in physics in his laboratory.

Sukenik won the COS Distinguished Teaching Award in 2007, the COS Outstanding Adviser Award in 2005 and 2011 and the Gene W. Hirschfeld 2004 Faculty Excellence Award that the college gives biennially.

A native of the Washington, D.C., metro area, Sukenik received his bachelor's degree in physics from Cornell University in 1987 and his Ph.D. in physics from Yale University in 1993.

"I am very pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Sukenik as the physics chair," said Chris Platsoucas, the COS dean. "He is an internationally known leader and research investigator in the field of atomic, molecular and optical physics. He is also a superb teacher and mentor."

Sukenik succeeds Gail Dodge, an experimental nuclear physicist who has been chair for six years and is stepping down to focus on teaching and research. Platsoucas lauded departmental advances made while Dodge was the chair, especially the launching of the Center for Accelerator Science, the recruitment of women for physics graduate programs and the new emphasis put on retaining potential undergraduate physics majors.

Last year, Sukenik was part of a project team led by ODU engineers that navigated a rigorous process to qualify the university to provide analytical and technical support and research and development services to the U.S. Navy's Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic. ODU and six other universities could receive as much as $30 million under that contract.

On another recent interdisciplinary project, Sukenik worked with ODU oceanographers to build a ship-deployed LIDAR (laser radar) system to investigate physical properties of the ocean.

His physics work also shows great range. While much of his current research focuses on the interaction of atoms and molecules with light at temperatures close to absolute zero, Sukenik has also conducted research in cavity quantum electrodynamics, ultrafast optical science, laser science and quantum chaos.

This article was posted on: September 20, 2011

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