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Colm Thomas Whelan, assistant director of research and a fellow of Magdalene College in the University of Cambridge in England, recently was appointed chair of the physics department.

He will begin his new position in the fall.

At Cambridge, Whelan heads a seven-member research group that is primarily concerned with atomic collision theory. He also has established a network of collaborative research projects with the leading experimental and theoretical groups in Europe, Japan, Australia and North America.

Whelan has firsthand experience teaching graduate students and undergraduates in five countries. The recipient of numerous honors and awards, Whelan was elected as a fellow of the American Physical Society last year.

"Dr. Whelan is a superb choice to lead our Department of Physics with its renowned faculty and world-class research," said Tom Isenhour, dean Old Dominion's College of Sciences.

"Dr. Whelan comes from Cambridge University, the home of such greats as Newton, Faraday and Hawking. We are very excited to acquire such a well-known scientist from Cambridge, which has probably contributed more to physics than any other university in history."

Previously, Whelan was an advanced research fellow at Cambridge, a senior research associate at SERC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire and a Royal Society research fellow at the University of Frankfurt-Main in Germany.

He has held visiting professorships in Japan, France, Germany, Canada and the United States; been an invited speaker to more than 30 international conferences; and given seminars at major research centers throughout the world. He is the author of more than 130 research papers and three books.

A native of Dublin, Ireland, Whelan received his bachelor's and master's degrees from the National University of Ireland and his doctorate from the University of Cambridge.

Whelan will succeed James L. Cox Jr., who in January stepped down as chair after 10 1/2 years to devote more time to research.

This article was posted on: June 29, 2001

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