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Past physics news

News of 2012

In the Chimes. Junior Hannah Pagel studied asteroid collisions during summer 2012 with Professor Larry Molnar. Read more>> (October 2012)

In the news. Professor Molnar was interviewed in recent local news stories, about asteroids passing near the Earth in September 2012 and November 2011 and about climate change (July 2012).

Transit of Venus What is it? What's the history of it? Read information about this event and see the WZZM TV interview with Professor Larry Molnar and news story filmed here at our Calvin observatory on June 5. (June 2012)

Fresh Sight Marcia Beare, a blind student, is tackling premed with help from student and faculty colleagues, including Physics professor Loren Haarsma. Read more>> (May 2012)

Grants from the NASA Michigan Space Grant Consortium. Two students received $2500 Undergraduate Fellowships: Sam Van Kooten to study asteroids (entitled "Collisional History of the Koronis Zone"), and Dan Van Noord to study variable stars (entitled "Studies of Contact Binaries"). Prof Steve Steenwyk received a $5000 Seed Research Grant for "Pursuing Variable Stars of W Ursae Majoris type". (Last year Profs. Larry Molnar and Deborah Haarsma also received Seed Research Grants.) Congratulations to Sam, Dan, and Steve! Read more >> (February 2012)


News of 2011

Alum profile: Gerald Gabrielse '73 From Calvin to Harvard University to the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland, you can get there from here! (Sept 2011)

Alum profile: Melissa Haegart Dykhuis '10 From West Africa to Calvin to the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona, you can get there from here! (Sept 2011)

Grant Awarded to Matt Walhout. Professor Matt Walhout has been awarded a National Science Foundation grant for “RUI:  Photoassociation Studies in Rare-Gas Atom Traps.'  The award is $171,000 over three years, including salary for summer research students.

Using Electrophysiology to Study the Brain - Loren Haarsma's group is measuring nerve connections in mice (July 2011)

The Largest Galaxies in the Universe - Deborah Haarsma's group is studying galaxy clusters (June 2011)


Student profile: Luke Leisman '11 A senior Physics major with a love for literature and violin was profiled in The Banner, the official magazine of the Christian Reformed Church. (May 2011)


Student Profile: Rachel Boerner '11 - A champion athlete is also a physics major. In addition to this profile, read about Rachel's national titles in the 2010 Indoor 400 m dash , the 2010 400 m dash and 400 m relay, and the 2011 Indoor 400 m dash. Rachel Boerner is the first athlete in MIAA track and field history to get two individual national titles on the same day. (May 2011)

Student Essay: Peter Plantinga '12 - A double-major in physics and computer science, Peter writes about learning with mind, strength, heart, and soul during his years at Calvin. (April 2011)

Michigan Online Teacher of the Year
, Andrew Vanden Heuvel '04, teaches in our department! Vanden Heuvel was also one of five finalists for the second annual National Online Teacher of the Year Award for K-12 online learning named by the two education nonprofit organizations that hold the competition, the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) and the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL). Read more about Andrew's work in a Calvin News & Stories article , a Muskegon Chronicle article, and a Holland Sentinel article. (Spring 2011)

New Fellows of the American Physical Society Professors Stan Haan and David Van Baak (Spring 2011)

Gerald Gabrielse '73 has been awarded the prestigious Lilienfeld Prize in 2011 from the American Physical Society for his work in atomic physics. The Prize honors an outstanding contribution to physics, in this case "for novel methods that enable measurement of the electron magnetic moment and fine structure constant to unprecedented precision, and for exceptional skill in sharing the science with diverse audiences." On March 11, 2011, he will give one of the three Prize lectures at Calvin. Gabrielse is the Leverett Professor of Physics at Harvard University and chaired its physics department from 2000-2003; he has won several other prizes for his research and teaching. (Spring 2011)

An interim class Global Crisis taught by Professor Steven Steenwyk spotlighted climate change, water and food scarcity, habitat loss and more. (January 2011)

News of 2010

John Van Zytveld Summer Research Fellowship established - a new summer research fellowship, named in honor of an emeritus professor. (2010)

Six variable stars discovered at the first Calvin Astronomy Summer Camp (July 2010)

Calvin names asteroid for Benjamin Banneker - asteroid discovered by physics and astronomy's Larry Molnar is named after first African-American scientist. (February 2010)

News of 2009

Shepherd's crook light fixture on Calvin's campus reduces light pollution and optimizes star-gazingLight solutions - astronomy students (now alumni) partner with Calvin administration to reduce light pollution on campus, improve star-gazing conditions. (October 2009)

The Goldwater Five - two physics majors receive prestigious Goldwater Scholarships for undergraduate research. (April 2009)

Matt Vanderhill '69 has spent much of his career developing infrared and radar systems for the Navy that detect and defend against airborne and missile targets. Read his Alumni Profile from the winter 2009 Calvin Spark (the magazine for alumni and friends of Calvin College).

In August 2009, new light fixtures were installed on the Commons Lawn, in response to the proposal from the Astr384 class. This greatly reduces the light pollution on the Observatory Deck, making the stars easier to see and increasing the light levels on sidewalks. Read about it in the Chimes (story by our own Melissa Haegert) and the Calvin press release.

Professor David Van Baak has been a collaborator with TeachSpin, Inc. since 2001, and spent most of summer 2009 at their Buffalo, NY facility. His contributions are mentioned in a recent Physics World article concerning tools for undergraduate labs.

In March, sophomore Luke Leisman won a Goldwater Scholarship , a prestigous national award for undergraduate research. Luke (far right on photo) will work with Prof. Deb Haarsma to study clusters of galaxies, in particular the puzzling interaction of galaxies and gas at the center. More. (This continues a string of such awards: In 2008, Melissa Haegert (leftmost on photo) received a Goldwater Scholarship to pursue research with Prof. Larry Molnar, in 2006 Chris Beaumont received a Goldwater Honorable Mention, and in 2001 Mason Klein won a Goldwater Scholarship to pursue his research with Prof. Matt Walhout. )

Prof. Stan Haan's work with students Zach Smith, Katie Shomsky, and Peter Plantinga was highlighted in the January-February issue of Europhysics News, the news magazine of the European Physial Society. Their work on electron recollision in the ionization of Helium atoms was published last fall in Journal of Physics B.

News of 2008

A Trojan asteroid, discovered at Calvin in 2006, was recently given its official name by the International Astronomical Union. Rhipeus was "the single most just man among the Trojans and the best preserver of fairness". Read the interesting account of the naming of Rhipeus. Calvin also did a press release. This is the 5th asteroid discovered at Calvin to be officially named.

The Calvin news office is doing a series of faculty profiles and in June featured our own Prof. Jim Jadrich.

The Honorable Vern Ehlers, class of '56 and former professor in our department, was the first physicist to become a member of the United States Congress, in 1993. He was joined by Rush Holt D-NJ in 1998 and now Bill Foster D-IL. All three were featured in a June 10, 2008 New York Times article, joking that, at this rate, physicists will be a majority in congress by mid-century!

In April, students graduating with honors were celebrated at Honors Convocation. 10% of those graduating with honors were from our department! They were: Physics majors Kathy Hoogeboom, Armin Karim (and music major), Ross Norman, Jessie Taylor, John Van Dyke, and astronomy minor John VanderHeide,

In March, sophomore Melissa Haegert won a Goldwater Scholarship , a prestigous national award for undergraduate research. Melissa will work with Prof. Larry Molnar to study an ancient collision in the asteroid belt that resulted in the Flora family of asteroids. Read the Calvin press release. (In 2006, Chris Beaumont received a Goldwater Honorable Mention, and in 2001 Mason Klein won a Goldwater Scholarship to pursue his research with Prof. Matt Walhout.)

In February, Deborah and Loren Haarsma and their recent book were featured in the religion section of the Grand Rapids Press: "Married Calvin profs: science, scripture mesh".

The total lunar eclipse on February 20 brought over 100 people to the Calvin Observatory, and was featured in a photo essay in Chimes.

Back in 2003, Andrew Vanden Heuvel ('04) was the first Calvin student to discover an asteroid, subsequently named 128177 Griffioen. He now teaches astronomy at Prairie High School in Racine, Wisconsin and is leading his students through the same process of discovery. Using data from the Calvin-Rehoboth Observatory, the high school students found an asteroid in January 2008. The story was covered by Racine station WISN (article and video - Andrew as "Mr. Van"), by Grand Rapids station WZZM (article), and the Calvin Chimes (article - Andrew as "Golden Boy"). It was later covered in the alumni magazine (article).


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