Physics and Astronomy

Research reveals cause of vascular changes associated with early Alzheimer’s.

Clemson Department of Physics and Astronomy Professor, Feng Ding, and his international collaborators “have discovered a cause of blood vessel damage in the brain that plays a role in Alzheimer’s disease-related dementia.”

Dr. Feng Ding

A healthy brain uses neurons to process and transmit information between parts of the brain to the muscles and organs within the body. Alzheimer’s disease disrupts this communication. Dr. Ding explains that the study unveils a new target for better Alzheimer’s treatments.

Read more here:
Research reveals cause of vascular changes associated with early Alzheimer’s  | Clemson News

Electrolyte research by Clemson physicists could lead to cheaper high-capacity batteries.

Three members of Rao’s lab- Mihir Parekh, postdoctoral fellow, and graduate students Janak Basel and Nawraj Sapkota have discovered a way to optimize electrolytes to address the short circuiting and rapid capacity loss problems in sodium-ion batteries. These batteries are less expensive and more readily available than lithium-ion batteries. 

Dr. Rao and members of his lab- Mihir Parekh, Janak Basel, and Nawraj Sapkota.

Read more here: 
Electrolyte research by Clemson physicists could lead to cheaper high-capacity batteries. | Clemson News

Clemson astrophysicists may have found a binary supermassive black hole.

After analyzing more than 100 years of data, Clemson University astrophysicists, Pablo Penil del Campo, Marco Ajello, and Sagar Adhikari, may have found binary supermassive black holes. 

In our universe, galaxies collide with other galaxies and, in the process, the supermassive black holes at the core of the galaxes will form a pair. 

“Penil and his collaborators studied five blazars. He found that PG 1553+113, which Penil described as the most well-known blazar in the context of periodicity behavior, exhibited evidence of a 2.2 quasi-periodic oscillation in radio, optical, ultraviolet (UV) and gamma-ray bands.”

Read more here: 
Using a century of data, Clemson astrophysicists may have found a binary supermassive black hole | Clemson News

Two Physics Undergraduate Students present their research at CU2MIP.

VJ Mattison and J Jones, undergraduate students in the Physics and Astronomy Department, presented their research at the CU2MIP. CU2MIP is the Conference for Undergraduate Underrepresented Minorities in Physics.

J Jones (left) and VJ Mattison (right)

They presented their poster titled “Advancing Blazar and Galactic Source Identification with Multiwavelength and Machine Learning”.

Physics Undergraduate, Maggie Marte, is awarded prestigious 2024 Goldwater scholarship!

Clemson University Goldwater scholars. (Maggie Marte second to the left)

Our very own physics undergraduate student, Maggie Marte, is one of the 5 students at Clemson University that have been awarded the Goldwater scholarship. The 2024 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship recognizes students who show exceptional promise of advancing research in mathematics, natural sciences and engineering. This scholarship provides recipients with $7,500 in financial support towards their undergraduate studies and associated expenses for up to two years. 

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Five Clemson students awarded prestigious 2024 Goldwater scholarships | Clemson News

2024 Solar Eclipse!

Our department volunteers who made this event possible! Photo credit: Amanda Ellenburg

On April 8th, 2024, the Clemson University department of Physics and Astronomy hosted an eclipse event, and it was a huge success! There was so much happening on campus and so many fun stations for both the Clemson Community and the public. There was eclipse science taking place in the planetarium, presentations on general relativity, pinhole cameras, liquid nitrogen ice cream, and telescope viewing. News reporters from Fox 8 and WYFF News were filming live throughout the day. The department provided eclipse glasses for safe viewing and started the event with 4000 eclipse glasses and ran out! Over 4000 people came to see the eclipse on campus!

None of this would have been possible without the help of our faculty, staff, undergraduate and graduate students. Thank you to everyone who came out and to our lovely volunteers.

Stephen Kaeppler receives the NSF CAREER Award

Stephen Kaeppler, an assistant professor of physics and astronomy, will receive a five-year National Foundation CAREER Grant of $721,601 to continue his research into observational and modeling investigations of pulsating aurora electrodynamics. 

What are Auroras? They are unimaginable light shows that shower the north and south poles. They occur due to the interaction of charged particles from the sun with atoms in the upper atmosphere. They are known as the “aurora borealis/australis” or the Northern/Southern lights. Kaeppler’s research is focused on pulsating auroras. He will be able to continue his work and fund more educational opportunities for Clemson undergraduates.

Credit: Andrew Pepper

Adapted from: 
Clemson researcher studying pulsating aurora electrodynamics receives NSF CAREER Award | Clemson News

Dr. Chad Sosolik appointed chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy

Chad has been a part of the department for 20 years and has been interim department chair twice during his time at Clemson. His invaluable leadership and experience have landed him the position of department chair, effective April 1st. 

“Physics and Astronomy at Clemson University is poised to expand and contribute to the overall University mission in positive and transformative ways, with prominent academic, research and outreach efforts. I am honored to have the chance to guide us on this journey, leveraging our continued excellence to support groundbreaking scientific discoveries that will positively impact all the communities we serve.” -Chad Sosolik

Adapted from: 
Chad Sosolik appointed chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy | Clemson News

Clemson Elementary School Science Fair

On March 8th, 2024, we had volunteers from the Clemson University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy prepare the Clemson Elementary school science fair winners for their presentations at regionals. This proved to be a great success because these students won 4 out of 10 of the awards that were given out that day! We are all so proud of these students and thankful to our volunteers that make time to help with events like these. Encouraging children to pursue their interests in STEM related fields is extremely important! Our department has supported Clemson Elementary School with their science fair for the past 10 years and we will gladly continue supporting events like these.

Clemson astrophysicist’s research could shed light on the search for dark matter.

Alex McDaniel, a postdoctoral, and Marco Ajello, an associate professor, in the Clemson University Department of Physics and Astronomy.

Alex McDaniel is a postdoctoral fellow in the Clemson University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy and his collaborators search dwarf galaxies for dark matter “that self-annihilates into ordinary matter and gamma rays, a form of light at the highest energy levels. Dwarf galaxies are ideal for study because they are small, rich in dark matter and mostly lack other astrophysics phenomena such as gas, dust and supernova that could contaminate the findings.” McDaniel explains that they specifically look for these because they can give a clear signal or can help rule out certain particle theories. 

Read more here: 
Clemson astrophysicist’s research could provide a hint in the search for dark matter | Clemson News