Geneseo Physics

And Astronomy


Summer, 1999

Kurt Fletcher, Editor

SUNY-Geneseo Department of Physics & Astronomy

New Physics Alumni!

Many congratulations to the newest physics and engineering alumni from Geneseo! For the first time in over two decades, Geneseo held commencement exercises outdoors near the athletic fields. Fortunately, the weather was nice.

Once again, our graduates are proving that a bachelor’s degree in physics can provide entry into a variety of interesting careers. We paid a fond farewell to the graduates in early May at the Junior Senior dinner at the Glenn Iris Inn in Letchworth State Park and at the graduation cookout on May 22.

This year there were two students completing the biophysics program. Peggy Kearns will be touring Europe this summer before entering the Cornell University Veterinary Medicine program in the fall. Angela Nigro has a fellowship in the biomedical engineering Ph.D. program at Stony Brook. She’s looking forward to getting married this July.

Brian McHale isn’t graduating yet, but he’s transferring to SUNY Buffalo as part of the 3-2 mechanical engineering program.

Kristin Galbally and Christopher Randall are both heading to the Rockies for graduate studies. Kristin will be studying materials science at the Colorado School of Mines and Chris will be at Colorado University in the aerospace engineering program. Derek Goodemote is off to Notre Dame to work on his master’s degree in mechanical engineering. Joshua Klyber wants to combine his interest in physics and in technical theatre. He’s seeking a job in theatrical rigging. Martin Anselm is considering graduate study in mechanical engineering, perhaps at Clarkson. Vito LaBarbara is pondering his future plans and weighing his options.

Oddly enough, some of our graduates are trading the long and snowy winters of western New York for sunnier climes. Ryan Fitzgerald, Neil Di Spigna, and Trisha Hauser should be able to enjoy the ACC basketball rivalries. Ryan will be entering the Ph.D. program in physics at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and Neil will be ten miles away, at Duke University, in the electrical engineering graduate program. Trisha will be at the University of Virginia working on her master’s degree in systems engineering. Steve Vogt also decided to move south - to State College, Pennsylvania. Steve will be in the master’s program at Penn State University.

In addition, three of our alumni completed their degree requirements for the 3-2 engineering program. Kerry Riley and Emmanuel Ambroise both earned mechanical engineering degrees at Clarkson University. Christopher Jones completed his biomedical engineering degree at Syracuse University. Congratulations to all the graduates!

New Physics Faculty!

This year the department took the unprecedented step of running two tenure-track faculty searches, and the results were very successful. This fall we will welcome Ed Pogozelski and James McLean to the department. Each will bring a new and exciting dimension to our programs.

McLean, who earned his Ph.D. in Physics from Cornell University, is presently a post-doctoral researcher at the University of California at San Diego. James is a surface scientist and electron microscopist. While at Cornell, McLean built a scanning tunneling microscope to study the dynamics of surfaces. He plans on developing an STM here at Geneseo. This year, he will be teaching the Science of Sound course in the fall and a Solid State course in the spring. James and his wife Sarah are expecting their first child in August.

Ed Pogozelski, who was a visiting assistant professor at RIT this year, holds a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Johns Hopkins. Ed was hired specifically to supervise our popular 3-2 engineering program, teach many of the applied courses, and to help provide advisement for those of our students who go on to graduate school in engineering. Ed is no stranger to Geneseo – he was a visiting professor here last year. Ed’s research involves experimental studies of velocity fields in fluids near propellers and wings. He will establish a lab for hydrodynamic imaging here at the college. Ed and his wife Wendy, a member of the Chemistry department, reside in Geneseo.

We certainly look forward to welcoming James and Ed, two dynamic, talented professors, to Geneseo.

British Physics Invasion

After many years of sending Geneseo students to England as part of the study abroad program with Brunel University, this year we hosted a visitor from Britain. Rajdeep "Rupi" Metla spent the year with us, taking physics classes and participating in other department activities. This was a great opportunity for Rupi to learn about the U.S. and a wonderful way for our majors to learn about the life in the U.K.

Rupi received the coveted Department of Physics and Astronomy coffee mug at the Junior Senior dinner and then returned to London in late May. She will finish her bachelor’s degree at Brunel next year. Unfortunately, because Brunel University is phasing out its physics program, it is unlikely that this study abroad program will be available to our students.

Department reflections

Kurt Fletcher has received word that his has been granted continuing appointment (tenure) at the College, and he wants to thank all the students, faculty colleagues, family, and friends who have helped out over the past six years.

Kurt’s teaching responsibilities last year included Analytical Physics I (lecture and lab), Quantum Mechanics, and the Nature of Light and Color, among other things.

His NSF-sponsored research on polarization transfer in the 3He(d,p)4He nuclear reaction has reached a milepost, with a publication describing the polarimeter device to be submitted soon. Kurt also described this work in a presentation at the Division of Nuclear Physics Meeting in Santa Fe, NM, last October. Over the past year Geneseo senior Ryan Fitzgerald worked diligently on a Monte Carlo simulation for the device, and the results are really paying off. Geneseo’s collaboration with Eastman Kodak also met with success this year, with undergraduate researchers Trisha Hauser and Steve Vogt spending time at Kodak this spring, demonstrating the LabVIEW-based package for data acquisition and analysis of rf plasmas. In addition, Kurt is participating in the LLE collaboration.

Little Fletchers Ethan (5) and Kyle (3) continue to grow and develop and make life richly interesting.

Charlie Freeman leads the department in innovative, web-based instruction. In the fall, Charlie used a computer system called CAPA to provide students in his Modern Physics class with individualized homework assignments through the web. The students could work out their solutions and then enter the answers through the web to get immediate feedback on the results. The feedback from students was very positive. In the spring, Charlie and Savi Iyer introduced this system for the 130 students enrolled in Analytical Physics II.

On the research front, Charlie made significant contributions to the plasma calorimeter calibrations used at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE) at the University of Rochester. Along with Geneseo students Chris Randall and Andy Cunningham, Charlie used proton beams from the Geneseo 2-MeV accelerator to determine the response of the calorimeters to various input powers. In addition, Charlie traveled to the Division of Nuclear Physics Meeting in the fall and to the National Nuclear Astrophysics workshop held in Notre Dame in June.

Charlie and Diane are looking forward to buying a house in the Henrietta area this summer.

Over the past year, Savi Iyer continued her collaboration with Professor S. Rajeev at the University of Rochester, exploring the connections between General Relativity and High Energy Physics. She also enjoyed attending a General Relativity conference at Cornell.

Savi taught Astronomy, Thermodynamics, Analytical Physics II and Sophomore Lab this year and served on the College Senate. This summer, Savi is serving as the physics advisor for summer orientation.

Savi, her husband Madan, and son Gaurav (age 5) bought their first home this year and enjoy living in West Henrietta.

Ken Kinsey is now officially retired from the department and now offically teaches one course a semester as a part-time emeritus faculty member. Ken has continued to lead the innovative LabVIEW course he developed, and teaches Electricity and Magnetism in the fall.

Ken’s son Nat recently graduated from Hamilton College (congratulations!) and is now working for Sundance Books in Geneseo, which has become the official bookstore for the College.

During the 1999-2000 academic year, Dave Meisel will be on sabbatical leave at the Communications and Space Science Laboratory (CSSL) of Penn State University Electrical Engineering. He will be continuing his search for, and study of, interstellar meteors using the powerful Arecibo UHF radar in Puerto Rico. The radar is part of the National Astronomical and Ionospheric Center (NAIC) operated by Cornell University. Penn State Electrical Engineering Graduate School has become a destination for several Geneseo Physics Students. Andy Gerrard passed his Ph.D. qualifying exam last year and Steve Vogt will be starting this fall. Joel Nyquist is participating in an REU in the same department this summer.

While we searched for full-time faculty members, David Morabito, a graduate of RIT and SUNY-Buffalo, served as a visiting assistant professor within the department. David taught Analytical Physics I, Applied Mechanics, and Digital Electronics. David is a theoretical physicist.

Steve Padalino, Chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, continues to teach his favorite courses, Advanced Mechanics, Senior Lab, and Digital Electronics Lab. In addition, he continues to teach nuclear physics through undergraduate student research centered on inertial confinement fusion. With funding from the Laboratory for Laser Energetics, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and the Department of Energy, Steve has sponsored about a dozen students this year. Steve is earning his frequent flyer miles with trips to the Division of Nuclear Physics Meeting in Santa Fe, the Nuclear Reactor at Cornell University (where Geneseo alumnus Scott Lassell coordinates experiments), the APS Centennial Meeting in Atlanta (with seven undergraduates) and Livermore Labs in California. This spring, Steve’s students Joel Nyquist, Heather Olliver, Sarah Thompson, and Tom Wakeman, presented their work at the Council on Undergraduate Research meeting at the Senate Office Building in Washington, DC.

Steve and Susan are nearing the completion of their house renovations, and are enjoying the newly purchased 24-foot pontoon boat. Steve says he’s studying the buoyant force on Conesus Lake.

Jerry Reber has discovered that he likes golf more than squash. It’s not as hard on the joints, you can do it outside, and you still get to hit a small ball around. After two semesters of General Physics, the Electric Circuit Analysis course, and service as the Radiation Safety Officer and as a member of the Faculty Personnel Committee, Jerry is enjoying the summer on the links. Of course, he and Dixie occasionally interrupt golf to go down the cabin in Pennsylvania. This spring they hosted the annual cabin trip for physics faculty and students. Jerry also organized the Electric Circuit Analysis Golf Tournament for faculty and students in May.

Spirit Soars!

Dave Meisel continues working with the joint Penn State / Geneseo student rocket project that began last year. Dubbed SPIRIT (for Student Projects Involving Rocket Investigation Techniques) this project will culminate in launching a 375 pound payload from the NASA Wallops Flight Center. The purpose of the payload is to measure the temperature of the Mesosphere (60-120 kilometers) the highest resolution possible. Geneseo's contribution is a spectrophometric diode array to monitor the temperature as indicated by the emission of the OH radical dayglow. Physics majors among the 15 students involved are: Andy Cunningham, Drew Caffrey, Jim Roby-Brantley, Brian McHale, Brian Dobbs, Tracy Potter, Robert Tallman, and Vito LaBarbara. Geneseo had its package ready for the scheduled May '99 launch, but technical difficulties at Penn State forced a postponement until November '99. The entire SPIRIT team (except for Vito who graduated in June) will be present at Wallops for the launch when it actually occurs. Dr. Ed Pogozelski will be the SPIRIT advisor while Dr. Meisel is on leave.

Working on the SPIRIT payload along with the students was Clint Cross, the department's new technical support person who replaced Fred Evangelista. Clint worked closely with a local company, FTT Engineering (Gary Kone and Ken Mann) which does precision machining to produce the diode array mounting to exacting specifications. FTT is a company that specializes in ultra-precision machining and a staunch college supporter through the Geneseo Foundation. The actual thin film coatings on the diodes were done by Geneseo students at the University of Rochester Nuclear Structure Research Laboratory under the direction of Clint and Dr. C. Wu. Publicity of the SPIRIT program has been facilitated through the cooperation of Jo Kirk and Ron Pretzer of the college communications office.

Several SPIRIT students obtained off-campus summer research positions. Drew Caffrey is one of 23 students at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center's Summer Academy. Andy Cunningham is at Argonne National Laboratory, Jim Roby-Brantley is working at CVC in Rochester, and Brian Dobbs is working on an REU in the Cornell Astronomy Department. Brian is a member of the Geneseo musical group "The Blackouts" which recently produced its first audio CD. For information send a message to Brian McHale will be starting in the 3-2 engineering program this fall at SUNY-Buffalo.

In November of '98, the Penn State team paid Geneseo a visit for a model rocket launch from the Geneseo airport (down in the flats). It seems that the Geneseo airport is a preferred launch site for area rocketeers (Monroe Area Aeronautical Research Society...web site...) and members of both the Penn State and Geneseo teams will participate again over the July 4th holiday.

This year Geneseo was elected a member of the New York Space Grant Consortium that is headquartered at Cornell in their Space Science and Astronomy Departments. A grant from the consortium with matching funds from the college enabled us to hire four summer research students to work on the SPIRIT project this summer. They were Tracy Potter and Robert Tallman representing physics, Sean Burke, chemistry, and Charles Englehart, computer science.

Alumni feedback

Many thanks to those alumni who have reported back to us. Check out our Department Web Pages for recent news. ( If you want to contribute an update for next year’s newsletter, send your information to or drop us a letter the old-fashioned way!


Faculty Alumni: *Phil Alley (64), emeritus faculty member, received the Meritorious Service Award given by the Geneseo Foundation at the annual Foundation dinner. The award recognizes Phil’s three decades of exceptional service to the College. Phil remains very active in the Geneseo Rotary club. Phil and Marie are spending the summer in Seaside Park, New Jersey.

*Alena Lieto (97) is studying biophysics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. *Kerry Riley (99) recently graduated from Clarkson College as part of the 3-2 program. Kerry has started a new job at Xerox in Webster. *Bob Runkle (98) has passed his qualifying exam for the Ph.D. in physics at UNC-Chapel Hill. For his Ph.D. thesis, Bob is hoping to complete a measurement relating to the solar neutrino problem. Bob reports that Rose Zweigle (98) has recently moved to the Chapel Hill area also, further swelling the ranks of Geneseo physicists in that southern part of heaven. Rose is applying for teaching positions in the area. *Bob Johnson (96) and his wife Christine announce the birth of their first child, a daughter named Irene, on May 4. Bob is working on his Ph.D. in physics at North Carolina State University and stopped by for a visit in June. *Carrie Creasey (95) is "completely ensconced in the radiation medicine program" at the University of Kentucky. In addition, she is teaching figure skating and competing as well. *Jason Smith (96) earned his masters in biomedical engineering from Worcester Polytechnic in 1998 and is now working as a Product Support specialist for Capintec, Inc., a Ramsey, NJ company that makes radiation detection devices for Nuclear Medicine. Jason and his wife Kristen live in Valley Cottage, NY. * After spending a year in Sweden on a Fulbright Fellowship (he went to the Nobel Prize award ceremony), *David Binns (98) will be starting his studies in materials science at Stanford in the fall. David won a National Defense Science and Engineering Fellowship to continue his studies. *Kim Gollinger (98) is doing well at Syracuse University as part of the 3-2 program. *Dustin Kruse (96) is working on his Ph.D. in biomedical engineering at the University of Virginia. He reports that Greg Benson (98) is teaching English in Japan this year. *Dan Gaugel (94) has spent the past 3 year working for Arthur D. Little in Cambridge, MA (a consulting firm), involved in product development and technology analysis. This fall he starts his master’s studies at Carnegie Mellon University in the electrical engineering department. He’s looking forward to doing research on MEMS (microelectromechanical systems). *Sanety Boussa (97) visited us in November and gave a colloquium about materials science at the University of Virginia. *Paul King (94) also presented a colloquium for the department. Paul reported on his research at the Stanford Linear Accelerator. Not to be outdone, *Steve Bancheri (97) and his thesis advisor visited us last fall to talk about the ceramic engineering program at Alfred. Steve is finishing his masters at Alfred. *Jeffrey Sklaver (78) served in the Air Force for 11 years and has been working as a commercial pilot and instructor pilot since 1989. He’s been enjoying mountain biking near his home near the Rocky Mountains. He reports that he still plays ferocious squash matches with Chip Reist (76) in Pittsburgh. No word on who wins. *Emmanuel Ambroise (97) is completing his 3-2 program in mechanical engineering at Clarkson. *Marie Martinelli (98) stopped by for a visit recently. She has been working as a research assistant at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center. She says, "I put excel spreadsheets together and there are a bunch of psychotic people roaming the halls, so it's pretty much like being in the nuke lab." *Jason Law (97) is working on his graduate program in Ocean Engineering at the University of South Florida. *Shawn Cudnik (96) completed his MBA and a Master’s in manufacturing at Penn State. He’s working for Pricewaterhouse Coopers as a consultant and doing a lot of job related traveling. Shawn talked to Keith Westby (96) who earned a master’s degree at Drexel University. *Matt Brauer (98) and Jason Lord (98) are doing well in the mechanical engineering program at Penn State. *Bram Lillard (98) has been working with the particle physics folks at the University of Maryland. Bram is working on his Ph.D. in Physics. *Satoshi Ishikawa (95) is working for Dragon System on voice-recognition systems for use with Japanese characters. Satoshi is living near Boston. *Elizabeth Lyons Jones (93) completed her 3-2 program at Columbia, worked as an engineer, and then went to dental school. She’s in the University of Washington orthodontic residency program. *Jenny Sweitzer (96) completed her master’s degree in materials science at the University of Virginia and is now a research engineer at Johns Manville in Denver, Co. She’s working on neural network modeling. *Mark Bailey (76) is the Network Manager for the city of Redmond, Washington. He’s very active in the Boy Scouts and, when he wrote us last fall, was looking forward to the World Jamboree in Santiago, Chili. *Pat Dennis (85) is now an assistant professor at the University of Virginia. *Dana Lane (95) continues her graduate work in the Climate Research Division of Scripps Institution of Oceanography. She’s also been studying Shitoryu karate and singing in a symphony chorus. *Stephen Weppner (91) has a tenure track position at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida. Steve earned his Ph.D. from Ohio University in 1997. He’s been directing undergraduate research projects, thereby continuing the tradition. *Kurt Laurer (93) is working for the General Electric Company’s Power Systems Division in Schenectady as a Lead Engineer. Kurt finished his MS in mechanical engineering at RPI in 1996 and lives in Saratoga Springs with his wife Mary Jane. *Bill Geist (93) completed his Ph.D. in nuclear physics at UNC-Chapel Hill. He now works at Los Alamos National Labs. *Ben Kilminster (97) has completed his Master’s degree at the University of Rochester and is continuing towards his Ph.D. in high energy physics. Ben is doing his thesis work at the Collider Detector at Fermilab, studying "matter in its most fundamental form – quarks". For more info, check out *Laura Cavagnaro (97) has been studying dolphins near New Zealand as part of her thesis work in ocean engineering at the University of New Hampshire.

Oh What a Tangled Web WE Weave

The Geneseo Physics and Astronomy web site is You can also reach us through the College web site - Check us out!

A Critical Mass at DNP

Geneseo Physics was certainty well represented at the Division of Nuclear Physics meeting in Santa Fe, NM this year. For the first time ever, the DNP meeting featured an undergraduate research poster session. Former Geneseo professor Warren Rogers, who is now at Wesmont College in California, organized the program. Warren did a great job, and the response was fantastic, with 59 students from 40 different institutions participating in the event. Professors Padalino, Fletcher, and Freeman attended the meeting and eight Geneseo students attended the conference. Derek Goodemote, Joel Nyquist, Heather Olliver, Chris Randall, Bob Runkle, Brook Schwartz, and Sarah Thompson each gave poster presentations on their work. Geneseo had by far the largest number of participants!

Physics Alumni E-mail

In Newsletter we would like to publish a list of Physics alumni e-mail addresses. We will not publish any e-mail addresses without permission. If you want to be included, please send a message with your address, name, and graduation year to Fletcher@ Geneseo.Edu. Indicate that you give your permission for us to publish your address. Include an update of your activities, if you like!

John Will (83)

Greg Bambach (93)

Mike Rogers (94)

Michele Lang (94)

Todd Elder (94)

Don Duggan-Haas (85)

Dani Milavec (90)

Mark Muller ()

David Schmidt (93)

Jack Schroeder (70)

Jenny Sweitzer (96)

Eric Wohlers (84)

Matt Rush (89)

Kent Niederhofer ('83)

Elizabeth Lyons Jones

Mark B. Bailey (76)

Pat Dennis (85)

Funds power program

Thank you for contributing to the Physics Alumni Fund.

State rules prevent us from using department funds to provide pizza, beverages, and such to our students, so the Physics Alumni Fund enables us to treat our hardworking majors. In addition, we use Alumni Fund monies to defray some of the expense of student trips and in our recruiting efforts. If you are interested in contributing, just send a check to "Geneseo Foundation Physics Alumni Fund", Geneseo Foundation, SUNY-Geneseo, Geneseo, NY 14454.