Physics Department News

  • Snowball

    Detecting dark matter using supercooled water

    Although dark matter makes up roughly 85 percent of all matter, it's still never been directly detected. Ever more sensitive systems are in the works, watching and waiting for wandering dark matter particles to interact with them, and now researchers from the UAlbany led by Prof. Matthew Szydagis have developed a new dark matter detector using supercooled water. More can be read at New Atlas and at Phys.org. The paper can be found on arXiv.

  • Combined Symposium

    Kepler's first exoplanet confirmed

    Ashley Chontos, alumna of the University at Albany (Class of 2016, Bachelor of Science, double major Physics and Math, and a former member of the Knuth Exoplanet Group) and currently a third-year graduate student at the University of Hawaii, has received international recognition for confirming that Kepler Space Telescope’s first discovered planet candidate, Kepler-1658b (KOI 4), is indeed a real world. Her first-authored paper, titled “The Curious Case of KOI 4: Confirming Kepler's First Exoplanet”, has been accepted for publication by The Astronomical Journal, and has been reported on by news agencies worldwide.



    Kepler-1658b was the first new planet candidate detected by the Kepler Space Telescope ten years ago. However, to estimate a planet’s size, one needs to know the size of the star. Initial estimates of the host star were off, and the detection had been deemed a false positive. Using an updated analysis technique Ashley Chontos was able to obtain more accurate estimates of the size of the host star finding it to be three times larger than previously thought!

    Chontos said, “Our new analysis, which uses stellar sound waves observed in the Kepler data to characterize the star, demonstrated that the star is in fact three times larger than previously thought. This in turn means that the planet is three times larger, revealing that Kepler-1658b is actually a hot Jupiter.”

    Spectroscopic data collected by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory was then used to confirm that Kepler-1658b was indeed a planet.

    "Kepler-1658 is a perfect example of why a better understanding of host stars of exoplanets is so important," Chontos said. "It also tells us that there are many treasures left to be found in the Kepler data."

  • Quantum Computing

    The World's First Quantum Computer

    Herbert Fotso is an assistant professor of physics in UAlbany's College of Arts and Sciences. His research focuses on theoretical and computational condensed matter physics. In this episode, Herbert gives insight on the global arms race in quantum computing, and where the U.S. stands in the competition to create the world's next quantum computer. The podcast and more can be found here.

  • Combined Symposium

    2nd Combined Symposium April 5-6, 2019

    The event is scheduled in Albany, NY for Friday April 5 at SUNY Polytechnic Institute in the NFS Auditorium, and Saturday April 6 in the D’Ambra Auditorium at UAlbany. There will be a poster session during the reception at the 5:30-7:30 PM on Friday April 5 in the Atrium of the SUNY Poly ZEN building. The poster for this event can be downloaded here and if you would like to share your research findings, register by Friday March 8th here.

  • Dance and Physics with Keith Earle

    Dance and Physics with Keith Earle

    Keith Earle is an associate professor of physics in UAlbany's College of Arts and Sciences. He has collaborated with Albany's Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company to research what dance reveals about laws in physics. The UAlbany News Podcast is hosted and produced by Sarah O'Carroll, a Communications Specialist at the University at Albany, State University of New York. The podcast can be found here.

  • Breast Cancer

    Governor Cuomo Announces Nearly $3 Million in Grants for Breast Cancer Research

    Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced nearly $3 million in funding will be awarded to projects across New York for breast cancer research. These grants will encourage innovative research into the causes of breast cancer, as well as prevention, detection or screening, treatment, survivorship and cure, along with the design of new educational strategies to help people reduce specific risk factors associated with developing breast cancer. More can be read here.

  • Higgs

    UAlbany Physicists Help Analyze Higgs Boson

    New results from the ATLAS and CMS experiments at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), CERN, Switzerland, reveal how strongly the Higgs boson interacts with the heaviest known elementary particle, the top quark, and UAlbany researchers are contributing to the analysis. The Higgs boson is the keystone of the Standard Model of particle physics, which has been developed over the last 50-60 years. The Higgs boson gives mass to other elementary particles such as quarks and electrons, and its existence is necessary for the theory to give sensible results (i.e., the probability of processes to occur cannot be greater than 100 percent). More can be read here.

  • DMSS

    DMSS: A Dark Matter Summer School 2018

    UAlbany’s Department of Physics recently hosted a Dark Matter Summer School for high level undergraduates and graduate students to explore issues related to dark matter, such as where dark matter is in the Milky Way; how can we detect dark matter, either directly, indirectly or at CERN’s large hadron collider; what are the theories behind dark matter; and how neutrinos influence dark matter searches. The program was supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation. More can be read here.

  • Steam Night

    Steam Night - April 2018

    The Guilderland Public Library family STEAM night was a ton of fun! Undergraduate student and physics major Collin Wilson, Vice President of SPS (Society of Physics Students) presented a few interactive demonstrations that the kids could play with on their own while learning about physics, including a ball on ramp activity (pictured) involving conversion of potential to kinetic energy and the normal force, and a xenon plasma generator.

    Collin/SPS were also able to meet some other local chapters of different STEAM- or STEM-related student groups from other local schools and see what sorts of things they are up to that we at UAlbany may eventually be able to incorporate into our own work. We would definitely recommend that anyone interested in helping out at one of these events in the future should consider getting involved with UAlbany’s SPS chapter by contacting Professor Szydagis at mszydagis@albany.edu. Our library contact in Guilderland, the main event organizer, is Amy McCarthy: mccarthya@guilpl.org.

  • Newsletter

    Physics Newsletter - September 2017

    Here you can find the first newsletter of our department and hopefully the first of many. It presents a general overview of the department and is a very helpful read for prospective students.


  • PASCAL 2017

    On April 8, 2017 Physics Department held the 8-th annual research conference, PASCAL 2017. More information can be found here.

  • Munch with the Majors

    Munch with the Majors

    Associate Professor Keith Earle met with undergraduate Physics majors at "Munch with the Majors" held on 27 Sep 2017 at the University at Albany Campus Center. Over the course of the event Professor Earle discussed the Physics program with students from a variety of majors including Biology, Chemistry, Engineering, History, and Public Health. Every student who had a conversation with Professor Earle received a copy of the Physics Department's Newsletter which gives information about undergraduate and graduate programs, as well as opportunities for undergraduate research.

  • GradFair

    Graduate school fair

    This year’s Graduate Fair will focus primarily on UAlbany undergraduates. The Campus Center Ballroom will act as the convenient and central location for the event. Last year’s Graduate Fair attracted more than 350 students. We are interested in reaching out, not only to juniors and seniors, but also freshmen and sophomores who might be interested in BA/MA programs.

  • LUX

    World’s most sensitive dark matter detector completes search

    LEAD, SD, USA / SHEFFIELD, UK -- The Large Underground Xenon (LUX) dark matter experiment, which operates beneath a mile of rock at the Sanford Underground Research Facility in the Black Hills of South Dakota, has completed its silent search for the missing matter of the universe. Assistant Professor of Physics Matthew Szydagis of the University at Albany SUNY will have the great honor of representing LUX and presenting these very same results for the first time on this side of the pond on Saturday August 6 th at the 38 th International Conference on High Energy Physics (ICHEP ‘16) in downtown Chicago. Read more here.

  • Szydagis

    Prof. Szydagis receives a DOE grant

    Prof. Szydagis has been awarded a research grant from the U.S. Department of Energy for the project, "The LUX-ZEPLIN Dark Matter Experiment: From Exclusion to Discovery Potential with Better Simulations and Vetos". The research program is conducted using data collected with the LUX (Large Underground Xenon) and LZ (LUX-ZEPLIN) detectors at the Sanford Underground Research Facility at Lead, South Dakota, the former site of the Homestake gold mine and the Noble-prize-winning Homestake solar neutrino experiment, within the Ray Davis cavern.


  • LUX and the Underground People

    Professor Szydagis recently hosted a week-long analysis workshop and collaboration meeting on campus October 19-23, 2015. This meeting was an instrumental face-to-face for establishing momentum to analyze both WIMP search and calibration data collected in 2015. Read more here.

  • Knuth

    Prof. Jain receives an NSF grant

    Prof. Jain has been awarded a research grant from the National Science Foundation for the project, "Experimental Particle Physics at SUNY Albany". The research program is conducted using data collected with the ATLAS detector at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, Switzerland.

  • knuth

    Prof. Kevin H. Knuth takes Third Prize in the FQXI 2015 Essay Contest "Trick or Truth? - The Mysterious Link Between Physics and Mathematics"

    Prof. Kevin H. Knuth has been awarded a Third Prize in the Foundational Questions Institute (FQXI) 2015 Essay Contest, "Trick or Truth? - The Mysterious Link Between Physics and Mathematics." with his essay titled "The Deeper Roles of Mathematics in Physical Laws". The contest theme was based on a question from the physicist Eugene Wigner, where he considered the problem of why mathematics so well describes the behavior of the physical universe. In his essay, Knuth claims that much of the utility of mathematics arises from our choice of description of the physical world coupled with our desire to quantify it. This is demonstrated in a practical sense by considering one of the most fundamental concepts of mathematics: additivity. This example is used to show how many physical laws can be derived as constraint equations enforcing relevant symmetries in a sense that is far more fundamental than commonly appreciated. Winners are presented with a monetary award, and the winning essays are accepted for publication in the Springer Frontier series. The essay can be found here.

  • jeep

    Physics: A Question of Fun?

    Physics students and professors got together for pizza and fun, with students playing an answer-and-question style game to learn more about physics related to the department's research, and win fun prizes along the way provided by the Society of Physics Students. A new UAlbany tradition, funded by CHEER. More details and pictures can be found here.

  • ErnstJain

    PASCAL 2015

    All friends of the physics department are invited to attend a traditional PASCAL conference on March 7, 2015. More details can be found here.

  • ErnstJain

    Particle Physics highlighted in the UAlbany Annual Research report

    UAlbany physicists are using data collected by the ATLAS detector at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, Switzerland, to study the fundamental properties of the universe. Experiments at CERN led to the discovery of the Higgs boson in July 2012, the particle crucial for the confirmation of the Standard Model of particle physics.

  • New graduate fellowship

    Graduate Fellowships for underrepresented minorities in STEM fields ($30,000 per year) are now open for application. Qualified applicants are strongly encouraged to apply. Details can be found here.

  • Knuth

    Prof. Lunin receives an NSF grant

    Prof. Lunin has been awarded a research grant from the National Science Foundation for the project "Black Holes and Gauge/Gravity Duality".

  • Knuth

    Prof. Kevin H. Knuth takes Third Prize in the FQXI 2013 Essay Contest "It From Bit, or Bit From It?"

    Prof. Kevin H. Knuth has been awarded a Third Prize in the Foundational Questions Institute (FQXI) 2013 Essay Contest, "It From Bit, or Bit From It?" with his essay titled "Information-Based Physics and the Influence Network". The contest theme was based on an question from the physicist John Archibald Wheeler, where he considered whether It came from Bit? In his essay, Knuth suggests that rather than thinking about the universe as a computer, perhaps it is more accurate to think about it as a network of influences where the laws of physics derive from both consistent descriptions and optimal information-based inferences made by embedded observers. The FQXI Essay contests are open to the general public and have become quite prestigious. Winners are presented with a monetary award, an invitation to FQXI membership, and the opportunity to have Scientific American consider material adapted from winning essays for publication.

  • Higgs

    Physicists celebrate 2013 Nobel Prize for Higgs discovery

    The Higgs boson was predicted in 1964, and was finally discovered in 2012 by the ATLAS and CMS experiments, which are operating at CERN. Physicists from SUNY Albany are members of the ATLAS collaboration.

  • The Lawrence and Marie Shore Scholarship Application

    Each year the Lawrence and Marie Shore Graduate Scholarships are awarded to students engaged in sanctioned research in the life sciences. Applications are due in the Dean’s Office by Friday, April 19, 2013.

  • Goyal

    Prof. Goyal awarded two-year FQXi research grant

    Prof. Goyal has been awarded a two-year research grant by the Foundational Questions Institute (FQXi) for the project "An information-theoretic approach to identical particles in quantum theory".

  • Physics Recognition Ceremony

    Sunday May 19 at 12:30pm, Campus Center Assembly Hall, Speaker - Dan Hart (Boeing Vice President of Network & Space Systems Deputy Program Manager of Return to Intercept, Ground-Based Midcourse Defense)

  • Shekhtman

    "Engineering Molecular Motors" by A. Shekhtman

    On Friday 12th April, Prof. Alexander Shekhtman (Chemistry, University at Albany) will be speaking on "Engineering Molecular Motors".

  • Deem

    Two lectures by Prof. Michael Deem

    On Tuesday 12th March, Prof. Michael Deem (Bioengineering/Physics, Rice University) will present a lecture on mathematical scaling laws in biology and a lecture on climate change.

  • Tara Das

    Symposium in Honor of Professor Tara Prasad Das

    On October 26th 2012, the Department hosts a special symposium to honor Professor Das’s more than five decades of contribution to the understanding of the electronic structure and hyperfine properties of atoms, molecules and condensed matter systems. Please click here for more information.

  • -

    Scholarship Opportunity for Masters and Doctoral students.

    The Lawrence and Marie Shore Graduate Scholarship In the Life Sciences (Application and Information Attached)Deadline: April 20, 2012.

  • Philip Goyl giving talk

    Albany physics is number 1!

    According to 2011 data released by the National Research Council, the physics department at UAlbany was #1 amongst 161 physics programs nationally in the number of published articles per faculty member, #2 in the number of doctoral graduates per faculty member and #17 in the number of citations per faculty member.

  • Carolyn MacDonald

    Prof. MacDonald awarded four-year NIH $330k grant for "Design Studies and Optimization of Phase-Contrast Mammography

    Prof. Carolyn MacDonald has been awarded a four-year (2010-2014) NIH grant worth $330k for a project entitled "Design Studies and Optimization of Phase-Contrast Mammography" with the Illinois Institute of Technology

  • Kevin Knuth

    Profs. Goyal and Knuth awarded $350k research grant from John Templeton Foundation.

    Profs. Goyal and Knuth have been awarded a $350k three-year research grant for their project "Quantifying Relations as a Foundation for Physics" by the John Templeton Foundation under their "Sciences and the Big Questions" program.

  • alt

    Profs. Goyal and Knuth organize MaxEnt 2011

    The 31st International Workshop on Bayesian Inference and Maximum Entropy Methods was held in Waterloo, Canada on 10-15 July 2011, with many participants from U. Albany

  • alt

    Prof. MacDonald again program chair for SPIE Optics + Photonics 2011

    Prof. Carolyn MacDonald is once again the X-Ray, Gamma-Ray, and Particle Technologies program chair for the large (3000+ presentations) SPIE Optics and Photonics conference in San Diego this August.