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Graduate student's latest publication

20120612_Heydari Graduate student Meysam Heydari Gharahcheshmeh is the first author on a paper that appears in the June 15 edition of Materials Chemistry and Physics. His work on the corrosion behavior of zinc alloy electrodeposits such as Zn-Ni, Zn-Fe, Zn-Co and Zn-Cr using DC and pulse currents is described in the article “ Pulse electrodeposition of Zn-Co alloy coatings obtained from an alkaline bath”.

New NSF award for gravitational wave research

20120612_nsf_MukherjeeMohantyRomano Physics faculty members Dr. Joseph Romano (PI), Dr. Soumya D. Mohanty (co-PI) and Dr. Soma Mukherjee (co-PI) have been awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation for the development and implementation of novel data analysis methods for gravitational wave searches. The award amount is $450,000 for the period 2012-15.

C2i Gaming Challenge award for Soumya Mohanty

20120517_dr_soumya_mohanty Dr. Soumya Mohanty, Associate Professor in the department of Physics and Astronomy, has received an award in the "C2i Gaming Challenge: Developing New Ways to Use Game-Based Learning to Help Students Achieve,” sponsored by the National Education Association Foundation (NEAF) and Microsoft Partners in Learning. This has been organized on the U.S. Dept. of Education Open Innovation Portal.

Director of Arecibo Radio Observatory speaks to Physics students at UTB

20120516_dr_robert_kerr_small Dr. Robert Kerr, Director of Arecibo Radio Observatory addressed an audience of Physics students from the department of Physics and Astronomy, UTB and also from various schools from the Brownsville Independent School District (BISD) on May 11, 2012. The lecture was a part of the celebrations to mark successful graduation of the first batch of ARCC students.

Frank Ceballos Earns Award at National Conference

2012_frank_ceballos_award_small Physics senior Frank Ceballos won second place in the physics category for his poster entitled Observing SNe Ia Progenitors with LISA at the Emerging Researchers National Conference in STEM held in Atlanta February 23-5.

High School Poster Contest winners are announced

The Department of Physics and Astronomy High School Poster Contest took place on March 2. After much deliberation the judges decided to award a three-way tie for first place to the following students:


  • Ed W. Alvarado, Hanna High School
  • Quentin Hale, Harlingen High School
  • Edward Yao, Mathematics and Science Academy

Ben Frost named NASA Student Ambassador

2012_ben_nasa_ambassador_small Congratulations to physics major Ben Frost who was recently named a NASA Student Ambassador. This appointment is an honor given to “top interns who have participated in various NASA Education projects and have a broad understanding of the NASA mission" according to the NASA Student Ambassador Program Overview.

REU deadline extended

2012_reu_deadline_extended_small The deadline to apply for a Research Experience for Undergraduates has been extended. The program takes place from June 3-August 10 and includes a $5,000 stipend, lodging and travel support. Freshmen, sophomore and junior students majoring in physics, astrophysics, astronomy, chemistry, engineering, and computer science are encouraged to apply. Please visit http://www.phys.utb.edu/REUsite/ for details.

Drs. Natalia Guevara and Juan Guevara, Jr. have been awarded grant from General Medical Studies Institute

2012_Drs_Guevara_three_year_grant_small Drs. Natalia Guevara and Juan Guevara, Jr. have been awarded a three-year grant from the General Medical Studies Institute of the National Institutes of Health to investigate the role of low-density lipoproteins (LDL, a.k.a. "bad cholesterol" particles) in the transport of human DNA.

Professor Benacquista publishes Astrophysics book

Professor M. Benacquista has published a book titled "An Introduction to the Evolution of Single and Binary Stars" (published by Springer). The book introduces the physics behind stellar evolution without any explicit assumption of prior astronomy knowledge. The book fills the niche between preliminary and advanced books available on the topic. The book is aimed towards beginning graduate students.

Center for Advanced Radio Astronomy gets $600,000 from DoD

2011_600k_award_image_small The DoD has awarded the Center for Advanced Radio Astronomy a 600k grant to build the Low Frequency All Sky Monitor (LoFASM). This instrument will search for short time scale radio transients of astrophysical origin, as well as study radio interference mitigation techniques. This work will be done in collaboration with the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL). UTB students will be directly involved in the construction and operation of this facility, making it an ideal tool to train our students in modern radio technology.

UTB-UTSA cooperative PhD student featured at NSF meeting

2011_nsf_kevin_small [ Slide ] (pdf)

The Long Wavelength Array (LWA) is a proposed low frequency radio observatory to be built at many sites in the southern United States. The observatory will be composed of 50 stations each containing 256 dipole antennas. The first station, LWA1, was constructed in New Mexico near the Very Large Array (VLA). A UTB graduate student, Kevin Stovall, assisted the LWA team by writing software which puts the data in a form which is easily readable by existing pulsar search algorithms.

Physics collaboration receives NSF-NUE award

2011_nsf_nue_award_small The National Science Foundation has awarded $200,000 to University of Texas at Brownsville for support of a new project, entitled "Development of the Nanoscale Engineering Concentration (NEC) at the University of Texas at Brownsville."

UTB physics professor awarded NSF MRI and AFRL grants

2011_nsf_mri_afrl_small Prof. Karen Martirosyan has been awarded an NSF MRI grant. The project is entitled “MRI-Consortium: Acquisition of Cryogen-free Cryocooler-based Physical Property Measurement System to Support Transformative Device and Materials Research in the Rio Grande Valley”. NSF funding for this project is $437,970 for two years. More...

Another successful Gravitational Wave Astronomy Summer School comes to a close

The 7th Annual Gravitational Wave Astronomy Summer School (GWASS) provided a unique opportunity for rigorous intellectual challenges in the relaxed atmosphere of South Padre Island. Organized by the Center for Gravitational Wave Astronomy (CGWA), GWASS began on May 30 at the UTB/TSC South Padre Island Center with welcoming addresses from UTB/TSC Provost Dr. Alan Artibise and CGWA Executive Director Dr. Mario Diaz to the 24 graduate and advanced undergraduate students who traveled here from all over the world. More...

21st Century Astronomy Ambassador's Program

AstronomyAmbassador2011_1_small The 21st Century Astronomy Ambassador's program has started on June 13. The program is hosted by the department of Physics and Astronomy. The activities are supported with NSF funding (Principal Investigator: Dr. Soma Mukherjee; co-PI: Dr. Fredrick Jenet). More...

Two UTB physics students chosen for MIT Summer Research program

2011_utb_students_chosen_for_mit_small Two students of the UTB Physics Department, Sergio H. Cantu and Liliana Ruiz-Diaz, have been chosen to participate in the Summer Research Program sponsored by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Office of the Dean for Graduate Education in Cambridge, Mass. More...

Rhodes Scholar attributes his success to UTB Physics department

2011_utb_student_selected_rhodes_scholar_small Challenger Mishra was one of approximately 1000 applicants for the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship. Now he is one of five students from his native India to be named a 2011 Rhodes Scholar. He believes that research he has done with the Center for Gravitational Wave Astronomy (CGWA) made a favorable impact with the Rhodes Scholarship selection committee. More...

Four students from India doing research at the CGWA during the summer

Four students from India will spend the summer at UTB doing research at the Center for Gravitational Wave Astronomy (CGWA). Faculty at the students' home institutions of the Indian Institute of Science and Education Research (IISER) in Calcutta and Pune encouraged the students to travel here to perform research in gravitational wave astronomy. More...

2011 Air Force Summer Faculty Fellowship Award to Karen Martirosyan

2011_airforce_award_k_martirosyan Karen Martirosyan, Associate Professor, has been awarded a prestigious 2011 Air Force Summer Faculty Fellowship to perform research on nanoenergetic materials at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. The 10-week program provides him the opportunity to forge professional relationships with scientists and engineers at the Air Force research facility, to perform high-quality research, and to gain awareness of Air Force research interests.

Invitation to the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics at UC Santa Barbara for Andreas Hanke

invitation_kavil_institute_a_hanke Andreas Hanke, Associate Professor, was invited to visit the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (KITP) at UC Santa Barbara to participate in the research program “Biological Frontiers of Polymer and Soft Matter Physics”. In the Institute’s words, “The KITP is the first and foremost scientific research facility where theorists in physics and allied fields congregate, for sustained periods of time, to work together intensely on a broad range of questions arising from investigations at the leading edges of science.”

Congratulations to the winners of the First Inaugural UTB/TSC Physics Poster Contest for High School Students!

The winners of this contest, organized by the UTB/TSC Physics and Astronomy Department, were announced on March 26. The goal of the contest was to connect local high school students with mentors from the Department of Physics and Astronomy in order to create scientific posters based on the research conducted here. More...


7th Gravitational Wave Astronomy Summer School

The 7th Gravitational Wave Astronomy Summer School will take place this year from May 30-June 11 at South Padre Island, Texas. The program is aimed at senior undergraduate and beginning graduate students. More...


TSAPS student awards

UTB physics undergraduate student Frank Ceballos won an undergraduate poster student presentation award from the Texas section of the American Physical Society for his poster "Preliminary Results For the Distribution of Observable Pulsars Within the Galaxy," presented at the last Fall meeting of TSAPS. His supervisor is UTB physics professor Matt Benacquista. From more than 100 oral and poster presentations from physics graduate and undergraduate students all over Texas, only slightly more than ten were selected for the award which consists in a monetary reward and a recognition certificate. Congratulations to both!


Physics Poster Competition for High School Students.
The Physics & Astronomy Department is organizing a Poster Contest for junior and senior high school students. The students nominated by their teachers (view Nomination Form) have to express three preferences of physics topics (view list of Topics) .More...


Elementary Physics through Video Games - First Winter semester class

This winter break, students will get an opportunity to find their inner warrior and battle ignorance of physics with a lethal arsenal. The Department of Physics and Astronomy will offer students an opportunity to learn algebra-based physics through video games in the courses Elementary Physics with Video Games and the associated lab course. More..


Physics students participated in the NASA University Research Center Student Leadership Series
Physics students Jose Puente and Frank Ceballos participated in the NASA University Research Center Student Leadership Series Oct. 31-Nov. 2 in Orlando, FL.  They toured Cape Kennedy, and got as close as possible to the Space Shuttle Discovery on the launch pad.


The Department of Physics and Astronomy reaches out to thousands at the Austin Science and Engineering Festival

Students from the Department of Physics and Astronomy amazed children with virtual images, flying metal rings, and objects that seemed to defy gravity at the Austin Science and Engineering Festival that took place on October 23-4 in Austin. Professor Mario Díaz also contributed to the event with a public lecture on gravitational wave astronomy on the 24th. More...


The Department of Physics and Astronomy well-presented at TSAPS

The Texas Section of the American Physical Society (TSAPS) meeting was held at The University of Texas at San Antonio during October 22-23 with more than 350 participants from all corners of Texas. The Center of Gravitational Wave Astronomy (CGWA) was one of the co-sponsors of the meeting. Eighteen students represented the Department of Physics and Astronomy, along with five physics faculty members and a postdoctoral scholar. More...


UTB/TSC is proud to host the Lower Rio Grande Valley Texas, World Space Week
The United Nations World Space Week Program has selected the Center for Gravitational Wave Astronomy of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at UTB/TSC to host the Lower Rio Grande Valley TX, World Space Week. More...


UTB Faculty Member Organizes Astrophysics Workshop in Aspen, Colorado

Physics faculty member Dr. Matthew Benacquista is organizing a two-week workshop on Galaxy and Central Black Hole Coevolution to be held at the Aspen Center for Physics from May 23 to June 5, 2011. The workshop will bring together an international group of astronomers and physicists working in the areas of observation and theoretical modeling of the growth of galaxies and supermassive black holes. His co-organizers are from Penn State, Columbia University, Vanderbilt University, and the University of Glasgow. More..


The Department of Physics and Astronomy proudly congratulates Wanda Wiley
Ms. Wiley was recognized by UTB as the 'Most Outstanding Employee' for 2009. More...



Prestigious summer research programs for physics students
Three undergraduate students from the Department of Physics and Astronomy were recently accepted into prestigious summer research programs. More ...


High school students become astronomy ambassadors.

The 6th Astronomy Ambassadors Academy took place between June 14 through July 1. The Academy included 22 high school students. More ...


The Department of Physics and Astronomy hosts high school students.

The Department of Physics and Astronomy teamed with Upward Bound Math and Science to host 37 high school students for a three-week summer program that took place in June. More ...



Faculty and students are engaged in fundamental research in relativistic astrophysics, gravitational wave astronomy, biophysics, nanoscience, and optics.


Nanoenergetic systems also known as metastable intermolecular composites (MIC) have various potential applications as propellants, explosives, and primers. The development of novel MIC systems, their design, synthesis and fabrication procedures are critical for national security and it was recognized as a significant addition to support of changing force structure for advanced weapons platforms. Our research at UTB focuses on developing a framework of principles for design and fabrication of nano-tailored highly energetic systems and nanoenergetic gas generators (NGG) for advanced energetic platforms. This involved a systematic study of physics based knowledge in energy release, shock waves and pressure discharge needed to enhance the performance and functionality of novel high density energetic systems.
Read article...

Galaxies appear simpler than before” by Disney et al. The image shows a montage of coloured images of a dozen galaxies (huge whirlpools of stars in space) drawn from our survey of the universe, which is the subject of the letter. As well as being very beautiful they have considerable scientific interest too because they show a wider variety of galaxies than it has been possible to portray before. Hitherto galaxies were found optically, and hence tended to look rather like one another. These, however, were picked up in a radio survey and imaged only afterwards. Consequently they exhibit a much wider range of colours, shapes and surface brightnesses. Intriguingly some of them, although close-by in cosmic terms, are almost, but not quite, invisible. We believe both astronomers and laymen will find them fascinating. Copyright belongs to one of the co-authors, Andrew West. Read article...


Although predicted by S. Rytov more than sixty years ago the experimental proof that radiative heat transfer can be exponentially improved by reducing the gap between two surfaces of different temperature was only recently demonstrated for macroscopic objects with a geometry that can be compared with theoretical predictions. The scientists from the University of Florida and the University of Texas at Brownsville demonstrated good agreement between theoretical prediction and measurement. When an “infinite” warm surface is separated from a cooler one by a vacuum gap, the rate of radiative heat transfer between the two shouldn’t depend on the size of the gap. According to theory, though, this picture doesn’t hold when the surfaces are sufficiently close. In the paper "Near-Field Radiative Heat Transfer between Macroscopic Planar Surfaces" (Phys. Rev. Lett. 107, 014301, 2011), the scientists focused on a straightforward planar geometry. The heat transfer between two parallel square sapphire plates, each about two inches on a side, was measured for separations from a 0.1 mm down to only a few microns. A pronounced increase in heat transfer is seen as the gap between the plates is reduced following the theoretical predictions. In principle, near-field heat transfer could be used to control the temperature of an object without ever contacting it. This is an interesting possibility for cooling the sensitive mirrors in future gravity wave detectors.

Using recent data from the LIGO interferometers, LIGO scientists have been able to constrain the fractional energy density in gravitational waves to < 6.9 x10-6 (at 95% confidence) in a ~100 Hz band around 100 Hz. This number improves on indirect limits on the gravitational wave background obtained from the relative abundance of light elements in the very early universe (Big Bang Nucleosynthesis). The attached figure shows various limits on the gravitational wave background and predictions from three different models (inflation, pre-Big Bang cosmology, and cosmic strings). The indirect limits are from Big Bang Nucleosynthesis and the Cosmic Microwave Background; the direct limits are from the LIGO S4 and S5 science data (see attached paper), and from pulsar timing data. Projected limits from the advanced LIGO detectors, the CMB Planck satellite mission, and the proposed space-based interferometer LISA are also shown. More...

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