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Department of Physics

News & Events

Sarah Steiger, Class of 2017, recipient of the George J. Goldsmith Award

May 3, 2017 -

Congratulations to Physics major and graduating senior Sarah Steiger for her achievement in receiving the 2017 George J. Goldsmith award. Named in memory of longtime Physics Department faculty member George J. Goldsmith, who is remembered for both his scholarship and his selfless dedication to the students of Boston College, this award is given annually to a graduating physics major in recognition of excellence in academic achievement and research.

Assistant Professor Ilija Zeljkovic has received a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation

April 10, 2017 -

Boston College Assistant Professor of Physics Ilija Zeljkovic, whose research explores emergent phenomena in novel quantum materials, has received a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation, the agency’s most prestigious grant for early-career faculty who best exemplify the role of teacher-scholar.

The five-year, $650,000 grant will support Prof. Zeljkovic’s project “Nanoscale Synthesis and Imaging of Novel Topological Phases.” This project combines two advanced atomic-scale techniques to create and characterize new topological materials: molecular beam epitaxy to create the materials a single atomic layer at a time, and scanning tunneling microscopy to visualize their atomic and electronic structure. The project aims to provide a fundamental advancement in the understanding of topological materials, as well as to craft new materials for their eventual use in technology, such as in spintronics and quantum computing.  The education goals of this project utilize Prof. Zeljkovic's expertise in materials growth and microscopy imaging, and are targeted to impact a wide range of students, including middle school, high school, undergraduate and graduate students.

“I am extremely grateful to the National Science Foundation and the agency’s support of my lab’s work,” said Prof. Zeljkovic, who joined the physics faculty at BC in 2015. “During the past two years, my students have worked very hard to set up a unique combination of growth and characterization experimental facilities in my lab, and obtain preliminary data demonstrating the feasibility of the proposed research. Along the way, I have benefitted immensely from the assistance of many of my colleagues here in the department, who provided advice and helped me shape the proposal both in terms of research and outreach activities. Finally, I am thankful to my faculty mentor and Department Chairman, Prof. Michael J. Naughton who offered encouragement and provided feedback during this process.”

Luciano Silvestri awarded the Dissertation Fellowship

March 31, 2017 -

Congratulations to Luciano Silvestri, a graduate student in the Department of Physics who was recently awarded the Dissertation Fellowship.  Dissertation Fellowships are awarded to advanced graduate students based on the excellence of their research project and will fund Luciano as he continues his research during the next year.

Joshuah Heath and Aaron Rose recipients of Donald J. White Teaching Excellence Award

March 24, 2017 -

Congratulations to Joshuah Heath and Aaron Rose, graduate students in the Department of Physics who were awarded the Donald J. White Teaching Excellence Award. The Donald J. White Teaching Excellence Awards program was established to underscore and reinforce the importance of the pursuit of teaching excellence of graduate Teaching Fellows and Teaching Assistants. Awards are for students who have assisted in laboratories in the sciences, and for those students in other disciplines who assist in teaching by leading discussion groups.

Physics Majors win Undergraduate Awards

March 24, 2017 -

Dean’s Scholars

The Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences selected the brightest scholars from the junior class based on their overall academic performance, recommendations from their departmental faculty, co-curricular initiatives, and their sense of purpose in how they approach their future. The Department of Physics congratulates the following students for being named Dean’s Scholars: Andrew McCrossan and Christopher Noyes.

Sophomore Scholars

The Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences selected academically distinguished members of the Sophomore Class, who are ranked in the top three percent of their class, to receive this award. The Department of Physics congratulates the following students for being named Sophomore Scholars: Matthew Bonidie, Amelia Culp, Kaimin Liu and Ryan O’Connor.

Professor Baldassare (Rino) Di Bartolo has been awarded the Centennial Outstanding Achievement Award.

November 1, 2016 -

Professor Baldassare (Rino) Di Bartolo has been awarded the Centennial Outstanding Achievement Award from the Luminescence and Display Materials Division of the Electrochemical Society.  This award was established in 2002 to encourage excellence in luminescence and display materials research and outstanding technical contributions to the field. For the purposes of this award, luminescence and display materials science is defined as that area of knowledge that encompasses the physics, chemistry, and materials technology of luminescence and display materials and devices.

Professor Di Bartolo has been a member of the BC Physics department since 1968, and has run a highly successful international, spectroscopy summer school at Ettore Majorana in Sicily since 1973. "We are happy to congratulate Rino on this Outstanding Achievement Award from the ECS, honoring him for a career of contributions to his field", said Physics chairman and Ferris Professor, Michael J. Naughton.

The Electrochemical Society (ECS) is an international, non-profit, scientific educational organization founded for the advancement of the theory and practice of electrochemistry, electrothermics, electronics, and allied subjects.  The Society was founded in Philadelphia in 1902 and incorporated in 1930.  There are currently over 7,000 scientists and engineers from more than 70 countries who hold individual membership; the Society is also supported by more than 100 corporations.

Professor Di Bartolo was not able to attend the ECS centennial conference, so a member of the Society came to Boston College to present him with a plaque and an honorary award.  A link to the abstract of his award talk can be found at

Professors Kempa and Herczyński coauthor a paper in Nature Communications

November 1, 2016 -

A paper by professors Kempa and Herczyński, with collaborators at South China Normal University (Gaungzhou), was recently published in journal Nature Communications. The paper, titled Optimization of hierarchical structure and nanoscale-enabled plasmonic refraction for window electrodes in photovoltaics, is the second by the team in this prestigious journal. The first, published in 2014, demonstrated superior optoelectronic performance of electrodes based on leaf venation systems, spider webs, and other natural networks. In the sequel, it is shown theoretically and experimentally that quasi-fractal networks, such as leaf veins, provide a near-perfect practical realization of an ideal electrode. More broadly, the work indicates that hierarchal topology, rather than details of the branching geometry, are of primary importance in photovoltaic applications, which establishes a new paradigm for designing optimal solar cells and other optoelectronic devices. The paper is available online at

Prof. Krzysztof Kempa has been elected a 2016 Fellow of the American Physical Society

October 12, 2016 -

Krzysztof (Kris) Kempa, Professor of Physics at Boston College, has been elected a 2016 Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS). The APS's Fellowship Program recognizes members who have made exceptional contributions to the physics enterprise; e.g., outstanding physics research, important applications of physics, leadership in or service to physics, or significant contributions to physics education. Election to Fellowship is a distinct honor signifying recognition by one’s peers and limited to no more than one half of one percent of the over 50,000 APS members.

Professor Kempa was cited by the APS Division of Condensed Matter Physics (DCMP) for his outstanding research, which is focused on the interaction of electromagnetic radiation with novel materials and architectures, in particular on optical and plasmonic effects. The APS citation, which can be found at, is for “pioneering contributions to understanding basic physics of plasmons in condensed matter systems.”  

On behalf of the department, chairman and Ferris Professor Michael J. Naughton congratulates Prof. Kempa, adding that “Kris is entirely deserving of this honor. He has been a sustained, leading presence in the department, with creative, high level theoretical research that engages many aspects of novel materials physics and phenomena, including its overlap with other disciplines such as engineering and biology - the very essence of integrated science.”

BC Physics now has five of its faculty, constituting nearly 30% of the department, selected for this highly competitive honor, with Professor Kempa joining Distinguished Research Professor Gabor Kalman, Rourke Professor Kevin Bedell, Professor Naughton and Professor David Broido. 

The Department of Physics congratulates the Class of 2016!

June 14, 2016 -

The graduates and their families were fêted by faculty and staff at our annual commencement reception, May 23, 2016. The reception was organized by Physics staff members Nancy Chevry, Síle Power and Scott Bortolotto. See the list of graduates.