Message from the Chair - October 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how we do things on campus, but it has not stopped research and teaching activities in the Department of Physics.


The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how we do things on campus, but it has not stopped research and teaching activities in the Department of Physics. I would like to highlight the work carried out by members of our department and provide an environment to reconnect with our community.



We are very proud of our alumni, faculty, and students’ achievements, and delighted to share in your accomplishments. On behalf of the department, I would like to congratulate my colleague, recently elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, Ian Mann. Ian is an internationally recognized expert in space physics who also teaches undergraduate physics courses. I would also like to mention our graduate students' multiple awards, including the recent Faculty of the Science Doctoral Dissertation Award to Yunfeng Chen (2018), Francesco Gentile, Vedran Jelic, Joel Hutchinson (2019), Taleana Huff (2020), and Jens Boos (2021). These accolades highlight the quality and breadth of research conducted by our astronomers, geophysicists, and physicists. Last but not least, many of our undergraduate students have been working on research projects with our faculty. They are responsible for many scientific articles from our department, an example of our faculty’s commitment to enriching the undergraduate student experience.


Thanks to our donors

We are delighted to announce a generous gift to the Department of Physics from Randy and Audrey Lomnes. This gift has permitted us to establish the "Randy & Audrey Lomnes Early Career Award Endowment in Physics". Lomnes received a Ph.D. in Physics from our department in 1971 under the guidance of the late Professor Frank Weichman. After completing a dissertation entitled "Using ultrasonic attenuation to study photoconduction in Cadmium Sulfide,'' Lomnes initiated a successful entrepreneurial career as an applied physicist. This endowment will undoubtedly help young faculty strengthen their research program at the initial stage of their academic careers. The Department of Physics as a whole is thankful for their generous gift.

Our sincere thanks also to donors supporting the "Isaac Yakoub Isaac Graduate Scholarship in Physics." The award honors our dear colleague Isaac who passed away a year ago. Isaac was instrumental in delivering a high-quality instructional experience to thousands of undergraduates enrolled in our experimental laboratory courses. Isaac is remembered with affection by colleagues, support staff, and students.


Equity, Diversity and Inclusivity in Physics

Our department has embraced a few critical initiatives designed to foster a more inclusive and diverse community. We have recently formed our inaugural Equity Diversity and Inclusivity (EDI) committee, graciously chaired by Claire Currie. The EDI committee has embarked on developing plans that will pave the way for recruiting and retaining underrepresented people in physics. With the department members’ well-being in mind, the committee will advise on and nurture initiatives that promote a respectful atmosphere conducive to learning, innovation, and scientific discovery. We are also pleased to recognize a growing grass-roots initiative spearheaded by Lindsay Leblanc and an active cohort of students and department staff. This initiative,  UAlberta Physicists for Justice + Equity + Diversity + Inclusivity (UA-PJEDI), offers a forum for promoting increased equity, diversity, and inclusivity.  We are also seeking sponsors for an undergraduate scholarship for underrepresented students in Physics. Please don't hesitate to contact the Chair of Physics, M D Sacchi if you are interested in knowing more about this particular initiative.


Until Next Time

I hope to see you in person in future alumni events or scientific meetings once the pandemic is over. Until then, please take a look at our event calendar for seminars and colloquia which are delivered remotely and open to the public.


Mauricio D Sacchi
Chair, Department of Physics