Astronomy & Astrophysics

Dr. Anca Constantin received her Ph.D. from Ohio University. She then moved on to a postdoc position at Drexel University followed by two years at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. She joined the faculty of the Physics & Astronomy Department at JMU in the Fall of 2009. Dr. Constantin explores galaxy centers using observations acquired from major observatories on the ground as well as in space, including the Hubble and the Chandra X-ray space telescopes. She is developing new methods to examine how super-massive black holes grow in galaxy centers and to understand their co-evolution with their hosts.

Dr. Harold Butner received his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Butner is a radio astronomer who works in the submillimeter range. He was a Carnegie Fellow at the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism Carnegie Institution in Washington D.C. From there he held a position at Stewart Observatory in Arizona and, after that, at the Joint Astronomy Center in Hawaii. He is interested in using submillimeter observations to learn more about the process of star formation.

Dr. Keigo Fukumura's research expertise is theoretical high-energy X-ray astrophysics by utilizing the general relativistic magnetohydrodynamics (GRMHD) formalism. His main interest is physics of compact objects particularly focusing on various energetic phenomena produced by magnetized gas (plasma) near accretion disks under strong gravity of central black holes. By constructing theoretical models he has been investigating the physical properties of accreting plasma as well as outflows including their geometry and observational signatures that can in principle be detected in UV/X-ray spectroscopic band. His research is relevant for both galactic black hole binaries (i.e. small black holes) in our Milky Way Galaxy as well as active galactic nuclei (AGNs) at the center of many luminous galaxies (i.e. supermassive black holes) beyond our own Milky Way.

Dr. Sean Scully received his Ph.D. in Astrophysics in 1997 from the University of Minnesota. He had a postdoctoral fellowship at the Institute d'Astrophysique de Paris and an NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship (NRC) at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD. Prior to coming to JMU he was a visiting assistant professor at Valparaiso University. He joined the faculty at JMU in the Fall of 2004. His research focuses on astroparticle and early universe physics. Dr. Scully is most interested in using high energy cosmic rays, gamma-rays, and neutrinos along with the cosmic microwave background to try and place constraints on fundamental physics.

Materials Science

Dr. Costel Constantin received his Ph.D. from Ohio University. He held a postdoctoral position at Carnegie Mellon University. He then held a position at Seton Hall University. Dr. Constantin joined the faculty at JMU in the Fall of 2010. Dr. Constantin's research focuses on the growth and characterization of rare earth oxides and nitride semiconductors.

Dr. William Christopher Hughes received his Bachelors from Davidson College and his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina. He then held a postdoc position at North Carolina State coming to JMU in the Fall of 1997. He is currently the Director of the Center for Materials Science at James Madison University. Dr. Hughes researches microfluidic devices and nanocomposite polymer surfaces in collaboration with Dr. Brian Augustine of the Chemistry & Biochemistry Department.

Dr. Scott Paulson received his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina. He has held postdoctoral positions at both Duke University and the University of Penn. Dr. Pauson's research focuses on the electrical and mechanical properties of carbon nanotubes. Students participate directly in the growth and characterization of these structures in Dr. Paulson's lab at JMU.

Dr. Giovanna Scarel received her Ph.D. from the Department of Materials Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She then became a postdoctoral associate, and later, a research associate at the CNR-INFM-Materials and Devices for Microelectronics National Laboratory, Italy. More recently, she was a research associate at North Carolina State and then joined the faculty at JMU in the Fall of 2009. Dr. Scarel is interested in experimental and simulation work to investigate fundamental optical properties related to optical phonons in thin films. Dr. Scarel studies the response of oxide layers deposited with high uniformity using atomic layer deposition exposed to infrared radiation. The response is determined by surface longitudinal optical modes and transverse optical phonons.

Nuclear & Particle Physics

Dr. L. Adriana Banu, an experimental nuclear physicist, received her Ph.D. in 2005 from University of Mainz, Germany, on research work on the structure of exotic nuclei at GSI Darmstadt. Soon after that, she moved to the USA as a postdoctoral research associate at the Cyclotron Institute/Texas A&M University, where she carried out research in nuclear physics for astrophysics using rare isotope beams. Prof. Banu joined the Department of Physics and Astronomy at JMU in fall of 2010. Her current research interests are the nuclear processes that occur in stars and stellar explosions of astrophysical relevance for the nucleosynthesis of chemical elements; she investigates them using both stable and radioactive nuclear beams. At the Madison Radiation Laboratory, a new facility currently under development at JMU, she is focused on implementing a nuclear astrophysics research project based on photoactivation technique.

Dr. Kevin Giovanetti received his Ph.D. from the College of William and Mary (1982). As a postdoctoral researcher at PSI, Dr. Giovanetti continued his exploration of fundamental physics using atoms composed of exotic particles. This was followed by a second postdoctoral position at UVA where Dr. Giovanetti learned the electron scattering techniques that he currently uses to explore the properties of protons and neutrons at Jefferson lab. Dr. Giovanetti came to JMU in 1989. He strove to merge a productive research program in low energy particle physics with undergraduate education. Recent highlights include his involvement in CLAS at Jefferson lab, G-2 at Fermi lab, and Mulan at PSI.

Dr. Ilarion Melnikov studied at Cornell University as an undergraduate and received his Ph.D. in Physics from Duke University. He is a mathematical physicist with main interests in quantum field theory and string theory. The former is a broad framework underlying our understanding of particle physics and a wide variety of many-body phenomena and collective behavior. The latter is an ambitious attempt to describe the fundamental structure of matter and space-time itself. Dr. Melnikov's work uncovers and develops geometric and algebraic structures in quantum field theory and string theory; these structures can often constrain or even exactly determine various physical properties of these systems. Conversely, the physical origins of the mathematical structures can often lead to surprising mathematical insights and unexpected relations.

Dr. Gabriel Niculescu received his Ph.D. from Hampton University. He then moved on to a postdoc position at Jefferson Lab (by way of Ohio University) and then at the University of Virginia. He came to JMU in 2003. Dr. Niculescu is a member of the CLAS collaboration at Jefferson Lab and the Minerva neutrino experiment at Fermi Lab. He is involved in all aspects of designing, simulating, building, and testing detectors for these high energy experiments, as well as analyzing the data.

Dr. Ioana Niculescu received her Ph.D. from Hampton University. She went on to hold a postdoctoral position at Jefferson Lab. Dr. Niculescu joined the faculty of JMU in 2002. She is a member of the CLAS collaboration of Jefferson Lab and also the Minerva neutrino experiment at Fermi Lab. Dr. Niculescu studies quark-hadron duality, that is, being able to describe hadronic processes in terms of quarks and gluons or also in terms of hadrons.

Soft Condensed Matter & Nonlinear Dynamics

Dr. Klebert Feitosa received his Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts Amherst where he worked in fluidized granular media. Later he joined the group of Dr. Douglas J. Durian, at the Univ. of Pennsylvania, as a postdoc researching foam dynamics. Subsequently, he became staff Scientist for GlaxoSmithKline investigating granulation of pharmaceutical powders and nanomaterials for drug delivery. More recently he returned to Penn as a postdoc in the lab of Dr. John C. Crocker studying soft glassy materials. He joined the faculty of the Physics & Astronomy Department at JMU in the Summer of 2010. His research interests are in the emerging area of soft materials and complex fluids.

Dr. Marcelo Dias was an undergraduate at the State University of São Paulo, Brazil. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he researched on how controlled differential growth and Origami mechanics can be seen as useful tools for designing three-dimensional structures that have implications in materials engineering as well as our understanding of the natural world. He was postdoctoral researcher at Brown University and a Research Fellow at the Nordic Institute for Theoretical Physics (Sweden) and Aalto University (Finland). He is a theoretical physicist fascinated by the mechanics of highly deformable and soft complex structures. He seeks to understand fundamental geometric non-linearities in such problems and their functionalization for controlled-engineering designs. He is also interested in questions related to nematic liquid crystal elastomers undergoing prescribed macroscopic shape changes, fluid-structure interactions, biomechanics, and statistical physics of far-from-equilibrium systems.