Research: collective dynamics & algorithms
I study matter and systems with many interacting elements, such as atoms, vortices in superconductors, and even vehicles in traffic. The collective behavior of these elements leads to phenomena such as phase transitions and “glassy” (very slow) behavior. Collaborators and I use analysis and large scale simulations to study how these phenomena arise. One especially challenging goal is to find out how disordered matter “remembers” its past history. As a natural followup, we study efficient algorithms for modeling complex systems and the relation between computational methods and physical concepts.
Teaching & Administration
Much of my classroom teaching has been in statistical physics and condensed matter physics; I have mentored undergraduate and PhD students in algorithms and statistical physics. I have developed a course on light and vision and its study from ancient China through Alhazen, Newton, and Einstein, exploring rainbows, retinal cells, titanium jewelry, and relativity. I have served as Director of Undergraduate Studies for physics (2000-2007), on the Core Faculty of the Renee Crown Honors Program at SU, Associate Chair (2009-2013), Chair of the College of Arts and Sciences Faculty Council (2015-2016), Faculty Sponsor of the University Travel Policy Team (2015-now), and Department Chair (2013-now). I am a co-PI on Syracuse University’s IGERT program in soft interfaces (2011-now).