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Department  News

ISU's Solar Car Team

Mercury Captures 2nd Place at Formula Sun Grand Prix (FSGP) Track Rayce

It was an exciting, gripping, and nail biting time for those of us at home following the progress of ISU's Solar Car Team Mercury at the FSGP track rayce held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  ISU was solidly in 2nd Place for most of the three day rayce.  Although, Northwestern University made a valiant push past us in laps one day. 

The 2011 ISU Solar Car Team Mercury was one of the most interdisciplinary teams we've had to date with students representing the following majors:  Biological Sciences, Engineering Physics, Human Resource Management, Information Technology, Physics, Renewable Energy, and Technology.

See the group picture of all the FSGP 2011 teams below:


The ISU Solar Car Team Mercury is prominently positioned in the front left of this picture due to our 2nd Place pole position gained during pre-qualifying scrutineering.   Pictured Counter clockwise:  Jim Dunham (in red), Dane Fredel, Jeff Linden, Emily Campion, Dr. George Rutherford, Rafael Rodriquez *, Drew Steinacher *, Emma Gilmore, Chris Costis *, Cameron Knight *, Josh Burnett, and Jeff Deters.   An asterisk (*) indicates that the student was also one of the four Solar Car Drivers.   

Mr. Dunham and Dr. Rutherford were two of the Faculty and Staff SC Team Mercury Mentors that travelled with the team. Not pictured above are Dr. Dan Holland, Lead Faculty SC Team Mentor, and Derek Roach, Physics Major, who did not travel with the team. 

For laps and other FSGP info, visit (though their URL says 2010, it is the 2011 info)

For pictures of Team Mercury on the Indy track, visit


Miscellaneous Faculty and Staff Recognitions and Awards

Both Dr. Q. Charles Su, University Professor and Professor of Physics (pictured left), and Ms. Grace Foote Johns, Assistant to the Chairperson in Physics,were recognized as one of the 75 Founders' Day Bell Ringers in February 2011.

Ms. Grace Foote Johns was also honored to receive ISU's Outstanding Staff Member Committment to Diversity Award in April 2011 for her Physics Department women in science outreach projects as well as involving community organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club of Bloomington- Normal and the American Association of University Women.  (Pictured l to r:  Grace Foote Johns and Angela Davenport, Coordinator of Diversity Advocacy in ISU's Dean of Students Office )

Alumni  UPDATE  News

January 28, 2011 (2-3pm) NASA Engineer Jeff Fitch (BS'83 Physics) visited ISU Physics and chatted with Physics Faculty and Students and toured ISU Physics facilities



left to right:  Jeff Fitch, Jeff Linden, Josh Burnet, and Chris Costis look at the ISU solar car's design features.

left to right: Dr. John Crew, Emeritus Professor of Physics enjoyed chatting with his former student, Jeff Fitch.

Physics Major and Physics Teaching Assistant Teresa Stout tries on a space suit glove.


Physics Alumnus Jeff Fitch (BS'83), was the featured speaker at the January 28, 2011 (7:30pm) Challenger Learning Center 25th anniversary commemoration of the Challenger Shuttle disaster.  The event was held at Heartland Community College's Astroth Community Education Center Auditorium.  A NASA engineer, Mr. Fitch is also a Normal Community High School graduate who spoke on the topic, "From Normal to Space and Back Again".

Jeff Fitch kneeling down to talk to audience members after his talk. 

Jeff Fitch (kneeling down)  is shown chatting with audience members after his talk.  In his presentation, Mr. Fitch stressed that working at NASA--and working in the science and engineering field--requires passion, dedication, perserverance, problem solving skills, and a focus on teamwork.


Our ISU Physics Alumni Day Career Panel was Friday, October 15, 2010.  Our Alums coming back this year were:

Heather Dowd, BS'97 Physics

Paul Lucido, BS'92 Physics

Fred Retter, BS'95 Engineering Physics

(Click here for a poster with pictures for the event.)

We so enjoyed having Heather, Paul, and Fred back to campus to talk about their careers. 


left to right:  Paul, Fred, and Heather at Illinois State's Alumni Day Speakers' Luncheon meet ISU's official Homecoming King, Mr. Jack Capodice (wearing red crown and sash)--of Bloomington-Normal's Capodice Foods Company.

Student News

Physics Students Win Major Scholarships and Awards 

Sam Krueger wins a 2011 Noyce Scholarship

"The Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program at Illinois State University, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), provides scholarships and mentoring to Mathematics and Science students who will graduate and become teachers in the Chicago Public Schools (CPS). The Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program seeks to encourage talented science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) majors and professionals to become K-12 mathematics and science teachers in the Chicago Public Schools."

(Click here for a poster with more information about the Noyce Scholarship.)


Physics Students Win Silver Medals at International Fall 2010 University Physics Competition


Mike Sawyer and Andy Gillespie

"Of the fifty-eight teams in the 2010 Competition, two teams were ranked as Gold Medal Winners, eight teams were ranked as Silver Medal Winners...The 2010 University Physics Compettion received official sponsorship from the American Physical Society and the American Astonomical Society, ..."  Illinois State University Physics Chairperson, Dr. Rick Martin lauded the students and their mentor, Dr. Charles Su, "I am very pleased that Mike and Andy did so well in this international competition." (As excerpted from CASNews article.)

Click here to download the article about their achievement


Matthew Ware won a 2010 Goldwater Scholarship

"The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was established by Congress in 1986 to honor Senator Barry M. Goldwater, who served his country for 56 years as a soldier and statesman, including 30 years of service in the U.S. Senate.

The purpose of the Foundation is to provide a continuing source of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians, and engineers by awarding scholarships to college students who intend to pursue careers in these fields."


Sarah Pfluger won a 2009 Barbara Lotze

Scholarship for Future Teachers

"The AAPT Executive Board offers scholarships for future high school physics teachers. These scholarships, supported by an endowment funded by Barbara Lotze, are available only to U.S. citizens attending U.S. schools.

Undergraduate students enrolled, or planning to enroll, in physics teacher preparation curricula and high school seniors entering such programs are eligible. Successful applicants receive a stipend of up to $2,000. The scholarship may be granted to an individual for each of four years."​