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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 )

Student News

Congratulations to our May 2011 Physics Department Graduation Candidates


Some of our Physics Department Majors in their caps and gowns at the May 2011 Commencement Ceremony are pictured l to r: Michael Sul, Jeff Gustafson, Andy Gillespie, Teresa Stout, Tyler Klein, Andrea Hesselbach, Kevin Wabick, and Jacob Weidner.

December 2010 & May 2011 Graduates (Final)


Kurt Adams #

Neil Ekins

Andy Gillespie **

Andrea Hesselbach H

Tyler Klein

Mike Prorok

Teresa Stout

Michael Sul

Kevin Wabick

Jacob Weidner CL

H Honors Program Scholar

CL = Cum Laude

** double major

# Dec. 2010 grad

Engineering Physics

Laura Chen

Colin Daly

Adam Drendel

Patrick Haddox

Nathan Loy


Physics Teacher Ed

Nick Chumbley

Matt Funkhouser CL

Andy Gillespie **

Devin Hubbard

Billy Kelley

Kevin Shane CL

Mitchell Tucker

Some students with remaining credits to complete might have marched in the May 2011 Commencement Ceremony, but they hope to be August or December 2011 graduates.  Their names will be added to a later graduates list when they become finalized by ISU after completing their graduation requirements.


Congratulations to our Spring 2011 Physics Department Student Award Winners

Jacob Weidner, Outstanding Graduating Senior

Teresa Stout, Outstanding Undergraduate

Andrea Hesselbach, Outstanding Service

Sara O'Toole, Outstanding Teaching Assistant

Congratulations to our Spring 2011 Skadron Computational Physics Award Winners

Ben Shields, For Research

James Becker, For Class Achievement

Joe Trimble, For Class Achievement

Congratulations to our Spring 2011 Skadron Prize Award Winners

The programming competition this year focused on "Snowboarding Down a Ski Trail". (Click here to see the details.)

Matt Ware, 1st Place

Andrew Gillespie, 2nd Place

For details about this year's and past years' Student Award Winners in all categories, click here.


Congratulations to our Endowed Scholarship Award Winners

Michael F. Canney Scholarship Given In recognition of your hard work, motivation and entrepreneurial spirit:

Matthew Morris, 2011

Kenneth E. Jesse Award for Experimental Research

Given in recognition of your experimental research project:

Cameron Knight, 2011

Robert C. Shears Scholarship

Given in recognition of your hard work and motivation and demonstrated interest in energy and environmental issues:

Mid-Hat Abdulrehman, Spring 2011

Quinton Skilling, Fall 2011

The Physics Department was especially delighted that both Alumnus Bob Shears and Emeritus Professor of Physics Ken Jesse were able to join us for the Awards Banquet and Ceremony.  And Michael Canney had hoped to join us again, but his travel plans conflicted with our date.


Student International   News

Two students have had Study Abroad experiences the past year--Sarah Pfluger went to Ireland for Fall 2010 and Matthew Ware spent the whole year in Hong Kong. So we've asked each of them to send us a photo and a quote about their international travel experiences that we'll post here in future issues. 

Alumni  Career  UPDATE  News

Philip Andris, BS2002 (Engineering Physics) shared with us recently that he is employed as the Energy Engineer for the William S. Middleton Memorial Hospital, Department of Veterans Affairs in Madison, Wisconsin.  For more information about his employer, visit www.madison,

Jon Bengston, BS2009 (Physics Teaching) shared that he's been teaching at Wabash High School in Wabash, Indiana for the past two years.  He enjoys teaching their physics, chemistry, and Integrated Chemistry & Physics courses.  He remembers his days as an undergrad with us fondly and says "I don't think I could've asked for a better group of classmates to go through the physics curriculum with.  The physics room was always a place I could go to relax, have fun, and get work done at the same time.  I hope everything is going well in Normal, IL!" 


Alumni  International   News

David Wischhusen, BS 2010

(Computer Physics) Visits Turkey in May 2011:  In his own words

It's been quite an adventure in Turkey, I've been on the road a TON and seen a lot of interesting places! Last week I was in primarily western Turkey (mainly Istanbul and Ankara) and toured some of the famous mosques and other religious sites. This week I'm in central Turkey, mainly in the Mediterranean region (the view from my hotel is gorgeous!)

This is the Mausoleum of Ataturk. He is like Turkey's George Washington. Very much a national hero. The mausoleum is extremely large and very striking, definitely makes one feel that Ataturk was a great man. Here's a Wikipedia article on Ataturk:

My most significant takeaway from Turkey so far is that it is definitely a country in the midst of an exciting transition. Their major cities are far more sprawling and modern than I had ever anticipated. Their streets are packed full of new cars. Their citizens are largely well dressed and fashionable. The wealth and development in the major cities stand in stark contrast of some of the more traditional elements of their culture that can be observed further out in the countryside. I'm assured by locals that Turkey has changed very much in the last 20 years and if their cities are any kind of a leading indicator, Turkey in 20 years from now will be a truly incredible site to see.


ISU Physics Alumni & Friends Facebook News

Assistant to the Physics Chairperson Grace Johns informally started an unofficial "ISU Physics Alumni & Friends" Facebook group in February 2011 on her personal Facebook page that has quite "taken off". Alumna Rebecca Wenning Vieyra was the first Physics Alum Friend.  As an initial foray into social media for alumni networking, Grace posts career/job searching news, ISU news and other news of interest to our alums and future alums.  So, please consider "friending" Grace Johns and joining this unofficial "ISU Physics Alumni & Friends" Facebook affinity group.

That said, ISU, likes to have "official" alumni affinity group Facebooks sites--though it is not required.  The Alumni Relations Office tends to "co-manage" these official Facebook sites and other ISU and Alumni news unrelated to Physics appears on them. What do you think are the pros and cons for you of staying informal and unofficial versus not?  If you would prefer to have an "official" ISU Physics Alumni & FriendsFacebook affiinity group, please let Grace know by emailing her (  If we have enough alums interested in joining an "official" Physics Facebook affinity group page, Grace will look into setting that official page up.  Hopefully, there would be a way to easily "migrate you" over to it.   Of course, we could always have both!  We'll keep you posted.​