Recent News and Events

Dr. Mila Kryjevskaia Awarded James A. Meier Junior Professorship!!!

It is with great excitement that the Faculty of the Department of physics report that Mila Kryjevskaia has been awarded the James A. Meier Junior Professorship!  In her 12 years at NDSU, Dr. Kryjevskaia has worked tirelessly to discover, use, and communicate to peers better teaching methods at NDSU. Her groundbreaking work on revealing and addressing conceptual challenges and cognitive errors encountered by students of physics has profoundly impacted faculty and students at all levels at NDSU and the world at large. We can think of no one who better fits the goals of this award, to recognize contributions to teaching through research, with the primary criterion of demonstrated success interacting with students.

Joining NDSU in 2008 as an Assistant Professor with a shared appointment in the Department of Physics (80%) and the School of Education (20%), Dr. Kryjevskaia has also been a leading member of the interdisciplinary STEM Education Doctoral Program from its inception. In 2015, she earned tenure and was promoted to Associate Professor.  Since her start, Dr. Kryjevskaia has published many significant works, educated many educators and students, and received external funding for her research. 

Congratulations Mila!

The professorship endowment is funded by James A. Meier, BS ’59, mathematics. He earned his chemistry doctorate in 1971 and an honorary doctorate from NDSU in 2007.  The department would also like to thank James for founding and funding this prestigious professorship.

Physics Department COVID-19 Information

Chair's Statement:

"In view of the extended Pass/Fail Grading Option this semester, the Department of Physics will allow P grades to satisfy normal grade requirements for PHYS courses taken by Physics majors (including double majors) in the Spring 2020 semester. While we encourage students to opt for a letter grade, we also recognize that those who are disadvantaged by their current personal situation should not face additional barriers that delay progress or graduation. Those who make use of the Pass/Fail Grading Option will not be disadvantaged based on that choice."

-Sylvio May


Additional resources:

NDSU COVID-19 Information

Pass/Fail grading option and Adjusted Spring Dates/Deadlines

Erik Hobbie Receives College of Science and Mathematics Research Award

Erik Hobbie has been awarded the College of Science and Mathematics Research Award.  This is a great and well deserved honor for Erik, who is a faculty member who's appointment is a 60% Physics, 40% polymers and coatings split.  In his 10 years at NDSU, Erik has built a thriving, internationally recognized research group, he has published 41 papers in high ranking journals and he has personally secured over 1 Million in external research funding.  Several of his articles have been honored with journal covers.  Most remarkably, he has done all this while leading NDSU’s Materials and Nanotechnology program, a significant administrative burden.

Erik’s early work in polymer science at the National Institute of Standards and Technology lead him to his current focus on light/nanoparticle interactions in soft materials.  The driving goal of his plan is to make progress towards solutions for one of the world’s greatest challenges, the development of clean sources of energy.  His work has focused on carbon and silicon nanostructures, specifically because these materials are abundant and non-toxic.  While light can easily be harvested by cadmium-selinide particles, their environmental toxicity would kill any real-world application.  It is this pragmatic view – that the research must not only solve big problems, but actually be usable – that makes Erik’s work so unique, and such a good fit to the values held by the people of the state of North Dakota.


On October 29, around twilight, Grad Phi students hosted a booth of science demonstrations and activities at Boo! at NDSU, a family-friendly, Halloween-themed carnival and trick-or-treating event organized by Residence Life. Over 750 costumed kids haunted Cater Hall and learned some tricks about cryogenics (liquid nitrogen and marshmallows), soft matter (soap films, slime and candy), and rotational motion (spinning wheel). A fun time was had by all.

Red River Market Outreach

On October 5, the NDSU Physics Graduate Student Organization, Grad Phi, hosted a science outreach event at the Red River Market in downtown Fargo. Curious market-goers stopped by to learn about the science of soap bubbles, rotational motion, and optical illusions.  Despite the rain, a good time was had by all!

Research Paper Highlighted

Alan Denton and graduate student Mohammed Alziyadi have published a paper entitled "Osmotic pressure of permeable ionic microgels: Poisson-Boltzmann theory and exact statistical mechanical relations in the cell model" in the Journal of Chemical Physics.  The work was honored as the "editor's pick", which means it stood out to the editor as a particularly interesting and important work.  More great research from NDSU Physics!

Department Receives Advancing Inclusion Award!

The department is quite honored and humbled to receive the "NDSU Advancing Inclusion Award" this year.  The Advancing Inclusion Award is presented annually "to an NDSU department, committee, group or unit that has worked collaboratively to promote an inclusive culture by enhancing or contributing to the overall environment of the community or university.".  The department is especially proud that its nomination came from the NDSU Physics Graduate Student Association.  The department has taken great efforts to find and invest in programs and opportunities that create an inclusive atmosphere for students here at NDSU, and we hope that this is a good sign that it is paying off.  Read more here.

Chair receives honor

Recently, Sylvio May was awarded the Ambassadors Excellence Award award by the NDSU College of Science and Mathematics Ambassadors (a student group).  Sylvio was nominated for (among other things) his exceptional efforts in supporting student success in introductory physics courses.  Sylvio holds great esteem for the award specifically because it was entirely driven by the students involved.  Congratulations Sylvio!

Faculty Publishes in Nature Communications

The Croll research group has had a recent work published in the high-impact, open-access journal Nature Communications.  The work is focused on understanding the strength of a crumpled ball - a rigid object created from a thin film (such as paper).  Such an object is a complex collection of folds and verticies that somehow collectively give the system a significant resistance to compression.  The system has significant potential for use as an engineering material akin to a foam, but one that is much more easily produced.  Read about it here, where you can also find a link to the freely available article!

Student Awarded NSF Graduate Fellowship

Brianna Santangelo, was notified recently that she will receive a 2019 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship!  This prestigious award is a significant national accomplishment that our entire department is proud of.  The funding will allow Brianna to continue working towards her Ph.D. in physics, and more specifically to continue her research in physics education with her supervisor Mila Kryjevski.  Read about the program here.


Experiments in Physics, performed by Alistair McInery, Lina Alhalhooly, Tim Twohig, Jamie Froberg, Rachel Downing Brian Farlow, Wathsala Jayawardana and Deyan Mihaylov, came in second place in the Avenues of Scientific Discovery Grad Student Competition.  Congratulations all!

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