Disordered matter & computer algorithms
My research is based in condensed matter physics: the study of matter and systems with many interacting elements (atoms, magnetic spins, vortices, and even automobiles). Condensed matter physics usually treats objects larger than a few atoms (smaller bits belong to atomic and particle physics) and up to the size of the Web (larger items are the domain of geophysics, astronomy, and cosmology). I use theoretical analysis and simulations to study complex phenomena, including phase transitions and "glassy" (very slow dynamical) behavior. The goals is to build a better framework for understanding how the behavior of matter depends on the time and length scales of measurement. I am also very interested in how disordered matter remembers its past history. Besides studying these properties of materials, I study algorithms for efficiently modeling complex problems and the relation between computational methods and physical concepts.
Teaching & administration
I have taught a number of undergraduate courses and courses and collaborated with undergraduate researchers and PhD students. Much of my teaching has been in statistical physics and condensed matter physics. I have had the opportunity to develop an honors course on light and the history of its study, from the ancient Chinese and Greeks through Alhazen and Newton and Einstein. In this course, we explore both how science works and the beautiful connections between rainbows, the visual system of animals, oxidized jewelry, and relativity. In the Department of Physics, I have served as Director of Undergraduate Studies (2000-2007), on the Core Faculty of the Renee Crown Honors Program at SU, Associate Chair (2009-2013), and Chair (2013-). I am the a co-PI on Syracuse University's IGERT program in soft interfaces.