News & Events

Department of Physics 2009 Distinguished Alumni

Ray Brock

M.S., 1975
Professor, Department of Physics, Michigan State University

Ray BrockRay Brock received his Ph.D. in1980 in particle physics from Carnegie-Mellon University. In 1982, he joined the faculty of Michigan State University where he served as Chairperson of the Department of Physics and Astronomy from 1992-2000. He is a Fellow of the American Physics Society and was recently elected Vice-Chair of the Division of Particles and Fields. Professor Brock has pursued an active research program testing the Standard Model. His first experiments at Fermilab investigated neutral currents. In his early work at Fermilab he also served as spokesperson of a neutrino experiment.  He was a founding member of the DZero proton-antiproton collider experiment at Fermilab where he led the W mass measurement and participated in the discovery of single top production.  He is also a member of the ATLAS proton-proton collider experiment at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland, where he continues to pursue single top physics and served as the first convener of the single top group. Professor Brock has also been a distinguished member of the wider community serving on dozens of laboratory and national advisory panels and committees. He has been a member and chair of committees for Fermilab National Accelerator Laboratory, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, for the governor of Michigan, and for the Office of Science of the Department of Energy. As a member of the Office of Science High Energy Physics Advisory Panel, he has provided recommendations for the national high energy physics program.


Christopher Chiaverina

B.S., 1968, M.S. 1972
New Trier High School (retired)

Chris ChiaverinaChris Chiaverina taught physics for 35 years at schools in the Chicago area and now organizes workshops for teacher development.  He has also taught at DePaul, NIU and Fermilab. He has written articles on physics education for a variety of journals, is co-author of four textbooks, and is a member of the editorial board of The Physics Teacher magazine. In 1997, The American Association of Physics Teachers presented him with its Award for Excellence in Pre-College Physics Teaching. In 2002, Chiaverina served as President of the American Association of Physics Teachers. He has also been president of its Chicago chapter and served on the AAPT Science Education for the Public Committee. He is currently editor of Arbor Scientific’s CoolStuff online newsletter and The Physics Teacher magazine’s “Little Gems” column. He has been involved in developing a number of innovative methods for science education including “Manipulation of Light in the Nanoworld”, and served on the advisory panels for NSF-funded projects "Building Blocks of the Universe," "Visual Quantum Mechanics” and "Amusement Park Science Exhibition." He helped develop The Science Place Interactive Science Museum and physics day at Six Flags Great America. He has received numerous regional and national awards for his teaching including the AAPT Illinois Section Outstanding Physics Teacher Award, the Governor's Master Teacher Award, the John Rush Memorial Physics Teaching Award, the AAPT Award for Excellence in Pre-College Physics Teaching (1997), the  American Physical Society’s Distinguished Physics Teacher, the Northern Illinois University Distinguished Alumnus, the RadioShack National Teacher Award recipient, and the American Institute of Physics Meggers Award.


Laura Layton

BS 2000 (English), MS 2005
Science writer, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Maryland

Laura LaytonLaura Layton is an associate editor for Astronomy magazine. In 2000, she was responsible for upgrading NIU’s Davis Hall Observatory. She has held staff positions at Karl G. Henize Observatory in Palatine, Illinois, and  the Mount Laguna Observatory in the Cleveland National Forest near San Diego, California. Her wide range of astronomy interests includes observational astronomy, astrophotography, planetary science, large-scale structure, and developing hands-on astronomy activities for public outreach programs. This includes frequent astronomy outreach activities incorporating the NIU mobile telescope which recently participated in Astronomy Night on October 20th, 2009, at the White House.


Robert Nemanich

BS, 1969, MS 1971
Chair Department of Physics, Arizona State University

Robert NemanichRobert Nemanich received his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Chicago in 1977. After graduating from Chicago, Namanich went on to work at the prestigious Xerox research lab at Palo Alto, California, where he rose to be a project leader in their integrated circuits laboratory. From 1986 until 2006, he was on the faculty of North Carolina State University where he worked on developing advanced microscopy and spectroscopy techniques in order to study the physics of semiconductors, thin films and nanostructures. In 2006, he moved to Arizona State University where he is now chair of the physics department. Dr. Namanich is a fellow of the American Physical Society, a past president of the Materials Research Society and a past president of the International Union of Materials Research Societies. He holds three patents has edited six books and authored over 400 scientific articles.


Sokrates Pantelides

B.S., 1969
William A. and Nancy F. McMinn Professor of Physics and Professor of Electrical Engineering,Vanderbilt University

Sokrates Pantelides Sokrates Pantelides earned his Ph.D.  in physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1973. After two years at Stanford University, he spent 20 years at IBM's Thomas J. Watson Research Center in New York. He carried out theoretical research on semiconductors with emphases on defects and defect dynamics; he also managed experimental research in materials and device physics and technology modeling. Sokrates Pantelides In the last 15 years, his research has spanned semiconductor physics, reliability and radiation effects in microelectronics, quantum transport in molecules and nanostructures, nanocatalysis, transition-metal oxides, nanomagnetism, and statistical mechanics. He has published 400 articles with more than 11,000 citations and edited nine technical books. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and is also Distinguished Visiting Scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.


Joshua Norten

B.S., 1997
Cary-Grove High School

Joshua NortenJoshua Norten received a M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction from North Central College in 2001. During his thirteen years at Cary-Grove High School, Josh Norten has significantly increased the number of students taking AP physics.  He has improved their understanding of physics and instilled the work ethic required to study a mathematically and conceptually difficult subject and has promoted student involvement in outside activities such as Physics Olympics and the Worldwide Youth in Science & Engineering program.  He is active in AAPT and Physics Northwest,   is a Quarknet-trained teacher, and has developed (in collaboration with Fermilab and other Quarknet teachers) high school curriculum on modern ideas and technologies.


Patricia Sievert

M.S., 2001
STEM Outreach Coordinator Northern Illinois University

Patricia SievertAfter receiving her B.S. from Minnesota in applied design and her M.S. in physics education from NIU, Pati Sievert taught physics for a year prior to returning to NIU as Physics Outreach Coordinator. In that position she expanded the program to include  the highly regarded Haunted Physics Lab and an expanded Science Camp. She has presented science and physics demonstrations to tens of thousands of students at more than sixty schools across the region, and has received funding to support outreach activities from a number of sources including the APS, NIU Foundation, and DeKalb County Community Foundation. She is active in APS and AAPT and chairs a national committee on Science Education for the Public. In 2008, she became the first coordinator of NIU’s new STEM outreach program.