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2011 and Beyond

Present members, with their current research interests are:

  • Keramat Ali (non-linear dynamics and chaos theory)
  • Albert Cross (neuroscience applications of MRI)
  • Saurya Das (black holes and quantum gravity)
  • Arundhati Dasgupta (quantum gravity)
  • David Naylor (Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy for astronomy)
  • Steve Patitsas (scanning tunneling microscopy and surface science)
  • Adriana Predoi-Cross (molecular spectroscopy and remote sensing)
  • Behnam Seyed-Mahmoud (planetary core fluid dynamics)
  • David Siminovitch (solid-state NMR spectroscopy)
  • Masami Tatsuno (computational and experimental neuroscience)
  • Kenneth Vos (strongly correlated electron systems and pharmacokinetics)
  • Mark Walton (mathematical physics: conformal field theory and deformation quantization)

The department has a vigorous and growing Theoretical Physics Group, whose members co-founded the Canadian Prairie Network for Theoretical Physics (CPNTP) in 2010, an informal network of theoretical physicists, mathematicians and other researchers with theoretical physics interests living on the Canadian prairies.

Early in 2009, the University of Calgary and David Naylor’s Astronomical Instrumentation Group joined forces to create Institute for Space Imaging Science (ISIS), a new institute to lead Canada in innovative space imaging technologies and their applications to advance our understanding of space. A Remote Sensing Group has been formed, currently consisting of faculty members from physics and geography (Derek Peddle, Craig Coburn, and Karl Staenz), as well as Adjunct Faculty from federal government labs (Anne Smith, Research Scientist, Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada and Ron Hall, Research Scientist, Canadian Forest Service) and from foreign universities.

Research programs of the experimentalists are very much dependent on the efforts of Technical Services Staff Frank Klassen (machinist), Greg Tompkins (electronics technician), and Heinz Fischer (electronics technician). On behalf of both experimentalists and theoreticians, WestGrid, a collaborative project providing high-performance computing and multimedia/visualization resources to researchers and educators across Western Canada, and MACI (Multimedia Advanced Computational Infrastructure), a collaborative project of the Universities of Alberta, Calgary, and Lethbridge, underpin a variety of computational physics research in the department.

With the exception of solid-state NMR, and remote sensing, all of the department research and teaching labs are currently housed in the original University Hall building designed in 1969 by the Canadian architect Arthur Erickson (deceased May, 2009). Although University Hall is a striking piece of architecture, bridging the Oldman River coulees, it was never designed to accommodate science labs, and even if it had been, the spectacular growth in the sciences has put enormous demands on the building’s infrastructure. Crowding is endemic, and finding sufficient space for students, visitors and new faculty is often an exercise in double-booking.

Accordingly, a new science building is now at the top of the priority list for the university’s future expansion plans.


Epilogue

This completes a very brief account of a very short history (spanning just over 40 years). The department has come a long way in 40 years, more so than any other department in the country, and stands on the threshold of a very promising future. Sadly, as I write, only two faculty members survive of those who founded the department in Canada’s Centennial year: Sam Konousu and Arvid Schultz.

Although long retired, Arvid remains keenly interested in physics and in the welfare and activities of the department, regularly attending departmental seminars, colloquia, and coffee hours, and helping out in David Naylor’s lab. He is the living link to our past. Earl Milton and Joe Rood both passed away in 1999. In Joe Rood’s honour, friends and family of Joe Rood established the Joe Rood Memorial Scholarship in Physical Science.

Initiated by nominations from the physics department, the University of Lethbridge has awarded honorary degrees (D.Sc.) to two of the only three Canadians to win the Nobel Prize in physics, Richard Taylor (convocation in 1993) and Bertram Brockhouse (convocation in 1997) (see In Memoriam, Bertram Neville Brockhouse (1918 – 2003), Physics in Canada 60(1), 5 (2004).


Acknowledgements

I am most indebted to Professor Emeritus Arvid Schultz for helping me reconstruct the pivotal events of the department’s foundation years. I thank Professor Emeritus Keramat Ali and David Naylor for sharing their recollections of their first decade in the department, and all current members of the department for their input and comments. I than Mary Somerville, Jill Cassidy and Mike Perry of the Records Office, University of Lethbridge, for their assistance in obtaining the photo of the university’s first graduating class (Figure 1).

For more information on this information, please contact Dr David Siminovitch.