Tag: physics

Twelve UW-Green Bay faculty members earn academic promotions, tenure

The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents approved promotions or tenure for 12 UW-Green Bay faculty members during its meeting June 5-6 at UW-Milwaukee.

The following faculty members promoted from assistant professor to associate professor with tenure: Gaurav Bansal, Cofrin School of Business; Caroline Boswell, Humanistic Studies (History); Michael Knight, Cofrin School of Business; James Loebl, Cofrin School of Business; James Vincent Lowery, Humanistic Studies (History); Sampathkumar Ranganathan, Cofrin School of Business; Gabriel Saxton-Ruiz, Humanistic Studies (Spanish); Christine Vandenhouten, Nursing; and Lora Warner, Public and Environmental Affairs.

The Regents also promoted the following individuals to the rank of full professor:

Heidi Fencl, Natural and Applied Sciences, teaches Modern Physics, Introductory Physics, and Astronomy, and is a member of the Women’s and Gender Studies faculty. She received her B.S. in Physics from Nebraska Wesleyan University, her M.S. in Physics from the University of Nebraska, and her Ph.D. in Nuclear Astrophysics from the Ohio State University. Prior to joining the Physics faculty at UW-Green Bay in the fall of 2001, Fencl taught physics and astronomy at Concordia College Moorhead and was concurrently founding director of the UW System Women and Science Program and coordinator of UW Oshkosh’s Science Outreach Program. Fencl also was the founding director of the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning at UW-Green Bay.

Fencl’s scholarly interests are in physics education, and in particular she studies pedagogical approaches and out-of-classroom support for effective problem solving process and development of self-efficacy in physics. In addition to the enjoyment she takes in teaching, Fencl enjoys gardening, knitting and making vegan cheeses.

Cristina Ortiz, Humanistic Studies (Spanish), is chair of the Modern Languages program and coordinator of the Spanish program at UW-Green Bay. She joined the faculty in 1993 after receiving a Ph.D. from the University of Cincinnati. Ortiz has authored a monograph on Argentinean writer Jorge Luis Borges and has published her research on contemporary Spanish and Latin American female writers in top-tier journals in Spain and the United States. Her area of research focuses on issues of gender, nation and nationalism in contemporary Spanish and Latin American literature and film. Her work has also been included in several edited collections, most recently in Across the Straits: New Visions of Africa in Contemporary Spain.

Ortiz is a member collaborator of the American Academy of the Spanish Language and a special contributor to the academic journal of this organization. In addition to teaching a wide range of courses at UW-Green Bay, Ortiz has been instrumental in the creation of a Visiting Spanish Scholar in Residence program and the Spanish in the Professions program at the University, as well as in establishing numerous local internships for UW-Green Bay students and institutional connections with the Hispanic/Latino community. She also has led study abroad programs to Spain, Mexico, Guatemala, Australia and Cuba. Ortiz is the recipient of two UW-Green Bay Founders Awards. She received the Founders Award for Excellence in Institutional Development in 2004-05 and, most recently, for Excellence in Community Outreach (2013-14).

Michael Zorn, Natural and Applied Sciences, teaches Chemistry and Environmental Science courses and is a member of the graduate faculty of the Environmental Science and Policy program. He was chair of the Chemistry discipline for six years from 2006 to 2013, and he is currently the vice chair of Natural and Applied Sciences.

Zorn’s research interests include development and application of real-time environmental sensors; studying the cycling of nutrients and oxygen in the lower Fox River and Green Bay; utilization of catalysis and photocatalysis for conversion of undesirable organic compounds to non-toxic products; and development and evaluation of alternative energy technologies. Since coming to UW-Green Bay, Zorn has been directly involved in research projects totaling more than $1.6 million in funding.

Zorn has participated in several international travel opportunities associated with UW-Green Bay, including travel to Panama (to set up a January travel course); Finland (to establish research collaborations); and the Universidad del Desarrollo in Santiago, Chile (to further collaborative activities between the two universities).

Zorn began his UW-Green Bay career as an assistant professor in fall 2001, and received promotion to associate professor in 2006. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from UW-Green Bay and his Ph.D. in Environmental Chemistry and Technology from UW-Madison.

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Slideshow: Fencl, ‘After Thoughts’ and mysteries of the universe

After Thoughts speaker, Heidi FenclHeidi Fencl’s introduction during her March 5 After Thoughts address was perhaps not what attendees at the popular UW-Green Bay program are accustomed to hearing.

“If you came wanting to know, what is dark energy?, we’re done,” Fencl said with a smile. “Talk’s over. We don’t know.”

As it turns out, Fencl’s address, “The Universe Falls Up?! Dark Energy and the Accelerating Expansion of Everything,” was as much — maybe more — about questions surrounding astrophysics and the mysteries of the universe as it was about answers. In fact, Fencl’s talk would have been different had she given it even a semester ago, she told a full house in the grand foyer at the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts. A January discovery surrounding dark energy again changed what scientists thought they knew, deepening this intriguing mystery and adding yet another layer to its story.

“So the story keeps building, is what I’m trying to tell you,” said Fencl, UW-Green Bay associate professor of Physics and Women’s and Gender Studies. “We’ve got this whole new twist to play with.”

But if Fencl’s talk presented more questions than answers, audience members didn’t seem to mind. She took them through an abbreviated yet intriguing history of astrophysics and discovery of the universe, from the 18th century “fuzzy objects” of French astronomer Charles Messier to the distance and brightness calculation techniques of early 20th century scientist Henrietta Swan Leavitt. From the known contributions of Edwin Hubble to the unknown questions of the future of the universe, Fencl brought an obvious enthusiasm to her address.

“I’m trying to get you interested and excited about that story, too,” said Fencl, who directed the UW System Women and Science program for five years before coming to the University in 2001.

Click thumbnails to enter slideshow view.
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– Photos by Eric Miller, photographer, Office of Marketing and University Communication

Fencl’s After Thoughts address was the third such event of the 2012-13 academic year, which marks the third season of the popular program. Designed to connect women in the community with UW-Green Bay, the gatherings showcase faculty, staff and guests, and convene women after their workdays for learning, enrichment and fun. The sessions are so named because they provide “After Thoughts” for participants to take with them when they leave.

By design, After Thoughts talks delve into a wide variety of subjects, from physics to literature, the news media to theatre and history. UW-Green Bay Associate Prof. Rebecca Meacham kicked off the 2012-13 After Thoughts season Oct. 1, with her talk, “Fiction’s Burning Questions: Novelists, History and the Creative Spark.” Nov. 13, Jeanne Stangel, UW-Green Bay’s Director of Development and the former Associate Director of UW-Green Bay Athletics, engaged an After Thoughts audience with her address, “The Green Bay Way: The Impact of National Recognition in Collegiate Sports at UW-Green Bay.” The final After Thoughts presentation of 2012-13, featuring Denise Bartell, associate professor of Human Development and Psychology, is slated for Tuesday, April 9.

The popularity of the After Thoughts program endures, attendees say — even when the questions outnumber the answers.

“So I just spent about 25 minutes,” Fencl said Tuesday, prompting audience laughter, “saying, ‘I don’t know.’ ”

Visit www.uwgb.edu/afterthoughts/ for more information about the series.

The universe falls up?! Find out at next ‘After Thoughts,’ featuring Fencl

Physics Prof. Heidi Fencl will delve into what’s been called “the greatest mystery of modern astronomy” Tuesday, March 5, headlining the third After Thoughts session of the year with a talk titled, “The Universe Falls UP?! Dark Energy and the Accelerating Expansion of Everything.” The evening event in the Weidner Center’s Grand Foyer begins at 5 p.m. with a time to socialize, network and enjoy hors d’oeuvres before Fencl’s talk at 5:45. “Dark energy, an as-of-yet unknown source of energy, seems to be accelerating the expansion of the universe,” Fencl said. “In this talk, I will highlight the history that leads us to understand such an energy exists, and what it means for our understanding of the universe.” For more details on Fencl’s talk, including ticket info, check out our full news release.

UW-Green Bay Physics professor to headline next ‘After Thoughts’ event March 5

Prof. Heidi Fencl

Prof. Heidi Fencl

UW-Green Bay Associate Prof. Heidi Fencl will offer audience members a fascinating look into the mysterious world of dark energy during the University’s next After Thoughts event, beginning at 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 5 in the Grand Foyer at the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts.

In an address titled “The Universe Falls Up?! Dark Energy and the Accelerating Expansion of Everything,” Fencl, associate professor of Physics and Women’s and Gender Studies, will explore one of the biggest news stories in science during the last few years — so big, in fact, that it led to the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics.

“Dark energy, an as-of-yet unknown source of energy, seems to be accelerating the expansion of the universe,” Fencl said. “In this talk, I will highlight the history that leads us to understand such an energy exists, and what it means for our understanding of the universe.”

Fencl, a UW-Green Bay faculty member since 2001, served as director of the UW System Women and Science Program for five years before coming to the University. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Physics from Nebraska Wesleyan University and her master’s degree in Physics from the University of Nebraska. She received her Ph.D. in Physics from The Ohio State University, where she worked on gamma ray bursters, which have been called “the greatest mystery of modern astronomy.” Fencl’s research focus has largely been on Physics education, and she has explored the self-efficacy (especially of women) in Physics, using a variety of approaches to emphasize critical thinking in the field.

Designed to connect women in the community with UW-Green Bay, After Thoughts gatherings showcase faculty, staff and guests, and convene women after their workdays for learning, enrichment and fun. The sessions are so named because they provide “After Thoughts” for participants to take with them when they leave. UW-Green Bay Associate Prof. Rebecca Meacham kicked off the 2012-13 After Thoughts season Oct. 1, with her talk, “Fiction’s Burning Questions: Novelists, History and the Creative Spark.” Nov. 13, Jeanne Stangel, UW-Green Bay’s Director of Development and the former Associate Director of UW-Green Bay Athletics, engaged an After Thoughts audience with her address, “The Green Bay Way: The Impact of National Recognition in Collegiate Sports at UW-Green Bay.” The final After Thoughts presentation of 2012-13, featuring Denise Bartell, associate professor of Human Development and Psychology, is slated for Tuesday, April 9.

Each After Thoughts session takes place from 5-7 p.m. in the Grand Foyer of the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts at UW-Green Bay, 2420 Nicolet Drive. The events begin with time to network, mingle and enjoy hors d’oeuvres before the featured guest speaker begins. Seating is limited, so advanced registration is recommended. The cost of each program is $13, and attendees are invited to register for each event individually or the two remaining programs at once. To reserve your spot, send a check (payable to UW-Green Bay Foundation) to: UW-Green Bay Foundation, CL 805, 2420 Nicolet Drive, Green Bay, WI 54311; or register online at https://secure.qgiv.com/for/afterthoughts/. Walk-up registration also is an option. Call (920) 465-2074 for more information. You can find After Thoughts on Facebook at www.facebook.com/afterthoughts.uwgb.

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Press-Gazette story focuses on enrollment, changing landscape

UW-Green Bay was featured prominently in a Thursday (Sept. 29) Green Bay Press-Gazette front-page story on enrollments at area colleges and universities. Enrollments locally are up compared with a year ago, early numbers show, and are expected to increase with the start of online and other courses that begin later in the semester. The educational landscape is changing here at UW-Green Bay, where nearly a third of students are considered nontraditional (that is, age 25 or older). The story quotes Provost Julia Wallace — “we’re seeing more adult students” — and features a nice photo from Associate Prof. Michael Hencheck’s Principles of Physics class. Full story.