I am a physicist with a wide range of interests.
My original training was in theoretical particle physics, but some of
my research has overlapped with cosmology, solid state physics
(mainly superconductivity) and even the behavior of DNA molecules.
Although I started out as a theorist, I believe strongly in the
primacy of experiment over theory.
I have been fortunate enough to have worked on
several major physics experiments, including
the DØ experiment at
the ATLAS experiment at CERN,
and most recently, LIGO, the
Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory.
I have taught physics, mathematics, and computer programming at
the undergraduate level and also occasionally taught or tutored these
subjects to younger students.
SUNY New Paltz
I'm currently the "lab guy" for the Department of Physics and
Astronomy at the State University of New York at New Paltz.
I also teach one section of General Physics 2 Laboratory (PHY212)
on Monday evenings.
I previously was a
Visiting Assistant Professor (2012-13) and Lecturer (2013-14)
in the same department.
In addition to teaching introductory calculus-based physics and
physics labs I developed a new course on the Physics of Sound and
Music, and I have taught advanced courses in particle physics and optics.
I also taught introductory physics labs at New Paltz in 2005-2006.
I taught physics at the United States Military Academy at West
Point for two years (2015-17), as an
Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics and
In my first year I taught four sections (including labs) of Physics
201/202 in the Core Physics Program.
I was trained and used the Academy's traditional Thayer Method of
instruction (somewhat like a "flipped" classroom), which emphasizes
self-study and personal responsibility for learning, along with small
class sizes, in-class practice, and personal interaction with
The following year I taught mechanics to physics majors in the
Advanced Physics program,
specifically, PH381, Intermediate Classical Mechanics, and PH482,
Advanced Classical Mechanics.
I also served as a faculty advisor to the Astronomy Club, and learned
a lot from that experience about flying high altitude balloons.
From 2005 to 2009 I worked on a science education project called
Interactions in Understanding the Universe,
which lets high school teachers and their students
access LIGO environmental data (from
seismometers, magnetometers and weather stations)
data for inquiry-based investigations called "e-Labs".
This is part of a larger collaboration between physics labs and
experimental collbarorations which use Grid computing, with the
overall goal of making Grid tools and resources available for
education and outreach, in addition to their use for research.
I worked at Vassar College twice,
first as a Visiting Assistant Professor (1993-95)
and then later as an Assistant Professor of Physics (2002-2005).
While at Vassar
I created an accessible course in General Relativity for
undergraduates, revamped the Modern Physics Laboratory,
and started the Vassar Journal of Modern Physics.
My research efforts were focused on LIGO and developing
the Einstein@Home project.
University of Michigan
As a research physicist at the University of
Michigan (2000-2002) I worked on several projects.
I helped test the use of "QoS" packet prioritization
for the transfer of data from the ATLAS experiment at CERN,
and I worked on the Web Lecture Archive Project, which recorded
physics lectures and technical training courses for distribution via
From 1995 to 2000 I was a Lecturer and later a Visiting Assistant
Professor (same job, different title) in the UM Physics department,
where I was a full-time instructor for introductory physics classes,
and in some case I was the Lecturer for introductory classes of 400 to
I would go nuts staying at home without some kind of technical project
to keep me busy, even if I can only work on it during nap time.
So I taught myself how to create Apps for my iPhone and my wife's
My first app, called
is a simple fingerpainting app I made for my daughter, with a twist --
by connecting the iPad to a TV with a cable she can draw on the TV.
That was followed by
Please Take My Picture,
which help you ask someone to take your picture in any of more than 15
I have several more apps in preparation, and ideas for more to follow.
I am co-author of TeXsis -
a collection of TeX macros for physicists.
I'm also a TeX "Grand Master", which means I've written
output routines for TeX.
Student Investigations with LIGO Data
For the past several years I have been guiding students on their
own personal research investigation using real data from the
Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO).
LIGO makes its data available to the public within 2 years of
collection (usually less) and they also provide sample code and
tutorials to make working with their data easier.
I started doing this as a summer program for accomplished high school
but since moving to SUNY New Paltz I have been guiding advanced
undergraduates in investigating the potential gravitational wave
from cosmic strings.
You can read the papers written by my stduents here:
Model Solar System
While teaching an astronomy class at Marist College,
I learned about the
100 yard model of the solar system.
This is a scale model of the solar system which shows, at the same
time and on a linear scale, both the sizes of the planets and the distances
At this scale the Sun is about the size of a soccer
ball, the Earth is about the size of a peppercorn, and Pluto is a
grain of salt a little over 1000 yards from the Sun.
I've taken to calling it the "Peppercorn Model"
and I've constructed portable stations (with solar lights)
which can be put out at the appropriate distances.
One of the best places to experience this model
is on the
Walkway Over the Hudson.
For more details and maps for other locations, see this web page
I've created a couple of games that are worth sharing:
- Mousetraps and Megaladons
- A modified version of the kids game
Dungeons and Dragons™
You just need a standard Moustrap game set and a D20 die, along
(and, optionally, some score cards)
- Ultimate Sailing
- Ultimate Frisbee played with
This is a great game for light wind in summer, and for testing and
improving sailing skills. It's also a heck of a lot of fun!
From August 2009 until the spring of 2012 I was a stay-at-home
dad, taking care of our daughter Amanda, who was born 14 weeks
In addition to regular baby things, we had lots of doctor appointments
and therapy sessions through the Early Intervention program.
The good news is that everything is fine and she's now just a regular
14 year old who has a Black Belt in Tang Soo Do karate.
She says that when she grows up she wants to be a police officer,
possibly a dog handler.
And she loves sharks.
Halloween 2015, with my daughter Amanda.
Before I created a blog at work I would sometimes
I post notes for my friends on
Facebook, and these are generally readable by anybody (who has a
Facebook account, not just my "friends").
Here are a few that might be interesting:
full list of my notes.
My device to plug the pipe is better than I thought
- Thursday, June 10, 2010
My device to plug the pipe, and why it will fail
- Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Could that balloon really carry a 6 year old?
- Friday, October 16, 2009
Estimating death rates from influenza in Mexico II
- Friday, May 1, 2009
Estimating death rates from influenza in Mexico
- Thursday, April 30, 2009
We saw (and heard) the space shuttle go by
- Wednesday, March 11, 2009
An Interesting Flying Illusion - 1997
Mid-Hudson Astronomical Association
I have been actively involved with the
for the past several years, and I currently serve as the
monthly public star parties at Lake Taghkanic State
Park, on the Friday evening closest to the new moon.
MHAA also organizes
public lectures about astronomy and related topics
on the SUNY New Paltz campus,
on the 3rd Tuesday of every month.
is free planetarium software for your computer (Windows,
Mac, and Linux),
which can show you a realistic sky in
3D, just like what you see with the naked eye, binoculars or a
It is also used in real planetariums (including the
one at SUNY New Paltz).
I have created several
custom landscapes for Stellarium, which include the Walkway Over
The Hudson in Poughkeepsie (shown below),
and the cadet Observatory on top of Bartlett Hall at West Point.
In 2004-2005, as a member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration,
I was part of the team which set up a distributed
computing system called
which uses spare computing cycles on your home or office computer
to search through LIGO data for evidence of gravitational waves
from periodic sources, all while displaying a nifty screensaver.
I hope you will install the BOINC software that makes this
possible and contribute your own spare computer time to the project.
It's very easy, and worthwhile.
While LIGO recently detected gravitational waves, these were from
colliding black holes, not from continuous wave (CW) sources.
Einstein@Home has not yet made a detection of gravitational waves,
but they have also been searching through radio data from the Arecibo
which has resulted in the "re-discovery " of over 100 known radio
the discovery of over 50 new radio pulsars never before detected.
I was not involved with this part of the project, but I'm proud of the
progress it's made since I helped get the whole thing started.
As a part of my work on creating Einstein@Home I set up a test project
using the same BOINC software, called
After serving admirably as a test platform, the project was shut down
at the end of June 2005.
It was later brought back when it was deemed
useful for further testing and software development for I2U2.
Right now the project is running silent again, but I'm hoping to put
it to good use for a new mission in the near future.
list of my talks, which include:
list of my talks
I was one of the organizers of the "Strings 2000 Conference" at the
University of Michigan, and one important result of that conference
was a list of
10 Physics Problems for the Next Millennium.