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Department of Physics, Computer Science and Engineering


Faculty in the Department of Physics, Computer Science and Engineering are involved in cutting-edge research across an array of fields. Students often gain vital experience by working closely with professors on these projects.

We investigate and develop frameworks and methodologies in support of software engineering pedagogy. Our projects include:

Gooey: A Lean JUnit Testing Library for Java Swing Applications

Gooey is a programmatic, capture-and-test framework for Java Swing applications. Its integration to JUnit lets developers write automated tests that expose the components of displayed windows and allow manipulating them to verify expected results.

Gooey is currently being extended to support the testing of JavaFX applications.

Assignment Development Tools (ADTs)

Developing programming assignments that provide effective feedback to students is a resource and time-intensive activity. As a result, instructors tend to give fewer assignments than what might be desired for pedagogical effectiveness.

ADTs provide frameworks and tools to streamline and automate parts of the assignment development process. Our current focus is on reducing the time and effort of developing JUnit tests, which are used to guide students during the programming process.

Roberto Flores (
Anton Siochi (

Capable Humanitarian Robotics and Intelligent Systems Lab (CHRISLab)

At CHRISLab we focus on developing robotic technologies that extend human capabilities and protect human life. One example is removing humans from harm’s way during rescue operations and developing assistive technologies that enable increased levels of independence for human users.

Specifically, our group focuses on formalizing component capabilities in a way that enables automatic synthesis of high-level behaviors based on user-defined task specifications. Our goal is to simplify the problem of deploying robotic systems, and enable non-engineers to re-task the system to take on changing responsibilities consistent with the system’s specific capabilities.

Communicational Collaborative Agents (COCOA Lab)

At COCOA Lab we seek to understand the role communication plays on enabling (software) agent collaboration in multi-agent systems. From message meaning to protocol specification to team formation, we look at communication through the spectrum of infrastructure, language, protocol, and social context to analyze collaboration and build tools to formalize it.

David Conner (
Roberto Flores (

We focus on the hardware and software systems that provide the foundation of our networked world. We address challenges that arise across a broad spectrum of technologies and at various layers of the protocol stack.

One emphasis is on applications of software-defined radios (SDRs) in networking and wireless communications. We leverage the flexibility of cognitive radios to improve spectrum sharing and utilization in novel wireless networking protocols. Further projects in this area include post-disaster networks, real-time localization using SDRs and investigating 5.8 GHz ISM band indoor signal propagation. In the fields of mobile computing and the internet of things our focus is on novel applications and the evaluation of platforms and systems.

Jonathan Backens (
Keith Perkins (
Anton Riedl (

For almost two decades, the nuclear physics group has made significant contributions at nearby Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (JLab). The group is supported through a National Science Foundation operating grant, with a focus on the program of experiments that will be carried out following the upgrade of JLab to a 12 GeV beam energy. In addition, the group members are supported in their research efforts through joint staff scientist appointments at JLab.

Experimental Physics Program

Dr. Edward Brash is involved in the successful form factor program where he is a spokesperson for two approved experiments that will take place in the 12 GeV era at JLab.

Dr. David Heddle develops visualization software for complex event topologies, which is of central importance to optimized event reconstruction and physics analyses.

Dr. Robert Fersch focuses his research on spin physics of the nucleon. He is involved in the data collection and analysis efforts of several upcoming experiments in JLab's Hall B.

Dr. Peter Monaghan’s research is a balanced blend of experiment, theory and hardware development. He contributes to the research program at JLab by running experiments in Halls A and C and in the improvement of parton distribution functions in describing real data with the CTEQ-JLab collaboration.

Hardware and Software Development

The nuclear physics group has taken on responsibility for the construction, testing and commissioning of the Coordinate Detector, which is a crucial component of the JLab Hall A SuperBigBite experiment detector package. Monaghan leads the hardware development side, while Brash is leading the data acquisition, analysis and simulation software efforts. Heddle leads a team of researchers on the development of software for the newly constructed CLAS12 spectrometer in Hall B, with a focus on event visualization.

Our group is also involved in a collaborative effort with Old Dominion University, the University of Virginia and JLab in the development of the CLAS12 polarized target to be used in longitudinal spin structure and other experiments in Hall B.

Edward Brash (
Robert Fersch (
David Heddle (
Peter Monaghan (

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