(NEWPORT NEWS, Va.) —Three Christopher Newport University juniors, Susannah Darling, Physics Major; Amanda Friedericks, Physics Minor and Caroline McElhenny, Physics Major, have been accepted to Space@VT a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates (NSF REU) program in space science and engineering ( The students will spend 10 weeks at Virginia Tech over the summer from June 2 – August 8, 2014 and receive a stipend of $5000 each. They will participate in hands-on research in space and upper atmospheric sciences, using ground and space-based instruments and data.

Space science is the branch of applied physics that studies how the sun’s solar wind plasma and fields interact with Earth’s magnetic field, which creates the aurora and space weather. Earth’s magnetic field lines reach from the surface of Earth through our atmosphere and into space. When the plasma from the sun interacts with the magnetic field lines, energetic particles from the sun can travel down them and interact with the upper atmosphere, creating the aurora and currents in the upper atmosphere. The program at Virginia Tech will allow each of the students to choose from a range of projects, including analyzing data from satellites and computer modeling of space plasma.

Because of Dr. Anna DeJong’s research in the field of space science, the students may choose to continue their summer research for their senior capstone projects. "It will be interesting and exciting to get an understanding of how applied science is carried out as well as working in a group of like-minded peers. Overall it seems like a wonderful experience" said Caroline McElhenny. Amanda Friedericks added, "I am thrilled to get the opportunity to gain research experience while participating in space science." Susannah Darling also shared her excitement about the opportunity by stating, "I'm excited to be going to Virginia Tech with my friends, and thrilled at the research opportunity! I've always wanted to work on satellites, and it'll be a wonderful experience to work with space engineers."

For more information, contact Dr. Anna DeJong, Assistant Professor at Christopher Newport University. Teaching responsibilities: Astronomy and Physics.


(NEWPORT NEWS, Va.) — Eight Christopher Newport University students (Joseph Peyton, Andrew Fournier, Brandon Rusk, Juan Vallejo, Amanda Lee, Jessica Cooke, Erin Kirby, Adam Brakman) were selected to participate in summer research assistantship positions supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation to fund research by the CNU Nuclear Physics Group (Dr. Edward Brash, Dr. Rob Fersch, and Dr. David Heddle) at the Jefferson Laboratory.

The students worked with CNU faculty and Jefferson Lab staff on various aspects of the scientific program at Jefferson Lab. In addition to gaining invaluable research experience at one of the world’s leading nuclear and particle physics facilities, students had the opportunity to contribute to software development, carry out important data analyses, and work effectively as part of a larger research team.

Pictured above are the research students (comprising Physics, Computer Science and Computer Engineering majors) at Jefferson Lab while they were visiting the Hall B experimental facility and learning about the CLAS12 detector, currently under construction. When completed this detector will be used to analyze particle scattering data from JLab’s newly upgraded 12 GeV electron accelerator.

For more information, contact Dr. Edward J. Brash, Professor at Christopher Newport University. Teaching responsibilities: Physics.

"CNU Interdisciplinary Studies Major Matthew Rutherford's Work Exhibited at Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art"

(Newport News, Va.) - Matthew Rutherford, Christopher Newport University senior and Interdisciplinary Studies major, will have his work displayed during the upcoming juried exhibition New Waves 2013, at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA). Rutherford's piece - a product of software he designed and programmed - creates an abstract visual portrait of a person based on their traits and characteristics.

"My major is composed of concentrations in Computer Science and Fine Art, so it made sense to do a project with both in mind. The inspiration came from two of my professors, Dr. Anton Siochi, Associate Professor of Physics, Computer Science and Engineering, and Professor Alan Skees, Lecturer in Fine Art. Dr. Siochi introduced me to the art-programming language used to create the software, and Professor Skees worked closely with me on the class project."

Dr. Edward Brash, Chair of CNU’s Department of Physics, Computer Science and Engineering notes "Matthew's work is a shining example of the power of a liberal arts education. The interdisciplinary major at CNU is a perfect vehicle to allow students to bring together their analytical and creative skills in a synergistic way, and Matthew's project exemplifies our desire to stimulate meaningful and productive intellectual inquiry brilliantly."

MOCA will present New Waves 2013 from Jan. 25 - Apr. 28. This exciting exhibition demonstrates the diversity of materials and approaches that are used in contemporary art today. For more information regarding this release, contact Dr. Brash at For information regarding the exhibit, please visit


(Newport News, Va.) - Christopher Newport University physics majors Chris (William) Colvin and Nicholas McMahon have been awarded funding to participate in the Conference Experience for Undergraduates (CEU) Program at the 2011 fall meeting of the Division of Nuclear Physics of the American Physical Society. The award decision was based on the high quality of Colvin’s and McMahon’s research abstracts and their personal contributions to the efforts of the CNU Nuclear Physics research group, as judged by the CEU review committee members.

The American Physics Society strives to be the leading voice for physics and a source of information for the advancement of physics and for the benefit of humanity. “Chris and Nicholas are currently doing research with our group at Jefferson Lab,” says Dr. Fatiha Benmokhtar, assistant professor of physics. “Chris has worked on testing a new type of particle detector known as a Gas Electron Multiplier (GEM). This is a brand-new technology in the U.S. for a new generation of particle detectors. Chris learned the techniques involved in testing the GEM from a former CNU student (Craig Plazony) and worked closely with other scientists at the lab. CNU is one of only a handful of universities in the U.S. working on these new detectors.”

Dr. Benmokhtar continues “Nicholas’ work was on the analysis of data associated with a cryogenic helium target being used in a series of high-profile experiments at Jefferson Lab. I am a spokesperson for one of the experiments that aims to study the behavior of a proton-neutron pair inside the helium nucleus. In particular, knowing the density of the helium target is crucial if one wants to get an accurate number of the detected particles, and this is what Nicholas has worked on. As such, his work is absolutely critical to the success of these experiments. His efforts were amazing, especially since he was a freshman during this past summer when he did the analysis.”

For more information contact Dr.Benmokhtar at


Nancy Nasser, a Christopher Newport University senior computer science major has been named the recipient of a scholarship sponsored by the National Science Foundation to attend the 2011 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing.

“I am deeply honored and grateful to receive this scholarship. Attending this conference is a great opportunity that will provide me with a foundation of knowledge and will open doors that I can use to achieve my career goals. I look forward to make the best out of it and meet many iconic and famous people in the computer industry.

I would also like to extend my gratitude to my professors who have encouraged me in applying to research workshops and conferences. I believe that attending this conference will serve as an exceptional experience for me.”

The Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing is a series of conferences designed to bring the research and career interests of women in computing to the forefront. Presenters are leaders in their respective fields, representing industrial, academic and government communities.
Leading researchers present their current work, while special sessions focus on the role of women in today’s technology fields, including computer science, information technology, research and engineering. Nasser was selected from a competitive pool of over 1,100 applicants.

For more information regarding this release, please contact Dr. Edward Brash, Department  Chair, Physics, Computer Science and Engineering at


ACM is an educational and scientific society uniting the world’s computing educators, researchers and professionals to inspire dialogue, share resources and address the field’s challenges. ACM strengthens the profession’s collective voice through strong leadership, promotion of the highest standards, and recognition of technical excellence. ACM supports the professional growth of its members by providing opportunities for life-long learning, career development, and professional networking.  For more information please contact Gerald McAlister, 2013-14 Chapter President,


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The purpose of the SPS is the advancement and diffusion of knowledge of physics, the encouragement of interest in physics throughout the academic and local communities, and the introduction of students to the professional community.  For more information on this organization please contact Megan Talley, Chapter President,