Department of Physics

Erik Mohrmann, Ph.D.

Erik Mohrmann, Associate Professor, Department of Physics at DigiPen

Dean of Faculty,
Department Chair, Physics
Professor, Physics

Dr. Erik Mohrmann studied psychology and physics at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY. He then moved to Seattle and earned his doctorate in physics at the University of Washington. He thoroughly enjoyed teaching at both institutions and has continued his teaching career at DigiPen Institute of Technology.

Mohrmann's academic interests include learning models, the biological basis of behavior, nuclear astrophysics, and computational physics simulation, with most of his research in the latter two areas. His current research interests include stellar nuclear reactions and the modeling of deformable bodies.

Professor Mohrmann believes it is of critical importance to make topics pertinent, comprehensible, and interesting to each specific audience, because physicists, engineers, and artists all approach topics from different angles. His research helps him relate classroom physics to the world we all experience every day, and provides guidance to undergraduates and graduates who are researching topics in simulation.

Selected publications:

  • “The 7Be(p,γ)8B Astrophysical S-Factor,” Nuclear Physics A 758 (2005): 685-688; with 10 others.
  • “New Determination of the 7Be(p,γ)8B S-Factor,” Nuclear Physics A 746 (2004): 210-214; with 10 others.
  • “Precise Measurement of the 7Be(p,γ)8B S-Factor.” Physical Review C 68, no. 6 (2003): 065803; with 10 others.
  • “A New Measurement of 7Be(p,γ)8B Cross Section and Its Astrophysical Meaning.” Nuclear Physics A 718 (2003): 113-116; with 10 others.
  • “7Be(p,γ)8B Astrophysical S Factor from Precision Cross Section Measurements.” Physical Review Letters 88, no. 4 (2002): 041101; with nine others.
  • “The Fabrication of Metallic 7Be Targets with a Small Diameter for 7Be(p,γ)8B Measurements.” Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section B: Beam Interactions with Materials and Atoms 187, no. 2 (2002): 264-274; with eight others.
  • “A New Determination of the Astrophysical S-Factor for the 7Be(p,γ)8B Reaction from Direct Cross Section Measurements.” AIP Conference Proceedings 610, no. 1 (April 2, 2002): 461-465; with nine others.

Charles Duba, Ph.D.

Vice President of Institutional Advancement and Strategic Initiatives
Professor, Computer Science
Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Professor, Physics

Charles Duba earned a BS in Physics from UC San Diego, and an MS and PhD in Physics from the University of Washington at the Center for Experimental Nuclear Physics and Astrophysics. His dissertation project was on electronics for the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory, where he helped prove the solution to the long-standing "Solar Neutrino Problem." (See "Solving the Mystery of the Missing Neutrinos.") He continues to work on neutrino detection experiments, currently with HALO, a long-term supernova neutrino detector at the SNO lab in Sudbury.

Dr. Duba’s research interests are in weak-interaction physics, physics instrumentation, physics simulation, augmented reality, and hardware design.

Selected Publications:

  • "HALO -The Helium and Lead Observatory for Supernova Neutrinos," Journal of Physics, Conference Series, Volume 136 (2008).
  • "Electronics for the Neutral Current Detection Array at the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory," Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Washington, 277 pp (2006).
  • "Sudbury Neutrino Observatory Neutral Current Detectors Signal Readout System," IEEE Transactions on Nuclear Science, v 51, n 5, pp 2227-30 (2004).
  • "Direct Evidence for Neutrino Flavor Transformation from Neutral-Current Interactions in the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory," Physical Review Letters, Volume 89, Issue 1; 746 citations (2002).
  • "Measurement of the Rate of ne + d -> p + p + e- Interactions Produced by 8B Solar Neutrinos at the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory," Physical Review Letters, Volume 87, Issue 7; 831 citations (2001).
  • "Low Background 3He Proportional Counter for Use in the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory," IEEE Transactions on Nuclear Science, Volume 46, Issue 4 (1999).
  • "Solar Fusion Cross Sections," Reviews of Modern Physics, Volume 70, Issue 4; 437 citations (1998).

Natalia Solorzano, Ph.D.

Natalia Solorzano, Associate Professor, Department of Physics at DigiPen

Associate Professor, Physics

Natalia N. Solorzano holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil, as well as a Master of Science in Meteorology and a doctorate in Space Geophysics from the National Institute for Space Research in Brazil. She was previously a Postdoctoral Research Scientist at the University of Washington and an Assistant Professor at Bard High School Early College. She conducts research, often with DigiPen students, in atmospheric physics and physics-based simulation, including atmospheric electricity and lightning, passive microwave remote sensing, and tropical cyclones.

Dr. Solorzano publishes her work in journals such as Atmospheric Environment, Atmospheric Research, and Geophysical Research Letters. She often gives invited and contributed presentations at meetings, including the American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting, the IEEE International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium, and the Asia Oceania Geosciences Society Annual Meeting. She is a steering committee member of the atmospheric electricity section of the American Meteorological Society. In 2008, along with Jeremy Thomas, she was recipient of a Science and Math Improvement Grant from the Toshiba America Foundation.

At DigiPen, Dr. Solorzano is the chair of the Diversity Committee and a member of the Faculty Senate Steering Committee. Her teaching philosophy is geared towards experiential learning, engaging students in critical thinking, and encouraging students to take ownership of their education. She also believes that cultural, economic, and social diversity enhance the learning environment, and she is committed to increasing the diversity of students and faculty.

Anand Thirumalai, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Physics

Anand Thirumalai earned his bachelor's degree in materials engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Roorkee, India. He then went on to earn a master's degree in materials engineering from the University of British Columbia (UBC). For his master's thesis he worked on designing and characterizing new-generation turbine blade materials, made of nickel-based superalloys.

After getting his master's degree, he switched fields completely to follow his passion and scientific curiosity — astrophysics. For his second master's degree at UBC, this time in astrophysics, he worked on studying the strongest magnetic fields in the known universe — those found in neutron stars — and computing the structure of atoms in such field strengths.

Later, his Ph.D. work looked at the end stages of stellar evolution. He developed a novel stellar wind model combining magnetohydrodynamics with particulate dust-dynamics and stellar rotation. His wind model is applicable to a range of stellar masses and stellar sub-types and presents a route for solving the so-called missing mass-loss mechanism problem in certain types of evolved stars.

Before coming to DigiPen, Dr. Thirumalai was also a School of Earth and Space Exploration Postdoctoral Fellow at Arizona State University. His research there involved studying winds of evolved stars as well as research in computational atomic structure. He has developed some of the fastest and most accurate atomic structure software for atoms in strong magnetic fields. He continues this research work in collaboration with researchers at UBC in Vancouver, as well as with researchers at the University of Oslo in Norway. His research these days focuses on making headway in the almost completely uncharted field of atomic and molecular structure in strong magnetic fields, as well simulations of star and planet formation. A large part of his current research focus involves harnessing the immense computing power of GPUs in astrophysical simulations.

Research website

Selected publications:

  • "Carbon atom in intense magnetic fields," Anand Thirumalai, Steven J. Desch and Patrick Young. Physical Review A, 90, 052501 (2014).
  • "Energy levels of light atoms in strong magnetic fields," Anand Thirumalai and Jeremy S. Heyl. Invited review article in Advances in Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics, Vol. 63, Chapter 5, p. 323 (2014).
  • "Two-dimensional pseudospectral Hartree-Fock method for low-Z atoms in intense magnetic fields," Anand Thirumalai and Jeremy S. Heyl. Physical Review A, 89, 052522 (2014).
  • "Is Mira and Magneto-Dusty Rotator?" Anand Thirmalai and Jeremy S. Heyl. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 430, p. 1359 (2013).
  • "The magnetised bellows of Betelgeuse," Anand Thirumalai and Jeremy S. Heyl. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 422, p. 1272 (2012).
  • "A hybrid steady-state magnetohydrodynamic dust-driven stellar wind model for AGB stars," Anand Thirumalai and Jeremy S. Heyl. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 409, p. 1669 (2010).
  • "Hydrogen and helium atoms in strong magnetic fields," Anand Thirumalai and Jeremy S. Heyl. Physical Review A, vol. 79, 012514 (2009).

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