Significant Changes Over the Past Year

September 2022

The department has had great success in the past year. According to College Factual, the Physics Department now ranks 36 out of 327 colleges and universities in the US for our Bachelor of Science degree and 43 out of 141 for our PhD program. With things trending in the right direction, we are continuously striving to provide the best education for our students.

In the spring of 2019, we hired Ajay Srimath Kandada. Ajay, who planned to come in January of 2020, was held up for almost two years by travel restrictions related to the corona virus. We are very happy to report that he arrived in Winston-Salem in December of last year.

Our previous Academic Coordinator, Kittye McBride, moved on last winter to a position outside of Wake Forest University. We wish her well with her new position. Our new Academic Coordinator is Candace Ring. Candace earned her BS in physics at UNC Greensboro before working at Vanguard. We are very happy that she joined us.

We would also like to welcome Melissa Pashayan back to the Physics Department as a new Visiting Professor. Melissa was a graduate student here a few years ago. She worked with Dr. Macosko and Dr. Guthold and received her doctorate in 2021. Since then she has taught at Guilford Technical College and been a part-time stay-at-home mom while her husband finishes his medical residency in Greensboro. We are very happy to have her here in her new role as a visiting assistant professor.

On a more somber note, we mourn the passing of WFU alumnus Dr. Randall Ledford on July 21, 2022. His legacy lives on through the two Ledford Scholarships that he created for physics majors. Our current Ledford Scholars are Josiah Brinson, a junior, and Janey Thompson, a new first-year student.

Changes due to the pandemic

Last year saw significant changes in our approach to the pandemic. In the fall semester, everyone was required to wear a mask in the classroom, with the exception of the professor, provided the professor was always at least ten feet away from the students. Most of the classes were in person. This continued for the first part of the spring semester. However, for the second part, the mask requirement was replaced by a policy where each faculty member made a decision about whether or not to require that students wear masks in the classroom. Also, the tradition of having a week off for spring break was reinstituted.


On February 11, 2020, there was a screening of the film “Picture a Scientist” in the large classroom in Olin. This was in celebration of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. It was followed by small group discussions and a reception on the rooftop of Olin. The event was hosted by Dany Kim-Shapiro and was organized and sponsored by the Departments of Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Engineering, Mathematics, Statistics, Wake Forest’s Center for Functional Materials, and the WFU undergraduate Women in STEM group.

On August 20, 2022, we had a celebration of the retirement of Rick Matthews. Rick was a professor in the Physics Department for 40 years. He actually retired two years ago, but due to Covid 19 constraints, the celebration had been postponed.