Significant Changes Over the Past Year

Our administrative assistant, Melissa Mitchell, moved on last fall to the Department of University Advancement. We wish her well. Our new administrative assistant is Kittye McBride. She began working in the Physics Department last December. Prior to coming to Wake Forest, Kittye had a long and varied career. She is originally from West Virginia where at Pipestem Resort she worked her way up to the position of convention services coordinator. She moved with her husband to North Carolina about 25 years ago. Her first job here in Winston was with Xpres Corporation (later changed to Encore) where she spent over nine years as a design center coordinator. While at Xpres, Kittye met Melissa Mitchell and they have remained friends since. After leaving Xpres, she worked as a production manager for Adidas, and a couple additional companies. Most recently she worked in her husband’s remodeling business and freelanced for a marketing company. She enjoys organic gardening, antiquing, reading mysteries, and spending time with her husband, Wesley, and her dog, Dharma.

In the 2017 newsletter it was mentioned that Richard Williams had retired, but was keeping his laboratory space for two years. Last year we did a search to replace him and another search to hire an additional faculty member. We were successful and have hired Ilaria Bargigia and Ajay Kandada. Ilaria currently is a postdoctoral researcher at Georgia Tech (Georgia Institute of Technology). Ajay is a Marie Curie fellow, dividing his time between Georgia Tech and the Italian Institute of Technology in Milan. They will both be coming to WFU in January 2020. Ilaria, works in ultrafast spectroscopy focusing on the photophysics of conjugated polymers in the context of bio-electronics. Ajay works in ultrafast spectroscopy and quantum optics and develops experimental methods to address important questions in material science. They both received their doctorates in 2013 from the Politecnico di Milano in Milan, Italy.

Rick Matthews announced his plans to retire in the summer of 2020. Rick came to Wake Forest from the Naval Research Laboratory in 1979. He served as department chair from 1998 until 2007. In 2007, he was asked to join the university administration, first as Associate Provost and the following spring as Associate Provost for Technology and Chief Information Officer.

Rick returned to the Department in 2014, at which time he completely reinvented his teaching, adopting a radical “flipped class” approach. He was asked to continue half-time in administration as Director of Academic and Instructional Technologies for the College. His career reflects his love of teaching and of technology. When he arrived at Wake Forest in August of 1979, the University had two computers. Six weeks later, Rick had brought in the back of his car another twelve, the university’s first desktop computers. He was called the “most vocal advocate” for the Plan for the Class of 2000 that resulted in the first 1:1 laptop program at any major university. His teaching was recognized with the College Excellence in Teaching Award (1982), the department’s Excellence in Teaching Award (2016), and the University’s Innovative Teaching Award (2016).

We have begun a search for Rick’s replacement. We are planning to hire someone who does theoretical research in condensed matter physics.