As the year 2023 comes to an end we recognize and honor faculty members who have reached milestones in the duration of their service to Wake Forest University. Professors K. Burak Üçer, David Carroll and Timo Thonhauser have now reached 25, 20, and 15 years of service respectively. On behalf of the Wake Physics faculty, students, and broader community we thank and congratulate these professors for this achievement and their contributions to teaching, research, and university service. Read below the sentiments of these faculty members as they reflect upon their time at Wake Forest University.
Professor K. Burak Üçer, 25 Years
It is incredible to think that it has been 25 years since I came to Wake with a fresh PhD. The position had the unwieldy title of Laser and Optical Instrumentation Specialist and truth be told, I thought of it as a temporary stop. Still, the friendliness of the place was evident by the way I was welcomed at my interview by all the faculty members I met. That collegiate feeling has not lessened over the years, and it is what I think to be the best part of working here. A close second is the rich experience of doing high level research in an intimate setting which still manages not to be limiting. I have been able to use my expertise on ultrafast laser spectroscopy to do experiments on scintillators, polymers, semiconductors, hemoglobin and live animals (!). I was lucky enough to be working with the late Dr. Richard Williams whose curiosity, knowledge and enthusiasm was an inspiration. He was a mentor that allowed me to grow as a scientist. I would also be remiss if I didn’t thank Dr. Rick Matthews who got me started on summer teaching and was always available for advice. I have also enjoyed working with a steady stream of smart graduate and undergraduate students. Mentoring them has always been a two-way street that has benefited me as much as them. I am looking forward to more of the same.
Professor David Carroll, 20 Years
Wake Forest, with its brilliant undergraduates, creative and indefatigable graduate students, and host of excellent postdoctoral trainees, has attracted some of the most talented faculty of any university in our nation. I have run into alumni in sandwich shops in Florence, spoken with alumni groups in Munich, heard talks about WFU research in Bratislava, and frequently discuss new directions in tech with the network of PhD alumni, now university faculty, in Silicon Valley. There are few universities of our size that can claim such breadth and depth of impact on our world. For 20 years it has been both humbling and an honor to be a small part of the life of this institution. It is my hope that in the next 20 years, with the help of our outstanding support staff and an administration that is the best in the business, we will help Wake be recognized as the gem that it truly is in higher education. There is no place I would rather be.
Professor Timo Thonhauser, 15 Years
Looking back, I am amazed how fast these 15 years have passed. At first, in an assistant professor position, one is completely focused on obtaining tenure and there seems to be no boundaries on hours worked to achieve it. Once that milestone had been passed, the days blended into years and the next six years flew by until I received my appointment as associate and eventually full professor. It wasn’t until after that point, that I purposefully slowed down. I started to enjoy my students, colleagues, the physics department, the university, and the culture of Wake Forest in a deeper way. My success is purely the result of support at every step along the way from countless individuals—from my family and friends, to students and research group members to staff and faculty colleagues, department chairs, up to the deans and provosts. I am incredibly blessed to be a part of the Wake Forest Family, and I am thankful for the respect and trust that has been extended to me over these years. In the next 15 years, I hope that I will be able to contribute and shape this precious community through impactful research, passionate teaching, and deeply personal mentorship.