Fall 2023: Message from the Department Chair Ed Cackett

Dear alumni and friends of WSU Physics and Astronomy, 

The 2023-2024 academic year is off to a flying start. Campus is buzzing and there is excitement with the arrival of the first woman president of Wayne State, Dr. Kimberly Andrews Espy.  In our department, we’ve enjoyed welcoming our new undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral researchers.  We are particularly delighted to welcome new faculty member Assistant Professor Tonima Tasnim Ananna to the department who joins us from Dartmouth College where she was a postdoctoral researcher. Professor Ananna works on understanding the populations of supermassive black holes in the universe. We are thrilled that she can help us grow our astronomy efforts in the department.

We are also excited to have a new pre-faculty fellow, Dr. Saptaparna Bhattacharya, who joins us from Northwestern as part of Wayne State’s Pathway to Faculty program. This program is an initiative to diversify the professoriate at Wayne State by supporting individuals who identify as members of historically marginalized groups in their chosen field of higher education. It provides funding for a postdoctoral researcher with a clear path to becoming a tenure-track faculty member at Wayne State afterward. Dr. Bhattacharya does interesting work in experimental particle physics as part of the CMS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider.  At WSU she will work in the CMS group with Professor Karchin and Professor Harr.

I am pleased to have been appointed department chair, having served in the role on an interim basis in the 2022-2023 academic year. So far this semester, I’m having fun teaching our freshman seminar class for the new students in our department, and collaborating with the Department of Theatre and Dance who put on the play Silent Sky about female astronomer Henrietta Leavitt at the Harvard Observatory in the early 20th century. I got to speak to theatergoers about the incredible discoveries she made which changed the face of astronomy in the 20th century.

We look forward to hearing from our alumni. You can reach me at ecackett@wayne.edu to get in touch and let us know your news. As always, we are grateful for your kind donations to the department – I know it is hugely impactful for our students. If you’re considering a gift to the department, please visit ways to give.

Best wishes,

Ed Cackett, professor and department chair

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