Spring 2023: A message from interim Department Chair, Professor Ed Cackett

Dear alumni and friends of WSU Physics & Astronomy,Ed Cackett

I’m pleased to be bringing back our department’s newsletter! For those who don’t know me, I’m an astronomer with research interests in observations of black holes and neutron stars and try to understand how gas falls into/onto them in such extreme gravitational environments. I have been at Wayne State since January 2012 and took over as interim chair of the department in August 2022. Though I grew up in the UK, I am pleased to call southeastern Michigan my home. Outside of work I enjoy kayaking, music and watching soccer – especially Detroit City FC.

There has been much change in the department over the last year. In August 2022 we were excited to welcome Renee Ludlam to the department as an assistant professor and back to Wayne State. She was an undergraduate here at Wayne State, double majoring in physics and astronomy, before moving on to get her Ph.D. in Astronomy at the University of Michigan and then having been awarded the prestigious NASA Hubble Fellowship at Caltech. Her expertise is in X-ray data analysis techniques and studying neutron stars and black holes. She has hit the ground running, having already been awarded several grants and being awarded the American Astronomical Society’s Newton Lacy Pierce Prize.

Several of our distinguished faculty have moved on to prominent positions elsewhere. The previous department chair, Peter Hoffmann, is now Dean of Arts and Science at the Daytona Beach campus of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Another former chair, David Cinabro, is now a program manager in the Office of Nuclear Physics and the Department of Energy. Finally, Alexey Petrov has moved to the University of South Carolina to become the chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy there. We are missing all three of them, but of course, wish them well, and are happy that they will fly the flag for Wayne State around the country. Their success is a testament to the strengths of our department.

Our physics building received a refresh in the fall with new ceilings and floors in the hallways, and we’re thrilled to now be able to welcome students back into the building in person.

In other news, Claude Pruneau has been elected as a Fellow of the American Physical Society – an honor that is limited to no more than half a percent of the Society’s membership. He received the honor “For outstanding contributions to the field of heavy ion collisions, especially in correlations and fluctuations, both experimental measurements and techniques development, broad contributions to undergraduate education, and the publication of two books.” Many congratulations to Claude!

As always, we love hearing from alumni and would be happy for you to share your news with us. Please feel free to get in touch with me at ecackett@wayne.edu. Finally, a big thank you to those who give to the department. Your generous investment helps support student success and research and is very much appreciated. If you’re considering a gift to the department, please visit giving.wayne.edu.


Ed Cackett
Professor and interim chair

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