View the latest episode of Coffee with Ish!  

Stephan Haas and Daniel Lidar sit down with Ishwar Puri, Senior Vice President from the USC Office of Research and Innovation, to discuss the frontier of  Quantum Computing.


Congratulations to Peter Chung for being awarded the Robert D. Beyer (’81) Early Career Chair in Natural Sciences. The Chair’s Installation Ceremony was held on March 14, 2024 where Peter was presented with his “official chair” by Bob Beyer (photo) and Dornsife Dean, Amber Miller.

Peter is the second faculty from Physics and Astronomy to be bestowed with this prestigious honor. The inagural first holder of the endowment was Moh El-Naggar in 2015.

                                        IN MEMORIAM                                                 

Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Armand Tanguay, passed away on February 25, 2024. He held a joint position with Physics and Astronomy, as well.

Professor Tanguay was born in 1949 in Northampton, Massachusetts. He obtained a B.S. degree in 1971 in Physics with Honors from Caltech, and an M.S. in 1972, an M.Phil. in 1975, and a Ph.D. in 1977, all Engineering and Applied Science from Yale University. Armand joined USC in 1977 as Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering and Materials Science and was  promoted to Associate Professor and  Professor in Electrical Engineering, Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, Biomedical Engineering,  and the Neuroscience Graduate Program.

Armand played a vital role in the development of photonics at USC, acting as Associate Director and then Director of the USC Center for Photonic Technology. He also served as Deputy Director of the Integrated Media Systems Center, the first National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center awarded to USC, and was a founding member of the Biomimetic MicroElectronic Systems Center (BMES), another National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center.

He was an expert in solid state physics, physical optics, photonics, and electrooptic devices and supervised many Ph.D. Theses in these and related areas and published extensively and presented in conferences more than 400 technical papers. Armand was a Fellow of the Optical Society of America (OSA) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Funeral Service will be held on Saturday, April 20th at 10:30 am in Newport Beach, CA, followed by a memorial reception  in Irvine. More details can be found here.

Undergraduate Accomplishment


Congratulations to Miguel Mercado who received the “Best Undergrad Presenter-Future of Physics Days” award at this year’s APS March Meeting in Minneapolis, MN. Miguel and his team’s presentation was titled “Dynamics of Symmetry-Protected Topological Phases of Matter on a Quantum Computer” in collaboration with Stephan Haas, Aiichiro Nakano, Rosa Di Felice, Kyle Chen (Univ. of Chicago) and Parth Darekar (Univ. of Maryland). Miguel will graduate in May 2025 with two degrees, Physics and Computer Science, and Mathematics.

Congratulations Miguel!


Congratulations to Moh El-Naggar for his recent election to the Fellowship in the American Academy of Microbiology. The Academy is the honorific leadership group within the American Society for Microbiology, and recognizes excellence, originality, service, and leadership in the microbial sciences.

Read more from the USC Dornsife Office of Research Advancement Newsletter from February 19, 2024.

Our very own Kenneth Phillips, Adjunct Professor of the Practice of Physics and Astronomy, has spearheaded an enormous effort at the California Science Center. On January 29, 2024, the retired shuttle, Endeavor, made its very last “flight” over Exposition Park in order to be lowered into place in a launch-ready vertical display.
Ken Phillips adds, “It’s fantastic to see the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center progress to the point that Endeavour can be placed in its launch configuration which is something that our team has envisioned for the past 34 years. We have an awesome crew led by some of the same NASA engineers and technicians that were responsible for the 135 launches of the space shuttle fleet so, weather permitting, we will very slowly lift Endeavour into launch position this evening between the hours of 10p and 4a. If the team is satisfied with the “soft mating” that we hope will take place later this evening, we will then torque all connections to flight specifications and remove the crane and the shuttle vertical lifting sling in the next 24 hours.”

Congrats, Ken & Team!

NBC-LA with Ken Phillips 


Kelly Luo was recently elected to the APS Forum on Early Career Scientists (FECS) as a Member-at-Large.

Congratulations, Kelly, on this new role and for receiving the highest  vote count among the other nominees! Kelly’s 2-year term begins in January 2024.

It’s with heavy hearts and great difficulty that we announce the passing of Dennis Nemeschansky who peacefully passed away while sleeping on June 1st, 2023. For 15 months Dennis fought valiantly against glioblastoma remaining hopeful and optimistic even in the face of insurmountable odds. As we grieve the loss of an extraordinary man we celebrate the life of our family’s rock, an exceptional man who touched the minds and hearts of everyone who knew him.

Born on December 21st, 1955, in Helsinki Finland, Dennis displayed early on, his brilliance and aptitude for mathematics and physics. His insatiable curiosity and determination to excel led him to pursue a career in physics studying first at the University of Helsinki and then at Princeton and Stanford Universities. By the time he completed his post-doc studies, Dennis grew to love California and decided to make it his new home– accepting a position at the University of Southern California where he taught thousands of students over 35 years. His innate brilliance and deep understanding of the complexities of the universe dazzled his peers and students alike, leaving an indelible mark on the academic community.

Beyond the classroom and the conference halls, Dennis was a pillar of strength and love within his family. He married the love of his life, Lauren, and together they raised two sons, Marc and David. His commitment to his family knew no bounds, and he embraced the joys and challenges of fatherhood with unwavering devotion. Dennis was not only a loving family man but also a constant presence in his sons’ lives. He enthusiastically supported their passions, serving as a dedicated hockey coach and soccer coach, cheering them on from the coaches’ bench and teaching them valuable life lessons through sportsmanship and teamwork.

Dennis was a man of immense fortitude and determination which was evident by his unwavering dedication to every endeavor he pursued, personally and professionally. When Dennis set his mind to it, it happened. Whether it was his academic pursuits, his coaching responsibilities or helping his wife build a small business, he approached each with fierce determination and gave it his absolute best.

Dennis’ departure leaves an irreplaceable void in the lives of our loving family and the countless others who had the privilege of knowing him. We will never forget his gentle demeanor, playful smile, and genuine warmth.

The Nemeschansky Family

We were pleasantly pleased with a surprise visit by Werner Däppen, Professor Emeritus, in late April 2023. Dr. Däppen’s visit was a breath of fresh air to all faculty and staff who have had the great pleasure and honor to work with him during his 25 years in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at USC. After he shocked the department admins with his unexpected  arrival, Dr. Däppen was thrilled to tour the new Cosmology suites on ACB’s 5th floor, chat with previous colleagues in SSC, and attend the monthly Happy Hour where he engaged with and met newer faculty and current graduate students. He has lived in his birth country of Switzerland since his retirement 6 years ago with his lovely and amazing wife, Veronika.

Werner Däppen (right) is pictured here with Krzysztof Pilch in SSC.