Department of Physics Archive

Proposals funded: Rejeski, Brubaker, Holzwarth, Soriano, Good

Congratulations to Jack Rejeski, professor of health and exercise science, whose proposal entitled “LookAHEAD-E (Action for Health in Diabetes Biostatistics Research Center Continuation/Extension)” has been funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and by (subaward/subcontract from) Wake Forest University Health Sciences (WFU funding agency).

Congratulations to Peter Brubaker, professor of health and exercise science, whose proposal entitled “Transition from risk factors to early HF; Prevalence, pathogenesis, and phenomics (MESA 6)” has been funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and by (subaward/subcontract from) Wake Forest University Health Sciences (WFU funding agency).

Congratulations to Natalie Holzwarth, professor of physics, whose proposal entitled “Computational Studies of Solid Electrolytes” has been funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Congratulations to Christina Soriano, director of dance and associate professor of dance, whose proposal entitled “A Randomized Trial of Dance on Mood, Balance and Brain in Alzheimer’s Disease” has been funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and by (subaward/subcontract from) Wake Forest University Health Sciences.

Congratulations to Mary Good, assistant professor of anthropology, whose proposal entitled “Learning ‘Entrepreneurship’ but Preserving ‘Tradition:’ Tongan Youth Moving in Employment” has been funded by the Spencer Foundation.

Bonin receives inaugural Academic Leadership Award from CBOV

Keith Bonin

The College Board of Visitors on April 20 presented Keith D. Bonin with the board’s inaugural Academic Leadership Award at a board dinner on campus.  Bonin, who joined the faculty in 1992, is professor of physics and chair of the physics department.

In the April 24 electronic edition of the Dean’s Office Digest, the Dean of the College Office announced the award:

“The College Board of Visitors award recognizes Keith for embracing a philosophy of academic leadership and community-building. It celebrates Keith’s proven track record of engaging his academic department and academic colleagues in achieving a vision that includes but extends well beyond the Physics Department by pursuing opportunities for collaboration and innovation. His efforts have significantly advanced the goals of Wake Forest College as embodied in our liberal arts tradition.

The award recognizes academic leadership as a valued practice and confirms that departmental and other academic leaders can be effective agents of change on behalf of the institution, students, and colleagues. This award recognizes Keith as a leader who embodies the best qualities of academic leadership, not only of managerial skills, but of institutional vision and an abiding commitment to academic excellence, diversity and inclusion, classroom innovation, and commitment to students and the Wake Forest community.”

At the April 20 event, John Cooper, chair of the College Board of Visitors, presented the following remarks:

“Tonight, the College Board of Visitors honors Dr. Keith Bonin, professor and chair of the Department of Physics, for your outstanding leadership of a vital and thriving department, your advocacy for students, your work to develop a climate where faculty do their best work, and for your visionary leadership and its impact on the college and its future.

Your fingerprints are all over Wake Downtown including the long-term vision to create an engineering department. Dr. Bonin chaired the engineering department search this year, on top of his significant physics department work, leading a process that ensured the recruiting and hiring of the founding members of the engineering department—four faculty members, including a national star for chair.

In accepting the award, Bonin told the audience:

“I am personally humbled to be the recipient of the inaugural College Board of Visitors Academic Leadership Award. So much of what we accomplish is mainly due to the help we receive from others.  And this is especially true in my case where I have benefited from the tight-knit communities that exist at Wake Forest: in the department, in the College, in the Graduate and Professional Schools, and in the university as a whole.”

Proposals funded: Gross, Zeyl, Macosko, Von Burg, Ballard

Congratulations to Grey Ballard, assistant professor of computer science, whose proposal entitled “Parallel Tensor Decomposition for Massive Data” has been funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and by (subaward/subcontract from) Sandia National Laboratories (WFU funding agency.

Congratulations to Ron Von Burg, assistant professor of communication, whose proposal entitled “Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellows Summer Institute-2017” has been funded by the U.S. Department of State.

Congratulations to Michael Gross, assistant professor of chemistry, whose proposal entitled “CAREER: Processing High Surface Area, Nanostructured Ceramic Scaffolds at High Temperatures via In-Situ Carbon Templating of Hybrid Materials (Cayuse 17-00050” has been funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Congratulations to Jed Macosko, associate professor of physics, whose proposal entitled “ Searching for the Function of Centrioles” has been funded by the Discovery Institute.

Congratulations to Clifford W. Zeyl, professor of biology, whose proposal “Evolutionary Consequences of Experimental Transfer into Yeast Populations of an Animal Transposon (Cayuse 17-0010)” has been funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Comings and Goings for February 2017

See a list of employees joining and leaving the University in February 2017:

Read more

Wake Forest names founding engineering chair

This announcement was emailed to faculty and staff on Jan. 24 by Provost Rogan Kersh and Dean of the College Michele Gillespie:

Greetings faculty and staff colleagues,

We are delighted to inform you that, after an extensive national search, Wake Forest has appointed Dr. Olga Pierrakos as founding chair of the Department of Engineering. We will make a public announcement later this morning.


Dr. Olga Pierrakos

Dr. Pierrakos currently serves as Program Director of the Division of Undergraduate Education at the National Science Foundation (NSF), where she manages a $100 million portfolio to strengthen science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education at two- and four-year colleges and universities by improving curricula, instruction, laboratories, infrastructure, assessment, diversity of students and faculty, and collaborations.

She is also Associate Professor of the Department of Engineering at James Madison University (JMU), where she helped establish the department in 2008. Dr. Pierrakos developed the engineering course sequence for students, taught a wide range of the courses offered, mentored students in a liberal arts environment and oversaw an exemplary ABET accreditation process — all vital experience for her pivotal role at Wake Forest.

Dr. Pierrakos’s expertise in building a successful engineering department from the ground up, her deep appreciation for a blended engineering and liberal arts curriculum, and her passion for strengthening undergraduate STEM programs across higher education made her uniquely suited to fill this key leadership position at Wake Forest. We look forward to her guiding us through the process of developing an innovative, inclusive, and nationally recognized undergraduate engineering program as an extension of our commitment to liberal arts education at Wake Downtown.

We also wish to express our gratitude to members of an exceptional search committee, chaired by Keith Bonin, Professor and Chair of the Department of Physics. Other committee members include Rebecca Alexander, Professor of Chemistry and Director of Academic Programming for Wake Downtown; Michael Gross, Assistant Professor of Chemistry; Pete Santago, Professor and Chair of the Department of Computer Science; and Emmanuel Opara, Professor at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine and Graduate Program Director for the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences.

This signature appointment comes at a time of great excitement and momentum for the blending of STEM and liberal arts education at Wake Forest. Additional information about Dr. Pierrakos will be available today at and


Rogan Kersh, Provost
Michele Gillespie, Dean of the College