Skip to main content

From the APS Chair: reflections and visions

Upon the conclusion of his first year as chair of the department of applied physical sciences (APS), Theo Dingemans reflects proudly on the achievements and progress of APS while looking ahead to new developments on the horizon.

In exciting news, Dingemans shares that the undergraduate Applied Sciences major will launch in fall 2024 with a track in Materials Engineering offered by APS. “A recent survey showed that there is a lot of interest in a materials engineering track at UNC, so we’re very excited to introduce this offering,” he says. “We are working hard to bolster our research scope and comprehensively equip students to solve real-world problems.”

APS faculty continue to execute use-inspired research with applications to pertinent problems. For instance, research from distinguished professor Jinsong Huang may facilitate safer medical imaging and enable clearer low light photography. “This is exactly the kind of impact APS wants to have in the world,” Dingemans says.

Dingemans further reflects on several faculty members who won prestigious awards this year: associate professor Ronit Freeman received the Cottrell Scholar Award and assistant professor Nicolas Pégard was selected as a 2023 Research Fellow in Neuroscience by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation  and also received the Kavli Innovation Grant from the Kavli Foundation.

Dingemans commented on the value of the applied sciences and engineering (APSE) minor. Specifically, two recent graduates thrived within the program and will take APSE lessons with them as they embark on their professional journeys: Charlotte Dorn will begin her career as a research and development (R&D) engineer at Halter, and Cy Pair will join PROTECT3D, a Durham startup company that utilizes 3D technology to create casts, braces, and protective equipment for athletes and orthopedic patients.

In other news, Dingemans shares that the department received funding to equip APS teaching labs with materials and equipment that support active learning. ” Faculty can now  teach lab classes and enable students to experience hands-on lab activities, including mechanical testing of structures and materials, build and test electronic circuits, perform experiments with optics and learn about transport phenomena using a hydraulic demonstration bench,” he shares.

Other highlights for Dingemans include the BeAM Spring MakerFest and the Tar Heel Bus Tour. Of the latter, Dingemans states he gained “a great perspective on what UNC does for the state of North Carolina.” The tour is designed to demonstrate Carolina’s impact across the state and showcase its commitment to scholarship and public service.

Dingemans is eager to continue expanding departmental offerings and furthering important research initiatives by faculty and students. “With many exciting developments, APS is prepared to launch another successful academic year,” he says. “I am confident in the ability of our students and faculty to conduct important research, collaborate across disciplines, and discover real-world applications to benefit the greater good.”

August 17, 2023
Theo Dingemans

Theo Dingemans