Month: September 2012

In Memoriam: Vasant Potnis

Vasant Potnis
Vasant Potnis

Physics professor emeritus Vasant Potnis, who retired from Michigan Tech in 1996, passed away Sept. 15 in Gwalior, India.

Potnis was born in 1928 in India and earned Bsc, MSc and PhD degrees from Agra University before traveling by boat to the US in 1954.

He came to the University in 1968 from Kansas State University, one of a nuclear physics research group that included Gary Agin. Potnis’s research focused on low-energy nuclear physics, beta and gamma ray spectroscopy, and time variations of cosmic radiation, and he published numerous papers.

“Vasant was easy going and very agreeable,” remembers Agin, professor emeritus of physics, who retired from the University in 2008.

Physics professor Don Beck agreed. “Vasant’s pleasant personality contributed significantly to the department while providing a much-needed external visibility as a fellow of the American Physical Society,” he said.

David Lucas earned an MS in Physics from Michigan Tech in 1977 under Potnis’s direction and later received Tech’s first PhD in Physics in 1986. Now chair of the physics department at Northern Michigan University, Lucas called Potnis “one of the nicest people.”

“He was always encouraging and helpful. I never had to worry about asking him anything,” Lucas said.

Mechanical engineering professor emeritus Sudhakar Pandit was both a colleague and a friend. “He was an avid lover of bridge, and after retirement, we used to play quite regularly,” he says. “Vasant was a very rational individual and took great pride in physics, in thinking scientifically.”

He also loved art, said Pandit’s wife, Maneesha. “He took art classes and enjoyed doing sketches and paintings, from life and photographs,” she said. “He had a good collection of his own work, and he appreciated art in general.”

“He also exhibited in the spring art show on campus,” Agin said.

The Potnises split their time between Houghton and Gwalior, where Vasant owned a casting business. After retiring, he continued to teach classes within the physics department. He was a Fellow of the American Physical Society and a member of the American Association of Physics Teachers, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Sigma Xi and Sigma Pi Sigma.

Potnis is survived by his wife, Kusum.

Posted September 26, 2012, in Tech Today.

Please feel free to leave comments on your experiences with Vasant Potnis.

Yoke Khin Yap Research Group

Yap Group 2012
Yap Group 2012

The Yap Research Group has updated its people and publications. The group is led by Dr. Yoke Khin Yap, who is interested in the fundamentals of synthesis, properties, and applications of functional materials, which include B-C-N nanostructures and more. Dr. Yap is the director of the Engineering Physics PhD program and a recent recipient of the Michigan Tech Bhakta Rath Research Award. His group of two research colleagues, a postdoc, five graduate students, and five undergraduate students is interested in synthesis, characterization and application of nanomaterials.

Opportunities for summer internships and more at the Lincoln Laboratories

MIT Lincoln Laboratory will be on-campus on October 2-3 to recruit undergraduate and graduate students for potential employment opportunities.  We will be participating in the Career Fair on October 2nd and holding on-campus interviews on October 3rd .  If you know top students who might be interested in employment at Lincoln Lab, please ask them to sign up for an on-campus interview with the Career Center and apply online at Lincoln’s website ( *The deadline for applying for interview slots is September 23rd .* Please note that all Lincoln employees must be able to obtain and maintain a SECRET-level U.S. security clearance.

*Peter A Kiefer*
/Associate Staff/
Advanced Sensor Systems & Test Beds
MIT Lincoln Laboratory
244 Wood St, Lexington, MA 02420
Mailstop: KH1-235H
Phone: 781-981-4005

MIT Lincoln Lab

Physics Cooking Class for Spring 2013

Looking for a fun and “tasty” class? Want to impress your significant other? Enroll in PH 4999 (3 credits), “What’s Cooking? A Physicist in the Kitchen.” The class will be available in spring 2013.

Apart from cooking and tasting delicious food, you will learn quantum physics, thermodynamics, fluid dynamics and even laser spectroscopy.

For more information, contact Professor Jacek Borysow.