College of Science

Dr. Homeyra Sadaghiani Receives Prestigious 4-Year, $900,000 Collaborative NSF IUES Award

Homeyra sadaghinai receives NSF grant

Associate Professor Homeyra Sadaghiani of the Cal Poly Pomona Department of Physics & Astronomy has been awarded a 4-year, $291,289 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to conduct research and develop adaptable curricula bridging instructional paradigms in Quantum Mechanics. This is one of the only five NSF awards in this scale that was  awarded for Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) nationally in 2016.

This project will allow Dr. Sadaghiani to systematically investigate and improve instruction in one of the fastest growing areas of physics: quantum mechanics (QM). This growth will lead to an increased need for a quantum literate STEM workforce in both industry and research. Her research focuses on two paradigms. One paradigm introduces the Schrodinger equation in position space, while a second uses the context of spin-1/2 particles. A limited number of physics education researchers have focused on research and curriculum development for the first approach, however the second is quickly gaining momentum in classrooms, in part due to the recent publication of a spins-first textbook and the immediate application of spin-1/2 systems to the growing field of quantum technologies.

This project is designed to increase knowledge of student learning difficulties in upper-division QM in order to develop research-based educational materials that are easily adoptable by faculty from a wide range of institutions. The research and curriculum development will be performed for both instructional paradigms with a diverse population of students so the results and curricular materials will be broadly applicable.

The grant will also fund research opportunities for Cal Poly Pomona students during the summer and academic year. This grant will also create a full time postdoctoral research and teaching fellowship, the second such position ever offered in the Department of Physics & Astronomy.