Faculty | Physics & Astronomy



Dr. Edward Hellen

Department Head, Associate Professor

Petty 322
BS: University of Wisconsin; PhD: University of Michigan

Dr. Hellen is interested in Nonlinear Dynamics, most recently using numerical and electrical models to study collective modes and multi-stability in coupled synthetic genetic ring oscillators. For numerical simulations he formerly used Fortran, then MathCad, then Matlab, but now mostly uses Python and XPPAUT on both Windows and Linux, and AUTO-07p on Linux.

Dr. Alicia Aarnio

Assistant Professor

Petty 332
BA: Smith College; PhD: Vanderbilt University

Prof. Aarnio is interested in solar and stellar magnetic fields. She studies how magnetic fields facilitate the flux of mass and energy within a star-disk system and how they drive solar and stellar activity, outflows, and accretion. Aarnio uses large data sets and the solar-stellar connection to understand stars like the Sun when it was a few million years old and how it evolved to be the star we know now. Her results from stellar observations and models inform possible solar extremes that are of great concern for the denizens of 1 au. Prof. Aarnio observes, taking photometric and spectroscopic data, and models, running radiative transfer and magnetohydrodynamic convection codes to understand the data she gathers.



Dr. Ian Beatty

Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies

Petty 328
BS & PhD: University of Massachusetts

Dr. Beatty’s main interest is in Physics Education Research. This research ranges from cognitive modeling (“How do we gauge and represent the physics knowledge in a student’s or expert’s head?”) through statistical methods (“How do we extract reliable measures of students’ affective traits from questionnaire data?”) to the engineering and evaluation of curricula and learning environments (“How do we engage students more deeply and authentically in physics learning, taking hints from how good video games engage players in exploring confusing environments and mastering hard skills?”). He also wants to integrate computational methods and simulation more deeply into the physics curriculum.

Dr. Ron Belmont

Assistant Professor

Petty 331
BS: Seton Hall University; MS & PhD: Vanderbilt University

Ron Belmont is an internationally recognized expert in the physics of ultrarelativistic nucleus-nucleus collisions.  By colliding heavy nuclei at relativistic speeds, we create a new phase of matter called the quark-gluon plasma, which is believed to have existed in the very early universe, roughly a few microseconds after the big bang.  Ron is a member of the PHENIX Collaboration, where he is a physics working group convener and a member of the executive council and institutional board.  Ron is also a member of the sPHENIX Collaboration, where he is an institutional board member and one of the experts on the hadronic calorimeter subsystem.

Dr. Alan (AJ) Covell


Petty 333
BA: University of North Carolina Greensboro; PhD: Joint School of Nanoscience & Nanoengineering

Dr. Covell is interested in solid state battery separators for multivalent ion battery applications and is currently using first principle calculations to investigate ionic conductivity in proposed solid state materials. He is also interested in curriculum development and gamification, where he is developing/adapting course materials for online platforms and delivery.

Dr. Anatoly Miroshnichenko

Professor and Director of Three College Observatory

Petty 335
MS: Saint-Petersburg State University; PhD: Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory of the Russian Academy of Sciences; Second PhD: Special Astrophysical Observatory of the Russian Academy of Sciences

Dr. Miroshnichenko’s research interests include studies of hot stars with large amounts of circumstellar material, such as Be stars, objects with the B[e] phenomenon, young stars, binary systems, spectroscopy and photometry (methods of observation) , and radiation transfer (method of computational analysis).


Dr. Promod Pratap

Associate Professor

Petty 318
MS: Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay; PhD: Syracuse University

Over the past 30 years, Dr. Pratap’s research has focused on the energetics of membrane ion transporters – specifically, the sodium and potassium pump. This membrane protein converts chemical energy into electrochemical potential energy stored in transmembrane gradients of sodium and potassium. In a human at rest, this pump uses approximately 25% of the body’s total energy budget. The pump is also the target of digitalis, a drug administered to increase the strength of heart muscle contractions.  Pratap uses various spectroscopic techniques (ensemble fluorescence and FTIR spectroscopy, and single-molecule fluorescence fluctuations) to examine various steps in the pump’s reaction cycle with the overall goal of determining the pump’s energy conversion efficiency.

Joel Shaw


Petty 334
BS: University of North Carolina Greensboro; MS: University of New Hampshire

Joel Shaw is impressed that you took the time to scroll all the way down to the last person in the faculty department list and are now actually reading the words that presumably he wrote (technically you have no way of knowing – you could ask him but he might lie – how would you know?). In addition to teaching here at UNCG, he has taught at the University of New Hampshire, Forsyth Technical Community College, Guilford County Community College (where at one time his position was listed on the website as God Almighty), North Carolina A&T State University, and Davidson County Community College. As for research, Joel has spent a fair amount of time pondering dark matter, relativity, & whether blurbs like this should be written in the first, second, third, or whatever person. Joel is married with 2 children and doesn’t understand why his amazing wife wouldn’t let him name either of their children “Chewbacca”.