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Alumnus wins LeRoy Apker Award for undergraduate physics research

| By Stephanie Weaver
Kevin Seltzer
Kevin Seltzer, '14

Loyola University Maryland graduate Kevin Seltzer, ’14, won the LeRoy Apker Award, a $5,000 undergraduate physics achievement award to recognize outstanding physics research.

The award, one of two awards granted this year by the American Physical Society, will be presented at the society’s meeting in Baltimore in April 2015 during a special ceremonial session. Seltzer will be invited to speak about his work at the meeting.

In addition to Seltzer’s monetary reward, Loyola’s physics department will also receive $5,000 to support undergraduate physics research.

“This award is only given to students who, in addition to having outstanding grades and academic honors, have also made substantive original research contributions published in top journals,” said Joseph Ganem, Ph.D., chair of the physics department at Loyola. “If you look at the list of prior Apker award winners they tend to come from some of the most prestigious schools in the United States, so this recognition puts the Loyola physics department and the University in the company of very elite schools.”

Seltzer, a physics and mathematics double major, was awarded for his work on the Casimir effect as a Hauber fellow in the summers of 2011 and 2012. The Casimir effect is an attractive force experienced by two uncharged metal plates when they are placed extremely close together. Casimir effect research is critical to ensuring that components of nanotechnology are structurally sound. 

The recent graduate was shocked to learn he had won the award.

“The award is very competitive and the other finalists were all doing great research. I was honestly shocked when I found out that I won — it was anyone’s game, so to speak,” Seltzer said.

Andrea Erdas, Ph.D., associate professor of physics, was Seltzer’s research advisor and mentor during his summers of research.

“I would never have had the opportunity to receive this award if it weren’t for the physics department’s support throughout the process,” Seltzer said. “Special thanks go to Dr. Erdas for taking me on as a research student and to Dr. Ganem for nominating me for the award. I also want to thank my family and friends for their patience and support throughout my college career and especially while I was researching”

Originally from West Chester, Pa., Seltzer began pursuing a Ph.D. in physics at Washington University in St. Louis this fall. Although his classes just began, he said Loyola prepped him for his graduate education.

“The cumulative effect of my non major classes, extracurriculars, and the Jesuit philosophy has shaped me as a person, and I will always proudly say that I graduated from a Jesuit liberal arts college,” Seltzer said.

Seltzer is a 2014 summa cum laude graduate of Loyola and a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Alpha Sigma Nu, and Sigma Pi Sigma. During his undergraduate career, Seltzer won the Barry Goldwater Scholarship for excellence in the sciences.

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