Vitaly Kresin Promoted to Associate Professor

Professor Vitaly Kresin has been promoted to Associate Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. He has contributed much to both the department and University.

Dr. Kresin emigrated from the Soviet Union with his family at age 17. They settled in the San Francisco Bay Area where Vitaly chose University of California, Berkeley to further his studies. By that time, he had decided to major in physics. He credits a high school teacher back in Moscow for instilling a strong interest in the subject.

Vitaly completed his undergraduate work at UC Berkeley and graduated with an A.B. in Physics, High Distinction in General Scholarship. He continued on and received his Ph.D. from that university in 1991. He spent the next few years as a postdoctoral researcher at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the Condensed Matter Division and also as a Research Consultant at UC Berkeley. He conducted his research in the field of metal nanoparticles.

Vitaly began his career at USC in 1994. He stated, "USC offered me the opportunity to teach, which I enjoy a lot, and to continue and expand my research and work with graduate students. It is particularly gratifying to teach students who are curious and like to ask questions." This year Vitaly is teaching Physics for the Life Sciences (Physics 135). He has put a lot of effort into making the case that physics is a great human endeavor to understand the world around us, and not a collection of formulas invented by professors to torture students. Comments on student evaluation forms indicate the high regard the students have for Dr. Kresin's instructional abilities; "He's my best professor so far at USC!... Made physics interesting. Applied physics to everyday life." "An excellent teacher... I admire his ability to communicate and connect with students and I appreciate his patience." "Bravo to Dr. Kresin! He is a wonderful teacher and obviously understands that physics can be enjoyable for non-majors."

Vitaly enjoys alternating upper-division classes with the lower-division ones. He believes a source of his success as an instructor is that he truly likes explaining things. Next spring, he is scheduled to teach Conceptual Physics (Physics 100) for the first time, and is readying himself for the challenge of teaching this large and very important general education course.

Vitaly carries out experimental and some theoretical research on metal nanoclusters - agglomerates of a finite number of atoms (from a few to thousands) which are bigger than a molecule but smaller than a piece of bulk matter. The gradual development of various bulk characteristics can be studied as a function of size, and quantum effects unique to finite systems can be observed. Work in this field allows for considerable interaction with solid-state, atomic, chemical, and even nuclear physics, and has practical implications for surface science, nanoelectronics, catalysis and environmental studies.

Another project is carried out in collaboration with Professor Curt Wittig, USC Department of Chemistry, and Dr. A. Scheidermann, University of Washington. They study very cold helium nanodroplets, including (1) the formation and behavior of metallic clusters inside the helium droplets, and (2) photodissociation of diatomic molecules localized at the center of the droplet. These experiments touch upon such questions as atomic transport through a superfluid, wetting of alkalis by liquid helium, long-range forces in a liquid helium matrix, very low temperature spectroscopy of clusters and molecules, and other interesting issues.

Assisting him in his research are the four graduate students he is currently supervising; Vitaly Kasperovich, George Tikhonov, Sascha Vongehr and Kin Wong.

Vitaly is married to Dr. Susan Kresin, who is a linguist at UCLA (neither are huge football fans so the tension level doesn't rise too much during the season). They have a two-year old daughter and live in Santa Monica.

We are extremely pleased that Dr. Kresin is a member of our faculty and has been promoted to Associate Professor. His tenure enhances the prestige and presence of USC, and he is happy to be in a position to continue the work he loves.

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