A Synopsis of Dr. Chiu’s Research and Teaching at UT (1971-2013)

Dr. Chiu has been a faculty member at the UT Physics Department from the fall of 1971 to the summer 2013, over the span of 42 academic years. The attached CV details his teaching awards, inclusive of specific references to selected research papers. Below are highlights of his accomplishments and contributions to UT.

1.      Significant  Research Contributions


Dr. Chiu’s main research interest has been in strong interaction physics referred to as hadron physics. His post doctoral work and his research during his early tenure at UT (1966-1975), comprised experimental evidence on the Regge pole model, exchange degenerate Regge trajectories, and the dual resonance model. (Please refer to Dr. Chiu’s review article in the Annual Review of Nuclear Science as well as the follow up papers listed within the context of his CV.)  Significantly, the properties of the hadron collision phenomena discussed in his research were the key ingredients of the model proposed by Veneziano, which is a model of the classical string, a precursor of the quantum string, now string theory.

Further, in the 70s, there was the discovery of the fundamental theory of strong interaction: the quantum chromodynamics (QCD). One finds that hadron interaction is the consequence to interactions among elementary color partons, the quarks and gluons. QCD has the property of “asymptotic freedom”, i.e. when the harder are the partons colliding, and the larger is the momentum transfer between the partons, and the weaker is the interaction strength between them. Here “perturbation theory” (PQCD) can be used to calculate cross sections. On the other hand, when the collisions are soft, interactions between partons are strong, In this collision region,  (also referred to as the small-x region) PQCD cannot be used. Consequently, it turned out the collisions observed in the particle accelerators are dominated by small momentum transfer events, where collisions are soft. In the late 70s and 80s, Dr. Chiu researched the soft collision phenomena using multiple scatting models.

Additionally, during this period, Dr. Chiu collaborated with Professor E. C. G. Sudarshan and other contributors in the study of the Quantum Zeno effect. Chiu worked out several examples of the Lee-Friedrich Model, which illustrated how the Zeno effect arises in the Quantum Field theory. In collaboration with Sudarshan and colleagues, Chiu worked on the formulation of the Generalized Quantum theory which involves unstable quantum systems. Some of their work is summarized in a review article in Advances in Chemical Physics referenced within the contents of his attached CV.

Moreover, due to the termination of the superconducting-supercollider (SSC) project by the US Congress in 1993, Dr. Chiu shifted his research interest to Plasma Physics, joining the Institute of Fusion Study as an affiliated faculty member. Hence, he collaborated with Professors Toshi Tajima and Mike Downer in the investigation of laser-wakefield acceleration and its application to radiation medicine. The paper of Dr. Chiu and collaborators on the dose property of the electron beam was the recipient of the AAPM's Farrington Daniels Award in 2005.

Henceforth, Dr. Chiu also collaborated with Professor Wendell Horton. Among their various projects, they investigated electron trajectory in the presence of shock waves.  Through computer simulation, they demonstrated that the spiraling electron trajectory can travel over an extensive long distance.

 Furthermore, around 2012, the relativistic heavy ion collider (RHIC) at Brookhaven National lab began its operation which provided abundant hadron data in soft, semi-hard and hard collisions. Consequently, Chiu’s research interest has shifted back to hadron physics. Since 2004, he has been collaborating with Professor Rudolph Hwa. They have investigated various aspects of the two-particle correlation phenomena in relativistic heavy ion collisions, and the application of Hwa’s recombination model to the collision data.

 To date, Chiu continues his research related to QCD. During the period 2006-2011, he supervised two doctorate students Man Fung Cheung and Matt Haley. Both dissertations were related to understanding hadron physics based on QCD. At present, Chiu continues to collaborate with his former student Cheung on the “classical field modified minijet model”. At this point, the presence of soft field in high energy collisions is well established among experts in the field. Their goal is to carry out the hadron cross section calculation from the production of minijets in the presence of the classical field in the framework of QCD.


2. Highlights in Instruction and in Physics Education. 


Teaching Engineering Physics: Phy303K/L

     By 1991, the Physics Department serviced Engineering Physics classes for over 2,000 students per year. In     Fall of 1991 Professor Austin Gleeson, then Departmental Chair, recruited Dr. Chiu together with Dr.  C.  Fred Moore, to supervise the teaching of 303K/L on a long term basis.  Hence, Dr. Chiu has since been the instructor who is involved in the teaching and other 303K/L related matters over the past two decades.

      During the early 90s, Chiu collaborated with Professor C. Fred Moore and other instructors in the initial development of computerized homework/exam problems for Engineering Physics students. 

      In 1996, to promote interactive teaching in large classrooms, Dr. Chiu initiated the use of the UT Class Talk System, a classroom communication system, in the UT Physics Department.   He advocated to intersperse “interactive quiz sessions” within the lecture format, in order to better engage students’ attention, to promote active learning and peer instruction, and to obtain immediate feedback from the class. In addition to setting up the ClassTalk system for the 303K/L, Dr. Chiu also helped to facilitate the use of the classroom communication system within several  Biology,  Human Ecology, and English classes.  Dr. Chiu is the professor who initiated the use of the classroom communication system on the UT campus. He is the founder of the UT Interactive Teaching Support Project (click this link for more details)

      Additionally, Dr. Chiu has developed an interactive-quiz library for the entire two-semester course of Engineering Physics and has set up a data base on the web, available to students and other colleagues. Please refer to web links: 303K, 303L.

      For these and other teaching efforts, Dr. Chiu has received numerous teaching excellence awards, including the UT President's Associates Teaching Excellence Award, a Special Teaching Award from the College of Engineering, Dad’s Association Centennial Teaching Fellowship, the Friar Centennial Teaching Fellowship and more as noted on the attached CV.  In 1998, he was nominated and became a member of the UT Academy of Distinguished Teachers. (See his essay ,the web link on his teaching philosophy and his large classroom interactive teaching.)


Pioneering the M&I approach

      In the academic year (2009-2010), Chiu experimented in the teaching of Engineering Physics using a new textbook entitled “Matter & Interactions” (M&I) in one of the Engineering Physics classes. The M&I textbook is a by-product of the National Science Foundation’s sponsored Physics Education Research (PER). The textbook presents physics within a modern perspective and stresses the “understanding” of physics with an emphasis on comprehension.  It makes an effort to steer students away from a “plug and chug” mentality, prevalent in the minds of many Engineering students as they go through the traditional physics education curriculum. 

      During the first year trial, significantly positive responses from students using the M&I materials were received. Thus, in the following year, the M&I curriculum was used by several 303K/L sections. In May 2011, Matt Haley, the TA who worked with Dr. Chiu helped to launch the new M&I curriculum, received the Livingston Outstanding Graduate Student Award. Significantly, Dr. Keto, our graduate advisor  remarked that he believed this was the first highest honor of its kind, to be received in our department in his memory.

      Thereafter, in the fall of 2012, two teaching teams were established. Dr. Harry Swinney and his associates supervised 303K and Dr. Chiu supervised by 303L.   Since then, Dr. Chiu has devoted a more focused effort towards the development of 303L (or the electricity and magnetism) part of the M&I course.


Development of UT 303L MI-curriculum

      Dr. Chiu’s goal has been to develop a UT version of the EM-course based on M&I volume II, to be more suitable for the Physics Department. The main adjustments comprise the implementation of a slightly higher math level than that of the textbook, the rearrangement of presentations to establish a curriculum which flows closer to a traditional textbook with more emphasis on several topics not stressed in the textbook. Lastly through the development of our own Quest-MI-Bank, the new M&I 303L curriculum will be supported by the UT Quest System.

      The present goal is to make what we have developed, i.e. the lesson plans, clicker questions, lectures, homework, and sample exam questions, fully accessible to the UT instructors, and in a limited but significant way, to instructors at other universities.