William & Mary

Physics Graduate Student AJ Pyle awarded the 2015 Cheryl Griffith Tropf Fellowship in Physics

Bill Tropf and Fellowship recipient AJ PyleAJ Pyle was recently awarded the 2015 Cheryl Griffith Tropf Fellowship in Physics. Mr. Pyle was selected based on his strong progress on his research, and his excellent potential as a physicist. The award allows Mr. Pyle to fully focus on research during the spring semester and provides a small research budget.

Mr. Pyle studies the quantum mechanics of atomic motion at ultracold temperatures. Atoms at room temperature interact like billiard balls, bouncing off of one another and other objects. When atoms are cooled down to temperatures less than one millionth of a degree above absolute zero, they lose their individual identities and behave like a wave. The atoms form a new type of matter called a Bose-Einstein condensate. Working with William and Mary professor Seth Aubin, Mr. Pyle hopes to manipulate the Bose-Einstein condensate with a tunable laser and demonstrate he can control the atomic transport within his setup. Such a breakthrough would be a first step in designing "atomtronic" circuits, circuits that use these wave-like atoms instead of electrons.

The Tropf Fellowship was generously endowed by William J. Tropf III to honor his late wife Cheryl's accomplishments and love of William and Mary. Both Bill and Cheryl received their B.S. degrees in Physics from William & Mary in 1968, both subsequently earned doctorates from the University of Virginia, Bill in Physics and Cheryl in Applied Mathematics. While at William and Mary, Cheryl played varsity field hockey and was a member of Kappa Delta sorority. She received two NSF Undergraduate Research Grants, was president of physics honor society Sigma Pi Sigma, and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. After earning her PhD, she worked at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and taught graduate mathematics at Johns Hopkins. Cheryl spent a year as Congressional Science Fellow, and she was a power plant manager for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. After the birth of her son, Cheryl attended Georgetown University, earning a master’s degree in accounting and the first-in-class award. She went on to teach accounting and finance at the University of Baltimore, while establishing her certified public accountant practice. She was twice named business woman of the year, and was active in her local government and community. Bill is a member of the College’s Graduate Advisory Board, and has been a great supporter of the department.

Cheryl Tropf

Cheryl Tropf

Cheryl Tropf