John P. Cummings

Dean, School of Science and Associate Professor of Physics

Phone: (518) 782‑6932
Email: jcummings@siena.edu

John P. Cummings

Degrees:

Ph.D. Physics Rice University
M.A. Physics Southeastern Massachusetts University
B.A. Physics Johns Hopkins

Bio:

I grew up in Dartmouth, Massachusetts, where I attended public school. My undergraduate studies were in Physics at Johns Hopkins University; from there I went to University of Massachusetts for my Masters and Rice University for my PhD. My thesis work in Particle Physics was done at Brookhaven National Laboratory, where I searched for particles known as hybrids and glueballs, predicted by the Standard Model, but unobserved. After getting my PhD, I was a post-doctoral fellow, and subsequently a research assistant professor, at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. I came to Siena in 2008, and am currently studying neutrino oscillations and the mixing matrix which describes them.

What I love about Siena:

Siena students are the most engaged students in the classroom that I have seen. Selfishly, this make classes much more fun to teach, but this also produces a dynamic classroom environment that help students learn.

My Favorite courses to teach are:

Modern Physics

Electromagnetic Theory

Quantum Mechanics

Professional Experience:

Dean, School of Science Siena College 2016 - Now
Interim Dean, School of Science Siena College 2015 - 2016
Assistant Professor of Physics Siena College 2008 - Now
Assistant Research Professor Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute 2001 - 2008
Postdoctoral Research Associate Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute 1997 - 2001
Postdoctoral Research Associate University of Massachusetts--Dartmouth 1995 - 1997

My current research:

I am interested in particle physics in general, and have done research in strong interaction physics, particularly meson spectroscopy. Currently I am studying neutrinos, investigating the phenomenon known as "oscillation," an understanding of which may help us explain why the universe seems to be made of matter, with so little anti-matter.



The problem of dark matter and the possibility of detecting it in the laboratory also interest me. Strong evidence for dark matter is seen in astronomical observations, yet so far there has been no laboratory detection of any dark matter.

My teaching philosophy:

Richard Feynman relates an amusing story in his book, "Surely you’re Joking, Mr. Feynman" that describes some fellow students amazed by his "discovery" that the lowest point of a french curve has a tangent that is horizontal. None of them realized this was the definition of the lowest point! He then says:



I don’t know what’s the matter with people; they don’t learn by understanding; they learn by some other way—-by rote, or something. Their knowledge is so fragile.



Nothing is the matter with people, they have just been trained that rote memorization of facts and recipes is the easiest way to perform well in an academic setting. As an instructor my goal is to set up a classroom environment that encourages and rewards true understanding, while discouraging rote memorization. I want to harden fragile knowledge and make it robust.



I try to create in the course an atmosphere in which it is safe, even encouraged, to admit when you do not understand. I believe that admitting ignorance is the first step to gaining understanding. This can be difficult for many reasons: fear of ridicule, ego, even worry that it will affect a grade in the course. Modeling this behavior is an important, if humbling, step. Even after teaching several years of introductory physics, my students can still ask me questions that point to the limits of my understanding. Letting them know, by example, that it is all right to say, "I don’t know," and then demonstrating how to find the answer is an invaluable lesson for them.


Beam Spin Asymmetries in DVCS with CLAS at 4 .8 GeV
Phys. Rev.
2009
First measurement of direct f0(980) photoproduction on the proton
Phys. Rev. Lett.
2009
A Precise Measurement of the Neutron Magnetic Form Factor G M in the Few-GeV2 Region
Phys. Rev. Lett
2009
Improved Measurement of Branching Fractions forÀÀ Transitions among ¥(nS) States
Phys. Rev. D
2009
Measurement of unpolarized semi-inclusive À+ electroproduction off the proton
Phys. Rev. D
2009
Electroproduction of pÀ+À off protons at 0.2 < 0.6 GeV2 and 1.3 < 1.57 GeV with CLAS
Phys. Rev
2009
J/4' and 4'(2S) Radiative Transitions to ·c
Phys. Rev. Lett
2009
Search for the photo-excitation of exotic mesons in theÀ+À+À system
Phys. Rev. Lett.
2009
Observation of D+ , ·e+½e
Phys. Rev. Lett.
2009
Measurement of Charm Production Cross Sections in e+e Annihilation at Energies between 3.97 and 4.26 GeV
Phys. Rev.
2009
Search for Very Light CP-Odd Higgs Boson in Radiative Decays of ¥(1S
Phys. Rev. Lett
2008
Search for Lepton Flavor Violation in Upsilon Decays
Phys. Rev. Lett.
2008
Observation of J/4' -* 3³
Phys. Rev. Lett
2008
Measurement of the eta'-meson mass using J/4' -* ³·'
Phys. Rev. Lett.
2008
Observation of ¥(2S) -* ·¥(1S) and search for related transitions
Phys. Rev. Lett
2008
Precision Measurement of the Mass of the hc(1P1) State of Charmonium
Phys. Rev. Lett
2008