Welcome to the Northern Virginia Community College Website

Accessibility Navigation:

NOVA physics professor enjoying exceptional summer visit to CERN

Recent NOVA graduate also at CERN developing computer code

Dr. Walerian Majewski feels fortunate to be visiting the CERN Large Hadron Collider near Geneva this summer.

“I am witnessing a fascinating moment in the history of physics,” Majewski said. “We have just completed our understanding of ordinary matter, only to realize that it makes barely 4 percent of the universe. The ultimate theory will have to include the remaining 96 percent and the Collider, after recently finding the Higgs boson, begins the search for dark matter and energy.”

The mission of CERN is to push forward the frontiers of knowledge, to develop new technologies, and to train scientists and engineers for tomorrow. Majewski is attending the CERN summer lecture program to learn about the latest discoveries in the fundamental physics for the “Modern Physics” course he teaches at Northern Virginia Community College. He received support through a grant from the Virginia Community College System.

As a NOVA physics professor, Majewski strives to create undergraduate research opportunities for students such as Brad Bynum (of Woodbridge, Va.) who is currently interning at CERN. An Army veteran and recent NOVA computer science graduate, Bynum earned the 10-week internship through a very competitive process.

The CERN Summer Student Program offers undergraduate students of physics, computing and engineering a unique opportunity to join in the day-to-day work of research teams participating in experiments at CERN. Beyond the outstanding first-class scientific value of their stay, the selected students find working in a multidisciplinary and multicultural environment an extremely enriching personal experience. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make valuable and long lasting contacts with other students and scientists from all over.

“Another one of my students, Mario Solano, was an intern last summer. Both Mario and Brad received support from a National Science Foundation grant awarded to Professor Rubin at George Mason University,” Majewski said. “I hope to send another student next summer because there is no more prestigious place in the world for a STEM student.”

For almost three decades, Majewski has taught the full range of physics courses at NOVA. He developed seven physics distance learning courses for NOVA’s Extended Learning Institute and now six instructors teach the courses which are offered across Virginia.

He created NOVA’s Undergraduate Physics Research Program to expose community college students to the research opportunities common at four-year institutions. Over the years, he has designed a number of innovative and ambitious experiments and his students have presented their results at meetings of the American Association of Physics Teachers and the American Physical Society.

In 2008, he received an Outstanding Faculty Award from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV), the Commonwealth’s highest honor for teachers at Virginia’s public and private colleges. In both 1992 and 2005 Majewski was named a Chancellor’s Commonwealth Professor by the Virginia Community College System, and he has been selected three times as the Faculty of the Year by NOVA’s Alumni Federation.

Before coming to NOVA, Majewski devoted years of research to theoretical elementary particle physics. He produced research publications in refereed journals and pursued research at some of the foremost laboratories of the world. He earned a master’s degree in physics from the University of Warsaw, Poland, and a doctorate in theoretical physics from the Institute of Physics, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland. He came to the United States in 1979.

He contributed to the now famous Standard Model of Fundamental Particles and is happy to see its completion by the discovery of the long-missing Higgs particle. He is also excited by the CERN Experiment NA62 now in preparation for which he published a theoretical prediction many years ago.

In the fall, Majewski plans to apply for a grant to write a new introductory course of “Modern Physics” based on the materials he collected during lectures and seminars at CERN.

To learn more, contact Majewski at wmajewski@nvcc.edu.

Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 75,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through NOVA Online. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.