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Appointment of Oleg Shpyrko as New Department of Physics Chair 

September 21, 2022 | By Emerson Dameron

The School of Physical Sciences is pleased to announce the appointment of Oleg Shpyrko as the new chair of the Department of Physics. He previously served as the vice chair of the department. 

Professor Shpyrko is an accomplished researcher with primary expertise in novel synchrotron X-ray scattering and microscopy study of both soft and hard condensed matter systems. He will continue the legacy of outgoing chair M. Brian Maple, Distinguished Professor of Physics and Bernd T. Matthias Endowed Chair in the Department of Physics.

Oleg Shpyrko in lab coat
Department of Physics Chair Oleg Shpyrko.

Professor Shpyrko began his career at UC San Diego in 2007. Born in Ukraine, he came to the United States to pursue his graduate studies. He earned a Ph.D. from Harvard in 2004 and worked as a postdoctoral fellow at Center for Nanoscale Materials at Argonne National Laboratory. Since arriving at UC San Diego, he has received an NSF CAREER award and an APS Rosalind Franklin award for his work.

His group at UC San Diego is actively involved in the application of synchrotron scattering and imaging techniques to problems ranging from structure and dynamics of magnetic, electronic and ionic materials, with a focus on X-ray operando studies of novel materials and devices relevant to next-generation energy storage, energy harvesting and neuromorphic computing applications.

Professor Shpyrko replaces outgoing chair M. Brian Maple, whose legacy at UC San Diego spans nearly 60 years. Maple joined the university as a graduate student in 1963, joining Professor Bernd T. Matthias’s group before earning his Ph.D. in 1969. He served as an assistant research physicist from 1969-75 before becoming an associate professor and was also an assistant adjunct professor from 1973-75.

Professor Maple served three terms as chair of the physics department, including two three-year terms from 2004-10 and a third from 2019-22. In that time, he helped bring world-class faculty to UC San Diego and nurtured their careers in teaching and research, including Professor Shpyrko.

“It has been a pleasure to work with Oleg and watch his academic career flourish,” Maple said. “I am pleased that he was selected as the next department chair and look forward to continuing to work with him.”

Professor Maple’s third term was marked by significant challenges, most notably a transition to online learning during the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. “I greatly appreciate the heroic effort of the faculty and staff in taking on the many challenges confronting the department during the past three years,” he said.