Anderson, Indiana

Millis sheds light on gamma ray research

Wed, 2011-07-13 07:55 -- univcomm
July 13, 2011

Dr. John Millis, professor of physics at Anderson University, spoke at Ball State University and Purdue University last fall on gamma ray research using an instrument called VERITAS.

VERITAS, which stands for Very Energetic Radiation Imaging Telescope Array System, consists of four large gamma ray telescopes in southern Arizona. VERITAS detects traces of gamma rays coming from violent processes in the universe, such as stars being swallowed by black holes and supernova explosions.

Dr. John Millis, Anderson University“My research interest lies in using gamma rays to try to understand how certain stars evolve and interact with pulsars,” said Millis.

After working on the VERITAS project as a graduate student at Purdue University, Millis wanted to further his work, so he successfully applied for associate membership in the VERITAS collaboration. The collaboration is a group of more than 25 institutions around the world that work on the VERITAS experiment.

Millis spoke at the First Annual Indiana Astrophysics Meeting at Purdue University last fall. “Virtually everyone in the room knew more than I did, so they could ask the more penetrating questions,” he said. “A lot of the people in that room served on my thesis committee while I was in college and had been colleagues and advisors of mine.”

Dr. Scott Carr, professor of chemistry, said the lectures by Millis help raise awareness of the programs offered at Anderson University.

“Dr. Millis brings a combination of unique research experience and desire to work with students in his research,” said Carr. “He does a great job teaching in the classroom and has the freedom to explore the cosmos from his computer to carry out research and carry students along with him in the process. … I'm sure many students looking at colleges do not realize the opportunities that exist here to get involved in some high-level research.”

Through individual research, students have had access to the data under Millis. “We are looking at developing some classes within the next couple years that would be focusing on not just gamma rays, but the broader interest of cosmology and trying to better understand the universe in general,” said Millis.

“AU has done everything within its power to help support this effort,” Millis continued. “Different grants are available to pay faculty to do research, buy necessary equipment, and travel to meetings. I am thankful to have been the recipient of two Falls Faculty Development Grants over the last couple years.”

For more information about Dr. Millis’s work and writing, visit

— Kristyn Rhynard is a senior from Ithaca, Mich., majoring in communication arts. Rhynard is an associate with Fifth Street Communications™, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.

Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2010, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the seventh consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing and theology.