Longtime Virginia Tech College of Science professor Mark Pitt has been named as chair of the Department of Physics.

Pitt’s research focuses on nuclear physics with a primary interest in electron scattering and weak interactions. He is considered a leader in using parity-violating electron scattering to study the structure of the proton and search for evidence of “new physics” beyond the currently accepted standard model of particle physics. This work takes place at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in Newport News, Virginia, where he serves as chair of Institutional Council for the Qweak Experiment, and is deputy spokesperson and chair of the executive board for the MOLLER experiment.

“Mark is extremely well thought of by his peers here at Virginia Tech and from across the academic field of physics,” said Sally C. Morton, dean of the College of Science. “Physics faculty teach students in science and from across the university, including the College of Engineering and the College of Architecture and Urban Studies. Physics is truly one of the most in-demand, heavily relied-on departments at Virginia Tech. As the university moves forward in its mission of being a world-class research institution with a focus on interdisciplinary education, I am glad Mark is in the lead.”

Pitt joined the Virginia Tech faculty in 1997. Among his teaching duties was responsibility for the design and implementation of the calculus-based introductory physics laboratory facility in Hahn Hall North and for co-authoring the lab manuals that teach roughly 2,000 students per semester in the 2305 and 2306 Foundations of Physics course sequence.

Since 1998, his research funding from the National Science Foundation as primary investigator or support investigator totals $5.6 million. He received a Faculty Early Career Development Award from the foundation in 1998. He has co-authored more than 45 papers in peer-reviewed journals.

He takes over the department chair’s position from Patrick Huber, also a professor in the department.

Pitt earned a bachelor’s of science from California Institute of Technology in 1985, and a master’s in 1987 and a doctoral degree in 1992, both from Princeton University; all in physics.