Eugene J.  Hoffman

Associate Professor


RESEARCH PROGRAM: Experiments in Planetary Science, in Physics Education, and in Physics Major Recruiting

Eugene J. Hoffman
Associate Professor of Physics
Morgan State University
Baltimore, MD 21251

Planetary Science in the Lab: I am interested especially in early events in solar system formation. This is a particularly opportune time for this topic, with almost daily discoveries of extrasolar planets added to the rapid development of techniques for studying planetary materials. Many Morgan undergraduates have participated in these projects.

Current work: a study of the reaction of water with synthetic amorphous silicates. These samples mimic silicates detected in interstellar space and in the most primitive meteorites. Meteorites also present evidence that water reacts with such amorphous silicates in the solar nebula, an early stage in the development of the planetary system. My experiments permit elucidation of details of these reactions and characterization of their products by x-ray diffraction and electron microscopy. Results indicate that amorphous magnesium-containing silicates react with water vapor at an optimum temperature of 19o C, and that products include small crystals of phyllosilicates (layer silicates). Thus at least some of the water necessary for the onset of life in our solar system may have entered well before asteroids and planets congealed.

Recent abstracts:
Hoffman, E.J., Veblen, L. A., Abreu, N.M., Howard, K.T. 2011. Reaction Products of Synthetic Mg-Silicates Hydrated in a Humid Chamber. Lunar Planet. Sci. 42: 2526.
Hoffman, E.J., Veblen, L. A. and Veblen, D. R. 2011. Incipient phyllosilicate structures in synthetic Mg-silicates hydrated in a humid chamber. Meteorit. Planet. Sci., 46, A98.

Other projects: analysis of meteorites and their terrestrial analogues. Characterization methods: Mössbauer and near-infrared spectroscopies.
Sample publication:
Hoffman, E., Seifu, D., and Oliver, F.W. 2000. Axtell and Allende: A Mössbauer Spectroscopic Study. Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 35: 431-434.
Sample abstract:
Hoffman, E. J., Hart, C., and Hatcher, S. 2006. Anomalous NIR And Mössbauer Spectra of High-Ca Pyroxenes: The Effect of Minor Phases. Lunar Planet. Sci. 37: 1215.

Innovations in Physics Education: I have introduced novel forms of classroom testing as learning tools in both lecture and laboratory classes and continue to strive especially for more effective enhancement of student analytical skills.


Hoffman, E. J. 2006, Proficiency Tests for Introductory Physics. The Physics Teacher, 44: 214-216.
Hoffman, E. J. 2011 and 2013, Contributions to Loyd, Physics Lab Manual, Morgan Edition, Cengage.

"Geo-Space Science" as an Aid to Physics Recruitment: Testing this idea was the topic of my grant from the NSF (Geo-Ed, 2008-2011). It included a fast-moving on-campus summer program for high school students in 2010, which can serve as a very useful recruiting tool. The participants were recommended by science teachers, but none ended up as our Physics majors. Conclusion: no matter how appealing the pre-college activity, selection of participants must rely on input from physics teachers specifically. I held a conference of stakeholders in May, 2012, to sketch out such a program of outreach. We should be able to test the program during the coming academic year.

NSF Geo-Ed Grant (2008-2011, $ 75,925.11)
HBCU_UP Grant (NSF), Physics portion (2005-6, $ 76,000)
NASA-Morgan State University MiniGrant (2002-3, $ 15,000)
NASA-Morgan State University Equipment Grant (2001, $ 54,000)
NASA-Morgan State University MiniGrant (2001, $ 10,000)
NASA-Morgan State University ICESSAR Grant (2001, $8,000)