Theja DeSilva

Associate Professor

Theja DeSilva

Associate Professor

Academic Appointment(s)

College of Science and Mathematics
Department of Chemistry and Physics


  • Ph.D., Physics, General University of Cincinnati, 2004

Awards & Honors

  • KITP Scholar Award-2019 Kavli Institute of Theoretical Physics- UC Santa Barbara, 2019

  • Recognition Award: AU Value of Compassion First & Second Year Experience: Students nomination, 2018

  • Recognition Award: AU Value of Compassion First & Second Year Experience: Students nomination , 2018

  • KITP Scholar Award-2018 Kavli Institute of Theoretical Physics- UC Santa Barbara, 2018

  • ITAMP Visiting Scientist Award: 2017 Institute for Theoretical Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics, Harvard University, 2017

Courses Taught Most Recent Academic Year

  • PHYS 2990

    Intro to Research
  • PHYS 2212

    Principles of Physics II
  • PHYS 2950

    Selected Topics
  • PHYS 4310

    Thermal Physics
  • PHYS 4990

    Undergrad Research
  • PHYS 1112L

    Intro to Physics II Lab
  • PHYS 4950

    Selected Topics: Intro to Quantum Computing
  • PHYS 3990

    Undergraduate Research
  • PHYS 1111L

    Intro to Physics I Lab
  • PHYS 1111

    Introductory Physics I

Teaching Interests

I have strong commitment to my teaching. As much as possible, I go beyond conventional teaching by employing interactive engagement strategies in all my classes. I use corporative learning methods and integrated technology. My approach to teaching is based on the Socratic Method. Through this technique I create a sense of wonder in a student’s mind by making him or her realize what they already know. Although lecturing plays an important role in teaching physics, one cannot produce this sense of wonder by lecturing. Instead one must set up a dialogue where the student is actively engaged. Instead of answering a student’s question, sometimes I pose a counter-question, which helps them to find the answer to the question all by themselves. This empowers the students leading them to say— “Wow! I knew that!” Students eventually learn how to go through this process on their own and become self-directed learners.


Selected Recent Publications

  • Asymptotic behavior of correlation functions of one-dimensional polar-molecules on optical lattices, 2020
    Journal Article, Professional Journal
  • Molecular Self-Organization of Three-Component Lipid Membranes, 2020
    Journal Article, Academic Journal
  • Theoretical Phase diagram of unconventional alkali-doped fullerides, 2019
    Journal Article, Professional Journal
  • Bio-Energy Transport as a Phonon Dressed Vibrational Exciton in Protein Molecule, 2019
    Journal Article, Professional Journal
  • A statistical mechanics perspective for protein folding from q-state Potts model, 2018
    Journal Article, Public or Trade Journal

Research Interests

I am a theorist and seeking to gain an understanding of the physics on the scale of single atoms/electrons, where classical mechanics fails. Collection of strongly interacting particles, such as electrons in solids and atoms trapped in a vacuum show various emergent and collective phenomena by losing their individual identities. Sometimes, particle systems form bizarre quantum states by breaking up the original particles into new particles. I want to understand how these complex phenomena emerge from simple ingredients. In broad sense, I am a condensed matter theorist who is working on many-body quantum systems.

Department Service

  • Faculty Development Committee 2020 - Present

    Role: Committee Member
  • student recruitment, retention, and advising. 2014 - 2019

    Role: Student Placement
  • Volunteer for Major Fest, Sophomore Declaration Day, Freshman Convocation 2014 - 2019

    Role: Attendee, Meeting
  • Physics Meet and Greet 2018 - 2018

    Role: Committee Member
  • Faculty Development Committee: 2017 - 2018

    Role: Committee Member

College Service

  • Instructional Technology Advisory Committee 2015 - 2019

    Role: Committee Member
  • Ad Hoc Curriculum Committee - MS Biomolecular Science 2016 - 2016

    Role: Committee Member
  • Search Committee Member: dean COSM 2014 - 2014

    Role: Committee Member

University Service

  • Department Champion: College of Science and Mathematics, IGRU Campaign 2015 - Present

    Role: Committee Member
  • Graduate Council Representative: COSM 2014 - Present

    Role: Committee Member

Professional Service

  • Department of Science-Basic Science 2018 - 2019

    Role: Reviewer, Grant Proposal
  • Georgia Journal of Science 2018 - 2019

    Role: Reviewer, Journal Article
  • National Science Foundation 2017 - 2019

    Role: Reviewer, Grant Proposal
  • Ceylon Journal of Science and Sri Lankan Journal of Science 2016 - 2019

    Role: Reviewer, Journal Article
  • Advances in Mathematical Physics 2014 - 2019

    Role: Reviewer, Journal Article