2023-2024 Physics and Astronomy Colloquium Series

Sept. 8 Ice Cream Social! Science quad or Eco Cafe if weather is bad Sept. 15 Tanya Zelevinsky (Columbia) Title: “Clocks with ultra cold molecules” Sept. 22 Physics after Williams:  grad school, jobs Sept. 29 Chelsea Davis (U Delaware Mechanical Engineering) Title: “Illuminating Interfacial Mechanics:… Continue reading »

Meng-ju Renee Sher, Wesleyan University

Organic-inorganic hybrid perovskite solar cells have set efficiency records at least once a year in the past decade. This material offers numerous possibilities and presents several mysteries. Among them, the optical properties are widely tunable by mixing halide compositions, but at the same time halide segregation under illumination… Continue reading »

Gabriela Moreira Lana, UMass Amherst

Addressing the critical need for reliable adhesion in soft substrates and medical applications, we will discuss in this seminar how we can improve adhesive properties by changing its architecture to tailor to specific challenges and materials compatibility. In medicine, structured adhesives inspired by gecko fibrillar structures show reliable… Continue reading »

Mia de los Reyes, Amherst College

Although low-mass dwarf galaxies are useful laboratories for testing models of galaxy formation and evolution, they are especially susceptible to environmental effects. One way to untangle the effect of environment on galaxy evolution is to study galaxies located in extremely under-dense regions: cosmic voids. In this talk, I will present… Continue reading »

Sean Eddy, Harvard University, HHMI

Many functional RNAs have evolutionarily conserved secondary structures, and conserved RNA base pairing induces strong pairwise sequence correlations between the interacting positions in RNA multiple sequence alignments. This distinctive and powerful statistical signal can be exploited in many kinds of comparative genome sequence analysis of… Continue reading »

Brianna Zawadzki, Wesleyan University

Debris disks are tenuous reservoirs of dust and gas around main sequence stars which probe the critical time domain between planet formation (in protoplanetary disks at ≲10 Myr) and mature planetary systems (mostly detected at ages of Gyrs). Millimeter wavelength observations are particularly important for dust characterization; larger grains probed… Continue reading »

Robert Niffenegger, UMASS ECE

Integration of control technologies like integrated photonics into trapped ion chips is critical for advancing quantum information sciences and improving scalability and portability. Trapped ions are a leading approach for high-fidelity quantum computing, high-accuracy optical clocks, and precision quantum sensors. However, current ion-based systems rely on bulky, lab-scale precision lasers… Continue reading »

Carlos Trallero, University of Connecticut

The Nobel Prize in Physics 2023 was awarded to the discovery and application of attosecond pulses, as it allowed to measure processes at the natural time scale of the electron. I will present some of the results from our group highlighting access and applications of new time scales (zepto seconds)… Continue reading »

David Kawall, UMass

The Fermilab muon g-2 experiment recently released a new measurement of the magnetic moment anomaly of the muon. Muons are like electrons, but heavier and short-lived. Their magnetic properties can be predicted with impressive precision. This prediction requires the careful consideration of quantum corrections that arise due the interactions of… Continue reading »

Jim Partan, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute

The Arctic Ocean has been and is continuing to change dramatically due to climate change. Under-ice physical oceanography measurements are critical to understanding its dynamics, and the remoteness and inaccessibility of the ice-covered Arctic in winter means that much of the sampling must be done by… Continue reading »

James Nolan, Williams

The recent release of Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer has generated renewed commentary about the use of atomic weapons at the end of World War II. Christopher Nolan sees the story of the Manhattan Project as relevant to considerations about the development and use of new and emerging technologies. Continue reading »

Kevin Flaherty, Williams

Turbulence within protoplanetary disks plays a crucial role in the formation and evolution of planets, through its influence on processes ranging from the collisional velocity of small dust grains to the ability of gas-giant planets to open gaps in the disk. Because of this importance, more observational constraints are needed. Continue reading »

Fred Strauch, Williams College

Tradition holds that special relativity emerged from Einstein’s 1905 paper “On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies.”  However, many of the phenomena that we consider consequences of special relativity—time dilation, length contraction, mass increase—were understood (if only partially) before 1905.  This understanding was part of an electromagnetic view of the world,… Continue reading »

Chelsea Davis, University of Delaware

Many properties of polymeric systems are determined almost exclusively by the interfaces between various material components. The research in the Illuminating Interfacial Mechanics Lab focuses on the development of novel measurement tools to assess the micromechanical behavior of polymer surfaces and interfaces while observing the resulting deformation with… Continue reading »

Tanya Zelevinsky, Columbia

Ultracold atom technologies have transformed our ability to perform precise spectroscopy and apply it to time and frequency metrology.  Many of the highest-performing atomic clocks are based on laser-cooled atoms trapped in optical interference patterns.  These clocks can be applied to fundamental questions, for example to improve our understanding of… Continue reading »

2022-2023 Physics and Astronomy Colloquium Series

Unless otherwise noted, all talks take place at 2:35 p.m. in Thompson Physical Laboratory 205 Sept. 9 Field Day Sept. 16 Katherine Aidala, Mount Holyoke College Title: Studying charge trapping in organic semiconductors using time resolved Kelvin probe force microscopy Sept. 23 Physics after Williams:  grad school, jobs… Continue reading »

Amy Graves, Swarthmore College

Physics, in the form that we do it today, has long been the domain of cis males (and in western countries, cis white males).   Happily, this is changing.  But the past casts a long shadow, and we live in a real world where race and gender identity strongly define us. Continue reading »

Matthew Payne, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

Interstellar interlopers are objects formed outside the solar system, but observed passing through it. The only two interlopers identified to date are the asteroid 1I/`Oumuamua and the comet 2I/Borisov. I will describe our understanding of how such objects are likely to have formed, what they are likely to be composed of,… Continue reading »

Amy Graves, Swarthmore College

Granular systems are ubiquitous in daily life.  By “granular” we mean not only hard objects like salt, rice, or sand; but also soft objects like bubbles, living cells and flocks of animals or people.  Dense systems can behave dramatically by suddenly solidifying from a granular liquid to a disordered “jammed”… Continue reading »

Diana Powell, Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

A fundamental understanding of planetary histories and characteristics requires an empirical connection between planet formation and evolved planets—a long-sought goal of astrophysics. This connection is now increasingly possible due to simultaneous revolutions in the observations of protoplanetary disks and exoplanet atmospheres. A key step towards relating these observations of different… Continue reading »

Quaid Morris, Memorial Sloan Kettering Institute

RNA binding proteins (RBPs) are key regulators of gene expression. I will describe a new resource, the RBPzoo, which contains RNA motifs derived from in vitro selection data for 381 eukaryotic RBPs. I will also introduce a new machine learning algorithm, Joint Protein-Ligand Embedding (JPLE), which we trained… Continue reading »

Kirsten McMichael, RPI

The neutrino is one of nature’s most elusive constituents, yet this tiny, neutral particle may be the key to unlocking some of the universe’s oldest secrets. With hopes of learning more about the neutrino, members of the nEXO collaboration are on a quest to detect a process called… Continue reading »

Clara Sousa-Silva, Bard College

Over the last few decades, scientists have found thousands of planets beyond our own. Some of those planets might be habitable, and perhaps even inhabited already; but how can we tell? Clara Sousa-Silva investigates how molecules interact with light so that they can be detected on faraway worlds, in particular those… Continue reading »

Daniella Bardalez Gagliuffi, Amherst

The dynamical and chemical signatures of a planetary system are independent fossil records of its past. Orbital parameters are vestiges of its formation and dynamical evolution, while chemical compositions of planets and hosts are fingerprints of the stellar nursery and the protoplanetary disk where they formed. In this talk, I… Continue reading »

Libby Maret, Intel

Continuing to keep pace with the demands of Moore’s Law (where the number of transistors on a computer chip must double at an approximately a yearly cadence), the current era of semiconductor fabrication has entered the regime where the smallest transistor feature is on the order of single… Continue reading »

Bill Wootters, Williams College

In 1964, John Bell published a theorem that effectively turned a metaphysical question into a physical question.  He showed that no local model of reality satisfying certain common-sense conditions could possibly account for the predictions of quantum theory.  The winners of this year’s Nobel Prize in physics—John Clauser,… Continue reading »

Alfred Crosby, UMass-Amherst

(POSTPONED from 11/4/22; new date 4/14/23) Soft materials, such as polymer gels, have long been realized as a potential platform for actuation; however, several challenges have limited their integration into translatable technologies. In particular, soft matter actuators are slow, unable to generate significant power, and typically require external intervention to… Continue reading »

Jennifer Winters

“M dwarfs, stars with masses 10% < solar mass < 60%, are under increasing scrutiny because these stars afford the most accessible near-future opportunity to study the atmospheres of terrestrial planets. Our knowledge of these precious planets depends critically upon understanding their faint host stars. I will discuss our volume-complete,… Continue reading »

Jim Bern, Williams College

Robots today remain hidden in factories, welding car parts and placing microchips.  I envision a future where robots assist in our homes, hospitals, and nursing facilities.  These human-centric domains involve a wide range of tasks, demanding robots with an unprecedented blend of traits.  For example, the ideal nursing home robot… Continue reading »

Ralf Bundschuh, The Ohio State University

RNA is a fundamental biomolecule present in all living organisms. Its fate in a cell is determined by its physical interactions with various proteins. It is thus important to understand which protein binds which RNA how strongly. One major complication in predicting binding affinity of a protein to an RNA… Continue reading »

Katherine Aidala, Mount Holyoke College

Organic semiconductors offer the promise of solution processible, flexible electronics, but the charge transport in these disordered films is not fully understood.  Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) brings a nanoscale tip close to or in contact with the surface of a sample and is best known for measuring the topography of… Continue reading »

2021-2022 Physics and Astronomy Colloquium Series

2021-2022 Physics & Astronomy Colloquium Series Unless otherwise noted, all talks take place at 2:35 p.m. in Thompson Physical Laboratory 205. Sept. 17 Physics and Astronomy Beyond Williams:  Careers and Grad School Oct. 15 Kevin Forkey and Brough Morris Title:  “Old and New Offerings from the Cave of Wonders… Continue reading »

Kirk Barrow, Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

As astronomers near the commissioning of the extremely large telescopes, the Rubin Observatory, as well as new space-based observatories like the Roman Space Telescope and JWST to peer more deeply into our Universe, our community is challenged to develop a theoretical and modeling framework to characterize and study what will… Continue reading »

Tim Atherton, Tufts University

A Science + Society Double Header! On Thursday, 4/28 at 4pm in TPL 203: “Towards an inclusive environment for LGBT+ Scientists” In this talk, I’ll present the results of a recently published study – the first ever to focus on physics – highlighting how subgroups of the LGBT+ community experience… Continue reading »

Dale Kocevski, Colby College

Supermassive black holes, and the active galactic nuclei (AGN) that they power, are thought to play an integral role in the evolution of galaxies by acting to regulate, and eventually suppress, the star formation activity of their host galaxies.  I will discuss recent efforts to test this proposed connection by studying the demographics of galaxies experiencing active black… Continue reading »

Brian Odom, Northwestern University

The Schrodinger’s Cat thought experiment was originally put forward as a demonstration reductio ad absurdum that quantum theory had a problem.  Surely a cat cannot exist in superposition state of being both alive and dead until a concerned pet owner checks in on its status.  And yet, unitary evolution… Continue reading »

Vikrant Yadav, Yale

An equation of state is something you hear about in introductory thermodynamics, for example, the Ideal gas equation. The ideal gas equation relates the pressure, volume, and the number of particles of the gas, to its temperature, uniquely defining its state. Such a description is possible in physics when the… Continue reading »


Professor Gabrielse’s group probes the predictions, symmetries and proposed extensions to the standard model with exquisite sensitivity, using small-scale apparatus and methods that derive sensitivity from precision rather than energy. His electron and positron magnetic moment measurements with a single trapped particle (the most accurate measurments of propertes of elementary… Continue reading »

Kebra Ward, MCLA

Abstract Physics degree holders are highly employable in both the private and public sectors. However, students and early career scientists are often unaware of the types of career paths available to them. This talk will provide data on the number of physics degree holders and where they typically find… Continue reading »

David Reichman, Colombia University

In this talk I review the phenomenological picture of tunneling defects in low-temperature glasses. Despite the successes of this model, it has been very difficult to verify its microscopic foundations.  Leveraging the power of a novel Monte Carlo method, we have prepared in silico glasses annealed in a manner that corresponds… Continue reading »

Jon Habif, USC

Measurement of the faintest signals has become a vital part of disciplines as diverse as medicine, astronomy, interplanetary communications and intelligence gathering.  While our curiosity has drive us to probe ever-weaker signals in Nature, the framework and philosophy for our measurement tools has remained largely unchanged for centuries, entrenched in… Continue reading »

Douglas Onyango, Rivian

Douglas Onyango is Staff Technical Program Manager at Rivian. He is responsible for overseeing battery manufacturing engineering projects from concept to factory launch. Before Rivian, Douglas was a Manufacturing Engineer at Tesla where he deployed pioneering custom automation manufacturing equipment for Tesla Model 3 batteries. He holds a BA in… Continue reading »

Will Kirby, Tufts

Abstract: Quantum mechanics is famously ‘weird,’ which was noted by both Einstein and Feynman, and which can cause both dread and delight in aspiring physicists. But what exactly is the source of the weirdness? In this talk, I will give an overview of contextuality, which is an obstacle to classical,… Continue reading »

2020-2021 Physics and Astronomy Colloquia

25 Sept. Physics and Astronomy beyond Williams:  Careers and Grad School 2 Oct. A Modular Quantum Computer with Trapped Ions and Single Photons: Allison Carter ’16, University of Maryland 16 Oct. Atomic Doctors, James Nolan, Williams College 23 Oct. Duane Bailey, Professor of Computer Science/Sigma Xi… Continue reading »

Matteo Bucci, MIT

In every field of science, the possibility of discovering and understanding new phenomena, or testing new hypotheses, is strongly related to and limited by the capability of observation. Here, we will discuss recent advances in experimental boiling heat transfer research made possible by unique experimental facilities and non-intrusive high-resolution optical… Continue reading »

John Bollinger, NIST Time and Frequency Div., Boulder, CO

I will discuss how trapped-ion crystals can be used to simulate models of quantum magnetism and describe in more detail experiments with single-plane crystals of hundreds of trapped ions.  Benchmarking quantum dynamics is a challenge as the number of trapped ions grows.  To benchmark quantum dynamics, we measure the evolution… Continue reading »

Ilse Cleeves, University of Virginia

Historically, our understanding of planet formation and the origins of planets’ compositions has been largely informed by our Solar System. However, we are just one system, and now with facilities like NASA’s Kepler and TESS telescopes, we are discovering a wide variety of planet types and architectures, many of which… Continue reading »

Vivienne Baldassare, Washington State University

The present-day population of supermassive black holes in low-mass galaxies offers a window into massive black hole formation in the early universe. While we cannot yet observe the formation of “black hole seeds” at high redshift, the fraction of small galaxies that host a supermassive black hole — and the… Continue reading »

Brian Shuve, Harvey Mudd College

More than 80% of matter in the universe is dark: it doesn’t interact with light, and it’s not made of any of the known elementary particles. What could this dark matter be? Looking at the known particles, also known as the Standard Model, we see many different forces (strong, weak,… Continue reading »

Ryan Trainor, Franklin and Marshall

The formation of galaxies like our Milky Way began soon after the Big Bang, as pristine gas poured into clumps of dark matter to form the first groups of stars. However, the lives and deaths of these stars soon made galaxy growth much more complex. Through their intense ultraviolet radiation,… Continue reading »

Heather Lewandowski, University of Colorado, Boulder

Reactions between ions and radical molecules play an important role in the chemistry that drives dynamics in the interstellar medium and during combustion of hydrocarbons. Unfortunately, experimental measurements of these reactions are very challenging, and thus very rare. We use tools borrowed from the cold atom community to measure… Continue reading »

James Whitfield, Dartmouth

Over the last century, quantum has grown from quantum mechanics, with explanatory power, to quantum engineering which has ushered in a wave of new commercial technology. Just as computers have become an integral part of the scientific tool set, quantum computation is likely to become equally impactful in… Continue reading »

Duane Bailey, Williams

We take a fresh, broad look at the symbiotic relationship between software and its enabler, hardware. After decades of development of general purpose machines, we find ourselves on the cusp of a new era — what computer architects John Hennessy and David Patterson call “a new golden age” for computation… Continue reading »

Ken Brown, Duke

Quantum computing promises to revolutionize how we compute, but current devices are limited by noisy qubits. In this talk, I will first discuss the difference between standard computers and quantum computers. I will then explain how the rules of quantum mechanics makes error correction more difficult than in the classical… Continue reading »

2019-2020 Physics and Astronomy Colloquia

2019-2020 Physics & Astronomy Colloquium Series Unless otherwise noted, all talks take place at 2:30 p.m. in Thompson Physical Laboratory 205. 6  Sept. Field Day 13 Sept. Don Fahey, Joint Quantum Institute Title: “Squeezing the Spin in a Bose-Einstein Condensate“ 20 Sept. David Poland, Yale Title: “Critical… Continue reading »

Tracy Slatyer, MIT

The region around the center of the Milky Way contains a well-measured glow of gamma rays, which has garnered great interest as a possible signal of either dark matter particles colliding and annihilating each other, or a previously undiscovered population of pulsars in the stellar bulge. Analyses of the photon… Continue reading »

Terry-Ann Suer ’05, Harvard

The Earth is composed of a rocky mantle with a metallic iron-rich core at its center. The segregation of the metallic core from the mantle was a formative event in the planet’s history. The mantle’s composition indicates that chemical interactions between Fe-rich metal and molten silicate rocks played an important… Continue reading »

Aaron Kammerer ’98, iRobot

Here is an opportunity to hear about how a physics degree can help prepare one for a career (gasp) outside of academia.  We’ll talk about how a background in liberal arts can additionally serve you well for the many challenges today’s work environment can provide. Also, we’ll discuss the dangers… Continue reading »

Geneva Laurita-Plankis, Bates College

Polar materials play a large role in the electronics industry, but many of the leading materials rely on the chemistry of lead for enhanced performance. Several types of materials have been explored in an effort to find lead-free alternatives for use in electronic devices, but there are still many challenges… Continue reading »

Steven Johnson, MIT

By taking ordinary materials and rearranging them into complex shapes on the same scale as the wavelength of light, it is well known that one can drastically enhance the interactions between light and matter, from resonant absorption to spontaneous emission to surface-enhanced Raman scattering. In this talk, we… Continue reading »

Raghu Mahajan, Princeton

Hawking showed in 1974 that, once quantum mechanics is taken into consideration, black holes emit a blackbody spectrum of particles. This leads to the celebrated information paradox, which has evaded a completely satisfactory explanation to date. This topic involves a confluence of a lot of rich concepts in physics: general relativity (horizons… Continue reading »

John Scofield, Oberlin College

Buildings are responsible for roughly 40% of U.S. primary energy consumption and greenhouse gas emission. Reducing energy use in buildings is a necessary component of any plan to address climate change.  Green building certification programs are being promoted as a pathway to lower building energy use.  The U.S. Green Building… Continue reading »

Amy Steele, University of Maryland

There is evidence of circumstellar (CS) material around main sequence (MS), giant, and white dwarf (WD) stars that originates from the small-body population of planetary systems. How (if at all) are the planetesimals around MS and WD stars related? One way to address this question is to begin at the… Continue reading »

Alphonse C. Sterling, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center

Solar eruptions are the largest explosions in the solar system.  They frequently (once per day as a rough average) eject coronal mass ejections (CMEs) into the heliosphere.  Some CMEs are capable of damaging satellites in Earth orbit, and are potentially a danger to astronauts traveling beyond the Earth’s protective magnetic… Continue reading »

N. R. Sheeley, Jr., Astrophysicist

Coronal holes, like the one at the center of this September 25, 2019 Fe XII 193 A image, are regions where the magnetic fields are open to interplanetary space.  They are the source of high speed solar wind streams that sweep past Earth, inducing geomagnetic activity and auroras.  I will… Continue reading »

Don Fahey, Joint Quantum Institute

Bose-Einstein condensates possessing a spin degree of freedom that can evolve freely serve both as a testbed for many-body entanglement and for extending our understanding of out-of-equilibrium dynamics in degenerate gases. Well isolated from the environment in an optical dipole trap, collisions are the dominant mechanism for thermalization and pre-thermalization… Continue reading »

David Poland, Yale

From critical phenomena to quantum gravity, conformal field theories describe the universal scale-invariant structures that lie at the heart of theoretical physics. The conformal bootstrap is the powerful idea, dating back to the 70’s, that one can use fundamental consistency conditions to constrain, solve, and map out the… Continue reading »

Kelsey Thiem, University of Massachusetts Amherst

The stereotypes of most science, technology, engineering, and math fields is that “STEM is for men.” Additionally, men are over-represented at almost every level of STEM participation, both inside and outside of academia. Together, this gender imbalance in scientific environments and the gendered nature of science stereotypes signal to women… Continue reading »

Ian Eisenman ’99, UCSD

The retreat of Arctic sea ice is one of the most dramatic signals of recent climate change in the observational record. It involves an amplifying factor associated with changes in the surface albedo (i.e., reflectiveness) called the ice-albedo feedback. If the ice-albedo feedback becomes dominant in the Arctic as the… Continue reading »

Jaime Cardenas, University of Rochester

Integration of quantum optical devices with other quantum technologies onto a compact and scalable platform is critical for widespread applications of quantum information science.  An integrated quantum optoelectronic circuit would bring these technologies together on a single chip and enable mass-producible, robust, and low cost devices for “real world” applications. Continue reading »

Kimberly Ward-Duong, Amherst College

Unlike the Sun, the vast majority of the nearest stars are known as M-dwarf stars: small, dim, red stars that make up over 70% of the stars in our galaxy. Given their great abundance and the relative ease of detecting their planets, M-dwarfs form ideal targets for large upcoming exoplanet… Continue reading »

Moumita Das, RIT

Living cells and tissues are highly mechanically sensitive and active. Mechanical forces and stimuli influence the shape, motility, and functions of cells, modulate the behavior of tissues, and play a key role in diseases as different as osteoarthritis and cancer metastasis. In this talk, I will discuss the mechanical structure… Continue reading »

Samantha Weiss, MIT Lincoln Lab

Meandering river channels evolve as a result of fluid mechanic and sedimentary processes.  Their evolution can be described by differential equations that dictate how channel curvature gives rise to local perturbations in fluid velocity, prompting preferential erosion and sediment deposition–which is exactly the process of meandering. Here we extend standard… Continue reading »

Thomas Weinacht, Stony Brook

Time resolved spectroscopy aims to follow molecular dynamics in real time and make ‘molecular movies’, with the aim of understanding fundamental processes in nature, such as photosynthesis, vision, and the photoprotection of DNA.  I will describe a series of experiments which follow the flow of energy and changing structure of… Continue reading »

Nathan Schine ’13, University of Chicago

Can a material be made of light? To answer this, we first ask what is necessary for a material to form, and then how to go about engineering each of these properties for photons. We trap photons inside of a curved-mirror optical resonator, which harmonically traps the transverse motion of… Continue reading »

Candice Etson, Wesleyan

Proteins and DNA constantly interact with one another and are inextricably linked by both the central dogma of molecular biology and the critical need for maintenance and faithful transfer of genomic information from mother to daughter cells. However, many important protein-DNA interactions are transient and dynamic, which makes them particularly… Continue reading »

Jared Strait ’07, NIST

Light has momentum. But over a century after the experimental confirmation of radiation pressure, and on the heels of Ashkin’s Nobel Prize for exploiting this effect in optical tweezers, we may still not have a detailed understanding of how it works. How, exactly, does a simple metal feel radiation pressure?… Continue reading »

Jenny Ross, UMass Amherst

The cell is a complex autonomous machine taking in information, performing computations, and responding to the environment. Many of the internal structures and architecture is transient and created through active processes. Recent advances in active matter physics with biological elements are opening new insights into the physics behind how cellular… Continue reading »

Marcelo Terra Cunha, University of Campinas, Brazil

Contextuality and nonlocality are two fundamental but surprising properties of nature.  Some years ago, Lucien Hardy provided a proof of nonlocality that is widely considered the simplest such proof.  After first explaining the meanings of the terms “contextuality” and “nonlocality,” I show in this talk that there is a simple,… Continue reading »

Michael Murrell, Yale

Living cells generate and transmit mechanical forces over diverse time-scales and length-scales to determine the dynamics of cell and tissue shape during both homeostatic and pathological processes, from early embryonic development to cancer metastasis.  These forces arise from the cell cytoskeleton, a scaffolding network of entangled protein polymers driven out-of-equilibrium by… Continue reading »

Michael G. Littman, Princeton

Modern digital software tools of CAD (computer-aided design), CAE (computer-aided engineering analysis), and CAM (computer-aided manufacturing) are transforming the scientific and technical world.  The emergence of new hardware such as 3D extrusion and photo-polymerization printers, multi-axis Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) mills and lathes, and high-power laser cutters are giving scientists… Continue reading »

John Hearnshaw, Canterbury U, New Zealand

In this talk I discuss the origins of stellar spectroscopy in the 19thcentury. The story starts with Joseph Fraunhofer in 1814, who was the first person to describe the line spectra of bright stars. Surprisingly forty years followed before any major studies of stellar spectra were undertaken after Fraunhofer. The… Continue reading »

Seth Fraden, Brandeis

We present an experimental system of networks of coupled non-linear nanoliter-scale chemical reactors containing the Belousov-Zhabotinsky (BZ) reaction, which we theoretically model within a reaction-diffusion framework. Microfluidic fabrication techniques are developed that provide the ability to vary the network topology, the reactor coupling strength and offer the freedom to choose whether an… Continue reading »

Crystal Noel, UC Berkeley

A quantum computer, constructed with quantum bits, or qubits, would have capabilities beyond what is possible for conventional, classical computers. Trapped ions are a promising platform for this type of system and the path forward involves designing traps that can be micro-fabricated and customized. While traps are becoming more complex,… Continue reading »

Ivan Deutsch, University of New Mexico

The quantum information revolution has taught us that quantum mechanics is not a paler version of its classical counterpart, hindered by intrinsic uncertainty and random measurement outcomes.  Au contraire!  A machine whose operation takes full advantage of the laws of quantum mechanics has information processing capabilities well beyond those that… Continue reading »

Sara Hashmi, Yale University

Complex fluids are everywhere: they include suspensions, emulsions, dispersions, and foams.  A few examples in daily life include cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, cleaning supplies, and most biological materials.  A common theme among these everyday materials: characteristics and dynamic properties on the macroscopic scale arise from microstructure and… Continue reading »

Brian Keating, UC San Diego

Over the half-century since its discovery, the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) has been a cosmological goldmine, yielding measurements of the properties of the early universe that are unrivaled in both precision and accuracy. The Simons Observatory is a new cosmic microwave background experiment being built on Cerro Toco in Chile,… Continue reading »

Christina Knapp ’13, UC Santa Barbara

The field of condensed matter physics studies how systems containing many electrons and atoms organize into phases of matter.  Familiar phases of matter, such as liquids and solids, can be identified by looking at a local region of the system and determining what symmetries the system has.  For instance, a… Continue reading »

Marty Baylor, Carleton College

Have you ever been at a noisy party and still been able to pick out what the person in front of you is saying? If so, then you are intimately aware of the fact that your brain is able to solve the cocktail party problem. How does your brain separate one… Continue reading »

Susannah Dickerson, Draper Laboratory

Atoms are an incredibly versitile tool for both studies of fundamental physics and for the development of sensitive sensors. In this talk, I will discuss two experiments with very different end goals, but which are both based on very similar experimental techniques. First, I will discuss progress in the construction… Continue reading »

Daniel Grin, Haverford College

The dark matter holding together galaxies and the dark energy driving today’s cosmic acceleration are persistent mysteries. In contrast to the prevailing paradigm, I will examine the possibility that dark matter is composed of a hypothetical ultra-light particle, called an axion. I’ll begin by summarizing the particle physics that first… Continue reading »

Darby Dyar, Mt. Holyoke

Venus is the “exoplanet next door,” a key to understanding whether “Earth-sized” means “Earth-like” elsewhere in the Universe. Recent evidence of possibly current volcanism, and the suggestion of nascent plate tectonics on its surface, have raised questions about the geological evolution of its surface that wait to be answered by… Continue reading »

Frederik Brasz ’09, Boston University

Interfacial fluid flows like splashing raindrops and rising bubbles are familiar from everyday life, but also relevant to many processes in the environment and industry. The bursting of bubbles entrained by breaking waves in the oceans ejects jets of aerosol droplets that affect cloud formation and climate, and can also… Continue reading »

Chad Topaz, Williams

Biological aggregations such as bird flocks, fish schools, and insect swarms are striking examples of collective motion, and serve as the inspiration for algorithms in robotics, computer science, applied mathematics, and other fields. Aggregations give rise to massive amounts of data, for instance, the position and velocity of each group… Continue reading »