Colloquium: Minerba Betancourt, Fermilab

Abstract:  The discovery of neutrino oscillations opened new windows for the study of neutrino physics. In this talk, I will give an overview of the neutrino physics program at Fermilab and the remaining questions for the neutrino physics.  I will highlight status of Short-Baseline (SBN) program at Fermilab. The SBN program consists of liquid argon time-projection chamber detectors located along the Booster and NuMI Neutrino Beams at Fermilab National Accelerator Laboratory. Its main goals include searches of light sterile neutrinos with unprecedented sensitivity in eV^2 mass range, a rich program of neutrino interaction measurements and novel searches for physics beyond the Standard Model.  In this talk I will focus on the status of Short-Baseline Near and ICARUS experiments.

Colloquium: John Ellis, King's College London

Abstract:  Atom interferometers measure the quantum interference between cold atoms in clouds following different space-time trajectories, which is sensitive to phase shifts induced by interactions with ultralight dark matter or the passage of gravitational waves. The capabilities of atom interferometers will be illustrated by their estimated sensitivities to the possible couplings of ultralight dark matter to electrons and photons, and to gravitational waves in the frequency range around 1 Hz intermediate between the peak sensitivities of the LIGO and LISA experiments. The latter open a window on mergers of masses intermediate between those discovered by the LIGO and Virgo experiments and the supermassive black holes present in the cores of galaxies, as well as fundamental physics processes in the early Universe.

Colloquium: Dennis Overbye, New York Times

Abstract:  From your lips to the front page. For the last several years I have carried on business as the "Cosmic Affairs Correspondent" of the New York Times. That's what it says on my business card. How did I wind up with this, well, cosmic-sounding title and what do I do with it? What is the role of science at the Times? How do we get it right? What do we do wrong?

Colloquium: Dan Stamper-Kurn, UC Berkeley

Abstract: Ultracold atomic gases are perhaps the coldest matter in the universe, reaching temperatures below one nano-kelvin.  At these low temperatures, noise is ironed out and the quantum mechanical properties of atoms, not only of their internal atomic states but also of their center-of-mass motion, become accessible and visible.  I will describe applications of this ultracold quantum material in the areas of quantum simulation, sensing, and computation.  Specifically, I will show how quantum gases far from equilibrium allow us to probe geometric singularities in band structure, a quantum simulation of condensed matter.  I will describe how single atoms, trapped tightly within optical tweezers, can be serve as quantum sensors within a scanning-probe microscope of optical fields.  Finally, I will explain how cavity-enhanced detection allows us to make mid-circuit measurements within an atoms-based quantum computing platform, a step toward quantum error correction.  And what's next?  Feedback control of quantum systems?  Electromagnetic vacuum fluctuations serving as a chemical catalyst?  Telecom-frequency optical clocks?  Simulation of flat-band ferromagnetism?  Perhaps all of the above.

Colloquium: Ali Sulaiman on "A life in the day of outer solar-system exploration"

 A life in the day of outer solar-system exploration

Abstract: Jupiter and Saturn’s internal magnetic fields carve out a cavity in the interplanetary medium to form two of the largest magnetospheres in our solar system. Embedded within are geologically active moons continuously loading plasmas into their magnetospheres: Io’s volcanoes at Jupiter and Enceladus’ geysers at Saturn. These internally sourced plasmas interact with the surrounding planetary magnetic fields, giving rise to electrodynamic processes that drive the magnetospheric dynamics. One obvious manifestation is their powerful auroras. In 2016, NASA’s Juno spacecraft undertook the first polar orbits of Jupiter, and in 2017, NASA/ESA’s Cassini spacecraft performed its final orbits, which were highly inclined and adjusted to pass through the gap between Saturn’s atmosphere and innermost ring - both providing unprecedented coverage and proximity to their planets. Plasma and magnetic field measurements have proven to be critical in establishing how these planetary systems operate on a global scale (e.g. atmospheric coupling, rings, satellite, etc.) as well as understanding the fundamentals of space plasma processes in a parameter space vastly different from the near-Earth and inner heliosphere environment.  I will highlight past and present observations enabled by planetary explorers that have revolutionized our view of the solar system. Further, I will introduce the future ESA Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (set to launch in April 2023) and NASA Europa Clipper (launch 2024), as well as a proposed orbiter to the Uranus system, which was listed as the highest priority during in the 2023-2032 Planetary Science and Astrobiology Decadal Survey.

Physics Force Public Shows Cancelled

A portion of the roof of Northrop auditorium collapsed on Wednesday evening and the building and garage are closed while the situation is addressed. Tickets for the public shows will be reimbursed. Further information can be found on the Physics Force Website.


Colloquium: Peter Littlewood, University of Chicago


Colloquium: Ethan Neil, University of Colorado


Colloquium: Sheldon Goldstein, Rutgers


Karlis Kaufmanis Lecture

The Weirdest Galaxies in the Universe

Dr. Julianne Dalcanton (Director, CCA, Flatiron Institute)

The Universe is filled with wonders, great and small.  In many cases, these wonders arise out of the order that the laws of physics imprint on the stars and galaxies that populate our universe.  But sometimes, this remarkable order is disturbed, producing truly outlandish departures from what astronomers consider to be “normal”.  In this talk, Dr. Dalcanton will highlight some of the weirdest galaxies in the universe, many of which are best revealed with the Hubble Space Telescope and its successors.

Register for the event

School News

Fiona Burnell and Ed Tang

Burnell appointed to Tang Family Professorship

Professor Fiona Burnell has been appointed as the inaugural holder of the Tang Family Professorship. 
School of Physics and Astronomy Graduate Student Fellowship and Award Winners for 2024

2024 Graduate Awards and Fellowships

There are 21 graduate award and fellowship recipients in the School for 2021.
Undergraduate Scholarship winners in Tate Hall

2024 Undergraduate Scholarship Recipients

There are 39 recipients and 14 undergraduate scholarships. The winners are as follows.
Sabrina Savage and Lindsay Glesener at the launch site in Alaska.

Glesener part of NASA's first solar flare observation campaign

Professor Lindsay Glesener, of the School of Physics and Astronomy is part of a research team launching a sounding rocket to study solar flares. The rocket, named Focusing Optics X-ray Solar Imager (
Alexander McLeod, Nitzan Hirschberg and Alyssa Bragg

Inside Professor McLeod’s Nano-Imaging Laboratory

Professor Alexander McLeod’s nano-imaging lab creates novel ways to study materials as well as looking for new physics in those materials. Nano-spectroscopy is a technique that attaches conventional
Zhen Liiu smiling man in glasses and a blue polo shirt

Liu receives prestigious Sloan Research Fellowship for early-career researchers

School of Physics and Astronomy Assistant Professor Zhen Liu is one of only 126 early-career researchers who will receive a prestigious 2024 Sloan Research Fellowship.
Michael Coughlin and Alexander Criswell

Coughlin and Criswell part of comprehensive UV light survey

Assistant Professor Michael Coughlin and graduate student Alexander Criswell of the School of Physics and Astronomy are part of a new NASA mission that has just been selected to conduct a
Three School Alumni elected to engineering society

Three School Alumni elected to National Academy of Engineering

Three alumni of the School of Physics and Astronomy:  Martha C. Anderson (Ph.D., Astrophysics ‘93), Kei May Lau (B.A.,’76, M.S. ‘77), and Jeffrey Puschell (Ph.D., Astrophysics ‘79) have been elected
Michael Coughlin smiling man wearing glasses

Coughlin receives McKnight Professorship

School of Physics and Astronomy Assistant Professor Michael Coughlin has been awarded a 2024 McKnight Land-Grant Professorship.
Wall of Discovery shows the plot for the Humphreys-Davidson Limit, Professor Humphreys stands near it with Prof. Davidson.

Humphreys Awarded Medal from Royal Astronomical Society

Professor Emerita Roberta Humphreys of the School of Physics and Astronomy will receive the 2024 Herschel Medal from the Royal Astronomical Society for her discovery of the empirical upper luminosity

School of Physics and Astronomy Seminar Calendar