News & Events

Physics Force in Rochester

The auditorium shows will feature all the fun big demos, bringing the wonders of physics to life in an educational and spectacular display.

There will be five public shows: 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 12, 2022.
and 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m and 7:00 p.m. on Friday, May 13, 2022

Physics Force performances are typically 60-75 minutes long. Intended for all ages, the shows are free and open to the public. Registration is required.


Physics Force is supported by the School of Physics and Astronomy, the Dean of the College of Science and Engineering, and the University of Minnesota's Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC). Physics Force is sponsored by a gift from the 3M Company. 

Continuous Advances in QCD 2022

The workshop "Continuous Advances in QCD" (CAQCD 2022) is being organized by the William I. Fine Theoretical Physics Institute (FTPI) at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. The workshop will be held from May 12-14, 2022. 

We will have a session dedicated to the memory of Misha Voloshin who, sadly, left our world on March 20, 2020.  This session will be devoted to heavy quark physics and decays of quasi-classical objects –– the topics so cherished by Misha, in which his contributions were instrumental. 

Seven Pines Public Lecture: Peter Galison

About the talk: In thousands of atlases depicting the working objects of inquiry—from bodies, clouds, plants, to crystals and insects—physicians and natural philosophers worked out what counted as scientific objectivity. This long-term history, with its various takes on what a reliable scientific image should be, converged in the years-long struggle of the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) to produce a picture of a black hole robust enough to make public. On April 10, 2019, the team released the first image of a black hol leased the first image of a black hole, an image viewed within a very few days by more than a billion people. This talk is about how the EHT team of some 200 scientists came to judge the glowing, crescent-like ring as objective.

About the Speaker:Peter Galison is a physicist, historian of science, and filmmaker at Harvard University, where he is the Joseph Pellegrino University Professor and Director of the Black Hole Initiative. In 1997, he was named a MacArthur Fellow; with his Event Horizon Telescope colleagues, Galison shared in the 2020 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics for the first image of a black hole. He is the author of several books, including How Experiments End; Image and Logic; Einstein’s Clocks, Poincaré’s Maps; and (with L. Daston), Objectivity. Galison partnered (as dramaturg) with South African artist William Kentridge on a multi-screen installation, The Refusal of Time (2012) and an associated chamber opera. He and Robb Moss co-directed Secrecy (2008), on national security secrecy, which premiered at Sundance. The two also co-directed Containment (2015), about the need to guard radio-active materials. The latest film produced and directed by Peter Galison is: Black Holes: the Edge of All we Know, which was released in 2020 (and is available on channels like Netflix, AppleTV and others).

About the Lecture: The Seven Pines public lecture is part of an annual symposium held by the Seven Pines Institute. It is co-sponsored by the Minnesota Center for the Philosophy of Science at the University of Minnesota and The Science Museum of Minnesota.

WiPA de-stress event

There will be arts and crafts! There will be snacks! There will be conversation and hanging out! Among other things, we'll have painting, drawing, coloring, and possibly nail polish. See you there!

Colloquium: Alex McLeod, University of Minnesota; & Student Awards

Unveiling the Realm of Quantum Materials with Nano-optics

Abstract: Tool sets wielded by condensed matter researchers over the past century have expanded meteorically into frontiers of the ultra-small and ultra-fast, today leveraging advancements like atomically precise crystal growth, nano-scale device assembly, and femtosecond spectroscopy with ultrafast photon pulses.  On the other hand, despite breathtaking 20th century advancements in photon sources and detection technologies, our capacity to resolve condensed matter through optical spectroscopies has remained largely arrested by the diffraction limit since its 19th century observation by Ernst Abbe.  However, recent decades have seen the marriage of “conventional” optics with scanning probes to circumvent the diffraction limit, realizing a nanometer-resolved optical spectroscopy mediated fundamentally by electromagnetic near-fields.  In this talk, I review and celebrate the breakthrough of this technique into regimes of low temperature and nanometer spatial scales necessary for fundamental studies of quantum materials.  I showcase seminal investigations of collective excitations in 2-dimensional media like graphene, electronic phase competition in correlated electron solids, and on-demand control of optical properties in strongly interacting materials.  I will share my ambitious perspectives for the future of nano-optical probes for quantum materials, a future that is simultaneously ultra-bright and ultra-small, and fundamentally transformative for optical spectroscopies of complex matter.

This colloquium will have a remote option via zoom: 

Van Vleck Colloquium: William Unruh, University of British Columbia

Abstract: In 1976 I predicted that an accelerated detector in the vacuum would respond as though it were immersed in a thermal bath with temperature proportional to the acceleration. The proportionality factor is very small, so that to see a temperatures of 1K would require and acceleration of about 10^22cm/(second squared). An analogous effect can take place in a fluid where the velocity of sound takes over from the light velocity. In a BEC which remains fluid at temperatures of 10^(-12)K and with a velocity of sound of mm/s, an analog of this effect holds the possibility of seeing this effect in an experiment using a novel energy laser interferometer. I will be reviewing the successes of using such analog systems to measure Hawking radiation, and our proposal of also measuring the acceleration effect in an analogue system.

This colloquium will have a remote option via zoom:


Link to join Webinar

Van Vleck Public Lecture: William Unruh, University of British Columbia

About the Talk: The detection of gravitational waves from events such as the collision of black holes is based on one of the most exquisitely sensitive experiments in the world.  Although the energy released in the original collision is as large as that from anything humans have ever observed, the resulting ripples in space-time are so small by the time they reach the earth that they generate displacements less than a billionth of a billionth of a meter.  This is why gravitational waves resisted detection for a century until their observation in 2015, a feat recognized by the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics.  At present, the key source of noise  limiting the sensitivity in these experiments is due to quantum mechanics. Given that the detector mirrors weigh 40 kg, it is astounding that the quantum theory originally developed for atoms matters in this case for macroscopic objects.  This year’s Van Vleck lecture will explore this phenomenon.  Things can go strangely in the quantum world, and Professor Unruh will show how it is possible to reduce the effects of this noise by actually injecting more quantum noise into the detector.

About the speaker:

William Unruh received his Ph.D. in 1971 under John Wheeler (the person who popularized the name "Black Hole" for the phenomenon). In trying to understand the quantum mechanics of black holes, Unruh discovered the Unruh effect  and the Unruh vacuum around black holes. His work has concentrated on the overlap between quantum mechanics and gravity, leading to work on the nature and measurement of time, the study of (non-)non-locality. in quantum mechanics, the quantum origin of matter in early cosmology, the impact of quantum mechanics on the detectors of gravitational waves, and other effects in the same general area. He holds a number of honors including Fellowships in the Royal Societies of Canada and of London, and is a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. At present he is Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of British Columbia; Distinguished Research Chair at the Perimeter Institute; and Research Professor at Texas A&M University.

The lecture is free and open to the public, but registration is requested

Women in Astronomy and Physics Lecture Series (WAPHLS): Ana Maria Rey, University of Colorado, Boulder

Abstract: Harnessing the behavior of complex systems is at the heart of quantum technologies. Precisely engineered ultracold gases are emerging as a powerful tool for this task. In this talk I will explain how ultracold strontium atoms trapped by light can be used to create optical lattice clocks – the most precise timekeepers ever imagined. I am going to explain why these clocks are not only fascinating, but of crucial importance since they can help us to answer cutting-edge questions about complex many-body phenomena and magnetism, to unravel big mysteries of our universe and to build the next generation of quantum technologies.  

Colloquium: The Genesis of the CPT Theorem

Abstract:  The CPT theorem is a well-known and well-established fundamental result in relativistic quantum field theory (QFT), stating that any such theory will be invariant under a sequence of transformations consisting of time reversal (T), spatial inversion (P), and charge conjugation (C). In my talk I will show how this combined transformation arose in the work of Julian Schwinger, Gerhart Lüders, Wolfgang Pauli and John Bell, in particular in the search for an adequate relativistic and field-theoretic generalization of the notion of time reversal in the early 1950s. I will thus aim to explain the surprising fact that the CPT theorem was first proved a couple of years before taking center stage with the discovery of parity violation in 1957. (Based on joint work with Andrés Martínez de Velasco.)

SPA Graduate Student Mental Health and Wellness Survey

At the request of the Climate and Diversity Committee, a survey on mental health and wellness was administered this winter to graduate students in the School of Physics and Astronomy.  The survey was administered by Boynton Health Services in partnership with the Council of Graduate Students' (COGS) and Professional Student Government (PSG) Mental Health & Wellness Committee.  More than a dozen other departments have participated in this survey project since it was first developed in 2013 in cooperation with the Chemistry Department.  This is the second time we have participated in this survey; the last time was in 2018.

The goal is to assess the state of mental health and wellness among graduate and professional students, including risk and protective factors.  Following completion of the survey, each participating School holds a meeting of graduate students,faculty, and staff in which Dr. Lust (Epidemiology and Community Health) shares the results of the survey.  This year we will follow the roughly 30-minute presentation with breakout sessions facilitated by members of the Climate and Diversity Committee where we will explore the implications of the findings and how they might be addressed by follow-up actions.  All this will happen in person in the various conference rooms with refreshments served. An online option is also available.

School News

Scholarship and Awards

2022 Undergraduate Scholarship Recipients

There are 31 undergraduate recipients for 14 separate scholarships.
fellowships and awards

2022 Graduate Awards and Fellowships

There are 11 graduate award and fellowship recipients in the School for 2021.
Man sitting at a table outside with his hands folded in front of him

Hanany Receives Collegiate Service Award

Professor Shaul Hanany of the School of Physics and Astronomy has received the 2022 College of Science and Engineering George W. Taylor Award for Distinguished Service.
Smiling woman with dark hair and glasses

Hameed receives NSSA Prize

Sajna Hameed (PhD 2021), now a postdoc at the MPI, Stuttgart, Germany, was recently selected as a recipient of the biennial Neutron Scattering Society of America (NSSA) Prize for Outstanding Student
Claudia Scarlata

Scarlata named Distinguished McKnight Professor

Claudia Scarlata was named as a 2022 Distinguished McKnight Professor. She was recognized for her significant contributions to the study of the sources responsible for the last major transformation
Alexander McLeod

McLeod Awarded IUPAP Young Scientist Prize

Assistant Professor Alex McLeod has been awarded the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics 2022 Young Scientist Prize in the Structure and Dynamics of Condensed Matter.
Patrick Kelly

Kelly named McKnight Land-Grant Professor

Assistant Professor Patrick Kelly, has been awarded a McKnight Land-Grant Professorship, which recognizes outstanding accomplishments and promise among the the University's assistant professors.
Oriol Valls and his book

Valls' book published

Professor Oriol Valls of the School of Physics and Astronomy has published a book "Superconductor/Ferromagnet Nanostructures: An Illustration of the Physics of Hybrid Nanomaterials."
FAIR logo with Roger Rusack

Rusack part of effort that could help improve AI models

School of Physics and Astronomy Professor Roger Rusack is part of an effort to make data usable across multiple disciplines. It is hoped that doing so will allow scientists outside of Rusack’s area
Anatoly Larkin

FTPI announces Larkin Award in Theoretical Physics

The William I. Fine Theoretical Physics Institute (FTPI) is taking nominations for the inaugural Anatoly Larkin Award in Theoretical Physics 2022.

School of Physics and Astronomy Seminar Calendar