News & Events

Colloquium: Looking for new physics with neutrinos

Looking for new physics with neutrinos:  MicroBooNE first results and beyond

Abstract: Pioneering results from the MicroBooNE experiment shed new light on perplexing anomalies observed in short-distance neutrino physics. These new results from MicroBooNE answer some questions and raise others. MicroBooNE has launched us into a new era of liquid-argon-based new physics in the neutrino sector.


Colloquium: NASA's Juno Mission to Jupiter – Extended!

Abstract: Juno’s principal goal is to understand the origin and evolution of Jupiter. Underneath its dense cloud cover, Jupiter safeguards secrets to the fundamental processes and conditions that governed our solar system during its formation. As our primary example of a giant planet, Jupiter can also provide critical knowledge for understanding the planetary systems being discovered around other stars. With its suite of science instruments, Juno is investigating the interior structure, mapping Jupiter's intense magnetic field, measuring the distribution of water and ammonia in the deep atmosphere.  JUNO is also the first spacecraft to fly over Jupiter’s aurora and measuring both the energetic particles raining down on the planet and the bright “northern & southern lights” they excite. A huge bonus is the small public outreach camera that is taking fantastic images of Jupiter’s beautiful clouds. The images – some science, some art – are processed and shared by the public around the world. NASA’s JUNO mission was launched in August 2011 and has been in orbit over Jupiter’s poles since 4th July 2016. This spring the mission was extended until late 2025. In this talk I will present the main scientific results to date and what we might might expect to come in the extended mission.

About the speaker: Dr. Fran Bagenal is a research scientist and professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder and is co-investigator and team leader of the plasma investigations on NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Juno mission to Jupiter. Her main area of expertise is the study of charged particles trapped in planetary magnetic fields and the interaction of plasmas with the atmospheres of planetary objects, particularly in the outer solar system. She edited the monograph Jupiter: Planet, Satellites and Magnetosphere (Cambridge University Press, 2004). Born and raised in the UK, Dr. Bagenal received her bachelor degree in Physics and Geophysics from the University of Lancaster, England, and her doctorate degree in Earth and Planetary Sciences from MIT (Cambridge, Mass) in 1981.  She spent five years as a postdoctoral researcher at Imperial College, London, before returning to the United States for research and faculty positions in Boulder, Colorado. She has participated in several of NASA's planetary exploration missions, including Voyager 1 and 2, Galileo, Deep Space 1, New Horizons and Juno.

Public Lecture: New Science from Merging Neutron Stars

New Science from Merging Neutron Stars

From the generation of gold to the expansion rate of the Universe: With the detection of compact binary coalescences and their electromagnetic counterparts by gravitational-wave detectors, a new era of multi-messenger astronomy has begun. In this talk, Professor Coughlin will describe how GW170817, our first example in this new class, is being used to study a diverse variety of dense matter in the Universe and how fast the Universe is expanding. He will then discuss how we are using telescopes to look for more of them and developing models to test what we find. Professor Coughlin will close with future prospects for this new field.

Colloquium: Peter Armitage, Johns Hopkins University

The 1D Ising model is a classical model of great historical significance for both classical and quantum statistical mechanics. Developments in the understanding of the Ising model have fundamentally impacted our knowledge of thermodynamics, critical phenomena, magnetism, conformal quantum field theories, particle physics, and fractionalization in many-body systems. Despite the theoretical impact of the Ising model there have been very few good 1D realizations of it in actual real material systems. However, it has been pointed out recently, that the material CoNb2O6, has a number of features that may make it the most ideal realization we have of the Ising model in one dimension. In this talk I will discuss the surprisingly complex physics resulting in this simple model and review the history of “Ising’s model” from both a scientific and human perspective. In the modern context I will review recent experiments by my group and others on CoNb2O6. In particular I will show how low frequency light in the THz range gives unique insight into the tremendous zoo of phenomena arising in this simple model system.

C. M. Morris, R. Valdés Aguilar, A. Ghosh, S. M. Koohpayeh, J. Krizan, R. J. Cava, O. Tchernyshyov, T. M. McQueen, N. P. Armitage, "A hierarchy of bound states in the 1D ferromagnetic Ising chain CoNb2O6 investigated by high resolution time-domain terahertz spectroscopy", Phys. Rev. Lett. 112, 137403 (2014).

Julia Steinberg, N. P. Armitage, Fabian H. L. Essler, and Subir Sachdev, "NMR relaxation in Ising spin chains", Phys. Rev. B 99, 035156 (2019).

C. M. Morris, Nisheeta Desai, J. Viirok, D. Hüvonen, U. Nagel, T. Rõõm, J. W. Krizan, R. J. Cava, T. M. McQueen, S. M. Koohpayeh, Ribhu K. Kaul, and N. P. Armitage, "Duality and domain wall dynamics in a twisted Kitaev chain", Nat. Phys. 17 832 (2021).

Women in Astronomy and Physics Lecture Series (WAPHLS): Anne Gothmann from St Olaf college

Abstract: Corals skeletons are biologically precipitated minerals, “biominerals”, which have complex growth patterns that are sensitive to climatic and environmental changes. As a result, examination of the material structure of coral skeletons can provide a window into how climate change is impacting corals living in the oceans today, and examination of fossil coral skeletal structure can provide insight into the environmental conditions far back in Earth’s history. My research is aimed at understanding how corals build their skeletons, how coral skeletal structure depends on environmental conditions in seawater, and how environmental signatures are encoded within the crystal structure of corals. Recently, undergraduate researchers in my lab have been using two Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM)-based tools to explore the crystallographic structure of modern and fossil coral skeletons: SEM-Cathodoluminescence imaging and SEM-Electron Backscatter Diffractometry. In this talk, I will discuss the utility of Cathodoluminescence and Electron Backscatter Diffraction for studying crystal structure and composition. I will also present preliminary data from Cathodoluminescence work conducted by undergraduate researchers in my lab.

CSE Lunch/Networking Event on Interviewing and Job Search for Grad Students and Post Docs:

CSE will hold an event featuring Chrissy Francis, Career Counselor from the CSE Career Center. Chrissy will talk and answer questions about interviewing and job offer negotiation among other topics.

Colloquium: Driving the first steps of Life in non-equilibrium settings

Driving the first steps of Life in non-equilibrium settings

Abstract: How could life emerge on the early Earth? Our experiments investigate the first steps of molecular evolution through non-equilibrium experiments. Typically, we use millimeter-scale temperature gradients, including the effects of water-air interfaces, to mimic conditions in early Earth rock pores. In chambers that simulate heated rock pores, the first information containing molecules of life are shuttled back and forth by surface tension, evaporation, the rmophoresis, and gravity. These environments accumulate and select for length, drive strand separation for replication, and offer a continuous supply of fresh molecules while performing wet-dry cycles. Using sequencing, we see how sequence information emerges from randomness by performing very simple ligation reactions. The experiments illuminate the pitfalls to establishing open-ended evolution. In some cases, the studies are accelerated by using proteins, but we are approaching the realistic case of using only RNA. The effort is embedded in an interdisciplinary network to study autocatalytic networks prior to the on set of Darwinian evolution.

Colloquium: The news from the LHCb: flavor anomalies and exotic hadrons

The news from the LHCb: flavor anomalies and exotic hadrons

Abstract  The LHCb experiment is devoted to searches for new types ofinteractions in loop decays of heavy quarks. Recently several studies of b→sll(l=e, μ, or τ leptons) rare decays exhibit tensions between experimentalresults and the Standard Model predictions of branching fractions, angulardistributions and lepton universality. None of these results is significantenough to constitute observation of new physics on their own. The LHCb detectoris being upgraded right now, and next few years should clarify theseobservations. Meanwhile, the LHCb has discovered a number of pentaquark andtetraquark states in decays to ,  to  and  , pointing to looselybound hadron-hadron molecular states, as well as tightly bound states by directcolor couplings. This has revitalized hadron spectroscopy. I will discuss theseresults and future prospects.

This colloquium will be held in Tate B50 with a remote option: 

Special Seminar for Physics and Astronomy Students: Inside Perspective on How a Research Oriented Company Works

Kevin Gotrik, 3M scientist 
Inside Perspective on How a Research Oriented Company Works


Abstract: 3M is among the largest multinational corporations that also possess their own research and development labs. Technological corporations that manage to exist for >100 years (since 1902) are rare but they do share cultural similarities that point to keys to successfully transitioning fundamental and applied research over the innovators ‘Valley of Death’ into successful products. In this talk, the question of how best to bring science out of the lab and into the world will be explored.

Bio: Kevin Gotrik holds a B.S. in Engineering Physics from the University of Wisconsin – Madison where he worked on synchrotron studies of polymer thin films. During this time he had the opportunity to work in Germany both at the Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research in Dresden and at the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology in Stuttgart. He obtained his PhD in Materials Science and Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2013, where he worked under Prof. Caroline Ross on annealing strategies for block copolymer thin films and with Prof. Karl Berggren on strategies for finely controlling nanoscale self-assembly with electron beam lithography. Since 2013, Kevin has worked at 3M in the corporate labs working on applications of nanoscale thin films and has filed over 50 patents (5 granted). Since graduating he has shared his experience as a scientist in industry by speaking to students at MIT, Columbia University (NYC), and the Federico Santa María Technical University in Chile.

Click here to register

Universe @ Home: The Drake Equation and Extraterrestrial Life

These virtual events are intended to introduce the study of space and our Universe in a fun and engaging way, while providing a "peek behind the curtain" at modern research in astrophysics. 

You can join using the zoom link. The events will be recorded and posted on the MIfA website, if you aren't able to attend.
Each event will be presented through Zoom and will include a short talk on astronomy or space science, a Q&A session, and an activity that you can often try for yourself after the event ends. All ages and backgrounds welcome! View a full schedule and access the Zoom link on the Universe @ Home website.
If you have any questions about the events, please contact  Sarah Taft (

School News

Above is an illustration of an intermediate polar system, a type of two-star system that the research team thinks V1674 Hercules belongs to. A flow of gas from the large companion star impacts an accretion disk before flowing along magnetic field lines onto the white dwarf

Woodward research takes a look at the fastest nova on record

A research report, co-authored by Professor Charles Woodward of the School of Physics and Astronomy describes the unusual quirks of V1674 Hercules, the fastest nova ever on record.
Rajdeep Chatterjee

Chatterjee receives Young Researcher Prize

Rajdeep Mohan Chatterjee received the 2022 Young Researcher Prize from the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Switzerland.
Ramanakumar Sankar

School leads citizen science effort to study Jupiter's atmosphere

Ramanakumar Sankar, a postdoctoral researcher at the School of Physics and Astronomy is leading the latest Zooniverse project, Jovian Vortex Hunter.
group of theoretical physicists standing together in front of the mississippi river on a sunny day

New grant will expand FTPI programs

The William I Fine Theoretical Physics Institute (FTPI) has received a Simons Grant of over half a million dollars to help bolster the Institute's mission of being one of the regional centers
Jenna Freedburg

Freedberg Receives Student Leadership Award

Jenna Freedberg, graduate student in the School of Physics and Astronomy, received a 2022 President's Student Leadership and Service Award.
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

School of Physics and Astronomy Seminar Calendar