News & Events

Women in Physics and Astronomy talk: Marty Baylor, Carleton College

Crystals, Fluids, Lithography…Oh My! Towards Miniaturizing Optical Processors Using Photo-sensitive Polymers  

Light not only has the power to help us learn about the physical world, but it can also help us solve problems that are hard to solve in other ways. That is, if we can get the optical systems out of the lab and into the field. I work with photopolymers (i.e., light-sensitive plastics) to facilitate the fabrication of integrated optofluidic devices. These devices combine optical and microfluidic components into a single portable chip using processing techniques that are potentially easier than current methods of creating these devices. I will start this talk by describing the device that motivated me to start miniaturizing devices. Then I will talk about what I am doing and plan to do with integrated optofluidic devices.

Physics and Astronomy Colloquium: Myriam Sarachik, City College of New York

physics of electronic transport in solids and molecular magnetism

Universe @ Home

Presented by Olivia Falk, Maxwell Kuschel, and Hayley Williams

13.7 billion years ago the big bang occured and in the fastest whirlwind known to humanity all reality sprung forth. The events that followed helped characterize the very matter that forms and surrounds you. To help us understand this we look at the very first sights of reality.

MXP Virtual Poster Session

Students in the Methods of Experimental Physics will present a poster session for members of the School.

Physics and Astronomy Colloquium: Edmund Bertschinger, MIT

Abstract: Since bottoming out in 1999, the number of physics bachelor’s degrees awarded annually has increased dramatically for all reported racial and ethnic groups except African Americans. The reasons why were presented in the 2020 TEAM-UP report of the American Institute of Physics, along with recommendations for individuals, departments, universities, and professional societies to eliminate this racial inequity. This talk will summarize key findings and recommendations of the report and place them in the context of the School of Physics and Astronomy, the physics and astronomy professions at large, and the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020.

For further information on the TEAM-UP Report see

Colloquium: Andrea Liu, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract: The complexity of living systems poses a formidable challenge to physical scientists interested in biology. I will discuss one theoretical approach towards gaining possible insight into biological phenomena: to design systems to exhibit similar phenomena. To do so, we start with systems with complex energy/cost landscapes, which have far more variation in their properties than those with simple ones. This natural variation can be pushed even further by design, allowing us to tune in properties inspired by those common in living matter, such as the ability of proteins (e.g. hemoglobin) to change their conformations upon binding of an atom (oxygen) or molecule, or the ability of the brain’s vascular network to send enhanced blood flow and oxygen to specific areas of the brain associated with a given task. We create ensembles of systems designed for a given task to gain new insight into the relation between microscopic structure and function that may help us to understand living systems.

APS Team-up Webinar

The American Institute of Physics recently completed a report on increasing African American representation in undergraduate physics and astronomy programs.  The report and some additional resources are posted at:

Among the follow-up activities based on this report is a series of webinars sponsored by APS and AIP.  One of these is scheduled for this Friday, November 20th  (1:00 - 3:00 central time) and will also be recorded for those who wish to register but are not available during that time.  The registration link is at

This webinar is recommended to members of the School. There will be a Colloquium on December 12th that will discuss the task force results.

Colloquium: Clifford Johnson, USC

USC Professor and History Channel's The Universe contributor, Clifford Johnson

The Care and Handling of Quantum Black Holes
There has been exciting recent progress in the study of the quantum nature of black holes through the use of certain exactly solvable models. This work gives a hint as to what some aspects of a quantum theory of gravity might look like, and even offers possibilities for testing some of the physics in the laboratory. I will give a brief overview of some of these key ideas.

Universe @ Home: Gamma Ray Astronomy: From Pulsars to Supermassive Black Holes

Gamma Ray Astronomy: From Pulsars to Supermassive Black Holes

Presented by Anne Duerr, Ann Isaacs, and Anna Boldt

Gamma rays are the highest energy photons in the electromagnetic spectrum, created by the densest, most energetic processes in the universe. They have so much energy that they can't be reflected and focused onto a detector like lower energy photons. Though it developed considerably later than other, more traditional, modes of astronomy, gamma ray astronomy allows us to peer into the inner workings of mysterious systems like the jets of supermassive back holes, neutron stars, solar flares, and more!

WAPhLS Talk: Cecilia Levy

Cecilia Levy (University of Albany)

Abstract: Dark matter is still one of the greatest mysteries of the Universe. The nature of the particles and fields that constitute dark matter remains elusive. The LUX-ZEPLIN (LZ) experiment will be the most sensitive direct detection dark matter experiment to detect the weak interactions between dark and ordinary matter, with a projected spin-independent cross-section sensitivity of 1.6 x 10^{-48} cm^2 for a 40 GeV WIMP mass, for a 1000 live day run. LZ uses dual-phase liquid xenon TPC technology to detect dark matter, and is nearing the end of construction, 4850 ft underground at the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF) in Lead, South Dakota. In this talk, I will give an overview of dark matter, and of the LZ experiment.

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