Letter from the Head
Dear Friends of the School of Physics and Astronomy,
This newsletter is coming to you as we are looking forward to a return to campus this coming fall, but our efforts in education and research are alive and well in these challenging times. There have been many adaptations undertaken due the pandemic, and among others, you can read here about the construction of detector modules for the Mu2e experiment. This effort involves over 30 undergraduates, working in socially-distanced shifts. We are lucky that Assistant Professor Zhen Liu, introduced below, has joined us at the start of the year, and you can also read about the first year of graduate school in the pandemic for Meg Foster, one of our recent alumnae. Our program benefits from a very high level of engagement among our undergraduates, and I am happy to note that our Society of Physics Students (SPS) won a Best Chapter award from the national office. Another response to the pandemic, described in the article on our Careers program, has been initiated by students doing virtual internships to get a glimpse of life outside academia.
I hope that you are all safe and well and that you enjoy this news from the School.
Physicists at the University of Minnesota are building an experiment that they readily admit is almost impossible. The Mu2e collaboration is a detector that will study a very rare process in particle physics, which Professor Ken Heller says is “like finding a single special grain of sand in a pile of sand covering the East Bank campus 2600 feet high.”
Professor Shaul Hanany has led a new effort to address the large gap in career opportunities in academia and the number of physics and astronomy graduates in the U.S.
Zhen Liu is a new high energy theorist at the School. His research focuses on “hidden sector physics” an area of theoretical physics aimed at answering fundamental questions in particle physics.
Meg Foster, who graduated Spring 2019, has had an interesting first year of Graduate School due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Read about how she overcame these unexpected challenges in the full article.