Colloquium – Peter Lepage (Cornell University) Academic Innovation and Sustainability-The View from a Dean’s Office
There is a substantial and growing body of research — many hundreds of papers — that has identified several pedagogical approaches that are significantly more effective than traditional lecturing, even for large classes in conventional auditoriums. And yet traditional lecturing still dominates in most subjects at most institutions. This talk describes a project launched four years ago at Cornell, by the College of Arts and Sciences, to address this contradiction. In the project’s first iteration, large introductory course sequences in physics and biology were transformed by their respective departments.
This talk will discuss what was done, why and how it was done, and some of the impressive outcomes that followed from the changes. The talk will also discuss institutional challenges and opportunities created by such projects, from the perspective of the (then) dean.
Colloquium – George Musser (Scientific American) The Science-Journalism Duality: Behind the Scenes at Scientific American
How did a (mostly) contented grad student running geophysical convection simulations wind up as a gatekeeper between science and the public? In this talk I’ll try to give a sense of what motivates science writers and editors, what exactly it is that we do, how we are navigating the turbulence in the publishing industry, and what it all means for the broader scientific community. I’ll naturally focus on Scientific American and other publications I’ve worked for, but I’ll comment on broader trends and offer thoughts and tips of use not just for writing a magazine article, but for any other writing or communications project you take on. One of the thorniest issues that science journalists face is how to make sense of scientific disagreements and avoid pitfalls such as false balance. I’ll offer some remarks, but I’m also interested in your thoughts and advice for how we journalists might do better.
Colloquium – Chris Greene (Purdue University) Huge, Mind-Bending Quantum States of a Few Particles
The most counterintuitive aspect of quantum mechanics might well be the fact that a few particles can bind even when virtually all of their wavefunction resides in a region where the particles experience no forces whatsoever. Such states can live almost totally in nonclassical regions where their kinetic energy is negative. This talk will discuss some recent experiments that have created different types of simple few-particle systems which have this property, and the underlying theoretical ideas needed to understand them. One example to be discussed will be the so-called “Efimov trimer” state of three ground state helium atoms, first predicted in the context of theoretical nuclear physics. Another is the “butterfly Rydberg molecule”, a surprising diatomic molecule made out of two rubidium atoms bound at long range and with a huge electric dipole moment.
Colloquium – Julie Posselt (University of Southern California) Inside Graduate Admissions: Merit, Diversity, and Faculty Gatekeeping
How does graduate admissions work? Who does the system work for, and who falls through its cracks? Where does admissions reform fit into broader efforts to reduce inequalities in graduate education? In this talk, education professor Julie Posselt will pull back the curtain on admissions processes usually conducted in secret, and examine the limits and possibilities of rethinking admissions for increasing diversity in STEM. Drawing on more than five years of research that includes extensive observations of admission committees in action, Posselt will reveal how professors create and negotiate the meaning of merit as they evaluate applicants and work daily with their students. She will also show how departments that improve diversity through admissions and recruitment, but that lack strong mentoring relationships, may struggle to maintain gains serving underrepresented populations.
Colloquium – Chris Myers (Cornell University) Infectious Disease Dynamics Across Populations, Networks, Landscapes and Other Worlds
Colloquium – Yi Luo (Hefei National Laboratory, China and Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden) Light-matter Intereaction at the Nanoscale
A metallic nanocavity can squeeze the visible light into highly confined intensive plasmon with a broad energy distribution. Such a unique excitation source can lead to many exciting new applications. One of the representative applications is the well-established surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) that takes advantage of the high intensity of the plasmon to achieve effective detection of a very small numbers of molecules. I will present here our several new exciting findings from the use of NCP. Our combined theoretical and experimental studies reveal that the NCP acts like a tunable, strong and ultra-fast electromagnetic source that can naturally alter the color of the emission of a molecule[1,2]. The amplified light emission of the molecule enables us to image the coherent dipole-dipole interaction between molecules. Moreover, we found that the NCP can even produce a completely new physical process, namely the nonlinear inelastic electron scattering. We have also developed a new theory that takes into account the locality of the highly confined field to describe the light-matter interaction, which has successfully reproduced experimentally observed super high spatial resolution Raman images of a molecule, below one nanometer . It is found that the non-resonant Raman images should be capable of revealing the vibrational modes of the molecule in real space[4b].
Colloquium – Mazhar Adli (University of Virginia) Understanding and Utilizing CRISPR Technology for Genome and Epigenome Manipulations
Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) enable editing of the genetic materials in living cells. By changing the genetic information at specifically targeted regions in the genome, scientist now use CRISPR to make precise genetic alterations, study their functions and correct disease associated genetic mutations. In this talk, I will introduce CRISPR-based technologies and their major application areas. I will then present the results of our studies on CRISPR-based genome-scale knockout screening, locus specific epigenetic editing and chromatin imaging approaches.
Colloquium – David Reitz (Caltech LIGO) Black Holes’ Last Tango: LIGO and the Dawn of Gravitational Wave Astronomy
The first direct detections of gravitational waves in late 2015 were made possible by a forty year experimental campaign to design, build, and operate LIGO, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory. In this colloquium, I’ll cover gravitational waves and what makes them so difficult to detect and at the same time such powerful and unique probes of the universe. I’ll also give a flavor of the somewhat complicated history of how LIGO was conceived and built. Most of the presentation will focus on the interferometers, the LIGO detections and their astrophysical implications. Time permitting, I’ll give a preview of where LIGO intends to go in the next decade and beyond.
Colloquium – Rafael Lang (Purdue) Dark Matter and How To Go About It
This talk will give an overview of astrophysical and cosmological evidence for Dark Matter. While this will make it clear that Dark Matter does exist, it remains entirely unknown what it is made of. Many well-motivated models predict Dark Matter particles with masses between
10 and 10,000 proton masses. Various techniques exist to tackle the search for such particles. This talk will present XENON1T, the most sensitive experiment ever built to search for Dark Matter scattering off a laboratory target. Given availability, new results from XENON1T will be presented. An outlook will be given over a variety of searches that are possible with XENON1T, from unconventional forms of Dark Matter to neutrinos from the Sun and supernova explosions anywhere in the Milky Way.
Colloquium – Lisa Everett(University of Wisconsin) Physics Beyond the Standard Model in the LHC Era
Particle physics has entered an exciting and data-rich era in which the physics of the Tera-electron volt scale is being probed at an unprecedented level at the Large Hadron Collider. To date, this exploration has shown the continued triumph of the Standard Model of particle physics in providing a spectacularly successful description of nature — and as such, has placed new facets on the issue of how the Standard Model can be extended to a more complete, fundamental theory. In this talk, I will provide an overview of the current status of the LHC results and their implications for physics beyond the Standard Model, with an emphasis on the issue of Higgs sector naturalness.