Boston University Physics News
Congratulations to Prof. Takaaki Kajita from the University of Tokyo and Art McDonald from Queens University for the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery of neutrino oscillations. Several professors, postdocs, and graduate students from the Boston University Neutrino Group shared in the work on the Super-Kamiokande experiment that earned Kajita the prize. Pictured below is the neutrino research group circa 1997, one year into the experiment. From left: Prof. Larry Sulak, Dr. Kate Scholberg, Dr. Ed Kearns, Dr. Chris Walter, graduate student Matt Earl, Dr. Alec Habig, graduate student (on the MACRO experiment) Chris Orth, graduate student Mark Messier, and Prof. Jim Stone. Mark Messier's Ph.D. thesis contributed to the work that led to this years Nobel Prize. Ed Kearns co-lead the Super-Kamiokande atmospheric neutrino research group with Kajita, and coauthored a Scientific American article with Prof. Kajita and Super-K spokesperson Y. Totsuka. Prof. Stone is co-spokeperson of the U.S. Super-K collaboration and Prof. Sulak was one of the pioneers of the first generation experiment of this type, known as IMB.
Here is a photo of some of the BU Neutrino Group years later with Prof. Kajita. Clockwise from left: Dan Gastler, Ed Kearns, Takaaki Kajita, Wei Wang, Mike Litos, Jen Raaf, and Fanny Dufour.
Lecturer Manher Jariwala is the recipient of the 2015 Neu Family Award for Excellence in Teaching. The prize is awarded annually to faculty of the College of Arts and Sciences who exemplify deep and broad commitment, skill, effectiveness, impact, and leadership in teaching. In addition to being an outstanding classroom teacher in our introductory physics courses, Manher is a founder of the Learning Assistant program at BU, has mentored the new student-led PRISM peer mentoring program for freshmen physics majors, is a key participant in the University’s pedagogical innovation RULE program, and is an important contributor to the CIRTL initiative to train graduate students to be better teachers. Read more about the award here.
Lab Manager Erich Burton has been named one of three winners of the 2015 John S. Perkins Award for Distinguished Service. The award is presented by the Faculty Council to BU staff members who serve the university with great distinction. Erich has been with the Physics Department for nearly 25 years, and is responsible for developing and maintaining the department's numerous undergraduate teaching labs. Read more about this year's Perkins award winners on BU Today.
Professor David Campbell has been selected as a Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar for the 2015-2016 academic year. From the Phi Beta Kappa website:"Since 1956, the Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar Program has been offering undergraduates the opportunity to spend time with some of America's most distinguished scholars. The purpose of the program is to contribute to the intellectual life of the campus by making possible an exchange of ideas between the Visiting Scholars and the resident faculty and students."
Read more about the Visiting Scholars program.
Nearly 100 local high school juniors and seniors descended on the Physics Department in March for Connections@BU, a 4-day event that immersed students in the mysteries and origins of the universe. Students received a primer in particle physics and were introduced to the cutting-edge experiments being performed at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN. The students also got an insider's view of the LHC thanks to Assistant Professor Tulika Bose, who serves as trigger coordinator for the Compact Muon Solenoid experiment there. Bose, who helped organize the event, hopes to set up additional sessions later this year.
Read more about the event in the CAS Newsletter.
Graduate student Clint Richardson has been chosen as a 2014 CMS Fundamental Physics Scholar. The scholarship is awarded annually to an outstanding young CMS researcher and provides research support opportunities as well as financial support to facilitate a one-year residency at CERN. Fundamental Physics Scholars are chosen from a global pool of applicants based on their talent and their potential to make an impact on the scientific community. Clint’s research is currently focused on the CMS High-Level Trigger and on searches for exotic top quark partners and new heavy gauge bosons.
How do computers learn to identify images or speech? Recent work by Assistant Professor Pankaj Mehta and collaborator David Schwab (Northwestern University) suggests that the answer lies in a statistical technique known as "renormalization". Their work shows that this technique, which allows physicists to extract relevant features from a particular system, is the same process used by artifical neural networks to categorize data. Read the full story in Quanta Magazine.
Boston University theoretical particle physicist Martin Schmaltz provides a theory of inflation, not the one that took place in the early universe, but one that may have taken place to send the New England Patriots to the Superbowl. Read his interview with boston.com on the physics of deflate-gate.
An article by Professor David Bishop and former graduate student Matthias Imboden (PhD, 2012; currently a postdoc in Electrical and Computer Engineering at BU) has been featured in the December 2014 issue of Physics Today. In the article, "Top-Down Nanomanufacturing," they detail the current techniques, challenges, and future directions in the field. A device developed by their lab at BU, which utilizes dynamic stencil lithography to literally write with atoms, is featured on the cover.
In a recent interview with BU, Assistant Professor Tulika Bose discusses her role as Trigger Coordinator for the Compact Muon Solenoid experiment at the LHC, the difficulty involved in sorting through millions of pieces of raw data per second, and the ongoing search for new physics. BU researchers have been heavily involved in both the CMS and ATLAS experiments at the LHC, which expects to resume operation in March 2015.