Boston University Physics News

Diversity in the department, recent events and Particles for Justice
June 09, 2020:

 The images of George Floyd's murder, which have horrified and enraged citizens around the world, serve as a chilling reminder of the long history and deep scars of systemic anti-black racism that permeate our society. 

We share in the rage and sorrow and acknowledge our own tacit complicity to the legacy of racism and injustice. 

We commit to reflect and listen, to learn from our Black colleagues, and to stay vigilant and aware of all forms of racism and inequity that persist in academia and in our communities.

We pledge to be proactive and work together to dismantle the many structural barriers that continue to limit access, representation, and diversity in science, and more broadly, in academia. 



Here is a list of selected readings about this topic.

In addtion, our particle physics colleagues across the country have organized to stop all work this Wednesday as a call for anti-racism action NOW!

There is great solidarity across our physics community both in mourning and rage but also in a strong call for action. My own reservation - and the reason I pondered this for a few days - is with calling this a "strike"  rather than a "protest and call for action" - this probably has to do with my experiences with strikes in the old country.

If you wish to learn more, you can watch the 2016 documentary "I Am Not Your Negro" based on James Boldwin's work online. It's an important piece in my view and there are many others. 

Hope all of you are well and safe!



Eric Boyers wins 2020 Susan K. Jackson award
April 02, 2020:

Congratulations to graduate student Eric Boyers for winning the 2020 CAS Susan K Jackson award. The award is presented by the college to BU honors those people who create and nurture community. Eric is an active and dedicated participant in the department, working to improve graduate student life and experience. He has also organized social events, including a seminar series for graduate students. Congratulations Eric!

Two Physics Undergrads selected as 2020 Goldwater Scholars
April 02, 2020:

Two BU Physics students, Nik Gjonbalaj and Kevin Reiss, have been named as 2020 Goldwater Scholars, the premier national recognition for exceptional undergraduate STEM students. Nik works with David Sperka in high energy experimental physics, optimizing the L1 trigger of the CMS experiment at the LHC for axion-like particles. He is currently applying deep neural networks to this optimization process to maximize the efficiency of our trigger within the computational constraints at CMS. Kevin has been working with Professor David Campbell and Salvatore Pace to explore some open questions regarding the Fermi-Pasta-Ulam-Tsingou (FPUT) lattice, which is a model of masses connected by nonlinear nearest neighbor interactions. Congratulations!

To read more about this, please see this BU Today article.

Physics Department Response to COVID-19
March 14, 2020:

The department has outlined a response to the COVID-19 crisis. The guidelines and procedures outlined here are meant to: (a) protect everyone’s safety; (b) provide our students with the highest level educational experiences possible within the constraints of the current situation; and (c) continue carrying out and supporting our research activities as effectively as possible. We want to limit social interactions to protect ourselves and those most at risk, and also contribute, as citizens, to minimizing the stresses on the system (health care, supply chains, industry, etc). Please reach out to the relevant staff member for questions or concerns about teaching, research, or administrative tasks. 



Physics Undergrad Sal Pace selected as first BU Churchill Scholar
February 10, 2020:

Physics Senior, Salvatore Pace, is the first BU student to receive a Churchill Scholarship, an honor comparable to a Rhodes or a Mitchell scholarship. Sal works with professors Campbell and Laumann to research theoretical physics. By the end of junior year, he was the lead author on two papers cowritten with Professor Campbell. Congratulations Sal!

To learn more, please read the feature on BU Today.



Kevin Smith's group research highlighted in Journal of Chemical Physics and AIP
February 05, 2020:

Physics Professor Kevin Smith and his group’s work were recently highlighted in the Journal of Chemical Physics. This work, focused on understanding the effects of water on oxide catalyst surfaces, could help scientists understand how water could change electronic and surface structures. To learn more about the groups work, please visit their group site.

Wanzheng Hu Receives NSF Career Award
January 22, 2020:

Wanzheng Hu, an assistant professor, has just received a five year, $630,000 Faculty Early Career Development award from the National Science Foundation. The goal of the award is to advance our knowledge on the relation between crystal structure and high-temperature superconductivity, and to identify the most efficient knob to control the physical properties of iron-based superconductors. This project also includes broad education and outreach programs for female graduate students in physics, local female high school students, and K-12 students. For more info on her research, please visit her lab website

Roscoe Giles named AAAS Fellow
January 21, 2020:

Physics affiliate Roscoe Giles was recently elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in part for his leadership and work in advancing diversity and inclusion in the sciences. In addition to being a professor, he is the board chair of the Associated Universities, Inc.

To learn more about his research and advocacy, visit BU Research.

DESI Opens Its 5,000 Eyes to Capture the Colors of the Cosmos
November 01, 2019:

The Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) has achieved its “First Light”, an important milestone, in making its first measurement of the spectrum of a galaxy.

DESI is installed on the 4-m Mayall Telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory near Tucson, Arizona, and will measure spectra of tens of millions of galaxies during the five-year survey, which will enable us to improve greatly our understanding of the mysterious phenomenon known as dark energy.

BU has been heavily involved in various aspects of DESI ranging from hardware fabrication, integration and testing, software development, simulation analysis, to overnight observing at the Mayall for the imaging survey and prototype run (ProtoDESI). The Scientific Instrument Facility (SIF) at BU, under the direction of Heitor Mourato, built many of the critical jigging pieces needed to assemble 5000 precision robotic fiber positioners, and also built the focal plane structure consisting of ten wedge shaped Focal Plane Petals. 

When he was a graduate student at BU, Duan Yutong worked on DESI for four years under the supervision of Prof. Steve Ahlen of BU. He has helped construct the DESI focal plane and studied computer simulations to evaluate the systematics affecting DESI’s cosmology measurements. In the next several months, he will be working on the commissioning phase of DESI so that the instrument can begin making scientific observations starting in early 2020.


To learn more about DESI, read the first-light press release from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and visit the DESI website.

BU physicist Mark Greenman featured in BU Research
October 22, 2019:

BU physicist, Mark Greenman, has been featured in this weeks BU Research for his work on Project Accelerate. Project Accelerate is a program designed to provide a rigorous Advanced Placement (AP) physics curriculum to high school students in school districts that don’t offer the class. To learn more about the project, check out the article here!