Boston University Physics News
Professor Michael Manfra (back) with graduate student Geoff Gardner in front of their molecular beam epitaxy system.
Michael Manfra (PhD ‘99) has been chosen to lead Station Q Purdue, an experimental research team collaborating with Microsoft Station Q to pursue a path to quantum computing. Manfra and his team will use molecular beam epitaxy to create new platforms for topological qubits, a more robust type of quantum bit that stores information across correlated electrons. Manfra's team has received multimillion-dollar funding for this fundamental research. More information is available at Purdue’s website. Manfra is the Bill and Dee O'Brien Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Purdue University.
Boston University has been inducted into "The 5+ Club" of the Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PhysTEC) for its outstanding contributions to the education of future physics teachers. "The 5+ Club" honors colleges and universities around the country that prepare five or more physics teachers in a given year; BU tied for 4th in the nation with six graduating teachers in 2015.
A joint project of the American Physical Society and the American Association of Physics Teachers, PhysTEC was created to address the national need for physics teachers by supporting institutional change in the teaching of physics and the preparation of new physics teachers. Fewer than 20 institutions in the United States graduate 5 or more highly qualified physics teachers in a year, and most graduate less than two. Graduating 5 or more physics teachers a year is a significant achievement and helps to address the severe national shortage of high school physics teachers.
The PhysTEC program at BU is spearheaded by the Physics Department and the School of Education, with additional support from the Office of the Provost.
Assistant Professor Alex Sushkov has been named a 2016 Sloan Research Fellow by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Sloan Research Fellowships seek to stimulate fundamental research by early-career scientists and scholars of outstanding promise. These two-year fellowships are awarded yearly to 126 researchers in recognition of distinguished performance and a unique potential to make substantial contributions to their field.
Congratulations to graduate student Clint Richardson for receiving the 2015 CMS Achievement Award! The CMS spokeperson and collaboration board presented Clint with this award citing his "outstanding High Level Trigger work on CPU performance and online operations". Clint was one of six graduate students to be recognized from over 1000 CMS graduate students.
Research Professor Plamen Ch. Ivanov has been featured on the cover of the February 2016 issue of Physics World for his pioneering work in the field of Network Physiology. Physics World is the member magazine of the Institute of Physics (IOP), with a circulation of 50,000. You can read the whole story on the IOP website.
Last year, Ivanov and colleagues were awarded a $1M Keck grant to further develop the field of network physiology, and to create the first atlas of organ system interactions, leading to a new kind of Big Data, the Human Physiolome.
BU physicists, led by research fellow Mark Greenman, have received a grant from BU's Digital Learning Initiative to develop an online AP Physics course for underserved high school students. The course, known as a SPOC (Small Private Online Course), will feature a blended learning model by combining online video lectures with face-to-face instruction and tutoring from local university faculty and undergraduates. Read more about this project on BU Today.
More than 1000 physicists from five experiments were awarded a share of the $3M Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics. Boston University neutrino physicists contributed to two of the five experiments: Super-Kamiokande and K2K/T2K (K2K and T2K are actually two experiments but were combined). The prize was revealed at a televised award ceremony on November 8, with Super-Kamiokande and K2K/T2K leaders Takaaki Kajita, Yoichiro Suzuki, and Ko Nishikawa representing the collaborations and receiving the awards. The citation: For the fundamental discovery and exploration of neutrino oscillations, revealing a new frontier beyond, and possibly far beyond, the standard model of particle physics.
From 1996 to 2015, the BU Neutrino group has had 19 authors on Super-K and T2K papers, and graduated 7 Ph.D.s (with two more in progress). Support for the research has come from the Department of Energy, Office of Science.
Past and present members of the Boston University Neutrino Group listed as prize winners are:
Flor de Maria Blaszczyk, Shantanu Desai, Fanny Dufour, Matt Earl, Alec Habig, Ed Kearns, Soo Bong Kim, Serge Likhoded, Mike Litos, Mark Messier, Colin Okada (SNO/KamLAND), Jen Raaf, Kate Scholberg, Jim Stone, Larry Sulak, Chris Walter, and Wei Wang.
2005 Group Photo. Top: Wei Wang, Aaron Herfurth; center: Larry Sulak, Mike Litos, Jen Raaf, Fanny Dufour, Jim Stone; bottom: Ed Kearns
The Boston University Physics Department has continued to solidify its standing as measured by various rankings, most recently by the US News and World Reports ranking of Global Universities. We rank 30th in the world, 17th in the US, and 10th among private universities, behind only Harvard, MIT, Harvard, Chicago, Caltech, Stanford, Princeton, Columbia, Yale and Cornell. Overall, Boston University is ranked number 32 in the world by this survey.
Plamen Ch. Ivanov, a research professor in the Boston University Physics Department, has been awarded a $1 million grant from the W. M. Keck Foundation to develop a theoretical framework and establish quantitatively how organ systems coordinate their functions and integrate as a network.
Ivanov is leading a team of research scientists, including Ronny Bartsch, Chunhua Bian, Aylin Cimenser, Xiaolin Huang, Aijing Lin, Kang Liu, Qianli Ma, and Gustavo Zampier. The team members have diverse backgrounds, from statistical and computational physics to neuroscience and physiology, applied mathematics, and biomedical engineering.
Ivanov’s group collaborates with intensive care clinicians at Massachusetts General Hospital, directed by Ednan Bajwa; sleep physiologists and epidemiologists at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, led by Susan Redline; and scientists from the biomedical engineering division at Partners HealthCare, led by Julian Goldman.
The investigators plan to develop the first analytical tools to explore quantitatively the way in which organ systems dynamically interact as a network to produce distinct physiological states, both healthy and pathological. This system integrative approach will lay the foundation for an emerging field—network physiology—which will focus on understanding physiological functions and conditions as emergent, global behaviors coming out of dynamic interactions among diverse systems with transient characteristics.
The team’s approach represents a major departure from the conventional model of physiological research, in which linkages are traced vertically from the molecular level to the organ level. Instead, Ivanov and his team will investigate the horizontal integration across organ systems through their output signals. Their work will lead to a novel platform capable of simultaneously recording organ output signals and directly relating them to physiological states and disease conditions. The team plans to develop the first atlas of dynamic interactions of organ systems.
This transformative research program could have considerable impact, as it may determine for the first time fundamental mechanisms that govern organ network interactions and their evolution across physiological states. The program may also lead to next-generation ICU monitoring devices and more comprehensive assessments of drug effects based on novel information derived from networks of organ interactions. In addition, the investigators will build a database of network maps as a reference for normal and dysfunctional physiological conditions.
This program is a significant step in Boston University’s larger, multidisciplinary initiative to strengthen ties between the natural, computational, biological, and medical sciences.
The W. M. Keck Foundation funds research that is distinctive and novel, with the potential to create new paradigms, technologies, and discoveries that will save lives, provide innovative solutions, and add to our understanding of the world.
Based in Los Angeles, the W. M. Keck Foundation was established in 1954 by the late W. M. Keck, founder of the Superior Oil Company. The Foundation’s grant making is focused primarily on pioneering efforts in the areas of medical, science and engineering research. The Foundation also maintains an undergraduate education program that promotes distinctive learning and research experiences for students in the sciences and in the liberal arts, and a Southern California Grant Program thatprovides support for the Los Angeles community, with a special emphasis on children and youth from low-income families, special needs populations and safety-net services.
This article was originally published on BU Research.
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 PhD 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, at a dinner in Boston with Prof. Kajita. Clockwise from left: Dan Gastler, Ed Kearns, Takaaki Kajita, Wei Wang, Mike Litos, Jen Raaf, and Fanny Dufour.
The research activities of the BU Neutrino Group have been supported by grants from the Department of Energy, Office of Science.