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Talks will be posted as speakers are confirmed. Click here to see a list of talks from previous years’ Colloquia Series.

Spring, 2021

February 19th

Speaker: Adam Riegel, Hofstra University

Topic: Health Physics at Chernobyl

Abstract: Dr. Riegel will introduce physical concepts of radiation and the biological effects radiation has on the
human body through the lens of last year’s HBO miniseries “Chernobyl.” Topics will include differences in
alpha, beta, and gamma radiation, the units of radiation exposure and dose, and the illnesses caused by
significant acute radiation exposure such as those seen in the tragic nuclear incident at Chernobyl and
represented in the recent miniseries. Dr. Riegel will also briefly introduce the field of medical physics and
discuss opportunities in the MS in Medical Physics program at Hofstra University.
Dr. Adam Riegel obtained his PhD in medical physics in 2010 from the Graduate School of Biomedical
Sciences from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. Since that time,
Dr. Riegel has been a therapeutic medical physicist in the Department of Radiation Medicine at Northwell
Health. Dr. Riegel received board certification in 2013 and is currently the associate chief physicist at
Northwell. Dr. Riegel holds the rank of Adjunct Associate Professor in the Hofstra College of Liberal Arts
and Sciences, Associate Professor in the Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell, and is the
director of the medical physics graduate program at Hofstra University. Dr. Riegel is an active researcher
with numerous publications and is a participant in the regional and national medical physics community,
serving as a reviewer for several physics and radiation oncology journals and as a member of several
scientific and professional committees.

Time: 12:30 PM

Location: Zoom (email for link)

March 2nd

Topic: Measuring and enhancing quantitative reasoning in physics instruction

Speaker: Dr. Suzanne White Brahmia (University of Washington)

Abstract: Being able to identify and understand quantitative situations is an expected outcome of taking a physics course. In the current crises in which we are mired, it is also essential to be an informed global citizen. Although quantitative procedural competency is a prerequisite for most introductory physics courses, spontaneous and productive mathematical reasoning across physics contexts is a desirable learning outcome of these courses for all students, regardless of major, and ideally it develops there. Physics Quantitative Literacy (PQL) is a set of interconnected skills and habits of mind that support quantitative reasoning about the physical world. In spite of being an important objective of physics instruction, there does not yet exist a validated instrument for assessing to what extent physics courses actually develop PQL. In this talk I will present the PIQL, Physics Inventory of Quantitative Literacy, which is in its final stages of instrument validation at the UW in a multi-institution collaboration. PIQL targets introductory physics – where the “math world” and “physical world” meet – assessing students’ proportional reasoning, covariational reasoning, and reasoning with signed quantities as they are used in physics. Unlike multiple-choice concept inventories, which assess conceptual mastery of specific physics topics, PIQL is a multiple-choice reasoning inventory that can provide snapshots of student reasoning that is continuously developing. Answer choices are constructed based on research-validated natures of expert mathematical reasoning in physics contexts. I will describe how this work can help lead both to improved instruction that better meets the objective of developing physics quantitative literacy, and, through analytical methods of student responses, to better understanding the novice state and the novice-expert transition. This work is support by the National Science Foundation DUE-IUSE # 1832836, # 1832880, and # 1833050.
Preprint of paper is posted here:

Bio: Dr. Suzanne Brahmia obtained a PhD in Physics from Rutgers University in 2014. She is now an assistant professor in the department of physics at the University of Washington. Her primary research area is mathematization in physics: Novice-to-expert transition, Quantification, Proportional Reasoning, Negativity, Symbolizing, Covariational reasoning, Inventing with Contrasting Cases. She is also currently exploring the impacts of Assessable Learning Objectives (ALOs) on teaching and learning: Standardizing ALOs across the introductory curriculum, Impact of ALOs on student learning and on faculty practices.

Time: 12:30 PM

Location: Zoom (email for link)

March 19th

Topic: Research Opportunities at TCNJ

Speakers: TCNJ Physics Department Faculty

Abstract: Our physics department is rich with research opportunities and in this colloquium, we will introduce you to a variety of them. Dr. McGee will describe research opportunities within the new structure of the physics capstone experience as well as exciting new international scholarships for research and academic credit. Dr. Graham and Dr. Lanz will then discuss opportunities this summer and this fall to undertake research in geophysics and astrophysics.

Time: 12:30 PM

Location: Zoom (email for link)

April 6th & April 23rd

Speaker: Alumni Panels

Topic: These colloquia will feature a panel of TCNJ physics alumni at different stages of their careers in different fields. On April 6th, we will be joined by Bill Donovan (2008), Nicholas Freschi (2016), Jason Malatesta (2002), Shannon Springstead (2020), Joseph Stassi (2020), and Jarod Talbot (2008). On April 23rd, we will be joined by Geena Elghossain (2019), Kyle Gilroy (2011), Noelle Gothardt (2011), Michelle Reno (2000), and Julian Starr (2012). View the biosketches of each panelist by clicking here.

Time: 12:30 PM

Location: Zoom (e-mail for link)

May 4th

Topic: Seismicity Induced by Hydraulic Fracturing: Eagle Ford Shale Play, South Texas

Speaker: Dr. Shannon Fasola (Miami University, Ohio)

Abstract:  As the advancements in unconventional drilling for oil and gas have become more commonplace, the potential for seismicity induced by wastewater disposal (WD) and hydraulic fracturing (HF) has become an increasingly important issue. Understanding the mechanisms behind what induces seismicity is important for developing proper practices and policies that will help reduce the seismic hazard. South Texas is an area of interest for studying induced seismicity, because it has a history of active oil and gas production, HF, WD, and seismicity; some of which occurs within or near areas of pervasive faulting. Seismicity in the Eagle Ford oil and gas field of south Texas grew to 33 times higher than previous years in 2018. We investigated how HF contributed to seismicity since 2014 by comparing times and locations of HF with a catalog of seismicity extended through seismogram similarity detection (template matching). Over 200 HF wells in Karnes, Atascosa, and Gonzales counties had seismicity nearby during operation with ~90 earthquakes having magnitudes ≥ 2.0, indicating seismicity from HF is more common in this area than previously thought. We found that HF strategy affects the probability of earthquakes. Seismicity was twice as likely when operators inject into multiple nearby wells simultaneously compared to when they inject into multiple wells one at a time. The simultaneous strategy was three times more likely to produce seismicity compared to a single well strategy. Of the ~2,400 HF‐induced earthquakes we identified, a magnitude 4.0 is one of the largest reported in the United States, and it occurred ~10 km from the largest (magnitude 4.8) earthquake in south Texas, thought to be due to fluid extraction in 2011. This study demonstrates that faults in this area are capable of producing felt and potentially damaging earthquakes due to ongoing HF.

Since 2018, several seismic recording stations have been added in the area revealing a new region of seismicity in Live Oak county. We sought to perform a deeper exploration of how HF has contributed to recent seismicity using template matching and repeating signal detection (RSD), which employs machine learning to search for earthquakes different from the template catalog. RSD identified new bursts of seismicity with a shorter S-P time (~2 sec) than the previous catalog (> 4 sec). We found HF stimulations close to the station at the times when those short S-P events occurred. The short S-P events have smaller magnitudes (ML < 2.0), consistent with the idea that HF-induced seismicity in the Eagle Ford is likely more pervasive than previously reported, but detection is limited by the density of seismic stations. RSD and template matching identified 1,600 earthquakes correlated with HF from January 2019 to February 2020. We confirmed that newly detected HF-induced seismicity in Live Oak county did not occur until January 2019. Despite similar cumulative volume prior to 2019, the onset of seismicity did not occur until HF injection exceeded 2 million barrels per month over this area, supporting the notion that injection flux is a stronger influence on the occurrence of seismicity than cumulative volume.

Bio:  Shannon Fasola is an observational seismologist with a diverse area of interest and experience in seismology with an interest in contributing to the overall understanding of seismic and aseismic slip in subduction zones and human-induced seismicity. She received her bachelors in geology from St. Norbert College in Wisconsin in 2014 and came to Miami University in Ohio shortly after to pursue a graduate degree studying geophysics and seismology. She received her master’s in 2016 where her thesis utilized seismicity, nonvolcanic tremor, and slow slip to analyze the geometry of the subducting plate in Oaxaca, Mexico. Shannon enjoyed Miami so much she decided to stay on for a PhD. She defended her dissertation last fall which investigated earthquake swarms for clues of their driving mechanisms. Today her talk will focus on some of her work from her dissertation related to human induced seismicity in Texas.

Time: 12:30 PM

Location: Zoom (email for link)