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Colloquia

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

Fall, 2022

September 20th

Speaker: Gummi Stefansson, Postdoctoral Fellow at Princeton University

Topic: Pathways to Detecting and Characterizing Rocky Habitable
Planets

Abstract: One of the foremost goals of exoplanet science is the detailed characterization of terrestrial planets that potentially could harbor life. I will discuss near-term projects and instruments that are allowing for rapid progress on the detection and characterization of small planets. (1) Beam-shaping optical diffusers allow us to approach the precision of space-based photometry with ground-based telescopes, thereby enhancing our ability to detect and study terrestrial planets. (2) Improvements in Doppler spectrographs—including HPF and NEID—will expand our knowledge of the compositions, architectures, and atmospheres of small planets. (3) The ongoing 5-year HPF survey will detect terrestrial planets in the habitable-zones around nearby mid-to-late M dwarfs, some of the most favorable systems for direct imaging with future flagship missions. (4) Synergy between M dwarf planet surveys and low-frequency radio surveys offer the possibility of opening the door to a new field within exoplanet science: star-planet magnetic interactions, which may affect planetary habitability.

Bio: Gudmundur Stefansson is a Henry Norris Russell Postdoctoral Fellow and an incoming NASA Sagan Fellow at Princeton University focusing on developing and using next-generation instruments to better detect and characterize exoplanets from the ground. Gudmundur received his PhD at Penn State University in 2019 focusing on the development of Engineered Diffuser Technology for precision ground-based exoplanet transit observations, and on the design and commissioning of two next-generation Doppler spectrographs—the Habitable-zone Planet Finder on the 10m Hobby Eberly Telescope and the NEID spectrograph on the 3.5m WIYN Telescope—to detect and characterize planets around nearby stars. For his PhD thesis, Gudmundur was awarded the 2020 Robert J. Trumpler Award for a PhD thesis in North America considered unusually important to astrophysics.

Time: 12:30 PM

Location: Science Complex P-317

October 4th

Speaker: TCNJ Physics Summer Research Students

Topic: Summer Research Experiences

Abstract:  We will hear from four students in our department about their research from over the summer. Everyone is welcome and strongly encouraged to attend this event to see your fellow peers talk about the work they’ve been doing throughout the semester but also what it is like to do research and how to get started!

Speakers: Dean Klunk, Colin Beyers, Mike Polania, Joey Sabatino

Time: 12:30 PM

Location: Science Complex P-317

October 21st

Speaker: TCNJ Physics Alumni Panel

Topic: Alumni Panels – TCNJ Physics Graduate School Paths

Guest Panelists:

Neil Aaronson (2002) started as an Engineering major at TCNJ in 1998 but quickly switched to Physics after being mentored by Dr. Gleeson. He did research first with Dr. Wickramasinghe on relativistic gravitational lensing phenomena, and then with Dr. Pfeiffer on light spectra in the overlapping wind envelopes of binary star systems. He did a summer internship in experimental condensed matter physics at the NEC Research Institute in Princeton. After graduating, he attended graduate school at Michigan State University, where he earned his Ph.D. and M.S. in Electrical Engineering for his research in acoustics and psychoacoustics. In 2008, he became a faculty member in the Physics program at Stockton University. His research has included underwater acoustics, room acoustics, music perception, avian bioacoustics, sound source localization, and audio quality perception. He also regularly works in professional live sound, for major theatrical productions, and in recording studios.

John Elmes (2005) I attended TCNJ from 2001 through 2005 studying Electrical Engineering with a minor in Physics. During my time at TCNJ, in addition to my studies, I was active with engineering clubs and the physics club. I had a particular interest in robotics as well as alternative energy sources, electric vehicles and power electronics. I worked with Dr. Ochoa to do research on closed loop controlled shape memory alloy actuated robotics, which resulted in a publication in a TCNJ research journal. Additionally I participated in the solar boat project throughout my time at TCNJ. I then attended the University of Central Florida pursuing a PhD in Electrical Engineering, with a focus on Power Electronics. I quickly found a number of interesting areas to research involving energy harvesting and power conversion. I worked on many different types of technology, including kinetic energy capture from a walking person, solar energy harvesting for space applications, and high power DC-DC conversion for electric vehicles. Soon after starting PhD work, I began working with a small company, Advanced Power Electronics Corporation (APECOR) performing research with the US DoD, DoE and NASA. I found I particularly enjoy working on military and aerospace applications that are technically challenging and where performance is more highly weighted than commercial applications. I completed my PhD in 2010, and continued to work for APECOR, of which I am now the president. Currently I’ve been spending a lot of time developing new higher performance portable solar battery chargers and power systems.

Cindy Lin (2011) I studied physics at TCNJ from 2007 to 2011, starting on the teaching track then changing to the research track. I worked as the laboratory technician and participated in the leadership for both physics club and astronomy club. I worked with Dr. Ochoa in the optics lab and Dr. Magee in the cloud physics lab. I also participated in an REU at the Princeton University Imaging and Analysis Center and the SULI program at Princeton Plasma Physics Lab. After graduating from TCNJ, I worked at Princeton Plasma Physics Lab for a year, along with attending classes and doing research on Geophysics at Rutgers University. Missing the
mentoring and teaching aspect of research, I decided to pursue physics in graduate school. I attended Drexel University, working on the EXO-200 and nEXO neutrino experiments, looking for neutrinoless double beta decay. I created the flow-based model for electronegative impurity transport and purity monitoring in the EXO-200 detector. In graduate school, I was also the President of the Physics Graduate Student Association and the Vice President of Finance and Trustee of the Drexel Graduate Student Association. After focusing prominently on data analyses in graduate school, I was determined to find a postdoctoral position with hardware focus. Currently, I am a postdoctoral fellow working on the SNO+ neutrino experiment, measuring nucleon decay to invisible modes, measuring solar neutrinos flux, detecting antineutrinos from nearby nuclear reactors and the Earth, monitoring supernova neutrinos, and searching for neutrinoless double beta decay. I am a task lead for the tellurium processing plant commissioning for the third phase of SNO+ and calibration expert designing the hardware for the Americium-Beryllium source. On the analysis aspects, I also lead the detector radon task force managing the background mitigation efforts in the detector and coordinate the local group’s
analyses. My passion is in fostering collaborative and inclusive working environment for all and science communication.

Javier Morales (2021) I started at TCNJ in the fall of 2018. While at TCNJ I was able to work on two projects, an experimental and a theoretical project. After both projects, I decided that I wanted to do more experimental work with some computational components. What pushed me toward plasma physics was an event hosted by the National Society of Black Engineers. They invited engineers from the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab (PPPL), allowing me to talk to them about the work being done at PPPL. This conversion inspired me to go into fusion research. I chose to attend Princeton University because of its connections with the PPPL. Here I have been able to work closely with scientists in the Lithium Tokamak eXperiment (LTX) on fusion research. My first project has been creating a model that would predict the deposition of the evaporated lithium onto the LTX shell. I hope to move on to work on heating the plasma once I finish the lithium deposition model.

Terance Schuh (2019) I studied physics and mathematics at TCNJ from 2015-2019. I mostly worked with Dr. Paul Wiita (recently retired) on computational high-energy astrophysics. However, I also did MUSE with Dr. Nate Magee on experimental cloud microphysics, a REU at Indiana University on theoretical nuclear astrophysics, and the SPS internship at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center on observational cosmology. Outside of research, I was very involved in Physics Club and Astronomy Club eventually serving as treasurer of both and president of Physics Club. I also was a lab tech, observatory tech, and tutor within the department. During my
senior year I applied to PhD programs for astrophysics, but was never accepted anywhere. Instead, I did the aforementioned SPS internship and took a gap year, which allowed me to reflect on my undergraduate research experiences and discover what I wanted to do next. Ultimately, I still wanted to go to grad school, but I took more time to think about what I valued most in a grad program such as advisor style, department size, and school location. After exploring non-physics departments, I found various physicists, such as my future advisor, “hiding” in other sciences. I was eventually accepted to Princeton University’s Geosciences department where, in 2022, I earned my Master’s degree for my work on theoretical geophysics, more specifically geodesy. Since then, I have been working in south Jersey as a data scientist at industry automation manufacturer, Radwell International where I use skills I learned in both undergrad and grad every day. In short, my path from undergrad to grad school, much like determining a particle’s velocity given its position with absolute certainty, was something I never could’ve predicted, but it definitely worked out for the best.

Time: 12:30 PM

Location: Science Complex P-317

November 1st

Speaker: Max Rosen, Ph.D. Student at Princeton Program for Plasma Physics

Abstract: This talk aims to highlight the importance of studying plasma and discuss open questions in the field to inform students about pursuing graduate studies in the area. Not only is 99.9% of the visible universe made of plasma, but it’s also useful for terrestrial industrial applications. Astrophysically, some intriguing questions are why is the sun’s corona hotter than its surface, and why is the universe magnetized? The most well-studied industrial application is nuclear fusion energy, bringing the power of the stars to earth. I’ll discuss different approaches to fusion energy from the magnetic confinement perspective, including tokamaks, stellarators, and magnetic mirrors. In addition, there are many opportunities for undergraduates to become involved in the field and learn more such as the SULI internship and summer schools offered by Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. I’ll discuss some reasons to go to graduate school and where exciting research is being conducted.

Bio: The speaker, Maxwell Rosen he/him, grew up in St. Petersburg, Florida and completed his undergraduate degree in Applied Physics at New York University: Tandon School of Engineering in 2020. He took a gap year after and worked at Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory and the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics. Currently, he is a Ph.D. student at the Princeton Program for Plasma Physics.

Time: 12:30 PM

Location: Science Complex P-317

 

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