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Past Colloquia

Below is 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 physics@tcnj.edu 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: https://arxiv.org/abs/2009.10865

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 physics@tcnj.edu 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 physics@tcnj.edu 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 physics@tcnj.edu 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 physics@tcnj.edu for link)

Spring, 2018

April 20th

Topic: Working as a Radiation Physicist: from Radioactive Seed Implantation for Cancer Treatment to the Development of Radon Exposure Limits for Homeowner Safety

Time: 12:30 PM

Location: SCP 317

Click here for more information

March 6th

Topic: Intellectual Property Law and its Importance as a Career Path for Science Majors

Time: 12:30 PM

Location: SCP 317

Click here for more information

February 16th

Topic: Holding and Spinning Molecules with Laser Pulses

Time: 12:30 PM

Location: SCP 317

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Fall, 2017

September 15th

Topic: Introduction to String Theory

Time: 12:30 PM

Location: SCP 317

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October 3rd

Topic: Measuring gas and nanoparticles with coherent Rayleigh-Brillouin Scattering

Time: 12:30 PM

Location: SCP 317

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Fall, 2016

September 16th – TCNJ Physics Majors

Topic: Summer Research Experiences

Time: 12:30 PM

Location: SCP 317

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October 21st – Physics Department Colloquium/Job Fair

Topic: Opportunities in Optics: Edmund Optics & TCNJ (Bring Your Resume)

Time: 12:30 PM

Location: SCP 317

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November 1st – Dr. Craig Kletzing, University of Iowa

Topic: Stormy (Space) Weather: An “Emfisis” on the Radiation Belt Storm Probes

Time: 12:30 PM

Location: SCP 317

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November 18th – Ms. Stephanie J. Thomas, Princeton Satellite Systems

Topic: Advanced Aerospace Propulsion: From Solar Sails to Fusion

Time: 12:30 PM

Location: SCP 317

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Spring, 2016

February 2nd – Dr. Mukti M. Rana, Associate Professor/Chair, Department of Physics & Engineering, Delaware State University

Topic: Inspired by Nature – A Spider Web Design for Reducing Thermal Conductance of Uncooled Infrared Detectors and Current Research Opportunities at DSU

Time: 12:30 PM

Location: SCP 317

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March 1st – Dr. Nathan Magee, Associate Professor, TCNJ Department of Physics

Topic: Opportunities in Physics Education: The NSF-TCNJ Robert Noyce Scholarship Program

Time: 12:30 PM

Location: SCP 317

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April 5th – Dr. Michael Mumma, Director, The Goddard Center for Astrobiology, NASA Space Flight Center

Topic: “The Search for Life on Mars”

Time: 12:30 PM

Location: SCP 101

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Fall, 2015

September 18th – TCNJ Physics Majors

Topic: Summer Research Experiences

Time: 12:30 PM

Location: SCP 317

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October 6th – Dr. Gregory Herman, NJ Geological & Waters Survey (NJGWS), Adjunct Professor TCNJ & Rider University

Topic: 3D and 4D Visualization of Earth Systems

Time: 12:30 PM

Location: SCP 317

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October 16th – Dr. John Bochanski, Department of Physics, Rider University

Topic: Where does the Milky Way end?

Time: 12:30 PM

Location: SCP 317

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November 3rd – Dr. Clayton E. Myers, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

Topic: Bringing the Cosmos Down to Earth: Studying Astrophysical Processes in Laboratory Experiments

Time: 12:30 PM

Location: SCP 317

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November 20th – Dr. Joseph L. Baker, Department of Chemistry, TCNJ

Topic: Biomolecules in Motion: Molecular Modeling and Simulation of Biomolecular Systems

Time: 12:30 PM

Location: SCP 317

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Spring, 2015

February 20th – Knicole Colon (TCNJ Alumna), Lehigh University

Topic: Investigating the Formation of Exotic Extrasolar Planets

Time: 12:30 PM

Location: SCP 117

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March 3rd – James Napolitano, Department of Physics, Temple University

Topic: Neutrinos, Nuclear Reactors and the Origin of Matter

Time: 12:30 PM

Location: SCP 117

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April 7th – Dr. Benjamin Gross, Chemical Heritage Foundation

Topic: How RCA Led the Way to a Physics Nobel

Time: 12:30 PM

Location: SCP 117

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Fall, 2014

September 19th – Dr. Taryl Kirk & Dr. AJ Richards, Department of Physics, TCNJ

Topic: Magnetic Contrast Imaging in NFESEM & Learning About Learning

Time: 12:30 PM

Location: SCP 317

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October 7th – Shane McGary, Department of Physics, TCNJ

Topic: When Plates Collide/Making Moons

Time: 12:30 PM

Location: SCP 317

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October 17th – Raha Ghassemi and Cory Leahy, TCNJ Physics Alumni

Topic: International Study Experiences & Opportunities with TCNJ Physics

Time: 12:30 PM

Location: SCP 317

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November 4th – Michael Erickson and John Ferrie, TCNJ Physics Alumni

Topic: Transitioning to Graduate Level Coursework and Research

Time: 12:30 PM

Location: SCP 317

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December 2nd – Dr. Jarrett Moyer, Post-Doctoral Research Associate, Department of Physics, University of Illinois at Ubana-Champaign & Candidate for Experimentalist Tenure-Track Position in Physics

Topic: Exploring Functionality in Complex Oxide Thin Films

Time: 12:30 PM

Location: SCP 317

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December 5th – Dr. Angela Capece, Associate Research Physicist, Princeton Plasma Physics Lab & Candidate for Experimentalist Tenure-Track Position in Physics

Topic: Postcards from the Plasma Edge: Understanding the Plasma-Materials Interface

Time: 12:30 PM

Location: SCP 317

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December 8th – Dr. Michael Ray, Visiting Assistant Professor, Union College & Candidate for Experimentalist Tenure-Track Position in Physics

Topic: The Super World of Superfluids

Time: 11:30 PM

Location: SCP 317

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December 10th – Dr. Shawna Hollen, Postdoctoral Researcher, Center for Emergent Materials, Ohio State University & Candidate for Experimentalist Tenure-Track Position in Physics

Topic: Atomic Legos: Building Next-Generation Electronics in the 2D Limit

Time: 11:45 PM

Location: SCP 317

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Spring, 2014

February 6th – Dr. Robert A. Bartolini, Senior Vice President (Retired), Sarnoff Corporation

Topic: Taking Technology to Market

Time: 11:30 AM

Location: SCP 117

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February 27th – Adric Riedel, American Museum of Natural History

Topic: The Solar Neighborhood Cradle

Time: 11:30 AM

Location: SCP 317

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March 20th – Dr. Beth Cunningham, Executive Officer, American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT)

Topic: Building Better (and More) Physics Educators

Time: 11:30 AM

Location: SCP 317

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April 3rd – Dr. Neil Aaronson, TCNJ Alum and Associate Professor of Physics, Stockton State College

Topic: Underwater Hearing and the Squishy Head Problem

Time: 11:30 AM

Location: SCP 317

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April 17th – Dr. David Robinson, NJ State Climatologist and Professor of Geology, Rutgers University

Topic: Exploring NJ Climate Variability and Change

Time: 11:30 AM

Location: SCP 317


Fall, 2013

September 24th – Dr. Paul Pigram, La Trobe University Melbourne, Australia

Topic: International Study Opportunities for Physics Majors

Time: 11:30 AM

Location: SCP 117

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September 26th – Michael Hayden – Department of Physics, University of Maryland Baltimore County

Topic: “Wideband THz Time Domain and Optical-Pump THz-Probe Spectroscopy Using Electro-Optic Polymer Sensors”

Time: 11:30 AM

Location: SCP 317

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October 10th – Eugenia Etkina – Department of Science Education, Rutgers University

Topic: “Physics Education Research”

Time: 11:30 AM

Location: SCP 317

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November 5th – Ivan Biaggio – Department of Physics, Lehigh University

Topic: “Excitons in the Rubrene Single Crystal: Fission, Fusion, Diffusion, and Dissociation”

Time:4:00 PM

Location: SCP 317

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Spring, 2013

April 4th – Dr. Carl Salter, Moravian College

Topic: “Survey of Raman Spectroscopy for physics and chemistry students”

Time: 4:00 PM

Location: SCP 317

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March 28th – Dr. Douglas Larkin, Montclair State University

Topic: Science Education

Time: 11:30 AM

Location: SCP 317

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March 21st – Erica Smith, 2009 (PhD student, Drexel University) and Dan Silano, 2012 (Towers Watson HR Professional Consulting)

Topic: Life After TCNJ

Time: 11:30 AM

Location: SCP 317

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March 7th – Dr. Kevin Marshall, Widener University

Topic: Exploring active galactic nuclei through high energy variability

Time: 11:30 AM

Location: SCP-317

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February 14th – Dr. Gary Pajer , Princeton Satellite Systems

Topic: A colorful career in Physics

Time: 11:30 AM

Location: SCP – 317


Fall, 2012

October 18 – Will Levandowski, Geophysics, University of Colorado, Boulder
Topic: The mechanics andmath of mountain building

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November 29 – Inge Beckers, Bleuth Institute, Germany
Topic: 3D Optical Microscopy


Spring, 2012

January 24 – Dr. Tuan Nguyen, Department of Otolaryngology, University of Pittsburgh
Topic: “Revealing neural connectivity with photons and viruses”

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January 30 – Dr. Mazin Magzoub, Assistant Professor of Physics, Yale University
Topic: “Concentration dependent transitions govern the subcellular localization of Islet Amyloid Polypeptide”

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March 28 – Dr. Ken Budka, Alcatel-Lucent (Bell Labs)
Topic: “Theoretical Communications”

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April 18 – Dr. Alix Davatzes, Temple University
Topic: “Planetary Physics / Mars”


Fall, 2011

September 30Dr. Paul Wiita, Professor of Physics and Chair, TCNJ.
Topic: “Radio Galaxies and Blazars: Unifying a Family”

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October 3 — Dr. Paul Pigram, Dept. of Physics, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia
Topic: “Surface Science, Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology”

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November 1 — Dr. M. Virginia McSwain, Dept. of Physics, Lehigh University
Topic: “To Be or Not To Be: The Origin of Be Star Disks”


Spring, 2011

January 19Dr. David J. McGee, Professor of Physics and Chair, Drew University.
Topic: “Photonics at the nanoscale: controlling optical functionality in block copolymer domains”

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January 21 — Dr. Michael Pierce, Staff physicist, Argonne National Laboratories
Topic: “How Atoms Dance: Surface dynamics, x-ray speckles, catalysis and what it all means to you”

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January 25 — Dr. Roberto Ramos, Assistant Professor of Physics, Drexel University.


Spring, 2010

April 22 — Dr. Robert Vanderbei, applied mathematician and distinguished astrophotographer, and Professor and Chair, Operations Research and Financial Engineering, Princeton University.
Topic: “The Search for Earth-like Planets”

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April 15 — Professor David Spergal. Chair, Astrophysical Science, Princeton University
Topic: “Dark Energy, Dark Matter, and Inflation”

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March 19 — Dr. Nate Magee. Interim chair, TCNJ Physics. School of Science Colloquium.
Topic: “The snowpocalyptic winter of 2010, climate change science, and the tuning of LUTES: perspectives from the surface of a snowflake.”

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March 3– Mike Carr, Rutgers University, Volcanologist and former Dean of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers.


Fall, 2009

September 16 — Dr. Mike Kavic, TCNJ new faculty in physics
Topic: “Transient Pulses from Exploding Primordial Black Holes as a Signature of an Extra Dimension”

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September 23 — Dr. Frederik Simons, Princeton University
Topic: “Robust tools to study noisy and incomplete geophysical and cosmological observables: Theory, applications and future directions.”

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Wed, Oct. 21: Marivi Fernandez-Serra, SUNY, Stony Brook
Topic: “The Hydrogen bond: source of water exotic properties and key to future’s green energy source”

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Wed, Oct. 28: John Simonetti, Virginia Tech
Topic: “A Black-Hole-Neutron-Star Binary System: Searching for Extra Spatial Dimensions”

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Friday Nov 20: Dr. Philip Rubin, George Mason Univ.
Topic: “Complicated Searches for Simplicity: An Introduction to Experimental Particle Physics”

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Wed, Dec. 2, Dr. Amer Lahamer, Berea College
Topic: Mossbauer and Laser Ablation Studies

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Fri., Dec. 4: Dr. Paul Wiita, Georgia State University
Topic: “Quasars, Radio Galaxies and Blazars: Fast Fluctuations and Furious Flows”


Fall, 2008

September 4 – Dr. George Coyne, reknowned astronomer, Jesuit priest and former director of the Vatican Observatory

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September 17th – Dr. Vadim Levin, Professor of Earth and Planetary Science, Rutgers University

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October 8th – Dr. Paul Evenson, Professor of Physics, Bartol Research Inst., University of Delaware

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October 27th – Dr. Peter Collings, Morris Clothier Professor of Physics, Swarthmore College
Topic: “Chromonic Liquid Crystals: A New Form of Soft Matter”

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November 5- Dr. Paul McCracken, Senior Research Physicist, Imaging Department, Merck Research Laboratories
Topic: “MRI research on disease processes ”

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November 19 – Dr. Geoff Abers, Columbia University
Topic: “Seismically imaging the effects of H2O on the deep Earth at subductionzones: Postcards from the wedge”

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November 20 – Dr. Robert Nemiroff, Mich. Tech University
Topic: “Adventures in Gravitational and Observational Astrophysics”

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