SMU honors high achievement during 2012 spring ceremonies

As the 2011-12 academic year draws to a close, SMU celebrates with two ceremonies honoring some of its most distinguished faculty, staff and students. This year’s Honors Day Convocation and Awards Extravaganza take place on the afternoon and evening of Monday, April 16, 2012.

Jodi Cooley, assistant professor of experimental particle physics in SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, will deliver the address during the 15th Honors Day Convocation at 5:30 p.m. in McFarlin Auditorium. The ceremony celebrates academic achievement at the University and department levels. Cooley, a member of the team collaborating on the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search (CDMS II) experiment, has received a 2012 National Science Foundation CAREER Award of more than $1 million for her research toward detecting the particles that are believed to make up dark matter.

Read the list of 2012 Honors Day Convocation award recipients

Retired and current faculty will assemble for Honors Day Convocation in academic dress no later than 5:10 p.m. in the Perkins Administration Building lobby and will process together to McFarlin Auditorium. A reception follows the Convocation in the Dallas Hall Quadrangle.

Participating faculty members may RSVP online. Faculty members with questions regarding the procession can send an e-mail to or call 214-768-3417.

Later, the University presents several awards for excellence – including its highest honor, the “M” Award – during the 2012 Awards Extravaganza at 7:30 p.m. in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Ballrooms. Awards Extravaganza honorees will be listed in SMU Forum the day after the ceremony.

Photo from Honors Day Convocation 2011 by Hillsman S. Jackson

Find more information on Honors Day Convocation at the Registrar’s website
Learn more about the Awards Extravaganza from SMU Student Life

Physics professor Jodi Cooley wins 2012 NSF career award

Jodi Cooley, SMU physics professor and NSF CAREER Award winnerJodi Cooley of SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences has earned a National Science Foundation CAREER Award of more than $1 million for her research toward detecting the particles that are believed to make up dark matter.

NSF Early Career Development Awards are given to junior faculty members who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research in American colleges and universities.

Cooley, an assistant professor in the Department of Physics, is an experimental particle physicist working with the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search (SuperCDMS), a collaboration of 14 institutions from the United States and Canada. Cooley is SMU’s principal investigator for the group.

Scientists theorize that more than 80 percent of all matter in the universe is dark matter, which consists of material that cannot be seen or detected by conventional means. Cooley’s research in the SuperCDMS project is conducted in the Soudan Iron Mine in Soudan, Minnesota, where researchers are shielded from cosmic-ray radiation as they use detector technology to “listen” for the passage of dark matter through the earth. Cooley’s research uses sophisticated equipment to optimize the chances of detecting “weakly interacting massive particles,” also known as WIMPS, which are the particles hypothesized to make up dark matter.

“Her CAREER Award will enable Professor Cooley to extend this research with additional measurements at higher levels of sensitivity and simulations, placing SMU in a leadership role in this cutting-edge field of physics,” said James Quick, associate vice president for research and dean of graduate studies.

Cooley joined SMU in 2009. She was a postdoctoral scholar in the Physics Department at Stanford University from 2004-09 and a postdoctoral associate in the Laboratory for Nuclear Science at MIT from 2003-04. She received her Ph.D. in physics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2003, a Master of Arts in physics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2000, and a Bachelor of Science in applied math and physics from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1997.

The NSF is the funding source for approximately 20 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America’s colleges and universities. In the past few decades, NSF-funded researchers have won more than 180 Nobel Prizes.

Cooley is SMU’s second NSF CAREER award winner this year. Joe Camp, J. Lindsay Embrey Trustee Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering, received a Faculty Early Career Development Award for his research into improved wireless network design incorporating low frequencies.

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> Visit the Department of Physics homepage

Science-engineering fair organizers seek judges for 2012 event

Beal Bank Dallas Regional Science and Engineering Fair logoThe Beal Bank Dallas Regional Science and Engineering Fair is calling for judges to participate in the 2012 event – and inviting the public for a free viewing of student projects 5:30-6:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25, in Fair Park.

The nonprofit event is both a competition and exhibition for the best middle and high school research projects in the North Texas region, with nearly 1,000 exhibitors expected to participate.

The science fair, open to 6th-12th grade students, is organized and hosted by SMU under title sponsorship from Beal Bank. Beal Bank recently extended its title sponsorship through 2014, bringing the bank’s total support over the years to almost $1 million.

The event is run by volunteers, including Simon Dalley, senior lecturer in physics in SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences and president of the Dallas Regional Science and Engineering Fair.

“Science fair is a wonderful opportunity for children to cultivate their interest in science and engineering and to exchange ideas one-on-one with experts in their field of study,” Dalley says.

To qualify as a judge, candidates must have a Bachelor’s degree or equivalent professional experience related to the science categories they prefer to judge. For more information, visit

> Download the information letter and judge recommendation form at
> Find a complete schedule of Science Fair events (PDF format)

Calendar Highlights: Aug. 24, 2010

Silkscreen print of an altar scene from 'Mexico in Color' by Elma PrattLast days for “Revolutionary” exhibit: Only a few more days remain for Mexico: Books and Portfolios from the Stanley Marcus Collection, an SMU exhibition celebrating the 2010 centennial of the Mexican Revolution running through Aug. 29 in the Mildred Hawn Gallery, Hamon Arts Library. The historic books and portfolios on view are part of the Stanley Marcus Collection at SMU’s DeGolyer Library. The celebration of the Mexican centennial will continue in the fall with Mexico: Porfiriato to Revolution, 1876-1920, from Sept. 7-Dec. 17 at SMU’s DeGolyer Library. Visit the University’s Mexican collections online. (Right, a silkscreen print altar scene from the 1947 portfolio Mexico in Color by Elma Pratt.)

Chill out: Faculty, staff and students can mingle over refreshments at the Mustang Chill, 3-4 p.m. Aug. 25 in the M Lounge, Hughes-Trigg Student Center. Sponsored by SMU’s Department of Student Development and Programs.

SMU Athletic Forum: NFL great and former Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy speaks in the next Athletic Forum luncheon, noon-1:30 p.m. Aug. 26 at the Hilton Anatole Hotel, 2201 Stemmons Freeway. Cost is $60 per ticket. For more information, contact Brittany Timmerman, 214-768-4314, or visit

A science affair: The SMU Physics Department will help local teachers, parents and students prepare themselves for science fair competitions at the Fluor Science Fair Workshop, 9 a.m.-noon Aug. 28 in the Fondren Science Building, Room 133. Sponsored by SMU Physics, Fluor, and Beal Bank. For more information, contact Simon Dalley, 214-768-2109, or visit the Beal Bank Dallas Regional Science and Engineering Fair website.

Research Spotlight: The tiny circuit that could

Inside the LHC tunnel during constructionImagine a tiny integrated circuit so small it must be viewed through a microscope, but so powerful, fast and sturdy it can routinely transmit huge amounts of data at high speed in a highly radioactive environment, where temperatures might fall below an unimaginable 300 degrees F.

Yet despite those challenges, the circuit must dissipate very little heat and – because its location makes routine maintenance impossible – it must be highly reliable. An SMU team of physicists led by Associate Professor of Physics Jingbo Ye not only imagined it – they designed it.

The miniscule SMU link-on-chip (LOC) serializer was designed for ATLAS, which is the largest particle detector in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) – a massive, high-tech tunnel about 100 meters underground. Within the LHC’s 17-mile-long ring, protons traveling at high energy are smashed together and broken apart so physicists worldwide can analyze the resulting particle shower detailed in a flood of electronic data.

The data transmit from the LHC via a tiny serializer circuit enabling electronic readouts. Physicists analyze the data to discover answers to unsolved scientific mysteries such as the Big Bang, dark matter, black holes, the nature of the universe and the Higgs particle that gives mass to quarks and electrons. SMU is a member of the ATLAS Experiment.

The LHC is a program of the Geneva-based international scientific consortium known as the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN. In March CERN announced that the LHC had successfully begun colliding protons at an energy three and a half times higher than previously achieved at any particle accelerator.

SMU’s new LOC serializer is what the industry calls an integrated circuit made for a specific use, or “ASIC” (application-specific integrated circuit). It was designed for the LHC’s high-radiation environment, as well as for high data bandwidth, low-power dissipation and extremely high reliability, says Ye.

SMU physicist Jingbo YeThe serializer was perfected over the past three years in the SMU Research Laboratory for Optoelectronics and ASIC Development in the Department of Physics. It can operate at cryogenic temperatures and has been tested down to liquid nitrogen temperatures of -346 degrees Fahrenheit. The serializer was designed to transmit data for the optical link readout system of the ATLAS Liquid Argon Calorimeter, an ATLAS sub-detector that measures the energies of electrons and photons generated at the center of ATLAS where protons collide. Because the electronic readout components are in the center of the ATLAS detector, they are essentially inaccessible for routine maintenance, so reliability is paramount, Ye says.

With a data transmission rate of 5.8 billion-bits per second, the SMU LOC serializer represents the first milestone for the SMU-led team. The team plans to develop an even faster ASIC serializer that transmits data at up to 10 billion-bits per second. Faster circuits are critical as CERN continues increasing the LHC’s luminosity, thereby generating more and more data.

SMU’s next goal is to increase both the data speed and the number of data lanes to produce an even faster LOC serializer, Ye says. “In the next few years, we hope to increase the total speed by a factor of 62 more than what is installed in ATLAS.”

Ye presented the SMU LOC serializer design in February at CERN. Made of complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor transistors in silicon-on-sapphire, the serializer’s design details also will be presented to scientists in April in Hamburg during the ATLAS Upgrade Week at the DESY laboratory, Germany’s premier research center for particle physics. The SMU LOC serializer research was funded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy.

The new LOC serializer is critical for the upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider, called the Super LHC, which is planned to go online in 2017, Ye says.

“The original ATLAS design used a commercial serializer that was purchased from Agilent Technologies,” Ye said. “But for the Super LHC there is no commercial device that would meet the requirements, so – being typical physicists – we set out to design it ourselves.”

The ATLAS Liquid Argon Calorimeter’s existing optical link system, delivered by SMU physicists, has a data bandwidth of 2.4 terabits per second over 1,524 fibers, or 1.6 billion bits per second per fiber, more than 1,000 times faster than a T1 line of 1.544 megabits per second. The next generation of this optical link system will be based on the new SMU LOC serializer, and it will reach 152.4 terabits per second for the whole system.

“Fast information transfer from the detector to the computer processing system is a necessity for handling the significantly increasing amounts of data expected in the next round of LHC experiments,” says Ryszard Stroynowski, U.S. Coordinator for the ATLAS Liquid Argon Calorimeter, and chair and professor of physics at SMU. “It will allow ATLAS to be more selective in the choices of events sent for further analysis.”

A radiation-tolerant, high-speed and low-power LOC serializer is critical for optical link systems in particle physics experiments, Ye said, noting that specialized ASIC devices are now common components of most readout systems.

“The ever increasing complexity of particle physics experiments imposes new and challenging constraints on the electronics,” Ye says. “The LOC serializer was a formidable task, but our team was up to the challenge.”

Written by Margaret Allen

(Above, the LHC tunnel during its construction; SMU physicist Jingbo Ye in the lab.)

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