In this edition of the Friday Physics Newsletter, the final one of this academic year, we celebrate our graduates and look ahead to summer research.
CHAIR’S WEEKLY MESSAGE
By the time you read this, the department will have just concluded a semi-virtual graduation event. Since All-University Commencement tomorrow morning is a “big picture” event with no personal touches for undergraduates, and the Dedman College ceremony in the evening on Saturday provides just enough time for a student’s name and degrees to be read, with a window of time for a photo with the Department Chair afterward, we wanted something a bit more personal for our seven graduating Bachelors Degree recipients.
Tonight, we had an event online and in-person that was all about them. Students and up to two guests were invited to join us in-person in the Fondren Science Building, most likely in the room where they had their first physics class (FOSC 123, a big lecture hall). Five students and 8 guests joined 3 emceeing faculty, including myself, for the event. The rest of our guests, including two graduating students and their guests, as well as faculty, staff, and students in our program, joined on Zoom.
I am still choked up from the event. It’s great to highlight these incredible students, but it is heartbreaking to say goodbye to this stage of their life as they begin a new and exciting stage after SMU.
In this final issue of the Friday Physics Newsletter, celebrate our graduates with us. We also take a look at the first summer seminar, kicking off a summer of research for faculty, staff, and students.
Stephen Jacob Sekula
Chair, Department of Physics
Summer Seminar: Prof. Radja Boughezal (Northwestern University/Argonne National Laboratory) speaks on “Proton structure, new physics and more: the EIC potential for probing the unknown”
Although the official Department Speaker Series has ended, that doesn’t mean all the seminars are done! Faculty have reached out to colleagues and we expect an irregular “summer seminar series” to unfold organically.
Our first event is the coming Monday, May 17. Professor Radja Boughezal (Northwestern University and Argonne National Laboratory) will speak on “Proton structure, new physics and more: the EIC potential for probing the unknown.” More information about her talk is available from our Department Events Calendar.
If you have something to share please feel free to send it along. Stories of your activities in research, the classroom, and beyond are very welcome!
Staff In-Office Schedule for Week of May 17
The in-office staff schedule for the week of May 17 is nominally as follows:
- Monday: Lacey
- Tuesday: Lacey
- Wednesday: Michele
- Thursday: Michele
- Friday: Michele
You can reach staff during regular business hours using Microsoft Teams, email, or phone.
Full staff in-office calendar for May:
If you have something to share please feel free to send it along. Stories of students in research, the classroom, internships or fellowships, awards, etc. are very welcome!
Celebrate our Graduating Students!
SMU highlights: Dedman College Outstanding Senior; Jared will always treasure the memories with other students in the undergrad lounge, whether it was staying really late to complete homework, or arriving early to paint dark matter rocks!
Jared will graduate with a B.S. in Physics with departmental distinction and a B.S. in Mathematics, as well as a Minor in Chinese. He is proud of his US ATLAS SUPER Research Award, earning an NSF-REU award for the UM-CERN program, and his Hyer and Chalk scholarships in physics.
After graduation Jared will pursue a masters in Global Affairs as a Schwarzman Scholar at Tsinghua University in Beijing, before pursuing a Ph.D. in collider physics at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
SMU highlights: graduating with two degrees, walking around campus and random encounters with familiar faces.
Elijah will graduate with a B.S. in Physics and a B.S. in Electrical Engineering, as well as a Minor in Mathematics. He is proud of his Hamilton Research scholarship.
After graduation Elijah’s goal is to find a career that satisfies his needs and return for a Masters Degree.
SMU highlights: Published his first paper (with Prof. Meyers) in the Physical Review this past March, and blissful things in life like seeing the blue sky and hearing mockingbirds after getting up unusually early, and eating chicken & waffles for the first time!
Noah will graduate with a B.S. in Physics with departmental distinction. He is proud of his APS Robert S. Hyer Undergraduate Research Award, as well as his Hyer Scholarship and McDonald Award in physics.
After graduation Noah will attend Montana State University with plans to earn a Ph.D. in Astrophysics and Cosmology.
SMU highlights: Drum major of the band, Orientation Leader, African American Senator. When taking Intro Mechanics, Ian would frequently take short videos of Dr. Sekula’s antics and provide commentary; at the end of the year they got compiled into a movie!
Ian will graduate with a B.S. in Physics and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering.
After graduation Ian will enter a leadership development program with Techtronic Industries in Kansas City
SMU highlights: graduating with a Physics major (YESSS!), discovering variable stars in Dr. Kehoe’s Cosmology course, finally figuring out a circuit in advanced lab after multiple nights of walking away bordering on tears and then going out and celebrating with friends!
Jackson will graduate with a B.S. in Physics and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering.
After graduation Jackson plans to work on autonomous tractors and irrigation on farms in Mississippi and then move back to Dallas to work for a startup.
SMU Highlights: Alex has found memories of the Society of Physics Students Dark Matter Day activities, painting rocks black, scattering them across campus, and later retrieving them in the pouring rain. “Though it may have been cold and wet, engaging other students at SMU with physics in this scavenger hunt was quite a fond memory.”
Alex will graduate with a B.S. in Biophysical Sciences. He is proud of his Poster presentations at SMU Undergraduate Research Day 2020, and honors physics poster.
After graduation, Alex will be attending medical school at Texas A&M to train to become an neurologist. He would like to conduct research to cure dementias.
SMU Highlights: A fall 2017 SPS meeting when we were painting rocks for Dark Matter Day. Dr. Cooley mentioned that she was interested in taking undergrad research students and showed us around her lab. I didn’t know it at the time, but joining her lab was the most transformative experience I had at SMU. I found my love for research which is what led me to pursue an M.D.-Ph.D.
Taylor will graduate with a B.S. in Biophysical Sciences. She is proud of being President of Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) and the Society of Physics Students (SPS) at SMU, SMU Student Wellness Champion, as well as her presentations of her research at 4 national conferences (ABRCMS 2019, LANS 2019, 2020, April APS 2020) and 2 Texas Section APS meetings.
This fall Taylor will attend the Weill Cornell Medicine/Rockefeller University/Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Tri-Institutional M.D.-Ph.D. Program. She plans to become a surgical oncologist and study Cancer Biology.
If you are an alum of the doctoral, masters, majors or minor programs in Physics at SMU, or have worked in our program as a post-doctoral researcher, and wish to share news with the community, please send your story to the Physics Department and we’ll work with you to get it included in a future edition.
THE BACK PAGE
From all of us in the Department of Physics at SMU, congratulations to all of our graduates. Students received, as a small parting gift, a book from the Department. We wanted to give each of them a book because it’s something you can pick up and put down at your leisure, but also something that reminds them of science and its place in the world. We decided on “The Best American Science and Nature Writing – 2020,” edited by physicist Michio Kaku. This collection of science writing from 2020 spans every conceivable topic. A book like this helps each of us to remember the grandness and breadth of science and its impact on humanity.
Congratulations, graduates! Welcome to the proud ranks of SMU Physics Department Alumni!