In this edition of the Friday Newsletter, we announce the distinguished speaker for the Spring Colloquium on May 2 and look forward to learning from our amazing alumni!
CHAIR’S WEEKLY MESSAGE
The SMU Department of Physics has been graced by the matriculation of many amazing students over the century of our existence. In our upcoming annual spring newsletter, which is now being edited for printing, we’ll feature just two of our amazing alums. However, we are fortunate to have so many more than that.
Many of them donate time and money back to the department. Even more of them are out there in the world, changing it for the better. They are in research (in universities and colleges, at national laboratories, and at private companies), they are in business, in medicine, in engineering (of all kinds), in finance, in education … you name it, and we have an alum doing it.
The best moments are the ones alums share with us. Through their financial support or, perhaps even more precious, the donation of their time to our current students, it is their sharing that makes us a better department and a greater community. For example, I have been pleased that one of our Ph.D. alumni, Dr. Benjamin Clark, has been joining us for some of our Friday Department Lunches in Umphrey Lee Dining Hall. He’s shared his experiences working in the data science and client aspects of insurance, educating his former mentors and also engaging with students now rising through our programs. This kind of face-to-face, personal, one-on-one interaction is the necessary human transaction – the quantum of social currency – that forms the basis of all valuable and lasting relationships.
In this issue of the Friday newsletter, we meet some of our other recent former alumni. Dr. Keping Xie will return to SMU next week to deliver a lecture at our Monday Speaker Series event and to work with colleagues here at SMU on various projects. He is now a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Pittsburgh (working, ironically, with one of my mentors from graduate school, Prof. Tao Han). We also got a dispatch from Taylor Wallace, who graduated last year as one of our inaugural Biophysical Science Bachelor of Science earners and now is pursuing both an M.D. and a Ph.D.
We also announce the final, distinguished speaker for our Department Speaker Series, Prof. Bonnie Fleming (Yale University) who will be here on May 2 to deliver an exciting lecture on puzzles from neutrinos! It’s an exciting end to this difficult academic year, and we are thrilled for all the fun that still lies ahead!
Stephen Jacob Sekula
Chair, Department of Physics
Department Speaker Series Continues on Monday, April 25, with “Bread and Butter Physics at High-Energy Muon Colliders”
We welcome Dr. Keping Xie (University of Pittsburgh and PhD’19) to lecture on “Bread and Butter Physics at High-Energy Muon Colliders” at the Monday Department Speaker Series event. This is our penultimate speaker series event for the academic year. Dr. Xie will be spending the week at SMU collaborating with colleagues in the department on various topics.
The recent breakthrough in muon beam cooling technology makes a multi-TeV muon collider feasible in the future. Compared with a hadron or electron collider, a muon collider embraces advantages of both a high effective energy reach and a clean environment. Our recently studies suggest that the physics at a high-energy muon collider can be treated in a factorization picture. We take the muon-Higgs coupling as an example, which can receive new contributions from beyond the Standard Model. To be model-independent, we parameterize new physics with linear Standard Model effective theory (SMEFT) or a non-linear Higgs effective field theory (HEFT). We found that, due to the anomalous muon-Higgs coupling, multi-boson production at a high-energy muon collider can significantly deviate from the Standard Model expectation, which provides us a great chance to either discover new physics or test the Standard Model at a high precision.
Refreshments are served in the Hyer Ed Cafe in FOSC 16 around 3:45pm, and the event begins in FOSC 123 at 4pm (it’s a 1 minute walk between those two rooms). We welcome all participants!
Past Speaker Series events are available from our YouTube playlist. Catch up any time!
The Spring Colloquium on May 2, 2022: “The Phantom Particle: New Puzzles from Neutrinos”
We are pleased to announce our distinguished speaker for the final event of 2021-2022 Physics Department Speaker Series! Professor Bonnie Fleming (Yale University), a global leader in the neutrino community and in the scientific community as regards the basic research enterprise, will speak on May 2 on “The Phantom Particle: New Puzzles from Neutrinos.”
All are welcome for the lecture from 4-5pm in FOSC 123 on that date. A reception for the speaker and the Physics Department and its community will follow the event. We will announce other events as they are put on the schedule for that day. Save the date and stay tuned!
Prof. Fleming is a remarkable scientist and leader. She is the founding spokesperson of the MicroBooNE collaboration at Fermilab (the position of “Spokesperson” on a science collaboration is the highest available leadership position). She presently serves as MicroBooNE’s scientific co-spokesperson. Her group has been involved in the MicroBooNE experiment at every possible level, from hardware to software to data analysis, measurement, and publication.
She is also the founding spokesperson of the ArgoNeuT experiment and an active collaborator on the ArgoNeuT, LArIAT, SBND, and future DUNE experiments at Fermilab. The development of Liquid Argon Time Projection Chambers (LArTPC) is core to her group’s efforts and an essential technology for these programs.
Fleming received the American Physical Society (APS) Division of Particles and Fields (DPF) mentoring award in 2018 and presently serves at Yale as the Director of Graduate Students (DGS) in Physics. She also initiated the Girls Science Investigations through her NSF CAREER grant in 2006. This is a Saturday program for middle school-aged girls in New Haven. Participants engage in hands-on science experiments at Yale, guided by a team of volunteer mentors. It continues today with private donations and funding through Yale University. Many people from the Yale Physics Community participate as mentors in this program.
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!
The department staff continue to work on behalf of Research Operations (Michele Hill) and Academic Operations (Benisha Young). They can be contacted for assistance, or to make appointments for input and help, through the Department Main Office (FOSC 102).
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!
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.
From Taylor Wallace (SMU’21): Dispatches from an M.D.-Ph.D. Student
We received a wonderful update from Taylor Wallace, who graduated in the first class of Biophysical Science Majors ever from SMU in 2021!
Since graduating from SMU in May, so much has changed! I moved up to New York City to start school at the Weill Cornell/Rockefeller/Sloan Kettering Tri-Institutional MD-PhD Program. Over the summer, I did my first lab rotation with Dr. Sandy Simon at Rockefeller University learning confocal microscopy while studying fibrolamellar carcinoma, a rare childhood liver cancer.
In the fall, I started my first year of medical school. It has been a lot of work, but a lot of fun at the same time. Being able to tie everything that I have learned throughout undergrad and up to now to actual patients has been so rewarding, and I am beyond excited for the future.
This summer, I will be rotating in two more labs: Rohit Chandwani at Weill Cornell and Lydia Finley at Memorial Sloan Ketterting. I’m so thankful for my time at SMU and all of the mentorship and guidance provided by the physics department. From becoming overly cautious of instrumentation accuracy in introductory physics to discovering my passion for research in Dr. Jodi Cooley’s lab, the Physics department has made a huge impact on my life and helped me get to where I am today. Thank you all so much!
THE BACK PAGE
What is a Muon Collider?
Our Monday seminar will explore some of the theoretical issues tied to the physics program at a muon collider, but what is a muon collider? Check out this seminar on behalf of the Muon Collider Collaboration to learn more?