Academic Calendar

semester, 2018


Wednesday, January 10th 2018
12:00 pm:
Community Recognition Luncheon in Tate B50 lobby

QUESTIONS? Contact Julie at jjmurphy@umn.edu or 612-625-6928


Monday, January 15th 2018

Monday, February 19th 2018
09:30 am:
Thesis Defense in Tate-301
Speaker: Kate Raach, University of Minnesota
Subject: Characterization, Optimization, and Operation of TES Bolometers for EBEX
Please note time of defense was incorrect in previous message.

Thursday, March 1st 2018
10:00 am:
Thesis Defense in 110 PAN
Speaker: Eric Bullock, University of Minnesota
Subject: Polarization Angle Calibration and B-Mode Characterization with the BICEP and Keck Array CMB Telescopes
This is the public portion of Mr. Bullock's Thesis Defense. His advisor is Clem Pryke

Monday, April 16th 2018
Speaker:  Professor Sudhakar Prasad, University of New Mexico and University of Minnesota
Subject: The Modern Imaging Paradigm: There is Plenty of Room in the Middle

Every modern imaging system is comprised of optical, sensing, and computational modules that work in an integrated fashion to perform a dedicated imaging task as efficiently as possible. This new paradigm of imaging, called integrated or computational imaging, has enabled spectacular advances in probing remote objects and environments. I will illustrate this paradigm with an important application, namely Lord Rayleigh's classic resolution limit on the separability of two closely-spaced point sources from their images. I will show why such a limit has become a mere relic, one that has been usurped spectacularly by modern advances in image processing, new imaging methodologies, and ingenious work-arounds. Yet the best pair resolution that one can hope to achieve seems to be fundamentally limited by the number of signal photons available when making direct image measurements on the source pair. I will discuss a new approach of pair super-resolution that can qualitatively improve upon this seemingly insuperable photon limit, with quantum estimation theory revealing the ultimate bound on this phenomenon. Rather surprisingly, as I will also show, one can attain this quantum bound in certain limits in all three spatial dimensions with purely classical measurements that are not image based, but rather utilize coherent projections of the optical wave front. Phase does matter, even when imaging incoherent objects.


Tuesday, April 17th 2018
1:30 pm:
Thesis Defense in PAN 110
Speaker: Timothy Peterson, University of Minnesota
Subject: Characterization of spin transport, torques, and dynamics in Heusler compound-based epitaxial structures
This is the public portion of Mr. Peterson's Thesis Defense. His advisor is Paul Crowell.

Wednesday, April 18th 2018
7:00 pm:
Kaufmanis Public Lecture in McNamara Alumni Center
Speaker: Victoria Kaspi, McGill University
Subject: Astronomy's Newest Extragalactic Mystery: Fast Radio Bursts!

In 2007, astronomers discovered a new mysterious cosmic phenomenon: Fast Radio Bursts. These events consist of short, intense blasts of radio waves arriving from far outside our Milky Way galaxy. Their origin is unknown, however Fast Radio Bursts appear ubiquitous in our Universe, with roughly 1000 arriving every day over the full sky. I will discuss the Fast Radio Burst mystery and what is presently known about it, and describe a revolutionary new radio telescope being built in Canada that will soon enable astronomers worldwide to make major progress in our understanding of the FRB puzzle.


Monday, May 7th 2018

Friday, May 11th 2018
1:00 pm:
Thesis Defense in 301-20 Tate
Speaker: Anthony Young
Subject: Post-merger configurations of gravitationally bound dark matter systems
This is the public portion of Mr. Young's thesis defense. His advisor is Liliya Williams.

Tuesday, May 15th 2018
1:00 pm:
Thesis Defense in Tate-301-20
Speaker: Michael Janas, University of Minnesota
Subject: Applications of Semiclassical Theory in Statistical and Quantum Mechanics
This is the public portion of Mr. Janas' thesis defense. His advisor is Alex Kamenev.

Since the initiation of quantum theory in the early 20th century, semiclassical methods have been a perenniel source of insight into a diverse range of phenomena. In spite of this history, however, there remain interesting and insightful applications of semiclassical theory to physics. This thesis advances this programme in several directions. First, we consider the statistical mechanics of multivalent 1D Coulomb gases and demonstrate how the semiclassical WKB method may be used to expose its thermodynamic properties. In doing so, we develop ideas from algebraic topology and complex Riemann surfaces. Moving to quantum theory proper, these tools are applied fruitfully to the phenomenon of spin tunneling oscillations in magnetic molecules with large instrinsic spin. Moving away from the WKB approximation, these ideas from complex analysis also proved crucial in exposing universal finite-size scaling effects in 1D lattice systems such as the Su-Schrieffer-Heeger model of polyacetylene and the Kitaev chain. The thesis closes by considering the the weak noise theory of the KPZ equation and thereby discover a novel phase transition in its large deviation statistics. This last chapter will be the topic of the public portion of the thesis defense.


Friday, May 18th 2018
1:00 pm:
Thesis Defense in 110 PAN
Speaker: Li He, University of Minnesota
Subject: Exploiting the spin of photons and electrons in light-matter interaction
This is the public portion of Mr. He's Thesis Defense. His advisor is Mo Li.

In light-matter interaction, the conservation of angular momentum requires the angular momentum transfer either between light and matter or within various thermodynamic reservoirs of materials, which consequently gives rise to a plethora of intriguing phenomena such as mechanical motion, charge current and magnetization. This dissertation focuses on the roles of photon spin and electron spin in light-matter interaction. The angular momentum transfer in three different scenarios are studied.First, we present the measurement of spin angular momentum of light propagating in a silicon waveguide. The continuous evolution of light polarization along propagation results in the exchange of angular momentum between light and medium and thus an optical torque to twist the waveguide. We demonstrate the use of optical torque to excite the torsional motion of an on-chip optomechanical device, which enables the coupling between optical and mechanical degrees of freedom. Second, we show the optical manipulation of surface electrons in 3D topological insulator Bi2Se3 using circularly polarized light. The transfer of angular momentum manifests itself in the spin-dependent optical selection rules and the generation of helicity-dependent photocurrent at zero bias voltage. Finally, we present the all-optical manipulation of magnetic order in ferrimagnetic alloy GdFeCo using sub-picosecond laser pulses as the ultrafast stimuli. The instantaneous heating of the electron temperature due to light absorption triggers the energy and angular momentum exchange among electron, spin and lattice reservoirs and leads to the switching of magnetization. As a step towards device application, we demonstrate an magnetic tunnel junction that can be switched all-optically without any external magnetic fields.

3:35 pm:
Thesis Defense in 129 Amundson
Speaker: Taher Ghasimakbari, University of Minnesota
Subject: Simulation Studies of Correlations, Dynamics and Phase Transitions in Diblock Copolymer Melts
This is the public portion of Mr. Ghasimakbari's thesis defense. His advisor is Prof. David Morse.

Monday, May 21st 2018
11:00 am:
Thesis Defense in PAN 110
Speaker: Hannah Rogers, University of Minnesota
Subject: Effective Field Theory Analysis and Active Neutron Veto Design for the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search.
This is the public portion of Ms. Roger's Thesis Defense. Her advisor is Vuk Mandic.

Monday, May 28th 2018

Friday, June 8th 2018

Monday, June 11th 2018

Friday, June 22nd 2018
8:30 pm:
Universe in the Park in Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve

Events are scheduled Fridays and Saturdays (rain or shine), usually beginning in June and ending mid-August. Presentations typically run from 8:30 to 10:00 or 11:00pm, including telescope observing.

Cedar Creek Ecosystem website


Friday, June 29th 2018
3:00 pm:
Thesis Defense in PAN 110
Speaker: Ilana Percher, University of Minnesota
Subject: 2D Mott Hopping of Vortices in an Amorphous Indium Oxide Film
This is the public portion of Ms. Percher's Thesis Defense. Her adviser is Allen Goldman

Saturday, June 30th 2018
8:30 pm:
Universe in the Park in Lowry Nature Center

Events are scheduled Fridays and Saturdays (rain or shine), usually beginning in June and ending mid-August. Presentations typically run from 8:30 to 10:00 or 11:00pm, including telescope observing.

Lowry Nature Center


Wednesday, July 4th 2018

Thursday, July 5th 2018
10:00 am:
Thesis Defense in PAN 110
Speaker: Jie Yang, University of Minnesota
Subject: Development and Validation of a Physics Problem Difficulty Measure
This is the public portion of Ms. Yang's thesis defense. Her Adviser is Ken Heller.
2:00 pm:
Thesis Defense in 110 PAN
Speaker: Yang Tang, University of Minnesota
Subject: Neutron Scattering Study of the Cuprate Superconductor HgBa_2CuO_{4+\delta}'
This is the public portion of Mr. Tang's thesis defense. His advisor is Martin Greven.

Saturday, July 7th 2018
8:30 pm:
Universe in the Park in William O'Brien State Park

Events are scheduled Fridays and Saturdays (rain or shine), usually beginning in June and ending mid-August. Presentations typically run from 8:30 to 10:00 or 11:00pm, including telescope observing.

William O'Brien State Park


Saturday, July 14th 2018
8:30 pm:
Universe in the Park in Afton State Park

Events are scheduled Fridays and Saturdays (rain or shine), usually beginning in June and ending mid-August. Presentations typically run from 8:30 to 10:00 or 11:00pm, including telescope observing.

Afton State Park


Friday, July 20th 2018
8:00 pm:
Minnesota Sky-lights in Southwest sky
Jupiter just below the Moon

Friday, July 27th 2018
8:30 pm:
Universe in the Park in Dodge Nature Center

Events are scheduled Fridays and Saturdays (rain or shine), usually beginning in June and ending mid-August. Presentations typically run from 8:30 to 10:00 or 11:00pm, including telescope observing.

Dodge Nature Center


Saturday, July 28th 2018
8:30 pm:
Universe in the Park in Lowry Nature Center

Events are scheduled Fridays and Saturdays (rain or shine), usually beginning in June and ending mid-August. Presentations typically run from 8:30 to 10:00 or 11:00pm, including telescope observing.

Lowry Nature Center


Saturday, August 4th 2018
8:30 pm:
Universe in the Park in Afton State Park

Events are scheduled Fridays and Saturdays (rain or shine), usually beginning in June and ending mid-August. Presentations typically run from 8:30 to 10:00 or 11:00pm, including telescope observing.

Afton State Park


Monday, August 6th 2018
11:00 am:
Thesis Defense in PAN 110
Speaker: Vladimir Bychkov, University of Minnesota
Subject: Escaping Events at the NOvA Far Detector
This is the public portion of Mr. Bychkov's thesis defense. His advisor is Gregory Pawloski.

Wednesday, August 8th 2018
09:00 am:
Presentations from 9-3

Thursday, August 9th 2018
12:00 pm:
REU Poster Session in PAN 110
Poster session with pizza.

Friday, August 10th 2018
8:30 pm:
Universe in the Park in Lake Maria State Park

Events are scheduled Fridays and Saturdays (rain or shine), usually beginning in June and ending mid-August. Presentations typically run from 8:30 to 10:00 or 11:00pm, including telescope observing.

Lake Maria State Park


Saturday, August 11th 2018
8:30 pm:
Universe in the Park in William O'Brien State Park

Events are scheduled Fridays and Saturdays (rain or shine), usually beginning in June and ending mid-August. Presentations typically run from 8:30 to 10:00 or 11:00pm, including telescope observing.

William O'Brien State Park


Monday, August 20th 2018
10:00 am:
Thesis Defense in PAN 110
Speaker: D'Ann Barker
Subject: SuperCDMS Background Models for Low-Mass Dark Matter Searches
This is the public portion of Ms. Barker's Thesis Defense. Her adviser is Prisca Cushman.

Friday, August 31st 2018
09:00 am:
Observational Cosmology Lab at the State Fair in U of M Crossroads Exhibit Building—Dan Patch Avenue and Underwood Street
9:00 a.m.- 9:00 p.m.

Professor Shaul Hanany's Observational Cosmology Lab will showcase various technologies and techniques used by EBEX, a telescope which flew around Antarctica on a helium balloon to help us understand the beginning of the Universe. These technologies and techniques include the levitating properties of superconductors as well as the polarization properties of light.


Monday, September 3rd 2018

Friday, September 14th 2018
8:00 pm:
Observing Night in 510-02 Tate
Rooftop observing through our historic telescope in the dome of the John T. Tate Hall. Presentation followed by outdoor observing (weather-permitting).

MIfA graduate students Jin-Ah Kim and James Cheshire and undergraduate student Kaitlin Ehret will be there to give a short presentation and answer any questions (about the presentation, or about astronomy/astrophysics/physics/cosmology in general!), then (weather permitting) we'll head upstairs and break out the historic 122 year-old 10.5" refracting telescope in the dome and some modern reflecting telescopes on the roof of Tate Hall to look at Mars and Saturn! The current forecast calls for cloudy skies Friday night, but even if observing isn't possible we'll be there to present and chat with everyone! The presentation will be on the science of spectroscopy, which is the main technique astronomers use to figure out what objects in space are made of, and how they're moving.


Tuesday, September 18th 2018
4:00 pm:

Friday, September 21st 2018
8:00 pm:
Observing Night in 510-02 Tate
Rooftop observing through our historic telescope in the dome of the John T. Tate Hall. Presentation followed by outdoor observing (weather-permitting).

Friday, September 28th 2018
8:00 pm:
Observing Night in 510-02 Tate
Rooftop observing through our historic telescope in the dome of the John T. Tate Hall. Presentation followed by outdoor observing (weather-permitting).

Thursday, October 11th 2018
3:10 pm:
School Photo in Tate Mall Entrance
Refreshments will be served before the photo. Photo will be at 3:20 sharp on the steps.

Tuesday, November 6th 2018
3:00 pm:
Thesis Defense in PAN 110
Speaker: Justin Watts, University of Minnesota
Subject: Spin Relaxation and Size Effects in Cu and Al Nanowires
This is the public portion of Mr. Watts' Thesis Defense. His advisors are Paul Crowell and Chris Leighton.

Thursday, November 22nd 2018

Friday, November 23rd 2018

Wednesday, December 12th 2018
09:05 am:
Methods of Experimental Physics Poster Session in Tate Hall Basement Atrium
Join us for a poster session recognizing the work this semester's MXP II students have accomplished this Fall.

Friday, December 14th 2018
10:00 am:
Thesis Defense in Peik Hall 325
Speaker: Miranda C. P. Straub, Curriculum and Instruction Department.
Subject: An Empirical Model of Physics Instructors’ Beliefs about the Purpose, Actions, and Context of Doing Homework
This is public portion of Ms. Straub's Thesis Defense. Her advisors are Leon Hsu and Ken Heller.

Over the past half century, researchers and curriculum developers studying physics education have created dozens of innovative curricula and educational tools, broadly referred to as research-based instructional strategies (RBIS), to fit almost any classroom situation. These include cooperative problem solving (Heller & Hollabaugh, 1992; Heller, Keith, & Anderson, 1992), Physics By Inquiry (McDermott, Shaffer, & Rosenquist, 1996), Investigative Science Learning Environment (ISLE) (Etkina & Van Heuvelen, 2007), Studio Physics (Cummings et al., 1999), and Peer Instruction (Crouch & Mazur, 2001) among others. However, the rate of adoption of RBIS remains relatively low. A national survey of post-secondary physics instructors in 2012 showed that only half of physics instructors have ever implemented any RBIS in their classrooms, and many of them ceased to do so after implementation difficulties (Henderson & Dancy). Why aren’t these effective strategies being implemented at larger rates? Part of removing barriers to RBIS adoption may be understanding what instructors believe about how students learn.

In order to answer a small portion of this question, I studied physics instructors’ beliefs about homework. This study is taken up in two parts. First, I analyzed 25 interviews with physics instructors from various types of institutions in Minnesota (Yerushalmi et al., 2007; Henderson, et al., 2007). Second, I used the themes from the interview analysis to create a survey, which was then sent to physics instructors in the state of Minnesota. Using both the interview analysis and the survey responses, I created an empirical model of physics instructors’ beliefs about homework. There were four main results. First, there is agreement that the goals of doing homework are to learn problem solving and physics principles. Second, homework is seen as necessary for learning physics by a strong majority of instructors, but it is not seen as sufficient for learning. Third, there is a limited number of tasks or actions that instructors believe that students should do while they are solving problems. Fourth, there is evidence that physics instructors fall onto a continuum of beliefs regarding how students should approach solving problems on their homework. On one end of this continuum, instructors believe students should follow an algorithmic process that includes the steps to solving any problem. On the other end of the continuum, instructors believe students should have a more open approach to solving problems where they consider all the tools and principles available to them in order to make decisions about how to solve a problem. These results can inform creators of curriculum and professional development as they try to reach out and connect with instructors and perhaps change their beliefs and practice.


Monday, December 24th 2018

Tuesday, December 25th 2018

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