Monday, September 28, 2015

Atomic Layer Deposition: Russia 2015

On September 21-23 2015, Dr. Scarel participated to the Symposium on Atomic Layer Deposition: Russia 2015.  The event took place in Moscow and was hosted by the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology.  Dr. Scarel was invited to present her research on Atomic layer deposition for rare earth oxides and thermoelectric thin films”.  She described her research before joining JMU and her research at JMU with our undergraduate students.  The symposium is historic in the Atomic Layer Deposition field because for the first time the Russian, European, and North American ALD teams confronted each other face-to-face.  Below is a picture of the participants.  Dr. Scarel is on the top row, toward the left ..... in the middle of the crowd.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

"You're the Expert" with Dr. Anca Constantin

This past Thursday, our own Dr. Anca Constantin joined a gut-busting troupe of comedians at the Court Square Theatre for “You’re the Expert,” with Chris Duffy.

Along with Duffy and Dr. Constantin, the comedy cocktail included Anna Drezen, the associate editor of ReductressMaeve Higgins from Inside Amy Schumer, and Nick Vatterott of Comedy Central.   

Throughout the night, the comedians had to guess at topics such as Dr. Constantin’s title, research focus, personal life, and various astronomy terms and acronyms.  Laughter rang aloud throughout the night, with jokes including astronauts with space shotguns and space whiskey, the ethics of interplanetary affairs, and that the Bootes Void is right under Orion’s Belt.  

Despite the ensemble of laughter, the night was dedicated to the integration of comedy with education.  While there were educational aspects within much of the comedy, such as highlighting the difference between astronomy and astrology, proper time was dedicated to focus in on Dr. Constantin’s experience as an Astronomer and Professor.  During this time, she touched on what inspired her, the current state of astronomy, and the potential of her research.

If the comedians on stage gave any indication of the audience (both of whom didn’t have any previous knowledge on the subject), then everyone was thoroughly intrigued by the vastness and wonder of astronomical research. We thank Chris, Nick, Maeve, and Anna for coming to Harrisonburg to make us laugh while we learn, and learn while we laugh.

Dr. Constantin’s comedy hour was recorded in front of a live viewing audience, and will be posted on the “You’re the Expert” podcast on iTunesStitcher, and SoundCloud.  There you can also catch previous episodes of “You’re the Expert,” with new entries added semiweekly!

Talking Physics with Chris Duffy of NPR's "You're the Expert"

We've all been there: you're reading a textbook when, suddenly, the word “Clearly” precedes an equation that came straight out of left field.  You question where this came from, why and if this matters, and even your own intelligence.  More often than not this is exactly how our friends and loved ones feel when we try to talk to them about our Newtonian passions. 

Chris Duffy, host of “You’re the Expert,” knows the value and challenge of communicating scientific ideas with those outside of the academic bubble.  On his radio show, Duffy hosts a conversation between a professor and several comedians, making the learning experience more available through comedy.

The Department hosted Duffy for this week’s seminar, which was an interactive workshop on how the students and faculty can better engage the general populous with scientific thought.  This included recognizing audience mannerisms, maintaining a proper communication link, and the importance of answering questions authentically. 

These are certainly skills that we, as members of the scientific community, must be familiar with, both in the classroom and outside.  We thank Chris Duffy for coming to James Madison to make us laugh, remind us of the importance of public outreach, and teach us how to do both!

You can listen to previous entries of Chris Duffy’s “You’re the Expert” for free in the Podcast section of iTunes, Stitcher, and SoundCloud, with new episodes added semiweekly!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Meet This Year’s Student Blogger: Evan Meekins

The newly (last year’s) established tradition, to have a student blog for this house (department, that is) continues this year with… Evan Meekins.  We bid Keely fair well in her new journey into graduate school in physics at Emory University.

Evan was an easy and rather obvious choice, albeit from among a few passionate applicants for this position.   Evan is a published author.  "The Black Banner" is his first book, and fans of fantasy fiction and those new or unfamiliar to the genre are strongly encouraged to give it a read.  He confesses that this is only the first in a series of fantasy fiction novels which revolve around the fictional land of Verden amidst, obviously, quite a variety of enchanting adventures.    Here is a good place to start.

You have read about his accomplishments in nuclear astrophysics here and here.  He spent last summer as a SUPERS at University of Pennsylvania as one of the interns in this prestigious undergraduate program for educating radiation scientists. 

He plans to enchant us with a post per week.   Nevertheless, chances are we might see more than that from him.  He seems unstoppable.    While, in his own words, the work ethic of a student author cannot be a game of “catch-up”, but rather it needs need to be a “finish ASAP” mentality in order for any real time to be given to writing, he wholeheartedly applied for this position, and he is on a roll on this new endeavor. 

We had an unusual visit for our seminar last week, and Evan’s first post with impressions about this (double) event is coming soon.  Get ready for yet another fantastic ride on News and Feats from JMU’s Physics and Astronomy Department. 

Saturday, September 05, 2015

JMU Physics Faculty lecturing at an International Nuclear Physics Summer School

Dr. Adriana Banu has been invited recently to give lectures at the 2nd NUBA International Nuclear Physics Summer School organized by the Akdeniz University, in Antalya, Turkey. The topic of Dr. Banu's lectures was primarily focused on Analog and Digital Electronics in Nuclear Physics Experiments.

During her stay at the the Akdeniz University, Dr. Banu also took the opportunity to visit their local clinical electron linear accelerator, a bremsstrahlung research facility similar to the JMU's Madison Radiation Laboratory scheduled now to become accessible in the Madison Hall by Fall of 2016.

Madison Hall making it one of the very few undergraduate departments in the nation to have an on-campus nuclear physics facility. - See more at:
Madison Hall making it one of the very few undergraduate departments in the nation to have an on-campus nuclear physics facility. - See more at:
Madison Hall making it one of the very few undergraduate departments in the nation to have an on-campus nuclear physics facility. - See more at: