Department Newsletter - Physics and Astronomy

 Physics and Astronomy @ W e s t e r n εquiliβrium V o l u m e 5 , I s s u e 1 J a n u a r y 2 0 1 5 Welcome to the 5th annual Issue of εquiliβrium Inside this issue: Awards It has been said that the reputation of an academic institution or unit lags about 2 five years behind the current reality. During the last five years, the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Western has undergone a major renovation to its home Accomplishments building, with brand new classrooms, laboratories, offices, and a bright new cen‐
2 tral atrium. The Physics and Astronomy building is now a go‐to place on campus Outreach for study sessions and special events of all varieties. 3 At the same time, the department has seen expansion of its faculty and staff com‐
Student Summer Internships plements. We now have 32 faculty members in the department, as well as several 4 research‐active emeriti. Our graduate student population has grown significantly, and brought the world directly to us. The diversity represented by our students also provides a snapshot of modern Canadian society, and the broad range of backgrounds and experiences opens up possibilities for new ideas and approaches in our research and teaching. Our department is noted for its commitment to teaching, including a close interaction between students and professors. Excellence in research is exempli‐
fied by yearly publication and funding levels achieving all‐time highs. Research funding totaled nearly $3M last year, and every eligible researcher is funded. Our undergraduate students are benefiting from a modu‐
lar system that allows them to diversify their training by adding minors in other subjects or obtaining any number of possible dual or concurrent degrees. Employability of students is a key issue, and to this end the department is promising each student in a four‐year program at least one high‐impact experience during their time at Western, including expanded internship and study‐abroad opportunities. “In questions of This is an exciting and active moment in the history of our department, and I hope that it will take less than science, the five years for the world to catch on about the excellent things happening here. We welcome you to read authority of a this newsletter and send us your feedback. thousand is not worth the humble Shantanu Basu, Chair reasoning of a single individual.” Galileo Galilei Highlights of 2014 
Over 100 astronomers from around the world converged on London for the Atacama Large Millimeter/
submillimeter Array (ALMA) Cycle 2 review panel in March. 
The Bright Emissaries (Be Stars) conference was held here in August. Prof. Wayne Hocking was elected as Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (FRSC) in September. Prof. Sara Seager of MIT delivered the 10th annual CPSX public lecture “Finding Earth's Twin: The Great ESCape” in October. P a g e 2 Internal Awards Prof. Pauline Barmby was the recipi‐
ent of the Flor‐
ence Bucke Science Prize for 2014. The prize is awarded annually to a Science faculty member – un‐
der the age of 45 – based on an assessment of the quality and im‐
portance of their research. Her prize lecture was entitled, “The Beautiful Science of Nearby Galaxies.” Prof. Blaine Chronik is the Faculty of Science’s Distin‐
guished Re‐
search Professor for 2014‐15. The professorship is awarded for significant one‐
time research opportunities. Blaine is working toward a new industrial partnership for medical device development. Prof. Paul Wiegert won the Faculty Scholar Award for 2014‐16. This cam‐
pus‐wide award has several recipients each year, chosen for recent out‐
standing contribu‐
tions to teaching and/or research and having sustained excellence in research, teaching, and service. Paul's recent discovery of Earth's Trojan asteroids formed a strong founda‐
tion for his nomination. External Awards September 2014: Dr. Wayne Hocking was Inducted as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (FRSC) at a ceremony in Que‐
bec City. His award states “Your election is a telling recognition of your remarkable accomplishments and an invitation to further the leadership you have already shown in advancing knowledge and scholarship in Cana‐
da .” Fellows of the Royal Society are elected by their peers in recognition of outstanding scholarly, scientific and artistic achievement. Election to the academies of the Royal Society of Canada is the highest honour a scholar can achieve in the Arts, Humanities and Sciences.. Founded in 1660, there are approximately 1,450 Fellows and Foreign Members, including more than 80 Nobel Laureates. Spitzer probes weather on brown dwarfs January 2014: Dr. Stan Metchev, who in March 2014 was awarded a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Extraso‐
lar Planets, lead a team of astronomers who used NASA’s Spitzer Infrared space telescope to make a dramatic discovery that stormy weather prevails on brown dwarfs. The results were pre‐
sented at a news conference at an annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Washington. Researchers say studying the weather on brown dwarfs will open new windows onto weather on planets outside our solar system, which are harder to study under the glare of their stars. Brown dwarfs are weather laboratories for planets and, according to the new results, those laboratories are everywhere. “Every time you recharge your cell phone, you have to plug it Gold Plated Solar Power in. What if you could charge September 2014: mobile devices like phones, Dr. Giovanni Fanchini, a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Carbon‐based nano‐
materials and nano‐optoelectronics, along with others in his group, demonstrated that a small molecule created with just 144 atoms of gold—a so‐called “gold nanocluster”—can increase solar cell performance by more than 10%. This has the potential to take solar cells mainstream and dramatically decrease our dependence on traditional resource‐based sources of energy. The team has already started work‐
ing with manufacturers of solar components to integrate their discovery into existing solar cell technology and is excited about it’s potential. Fanchini is confident they can help manufacturers find the best possible trade‐off between efficiency and cost. Their challenge now is to make the technology cost‐effective and accessible to the most people. tablets, or laptops on the go? Not only would it be convenient, but the potential energy savings would be significant.” Giovanni Fanchini. ε q u i l i β r i u m V o l u m e 5 , I s s u e 1 P a g e 3 Bowles Telescope donated to P&A November 2014: The Estate of the late Dr. Jane Bowles of Western's Biology Department has donated her Meade 20cm. telescope to Cronyn Observatory. Machine Shop staffer Brian Dalrymple designed, crafted, and mounted a commemorative plaque onto the tube of the telescope. The telescope’s new home is the Hume Cronyn Memorial Observatory, where it will be used in our public programs, including Exploring the Stars. Visit by the Boys & Girls Club July 2014: Two groups of eager Boys and Girls Club members visited the Physics and Astronomy Department in July. They were given a presentation on liquid nitrogen (LN2) by volunteers Nathalie Thibert and Chris Rose. Then the groups strolled across campus for a tour and history of the Hume Cronyn Memorial Ob‐
servatory by volunteer Shannon Hicks. Soochow Collaboration Bright Emissaries Conference May 2014: August 2014: As part of an established collaboration between Western and Soochow University China, and in a continued effort to promote a dual‐degree (2+2) PhD program between Soochow and Western Universities, several faculty members from the Science, Engineering, and Medicine Faculties at Western visited Soochow University while attending a workshop on Synchrotron Radiation Research. The contingent from Physics and Astronomy included Drs. Lyudmila Goncharova and Giovanni Fanchini. Drs. Carol Jones and Aaron Sigut co‐chaired a 3‐day “Bright Emissaries Conference” at Western. Seventy astrophysicists from six of the world’s seven continents—a dream team of space scientists—gathered here to inves‐
tigate ground‐breaking and innovative research currently underway around the world related to all observational and theoretical aspects of Be stars. Thirty‐four talks, six keynote presentations, and two poster sessions were delivered over the 3‐day period. “We are building a world-class physics department based on ‘the four Es’ of education:
Equity, Expansion, Excellence, and Employability.”
Shantanu Basu
Physics & Astronomy Chair
Summer Internships Real‐world experience is a crucial part of any education. We recognize the need for hands‐on research opportunities outside of class, and we’re proud to guarantee a paid internship to every undergrad registered in one of the core specialization programs in the Department. According to Department Chair Prof. Shantanu Basu, "Our students need to have hands‐on experiential learning in their chosen field, and de‐
velop soft skills of communication and networking. We understand this and we’re developing an array of competitive opportunities for our under‐
grads to engage in research. These can be done at Western, at partner academic institutions, and in targeted companies." TESTIMONIALS: Jim Nicholson … “Summer research positions are an important part of any undergraduate career. The chance to assist a professor in their re‐
search, learning about a topic in more detail than is possible in a classroom setting, is always a rewarding experience. Last summer I had the opportunity to participate in a really unique experience … with Dr. Pranawa Deshmukh of the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IITM). At IITM we continued the research we had started at Western and got the chance to work with the Indian research group on other projects. The chance to travel to India was exciting in and of itself, but traveling there to work in atomic physics was really amazing.” Miguel Young … “I did a summer internship as part of a partnership with the University of Saskatchewan, developing organic photovoltaic de‐
vices. I was able to learn and practice a variety of valuable technical abilities. The project built upon and deepened my classroom knowledge into a marketable skill set applicable to a rapidly growing branch of physics. The internship very rewarding as it helped me see how physics is taught and performed in a different environment. Furthermore, I was exposed to a number of experts in the field, extending my network of contacts and broadening my array of potential career paths. I would recommend this program to any student ... wishing to elevate themselves above the crowd of future applicants.” Adam Pywowarczuk … “With the Department’s help, I was able to get an internship at OCI Vacuum Microengineering. The position was a great opportunity to gain hands‐on experience and see what a physics‐based business is like outside the lab. During my time at OCI, I created multiple depth profiles of various low‐e glasses using a combination of ion sputtering and Auger Electron Spectroscopy, and was involved in updating technical manuals for the apparatus I used. It was a great opportunity to see what a job in industry is like, and to learn important skills for a career in physics.” Tanner Rellinger … “I worked as a junior researcher and junior product manager for Winmate Communication INC in Taipei, Taiwan, helping to design numerous handheld devices, including rugged smartphones and a wearable smartwatch used as a medical barcode scanner. I also wrote the company’s newsletter and represented them at Computex—one of the largest computer and tech trade shows in the world. It was an amaz‐
ing experience that I’ll never forget!” Donations gratefully accepted The Department of Physics and Astronomy welcomes donations from alumni, friends, and well‐wishers. To make a donation to the Department, please contact Paula Luchak (contact infor‐
mation below). Donations are tax deductible. Alumni Relations and Development Paula Luchak Faculty of Science The University of Western Ontario WSC 107 London ON N6A 5B7 Phone: 519‐661‐2111 Ext. 86642 Email: [email protected] Contact the Department Please feel free to contact the Department by any of the means below: By mail: Department of Physics and Astronomy The University of Western Ontario PAB 138 London ON N6A 3K7 CANADA By phone: 519‐661‐2111 Ext. 86438 By email: p‐[email protected] or [email protected] Department Chair: Prof. Shantanu Basu Assistant to the Chair: Jodi Guthrie