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January 15, 2020

Jim Brau’s Work with the International Linear Collider Featured on Around the O

Learning more about the Higgs boson and finding dark matter are the driving forces for construction of the International Linear Collider, says University of Oregon physicist Jim Brau. Where it will be built may be known soon.

“The linear collider, Brau said, will turn research up a notch. At the Large Hadron Collider, scientists, including a large UO team, have been watching collisions of protons. That led to the discovery of the long-elusive Higgs boson.

Leaders in high-energy physics see this project as being a critical element to advance the science. “It will complement the Large Hadron Collider in Europe.”

At the linear collider, he said, researchers will collide electrons and positrons, providing significant advances in precision to further study the Higgs boson.

Brau is currently associate director of the linear collider collaboration of the International Committee for Future Accelerators.

You can read the full article here.

December 13, 2019

Congratulations to UO Society of Physics Students

Congratulations to the UO SPS and to the leadership of president Skippy Clairmont on their receipt of the Society of Physics Students Outstanding Chapter award.  ‘This is the highest level of distinction given to our chapters._ Your combined efforts supported the department, helped further student development and strengthened the community.’

The UO chapter of the Society of Physics Students has three main goals:

  1. To be a resource for undergraduates
  2. To foster community
  3. To connect students with professors, professional opportunities and outreach

We are open to anyone with an interest in physics–you don’t have to be a physics major! Minors, students in other areas of the natural sciences and physics enthusiasts are welcome.


November 21, 2019

ESPRIT featured in Around the O

Bryan Rebar, associate director of UO STEM Core, a consortium of UO science, math and education faculty members who supports the center, said the aim is to make the path to science teaching more visible and appealing to science students.

Rebar wants to encourage students studying the sciences to consider a career in the classroom, particularly in disciplines in which teachers are badly needed. Those include subjects like chemistry and physics, which are consistently ranked as the highest-need areas among all academic disciplines.

The ESPRIT program also addresses the issue of K-12 science educators teaching subjects without being fully qualified. Only 47 percent of physics classes are taught by a teacher with a degree in the subject, compared with 73 percent of biology classes and about 80 percent of humanities classes, according to the Physics Teacher Education Coalition.

You can read the full article here.

Included in the article is a link regarding shortage of Physics teachers in the U.S.

November 13, 2019

Toner Recipient of The Lars Onsager Prize

John Toner was frustrated during his final year with IBM in 1993. The industry giant, amid the internet-fueled technological explosion, was giving up fundamental research, his specialty, to pursue applied science to stay competitive.

But a lecture by a visiting researcher, which he almost didn’t attend, reignited this passion and called on his knowledge of fluid mechanics. In his final project at IBM, which he started while considering a job offer from the University of Oregon, he teamed with a young new colleague, Yuhai Tu, to dig deeper into the speaker’s topic.

Within a day, Toner and Tu wrote a short equation that explained how the motion of individual birds in a flock affects the motion of neighboring birds.

That formula has landed Toner, Tu and that day’s speaker, Hungarian scientist Tamás Vicsek, the Lars Onsager Prize from the American Physical Society “for seminal work on the theory of flocking that marked the birth and contributed greatly to the development of the field of active

The Lars Onsager Prize, among 39 prizes announced by the society this fall, has local significance. It was established in 1993 by UO physicist Russ Donnelly, who died in 2015, and his wife Marian in memory of their friend Lars Onsager, a physical chemist and theoretical physicist who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1968. Two previous winners of the Onsager prize later won Nobel Prizes.

“I had heard from a colleague that when Russ founded this award it was his hope that somebody from the UO would win it,” said Toner, a professor of physics, as he sat in front of a chalkboard filled with equations. “I’m honored to win this award, which is for theoretical statistical physics.”

You can read the full article here.


November 4, 2019

David Sokoloff recipient of the prestigious Hans Christian Oersted Medal

David Sokoloff has been named as the 2020 recipient of the prestigious Hans Christian Oersted Medal, presented by the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT). The Medal will be awarded at a Ceremonial Session of the 2020 AAPT Winter Meeting, in Orlando, Florida. The Oersted Medal recognizes his outstanding, widespread, and lasting impact on the teaching of physics through his contributions to the development of active learning strategies and materials to motivate students—especially those using computer-based tools—and his extensive dissemination activities. In connection with the award, Sokoloff will deliver a talk, “If Opportunity Doesn’t Knock, Build a Door: My Path to Active Dissemination of Active Learning,” at the Orlando meeting.

You can read the full article here.

And the Around-the-O article here.


October 28, 2019

Tykeson Hall: College and Career Advising

Tykeson College and Career Advising is the academic and career advising destination for all students who:

  • Have not yet declared a major, referred to as exploring students
  • Are declared majors and minors in the College of Arts and Sciences
  • Are considering another major or exploring other majors
  • Want to explore career options and opportunities

Students with declared majors and minors in the College of Arts and Sciences should also continue to seek advice from faculty when they are looking for specific information about their chosen major or detailed information about their major department and its curricular and co-curricular offerings.

Students can call or drop by the intake and operations desk to schedule an appointment: 541-346-9200. Or schedule an appointment online through the navigate app:


October 17, 2019

Alemán lab: Discovery leads to ultrasensitive way to measure light

A team of UO physicists has drummed up a new way of measuring light: using microscopic drums to hear light.

The technology out of the Alemán Lab, known as a “graphene nanomechanical bolometer,” leverages a promising new method and material to detect nearly every color of light at high speeds and high temperatures.

“This tool is the fastest and most sensitive in its class,” said Benjamín Alemán, a professor of physics and a member of the UO’s Center for Optical, Molecular, and Quantum Science and an associate of the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact.

The device offers an alternative to the conventional way of using electricity to measure light, as found in devices like a smartphone’s camera. Instead, this mechanical method captures the vibrations of infinitesimally thin drums that are caused by light. The physicists obtain measurements by listening to the sound of the light absorbed by the drumhead.

You can read the full Around-the-O article here.

September 24, 2019

The Gravitational-Wave ‘Revolution’ Is Underway,’ Scientific American, Ben Farr, assistant professor, physics

Cast your mind back four years, and gravitational waves were the talk of the town. On September 14, 2015, the first detection of these ripples in space-time was made by the LIGO-Virgo collaboration, revealed months later to deserved global fanfare. Now with the fourth anniversary of that discovery approaching, the field has matured dramatically with dozens of subsequent detections made—and the prospect of even more thrilling discoveries on the horizon.

“It’s hard to overstate how explosive the growth of gravitational-wave astronomy has been,” says Ben Farr of the University of Oregon.

You can read the full ‘Scientific American’ article here.

August 15, 2019

Summer Events Highlighted


Outside of the University of Oregon’s Student Recreation Center, professor Graham Kribs is throwing slabs of rock the size of footballs at helmet-covered watermelons to demonstrate basic principles of physics and proper climbing equipment.

This is one of the many ways the Summer Academy to Inspire Learning program, or SAIL, is advancing statewide academic outreach. SAIL was founded in 2005 by UO economics professors Bruce Blonigen and Bill Harbaugh, who wanted to introduce college life and interdisciplinary learning to middle- and high-school students from underrepresented backgrounds, including those from lower-income homes and those who would be the first in their families to attend college

A revolving staff of 300 UO faculty members volunteer to teach at SAIL. Kribs uses watermelons, helmets, rock climbing — and rocks — to share physics in a new light. He sees the program as a part of a faculty member’s scholarly role to make science accessible and give back to the public.

“Rock climbing is a great activity because it involves so much basic, first-year physics and it’s something students are familiar with,” Kribs said.

You can read the full Around-the-O article here.


This is SPICE Camp – the Science Program to Inspire Creativity and Excellence – a fun summer camp for girls entering sixth through ninth grades that fosters their passion for science as much as it teaches them about it. The big-picture goal is to stoke their interest enough that they’ll identify themselves as scientists or at least embrace the discipline rather than hesitate when they encounter it.

And they do it in an environment surrounded by female role models: from SPICE Director Brandy Todd down through the instructors and helpers, aka “junior minions.”

“The goal is that they come out of the camp feeling that when someone says, ‘We’re going to do this science thing,’ their ears perk up and they go ‘Oh, I like science. I want to do that science thing,’ so they have these positive associations and confidence in their ability,” Todd said. “Ability is not the problem. It’s how your environment is helping build your confidence and motivation.”

You can read the full Around-the-O article here.

July 24, 2019

Scott Fisher talks to Around-the-O about the 50th anniversary of Apollo

Shortly after noon on July 20, 1969, the world watched as Neil Armstrong became the first person to set foot on the moon.

The impact of that moment continues to ripple through society and capture the imagination of many. For these University of Oregon faculty members — an astronomer, a product designer and a linguist — the moon landing was a source of inspiration and the basis of research, and it still resonates in their fields to this day.

Scott Fisher, astronomy lecturer, outreach coordinator and director of the Pine Mountain Observatory:

Q: How did the moon landing affect your field?

To find the answer, click here.

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