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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.

June 20, 2019

Stephanie Majewski recipient of 2019 Fund for Faculty Excellence Award

Congratulations to professor Majewski on receiving this prestigious recognition!

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

May 22, 2019

Taylor, Smith and Rowland’s contribution to stress reduction through fractal pattern carpeting highlighted in Around-the-O

Taylor hopes the partnership with Mohawk Group and 13&9 will allow UO scientists to evaluate potential public health benefits of fractal flooring. He leads an interdisciplinary research network that investigates the positive physiological changes that occur when people look at the most common form of fractals found in nature.

Their findings to date, published in numerous peer-reviewed scientific journals, indicate that merely looking at such patterns can reduce stress by as much as 60 percent. More than $300 billion are spent annually in the United States on stress-induced illnesses and disorders.

“One of the best pieces of news from our psychology research is that you do not need to be exposed to fractal patterns long to get the positive effect,” Taylor said. “You don’t even need to stare directly at them. This means you can be walking along an airport corridor, not even paying attention to what’s under your feet, and the patterns on this carpeting may help reduce your level of stress by up to 60 percent.

In addition to the Lesjaks, the Austrian team includes Sabrina Stadelober and Luis Lee. Two of Taylor’s graduate students, Julian Smith and Conor Rowland, also have been serving as consultants on the Oregon side.

“Julian and Conor are fundamentally at the center of all the pattern creation action,” Taylor said. The Oregon team’s software-generated fractals are based on parameters that previous psychology experiments indicate reduce stress.

“We uploaded these fractal patterns to the 13&9 design team in Austria so they could adapt them according to their design vision and send back to us for analysis.” Taylor said. “Our next challenge was to adapt their designs to be sure they would meet the required parameters, no matter how randomly the blocks of carpeting are laid out when they are installed in huge venues.”

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

May 14, 2019

Raymer receives the Innovation and Impact Award

The innovation and impact award will be presented to Michael Raymer, a professor in the Department of Physics. The award is given to an outstanding individual or team that distinguished themselves and the university through entrepreneurial activities that resulted in innovations with a measurable societal or environmental benefits.

Raymer was chosen for his scientific leadership and lobbying efforts on behalf of the National Quantum Initiative Act, a $1.2 billion initiative that promises to revolutionize everything from computing to navigation to encryption. Raymer traveled to Washington, D.C. numerous times to meet with congressional committees and staffers and co-authored the original proposal for the initiative.

Over five years, the initiative will support federal efforts to boost investment in quantum information science, support a quantum-smart workforce and allow the UO and institutions like it to play important roles in training the next-generation workforce in quantum information science and technology.

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

April 15, 2019

UO team makes artificial atoms that work at room temp

Ultra-secure online communications, completely indecipherable if intercepted, are a step closer with the help of a recently published discovery by University of Oregon physicist Ben Alemán.

Alemán, a member of the UO’s Center for Optical, Molecular, and Quantum Science, has made artificial atoms that work in ambient conditions. The research, published in the journal Nano Letters, could be a big step in efforts to develop secure quantum communication networks and all-optical quantum computing.

“The big breakthrough is that we’ve discovered a simple, scalable way to nanofabricate artificial atoms onto a microchip, and that the artificial atoms work in air and at room temperature,” said Alemán, also a member of the UO’s Materials Science Institute.

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

March 20, 2019

Physics Faculty and GEs benefit from UO’s Science Teaching Journal Club

After evaluating articles and research about teaching science and studying broader teaching methods participants are enabled to explore and support implementation of evidence-based teaching practices.

Several graduate students who have been involved in the Science Literacy Program continue to attend the journal club throughout their doctoral studies at the UO because of the valuable teaching experience it provides on top of training in their area of research.

The journal club meets every Thursday during the academic term at 9 a.m. in Room 217 in the Lewis Integrated Science Building. University faculty members and students interested in learning more about STEM teaching practices are welcome to attend.

For more information, including reading schedule and a full bibliography of the journal club’s readings, visit the Science Literacy Program website.

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

February 6, 2019

Stanley Micklavzina Named an Honorary Doctor in Science at Lund University in Sweden

The physics demonstration room is Stanley Micklavzina’s domain.

It is here where the magic comes together. Lasers, magnets, hoses, wires, glassware and many, many other unidentifiable science-y looking gadgets fill tables and floor-to-ceiling shelves.

Micklavzina puts these items together in different configurations so he and his colleagues in the physics department can best explain how the laws of physics work.

It just so happens that Micklavzina has a knack for making even the most complicated scientific concepts understandable, and that ability has earned him what is to-date the highest honor he’s ever received.

Thanks to a chance email Micklavzina sent roughly 17 years ago, Lund University in Sweden will be awarding Micklavzina an honorary doctorate.

“I like to tell the joke that I got the call from Sweden,” Micklavzina said. “Of course, any physicist wants the call from Sweden because that means they won the Nobel Prize. Well, I got the call from Sweden, and for me, this is like getting the Nobel Prize. For what I do, it’s that big of an honor.”

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

& You can read more here.

January 22, 2019

Tristan Ursell and Nick Lowery’s Research on Competing Species Highlighted on Phys.Org

When species compete for limited resources, structures in their environment can be the difference between coexistence or one eliminating another. Relationships between species also are important, according to new research by University of Oregon scientists.

Scientists have suspected a deep relationship between biodiversity and physical structure of the environment, but nailing it down has been elusive.

The UO’s Tristan Ursell and Nick Lowery have revealed part of that relationship by crunching mathematically rich formulas in thousands of supercomputer simulations across multiple scenarios. In the research, they focused on the influences of physical structures, such as packed particles in soil and epithelial cells in the mammalian gut, on the survival of species living in those environments.

Their findings are in a paper focusing on the dynamics and stability of ecological communities in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

You can read more here,

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