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Valpo’s Nuclear Physics Group Wins $362,000 Grant Renewal

Congratulations to our Nuclear Physics Group (Drs. Shivel Stanislaus, Adam Gibson-Even, Don Koetke, David Grosnik, and Mr. Paul Nord)! The Department of Energy has fully funded their grant renewal application, which will support research activities at Valpo for the next 3 years. It continues the long tradition (37 years!) of the nuclear and particle physics research group in providing undergraduates with funded opportunities to do meaningful research in contemporary studies of the fundamental nature of physics. This grant will fund 3 students each summer for 3 years, adding to the previous 55 students who have benefited from this ongoing research…

Student Summer Research

This summer, 11 Valpo students are working with the Physics & Astronomy Faculty on their research projects. These positions come with a stipend and free on-campus housing. Most importantly, they provide students with the opportunity to do current research on compelling issues in science such as: how do protons get their characteristics? Is there new physics hiding in the structure of the neutron? How do stars die? How do planetary nebulae get their shapes? These research students are just starting out in physics and astronomy; faculty mentors guide them through learning the basics of the physics and help them learn…

Dr. Hillwig Awarded $217,400 NSF Grant

In Fall 2021, Dr. Hillwig was awarded a 3-year NSF grant to support his investigations into double white dwarf systems. This grant will provide funds for summer research students as well as travel to conferences and telescopes. See below for as description of the project, or see the Valpo press release. Understanding Close White Dwarf Binaries Using Planetary Nebula Central Stars When some stars die, they shed their outer layers and become vibrant planetary nebulae as the material dissipates out into space and is illuminated by the central star, which has now become a white dwarf. Many of these nebulae…

Summer Research Students Presentations

This week in colloquium (9/24), we will hear Part 2 of our summer research student presentations. Lauren Kadlec will present on her work at Los Alamos National Lab. Will Bakke, Sean Egan, and Peyton Grimm will present on their work on astronomy research. Please join us in NSC 224 at 3 PM!

Homecoming Speaker: Chris Pagan (’02)

Physics Degree: Oh The Places You’ll Go! Chris Pagan -- University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center Abstract You are about to complete your degree in physics, now what? Apply forgraduate school, commission into the military, join the workforce? There arenumber of opportunities out there for individuals with a degree in physics. Withmy physics degree, I have been able to explore many different careeropportunities in different parts of the country. I will share about my pastexperiences and lessons learned, as well as the opportunities in my currentfield, Health Physics. About the Speaker:Chris received his Valpo degree in 2002. He was a…

Fall Interdisciplinary Research Symposium (FIReS) this Friday (10/8)

Our annual fall research symposium (FIReS) will occur this Friday, October 8, 2021, in the Center for the Sciences, from 3:00 - 4:30 PM. Students from a range of disciplines will be hosting poster presentations of their research. Please join us if you are able! https://www.valpo.edu/undergraduate-research/fall-interdisciplinary-research-symposium-fires-abstracts/

Alumni Lecture: Robert Bryant, NASA Materials Scientist (10/26)

Robert Bryant ('85) will be returning to Valpo to talk about his very productive career as a Materials Scientist for NASA. Dr. Bryant has produced more than 40 patents and more than 100 technical papers, creating a wealth of new technology, licensing revenue, and scientific research for NASA. Dr. Bryant was a Chemistry major at Valpo, with minors in Physics and Math. Join us on Tuesday, October 26, 2021, in Ballroom C in the Harre Union at 7 PM. This talk is part of the Presidential Inauguration week of events to welcome in our new Valpo president, Jose Padilla.

Demo Day! (10/29)

Come to Physics Colloquium this week (3 PM, Room 224) to see a variety of demonstrations, hosted by our curator of physics, Paul Nord! These demos will be a preview of some of the offerings for this year's Haunted Science Lab event on campus on 10/30 (Center for the Sciences Building, 5 - 8 PM, open to the public).

Colloquium this Week (11/5)–From Game of Thrones to Frozen: What Hollywood Can Teach Us About the Importance of Science in Storytelling

This talk will be presented virtually. Please contact Andrew Richter for the Zoom link. Or come to watch with us in person at 3:00 PM in NSC 224 The finale of Game of Thrones was the most-watched single show in HBO’s history and Frozen II was the highest-grossing animated movie ever. Clearly these blockbusters, and others like them, are telling stories that people want to hear. They are also packed with science concepts. From Valyrian steel to snow anchors, storytelling relies on science to drawn in and keep an audience. Just as important is how they can use deviations from real-life science…

Colloquium (11/12): Binary Stars, White Dwarfs, and Sabbatical during COVID

Professor Todd Hillwig, Valparaiso University Sabbatical periods are designed to be a time of renewal professionally and can take many forms. For me, the plan was to spend the majority of time on my research into binary central stars of planetary nebulae. And to travel. Primarily to travel to conferences and to work with collaborators. At least that was the plan until COVID hit. In this talk I will explain how I used my sabbatical time to renew, even amidst the throes of a global pandemic. I will discuss learning new languages (well, computer languages anyway), catching up on paused or…

Senior Projects (12/3)

Colloquium this week gives our seniors a chance to tell us about their senior projects. We have two mid-project reports and one final report. "Determining the Ages of Star Clusters" by Lauren MarkerI am plotting isochrones over star cluster data to find the 'best fit'. The isochrone that fits the best will tell me the log age that I will compare to previously calculated data to see if I can achieve the same results.  "Identifying Binary Systems Using Differential Photometry" by Olivia KrugmanMy talk is about searching for variability in Planetary Nebulae to see if they contain binary star systems at…