Department of Physics

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Colloquia & Seminars, Spring 2021

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Morrow Lecture 2021

The Learning Assistant Program in STEM – An Effective Model of Facilitating Student Learning to Close the Opportunity Gap

Speaker: Rebecca Krystyniak
Date: Monday, April 12, 2021
Time: 5:00 - 6:00 P.M. Central Standard Time
Zoom Link:  http://bit.ly/WIUPhysicsColloquium

Morrow Lecture Flyer 2021

About the speaker: Krystyniak is the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Academic Dean at Anoka-Ramsey Community College in Coon Rapids, MN. She received her bachelor's degree in chemistry from Carthage College, her master's degree in analytical chemistry and her doctoral degree in chemistry education from the University of Northern Colorado. She has also completed post-doctoral work at the University of California, Berkeley. Prior to working at Anoka-Ramsey, Krystyniak started her career in higher education in 1997, teaching at Aims Community College in Greeley, CO, and at California State University – East Bay. She also served as a chemistry faculty member at St. Cloud State University, including two years as the chemistry department chair, and championed the Teacher Preparation Initiative, the Ignite Center at SCSU, and served as director. The Learning Assistant Program was developed in the early 2000s at the University of Colorado at Boulder to improve student retention and to attract high performing students in the STEM disciplines into careers in education. The program has since expanded to more than 20 programs at Boulder, and at more than 50 campuses nationwide. Krystyniak is an experienced STEM educator, with a specialty in chemistry, who has overseen the introduction of Learning Assistants to support program growth in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities at St. Cloud State, and at Anoka-Ramsey. She will provide an interactive introduction to the Learning Assistant model, with a focus on how to implement it in a variety of programs, and adapting to the constraints faced by those programs and institutions.

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Applications of Quantum Computing in Optimization, Machine Learning, and Chemistry

Speaker: Dr. Bhaskar Roy Bardhan
Date: Friday, April 2, 2021
Time: 3:00 P.M. Central Standard Time
Zoom Link:  https://wiu.zoom.us/j/98745433625

Abstract: With tremendous improvements in quantum computing hardware and software over the last few years, quantum computing is transitioning from scientific curiosity into technical reality. Near-term quantum and hybrid quantum-classical algorithms have been playing a crucial role in these developments to provide computational speedups for certain problems which are intractable with existing state- of-the-art algorithms. In this talk, I will first briefly overview the important concepts of quantum computing and then discuss a few important near-term algorithms. We will also discuss how these algorithms can be applied in various applications related to optimization, machine learning and chemistry with the optimal use of classical and quantum resources.

About the speaker: Dr. Bhaskar Roy Bardhan's research interests lie at the interface of quantum computing, quantum machine learning and quantum communications and he has experience of working in these fields for more than 12 years. He received his PhD in photonic quantum computing from Louisiana State University, USA. He then joined MIT as a post-doctoral research associate. He was a visiting assistant professor of physics at State University of New York at Geneseo and a research scientist at Xanadu, a quantum computing company based in Toronto, Canada. Currently, he is working as a quantum computing algorithms researcher in a company in California, USA.

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Lecture Series on Nobel Prizes

Development of Lithium-Ion Batteries – Technology that Revolutionized Energy Storage

Speaker: Dr. P. K. Babu
Date: Friday, March 26, 2021
Time: 3:00 P.M. Central Standard Time
Zoom Link:  https://wiu.zoom.us/j/98745433625

About the speaker: Dr. P. K. Babu is Professor at the Department of Physics at Western Illinois University.

Nobel prize 2019

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Quantum Chess and the Future of Quantum Games

Speaker: Christopher Cantwell
Date: Friday, March 12, 2021
Time: 3:00 P.M. Central Standard Time
Zoom Link:  https://wiu.zoom.us/j/98745433625

Abstract: Abstract: In this talk I'll discuss a bit of the history of Quantum Chess, and the journey that led to running it on Google’s quantum computer. I'll show examples of some of the quantum mechanics in the game. Then I'll discuss some of the plans for Quantum Chess, and the quantum games of the future.

About the speaker: Mr. Cantwell earned his BS in both physics and electrical engineering from USC. In grad school, also at USC, he studied quantum computing on his way to a PhD in physics. During that journey he started a side project that took on a life of its own. That project eventually evolved into Quantum Chess. In 2018, he decided to step away from grad school with a Masters in Physics, and pursue a collaboration with Google, and his company Quantum Realm Games, full time.

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Innovations

Speaker: Dr. Piyush Thakre
Date: Friday, February 26, 2021
Time: 3:00 P.M. Central Standard Time
Zoom Link:  https://wiu.zoom.us/j/98745433625

Abstract: Abstract: This talk will focus on the topic of ‘innovation’ i.e. taking an idea to the implementation stage and discuss several important aspects for success. Innovation will be discussed with respect to product innovation, organizational innovation and sustainable innovation with examples and guidelines in each section. This talk is tailored to promote and guide creative thinking in the STEM oriented audience for successful career in research and development.

About the speaker: Dr. Thakre is a scientist, innovator, educator and a technical leader in the area of materials science and engineering. He has expertise in product design- development, experimental mechanics, capability built and sustainability science. He has authored 20+ international journal publications (1000+ citations), 30+ conference talks, 10+ invited lectures/panel discussions, 10+ patent applications. He is passionate about innovation and likes to build and collaborate with cross-functional teams striving for scientific, engineering and operational excellence. He is currently working as application development leader/scientist at Dow. He is currently responsible for leading development of wipes, PPE, hygiene and sustainability platforms. In the past, he has led projects in the area of solar shingles, water filtration, packaging innovations, biomaterials, nanomaterials, advanced aerospace composites and multifunctional materials.

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Creating and maintaining a diverse science community

Speaker: Mr. Jamal Keaton
Date: Friday, February 19, 2021
Time: 3:00 P.M. Central Standard Time
Zoom Link:  https://wiu.zoom.us/j/98745433625

Abstract: We will discuss inadvertent prejudice as it exists within higher education. Through this discussion we will better understand how to recognize and prevent its occurrence in our institutions. I will share my experience as a graduate of Western Illinois University and my thoughts on how WIU might be able to increase and maintain a diverse and inclusive community.

About the speaker: Jamal Keaton was born and raised in Chicago. He was awarded a full athletic scholarship to Western Illinois University, where he studied Physics and Secondary education. After graduating he started working for Chicago Public Schools teaching multiple courses; AP Physics, Physics, Calculus, Chemistry, and Earth, Space Science. Recently he has graduated from Northeastern Illinois University with a Master’s degree in Literacy Education.

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A Tribute to the Arecibo Telescope

Understanding Black Hole Formation and the Discovery of a Supermassive Black Hole at the Center of the Milky Way

Speaker: Dr. Esteban D. Araya
Date: Friday, January 29th, 2021
Time: 3:00 P.M. Central Standard Time
Zoom Link:  https://wiu.zoom.us/j/98745433625

Abstract: Almost 60 years ago a unique scientific instrument began operations: the 305m Arecibo Telescope. Unexpectedly, in the second half of the 2020 a sequence of structural failures resulted in the collapse of the telescope. This talk is a tribute to the Arecibo Telescope, which beyond the long list of fundamental discoveries (which includes the detection of the first exoplanet and the first indirect detection of gravitational waves that resulted in the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physics) has inspired generations of young scientist and engineers around the world. Join the WIU Physics Department to celebrate the history of one of the most iconic scientific instruments ever built.

About the speaker: Dr. Esteban D Araya is Professor at the Department of Physics at Western Illinois University. He received his BA in Physics Universidad de Costa Rica, San Jose, Costa Rica, MS in Physics from Universidad de Puerto Rico, San Juan, Puerto Rico, and his PhD in Physics with specialization in Astrophysics from New Mexico Tech, Socorro, NM, USA. His research focuses on the study of massive star formation and the interstellar medium. He carries out observations at radio frequencies with some of the most sophisticated radio telescopes.

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