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Astronomer/Alumnus to Talk About Dark Matter April 30, May 1

April 27, 2012

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MACOMB, IL- Internationally known astronomer Matthew Walker, a Western Illinois University alumnus, will return to Macomb and his alma mater to make two presentations on dark matter. Walker, who at age 37 holds the prestigious Hubble Fellowship at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge (MA), will present "Dark Matter in Galaxies … for the Backyard Astronomer" at 7:30 p.m. Monday, April 30 at the Western Illinois Museum, 201 S. Lafayette St., and "Dark Matter in the Smallest Galaxies" at 4 p.m. Tuesday, May 1 in Currens Hall 205 on WIU's campus.

Both talks are open free to the public; however, the April 30 talk will be directed to non-scientists, while the May 1 presentation will include an in-depth discussion of his scientific research, including observational astronomical research and measurements to help locate and predict the distribution of dark matter and the implications into other branches of physics.

According to the April 24 National Geographic Daily News web article, "Dark Matter Hits the Average Human Once a Minute?" "Dark Matter is an invisible form of material that's thought to exist because scientists have observed its apparent gravitational effects on galaxies and galaxy clusters. Scientists estimate that the mysterious substance makes up almost 80 percent of the matter in the universe."

Walker graduated from Macomb High School in 1994 and from WIU in 1999 with highest academic honors (Summa Cum Laude), earning a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy and a Bachelor of Science in physics, with minors in mathematics, zoology and religious studies. While at Western, Walker participated in undergraduate research in the magnetoelasticity research laboratory run by Physics Chair and Professor Mark Boley. Walker presented his research at several Midwestern conferences, including the Undergraduate Research Symposium at Argonne National Laboratory.

He received his Ph.D. in astronomy and astrophysics from the University of Michigan (2007). The following three years, Walker served as a postdoctoral research associate at the Institute of Astronomy, which is part of the University of Cambridge (United Kingdom), where much of his research focused on dark matter. Walker often accepts invitations to speak at prestigious physics, astrophysics and astronomy research centers around the world, including in Chile, Germany, France, Sweden, Scotland and Switzerland, as well as at universities such as Oxford, Cambridge and

"The physics department at Western Illinois University is proud to welcome back one of our most successful alumni for a visit," said Boley.

Matthew is the son of Ron Walker, who is the former chair of Western's Department of English and Journalism and an emeritus professor of English, and Leslie Walker, of Macomb.

For more information about Walker's May 1 presentation, contact Boley via email,

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