150 Years of Science at Notre Dame

Celebrate the sesquicentennial of science at Notre Dame! The College of Science will be hosting events throughout the year to celebrate our 150th anniversary.

From Astrophysics to Zebrafish: 150 Years of Science at Notre Dame

Fr. Nieuwland

In 1865, 23 years after the University of Notre Dame was established, the scientific course of study was introduced. Over the last 150 years, science has become a major educational and research enterprise committed to developing tomorrow's scientific leaders.  In the exhibit at the Center for History in downtown South Bend, artifacts such as early lab equipment, molecule models, and fossils, capture all the intrigue and discovery of science, and show moments of research that impacted the country, and indeed, the world.

The History Museum (formerly the Center for History)
Raclin Gallery of Notre Dame History
808 West Washington
South Bend, IN 46601

Monday-Saturday: 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; Sunday: 12:00 - 5:00 p.m.

The exhibit will run August 23, 2014 - August 2, 2015. For more information, visit historymuseumsb.org or call (574) 235-9664.

Big Picture Science

Big Picture Science

“Sesquicentennial Science: You Can’t Pronounce It, but You’re Going to Hear About It.”

A Live Event for Radio  

The Big Picture Science radio show team is coming to town, with "Sesquicentennial Science: You can't pronounce it, but you are going to hear about it," a live event celebrating 150 years of science at Notre Dame.  Join show hosts Molly Bentley and Seth Shostak, and producer Gary Niederhoff as they record their radio show here on campus, talking about science the humorous way they do each week – except this time in front of a live audience.

You’ll watch on-stage interviews with Notre Dame’s Justin Crepp, who’s pressing the hunt for extrasolar planets, and data scientist Nitesh Chawla who will explain how big data can help in understanding climate change. 

We’ll also check the rearview mirror and discuss how our understanding of science has changed over the last 150 years. There will be time for you to ask plenty of questions. The event, which will include those elements (including a skit) are typical of every episode of Big Picture Science.  And when the interviews are over, the radio show team will take you behind the curtain to see the technical wizardry used to put a program together.

It’s radio as it was meant to be seen!

Wednesday, February, 4
7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Eck Visitors Center Auditorium

The event is free, but ticketed. Tickets are available on a first-come, first serve basis.  You may pick up your tickets in-person from Jenna Rangel at the College of Science, 215 Jordan Hall, until Wednesday, Feb. 4, 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. 

Seating is general admission, so please arrive early. Five minutes before the show, any open seats will be released to anyone waiting without a ticket.

About Big Picture Science

Big Picture Science space cadets

Hosted by SETI Institute astronomer Seth Shostak and science journalist Molly Bentley, Big Picture Science features top scientists to reveal unexpected connections between diverse scientific fields. In each one-hour episode, Seth and Molly begin at point A with an idea or premise and explore it through storytelling, interviews, and their particular brand of humor, to arrive at point Z, where they hope to leave you with some surprising answers, a few compelling new questions, and an itch to share them with others. Also, a sense that science is fun!

Shows might examine how a new orbiting telescope is positioned to answer fundamental questions about the nature of the universe. Or it might feature biologists deploying powerful genetic tools to bring back extinct species, going on to ask, is it ethical to reanimate a wooly mammoth and where would you house him?

Big Picture Science is independently-produced at the SETI Institute and carried through NPR’s Public Radio Satellite System. In addition to Seth and Molly, the team includes Gary Niederhoff, producer, and Barbara Vance, assistant producer. Big Picture Science airs on more than 100 radio stations across the country, including locally on WVPE.

Presentation: “When Will We Find Extraterrestrial Life?”

Thursday, February, 5
Digital Visualization Theater (100 Jordan Hall of Science)
12:30 - 1:30 p.m.

Are we alone in the universe? The scientific hunt for extraterrestrial intelligence is now into its fifth decade and we still haven’t  uncovered a confirmed “peep” from any cosmic company. Could all this mean that finding biology beyond  Earth, even if it exists, is a project for the ages – one that might take centuries or longer? New approaches to detecting life suggest that there is good reason to expect a discovery of microbic organisms on other worlds soon, and that we could uncover evidence of sophisticated civilizations – the type of aliens we see in the movies and on TV – within a few decades.

Workshop: “Scientists Take Note: How to Talk to a Reporter”

Thursday, February, 5
101 Jordan Hall of Science
4:00 - 5:00 p.m. 

This workshop is free and open to the entire Notre Dame community. Any faculty, staff, or students working in science and/or communications are encouraged to attend.

Are you a brilliant scientist who feels misunderstood by the public?  Are you a science student who wants to learn how to communicate your work more effectively?

Attend a one-hour workshop that will help you communicate more effectively so that the general public better understands your work. Learn practical tips for explaining your research more clearly, (hint: drop the technical jargon), and air your pent-up grievances toward the media in a Q&A session.

The workshop will be hosted by Molly Bentley, executive producer and host of the radio show Big Picture Science, airing on more than 100 stations across the country, including locally on WVPE.  Molly has worked in London and in California as a science journalist for the BBC, including the World Service and Science/Nature Online, written for New Scientist, and teaches a course on radio writing and podcast production as part of the science communication program at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Also in attendance: Seth Shostak, co-host of Big Picture Science, is an astronomer at the SETI Institute.  Seth has written several hundred popular magazine and Web articles on various topics in astronomy, technology, film and television, and gives dozens of popular talks on science a year.  He has edited and contributed to a half dozen books. Gary Niederhoff is a producer with Big Picture Science, who has worked in community radio in the San Francisco Bay Area for nearly twenty years, producing on-air programs as well as administering fund raising activities and station events.

Pi Day 5K

2015 Pi Day 5K

Saturday, March 14
Hurley Hall & Hayes-Healy Center
Race begins at 9:26 a.m.

The Association for and Women in Science and the Society of Schmitt Fellows will be holding the first ever Pi Day 5K on Saturday March 14, 2015. The goal of the run, along with celebrating math and science, is to raise money for the running programs at the Harrison Boys and Girls Club.

If you would like to run in the race, you can register at the AWIS website. There are 5K and 10K runs, and a 1 mile walk option. Registration includes a t-shirt and slice of pie at the finish!

If you don't like running, you can volunteer to help with course set-up, sign in, and water stations, etc. The organizers also looking for labs willing to give tours and volunteers to give hands-on science demos. If you are interested in helping with any of these more science-y ways to volunteer, please email Alicia Specht.

View the event flyer (414kb PDF).

Past Events

Let's Have a Moment of Science

Let's Have a Moment of Science

Join us for a fun, engaging science event before the Fighting Irish take on the Purdue Boilermakers in the 2014 Shamrock Series game in Indianapolis, Ind.

The Children's Museum of Indianapolis
3000 North Meridian Street
Indianapolis, IN 46208
Phone: 317-334-4000

Friday, September 12, 2014
9:30-11:30 a.m.

Notre Dame undergraduates and graduate students will give interactive presentations about math, biology, physics and chemistry.   Matt Leevy will discuss “3-D Printing: Building a Better Tomorrow in Medicine and Manufacturing, Layer by Layer;” Justin Crepp will address “Earth-like Worlds Orbiting Other Suns;” and Jennifer Tank will examine “Preventing Coastal Dead Zones from a Distance.” The events are free and open to the public.

Additional information is available on the Let's Have a Moment of Science webpage.


Notre Dame Forum: Carl Wieman, Nobel Laureate

The 2014-15 Notre Dame Forum, commencing September 15, will explore the question “What do Notre Dame graduates need to know?” Forum events will focus on the knowledge graduates require to face the challenges and opportunities that exist for them as participants in a democratic society, citizens of a wider world and people of faith.

This year’s inaugural event features Carl Wieman, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics and professor of physics at Stanford University. Wieman will present “Taking a Scientific Approach to Science Education." Wieman will examine the discrepancies in the advancement of science compared to advances in science education, and how recent research is setting the stage for a new, more effective approach to teaching and learning. Notre Dame physics professor Michael Hildreth will serve as commentator and facilitator.

View the event poster (581kb PDF).

Taking a Scientific Approach to Science Education
Monday, September 15, 2014
Leighton Concert Hall
DeBartolo Performing Arts Center

Science Week: October 6-11, 2014

Monday: Physics


Particle Fever
October 6, 2014
100 Jordan Hall of Science (DVT)
7:00 p.m.

Join the Department of Physics for a viewing of the documentary, Particle Fever. The documentary follows the inside story of six brilliant scientists seeking to unravel the mysteries of the universe, documenting the successes and setbacks in the planet’s most significant and inspiring scientific breakthrough, the discovery of the Higgs Boson.

After the film, a panel of faculty members will discuss Notre Dame's role in the search for the Higgs Boson.


Tuesday: Chemistry & Biochemistry

ACS on Campus

ACS on Campus at Notre Dame
October 7, 2014
101 Jordan Hall of Science
6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.

6:00 p.m.: Science Cafe Networking Event
7:00 p.m.: Careers in Chemistry: What Can I Do With a Ph.D?

View the event poster (237 kb PDF).

Registration is open now. Please register by September 30, 2014.

Follow ACS on Twitter @ACSonC for updates. #ACSatNotreDame

Wednesday: Chemistry & Biochemistry

ACS on Campus at Notre Dame
October 8, 2014
Notre Dame Conference Center, McKenna Hall
8:15 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

ACS on Campus is an outreach program dedicated to helping science students, postdocs, and faculty enhance and advance their careers. Attend sessions on the scholarly publishing process, learn more about ACS Publications Open Access Programs, see ChemWorx and SciFinder demos, and participate in a Career Pathways: Working in Industry workshop. ACS on Campus is a great opportunity to network, build skills and learn valuable career tips and strategies.

This event is free but registration is required in order to attend. Complimentary food will be provided for all registered participants including a networking luncheon on Wednesday at the Morris Inn. View the event poster (237 kb PDF).

Registration is open now. Please register by September 30, 2014.

Follow ACS on Twitter @ACSonC for updates. #ACSatNotreDame

Wednesday: Talk Science

Join the students of Scientia, Notre Dame's undergraduate journal of scientific research, for fun science talks over pizza. You will also learn about how you can get involved in the publication of the next issue of the journal.

October 8, 2014
Reading Room, Jordan Hall of Science
7:00-8:00 p.m.

Wednesday: Global Health & Compassionate Care

David Addiss

Global Health as Spiritual Practice: The Central Role of Compassion
David G. Addiss, M.D., MPH
Director, Children Without Worms
Task Force for Global Health

October 8, 2014
136 DeBartolo Hall
7:30-8:30 p.m.

This seminar will explore the role of compassion in global health. Unlike hospitals and medical centers, which frequently highlight compassion in their mission statements and core values, the word “compassion” is rarely heard within global health organizations, training programs, or literature. This seems curious given the significance of compassion as a key motivation for many in global health and given the millions of compassionate acts that are offered each day in primary health care clinics, refugee health units, and public health programs around the world. Our collective silence on such a core shared value isolates us as individuals and predisposes the field of global health to distortion by commercial, institutional, military, and political interests. In this seminar we will explore the role of compassion as motivation for global health, examine how it can be diminished, and identify challenges to, and opportunities for, compassionate action in this field. We also will explore how reconnecting with our own sense of compassion might influence the field of global health.

View the event poster (289 kb PDF).

Wednesday: DVT Presentation


From the Sun Above to the Supercollider Underground: How Studying the Smallest Things Teaches us About the Largest

Keith Davis, Ph.D., Director of the Digital Visualization Theater
October 8, 2014
100 Jordan Hall of Science (DVT)
8:30 p.m.

The answers from machines such as the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Geneva teach us about the basic building blocks of matter, but the realms of energies it studies don't happen anywhere else on Earth.  Dr. Davis will use the Digital Visualization Theater to show the audience how the LHC gathers answers about the nature of matter, and how that greater understanding applies to various targets within the universe and the big bang itself.

Thursday: Applied and Computational Mathematics and Statistics

Peter Wolynes, Charles Edison Lecture
Peter Wolynes

The Protein Folding Problem
October 9, 2014
3:30 p.m. Colloquium Tea, Hurley Globe
4:15 p.m. Lecture, 127 Hayes-Healy Center

Protein folding can be understood as a biased search on a funneled but rugged energy landscape. The funneled nature of the protein energy landscape is a consequence of natural selection. Prof. Peter Wolynes of Rice University will discuss how this rather simple picture quantitatively predicts folding mechanism from native structure and sequence. He will also discuss recent advances using energy landscape ideas to create algorithms capable of predicting protein tertiary structure from sequence, protein binding sites and the nature of structurally specific protein misfolding relevant to disease. Finally, he will compare the physical folding energy landscape with the apparent fitness landscape of evolution as inferred from large genomic data sets.

Peter Wolynes' lecture is sponsored by the Charles Edison Lecture Series.

Thursday: Mathematics

Math For Everyone

October 9, 2014
105 Jordan Hall of Science
5:00-6:00 p.m.

Math for Everyone Series

Math for Everyone is a math-related series, especially for undergraduates. October's talk will be led by Joshua Cooper of the University of South Carolina. Everyone, from Fields medalists to math-phobes, is welcome to attend.

Computer "proofs:" Are they rigorous?

Mathematicians have been grappling, since at least the time of Appel and Haken's famous 1976 computer-assisted proof of the Four Color Theorem, with the role of computers in proving mathematical theorems. At this point, there are many results whose only known proof is something a computer generated and no human can read. We'll address the question: should we consider such results proven?

View the event flyer.

Thursday: Biological Sciences

Potawatomi Zoo

Night at the Zoo
October 9, 2014
6:00-8:30 p.m. (You can come at anytime)
Potawatomi Zoo
500 S. Greenlawn, South Bend

Take a study break and spend time with the animals at the Potawatomi Zoo, near the Notre Dame campus! Bring your smart phone or a camera to take photos of the animals to compete in the best animal photo and description contest. All entries turned in by October 12 will be entered to win a pizza party on the rooftop of Jordan Hall of Science! View the contest details and requirements. (289kb PDF)

Entry fee is $5 for Notre Dame students with a valid ID. Entry fee is $6.50 for adults and $5.50 for children ages 3-14. Students will be responsible for arranging their own transporation.

Snacks will be provided, so don't miss this great opportunity!

Friday: Center for Rare and Neglected Diseases Symposium

October 10, 2014
2:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m.
206 DeBartolo Hall

Session I. Drug Design and Delivery

2:00 – 2:20: Rare Cancer: Multiple Myeloma: Basar Bilgicer, Ph.D.
2:20 – 2:40: Neurological Disease: Niemann Pick Type C, Kasturi Haldar, Ph.D.
2:40 – 3:10: Niemann-Pick Type C: Olaf Wiest, Ph.D. & Paul Helquist, Ph.D.
3:10 – 3:30: Niemann-Pick Type C: Jarred Pickering (Taylor lab)


Session II. Drug Targets and Assays

3:40 – 4:00: Mucopolysaccharidosis Type IIIA: Shaun Lee, Ph.D.
4:00 – 4:20: Rare Neurological Metastasis of Breast Cancer: Siyuan Zhang, Ph.D.
4:20 – 4:40: Inflammatory Breast Cancer: Zach Schafer Ph.D.


Event will be streamed online @ nd.edu/~crnd

To attend RSVP to bcalhoun@nd.edu or srizk@nd.edu

Saturday: Chemistry & Biochemistry

National Chemistry Week: How Sweet it Is
October 11, 2014
10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Jordan Hall Galleria

Join the University of Notre Dame's Chemistry Demo Team for a National Chemistry Week celebration!  Explore the chemistry of candy through hands on experiments and demonstrations including liquid nitrogen ice cream! Start your game day off right with some science and sweets.

Saturday: Science Exploration Series

Sharon Stack, Ann F
Sharon Stack

Make science part of your game day experience and join the College of Science for an exciting presentation before the Notre Dame vs. North Carolina game.

Harper Cancer Research Institute: Changing the Way We Fight Cancer
October 11, 2014
12:00-1:00 p.m.
101 Jordan Hall Galleria

Despite considerable scientific advances, cancer claims millions of our family and friends every year.  Breakthrough-level discoveries require an innovative approach to increase cancer survival.  Sharon Stack, Ann F. Dunne and Elizabeth Riley Director of the Mike and Josie Harper Cancer Research Institute, and Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, will discuss how unique collaborative teams at the Harper Cancer Research Institute combine the power of biology, chemistry, engineering, mathematics, medicine and physics to change the way we fight cancer.


Ira Flatow
Ira Flatow

Ira Flatow Lecture: Science is the New Sexy

Ira Flatow, host of the national radio show Science Friday, will give a guest lecture, prior to a live taping of Science Friday at Notre Dame.

Science is the New Sexy
Monday, October 13, 2014
Washington Hall
4:30 p.m.

Science Friday

The College of Science will host a live recording of the national radio show Science Friday. Ticket are now available for purchase on the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center website.

  • Students: Free, but ticketed.
  • Faculty/Staff: $20
  • General Admission: $25

Wednesday, October 15, 2014
DeBartolo Performing Arts Center
7:00-9:00 p.m.

Air Date:
Friday, October 17, 2014
National Public Radio stations across the country
2:00-4:00 p.m.