Science Exploration Series

Make science part of your game day schedule and join the College of Science for exciting presentations before Notre Dame home football games. All presentations are open to the public and will be held in the Jordan Hall of Science.


DVT Show: Falling for Jupiter: Orbits, Spaceflight, and Juno’s 5-year Journey


September 10 (Nevada)
12–1 pm
Digital Visualization Theater, 100 Jordan Hall of Science

Keith Davis, Director, Digital Visualization Theater

Join us in the DVT (Digital Visualization Theater) for a captivating planetarium show about the Juno space probe’s five-year-long journey to study Jupiter.



God's Energy: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

September 17 (Michigan State)
1–2 pm
101 Jordan Hall of Science

Abigail Mechtenberg, Applied Physics, Assistant Teaching Professor Department of Physics, ND Energy, Research in Energy & Sustainable Development

This talk will walk through the physics of energy as well as human issues around energy. With this physics-human energy integration, researchers ask: what happens when the affordable-reliable energy sources aren’t available? Join us as we also learn about the impact of energy crises across the world today. Whether it’s diesel supplies for the US military or how a lack of reliable electricity affects health of 1.2 billion people across the world, how does a Notre Dame physicist engage in this global dialogue? Hear about the issues and solutions being implemented by US military and Ugandans to solve their own energy crises and a brief discussion of the energy options of tomorrow. Afterward, join us in the galleria for physics of energy demonstrations and laboratories.


The Shape of Information

September 24 (Duke)
12–1 pm
101 Jordan Hall of Science

J. Arlo Caine,Visiting Assitant Professor

In science, we use the plot of a data set to infer relationships between the quantities being measured. We do this because the information then has the shape of a graph and Calculus taught us that the shape of the graph has meaning. For example, weather stations at airports across the country record the air pressure at the surface at a common time; from the plot of these strings of 3 numbers (pressure, lat., long.) meteorologists spot the highs and lows of pressure and map the pressure gradients to estimate wind direction and velocity. With the personal computing and internet revolutions, individuals, companies, and governments are collecting and storing vast amounts of information with the hopes of inferring relationships among the variables being measured. Much of this information is quantitative and can be thought of as large strings of numbers which, in turn, can be thought of as points in a high dimensional space the same way that strings of three numbers can be thought of as points in 3-space. Computational topology (or CompTop for short) is a rapidly developing field of applied mathematics, statistics, and computer science which is harvesting the fruits of a vast subject of 20th century research mathematics (algebraic topology) and bringing them to this 21st century market. This talk will help you understand how mathematicians think broadly about “shape” in higher dimensions and survey some of the amazing applications of this analysis of "big data" to cancer research and brain science.

Patricia Clark

Protein Misfolding: A Common Thread Connecting Many Diseases

October 15 (Stanford)
1–2 pm
101 Jordan Hall of Science

Patricia Clark, O'Hara Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry and Concurrent Professor of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Proteins are the workhorses of our cells, carrying out essentially every role related to catalysis, cell structure and transport.  Proteins are synthesized as linear polymers but must fold into diverse 3D shapes in order to carry out their diverse functions.  Failure of a protein to fold correctly can lead to a wide variety of devastating human diseases, spurring the search for common mechanisms to help keep protein folding on the correct path.

Fang Liu

Privacy Deja Vu: The Era of Big Data

October 29 (Miami)
1:00 p.m.
101 Jordan Hall of Science

Fang Liu, Huisking Foundation, Inc. Assistant Professor of Applied and Computational Mathematics and Statistics

Privacy and data security concerns are among the most critical issues in data collection, dissemination and analysis. After the first wave of privacy protection efforts in the late 1990s and early 2000s, privacy protection has found its way to the public eye, riding the wave of "big data." Big data has only become possible in recent years with advances in collection, storage, and interpretation of massive and complex data from medicine, financial institutions, social media, mobile devices, and online merchandisers, among others. While there are many benefits to the growth of big data analytics, traditional methods of privacy protections often fail. Anonymity is also eroded in a big data paradigm. Even if every individual piece of information is stripped of personal information, integration of the individual pieces can reveal the individual's identity. This talk will cover the potential harms arising from big data collection and some advances from the technical perspective in addressing these concerns without compromising the potential benefits big data can bring to society.  

From the Frontlines of Flint:

The College of Science hosts the Virginia Tech researchers who uncovered the Flint Water Crisis

November 19 (Virginia Tech)
11 am–12 pm
101 Jordan Hall