News » Archives » October 2012

Nuclear accelerator open house and tours to be held Saturday

Author: Stephanie Healey

Nuclear Accelerator

The Department of Physics will host an open house for the Nuclear Science Laboratory on Saturday, November 3 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m in 124 Nieuwland Science Hall.  The open house is free and open to the public.  Tours will leave every 15 minutes from room 124.

Faculty and students from the Nuclear Science Laboratory will lead guests on guided tours through the lab, including the new vertical accelerator, which is a 10-ton unit that spans five stories. The accelerator was installed this spring based on a $3.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation.  This was the first university-based accelerator in the United States to be funded by the NSF in nearly 30 years.

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Physicists confirm first planet discovered in a quadruple star system

Author: Gene Stowe and Marissa Gebhard

The first extrasolar planet in a quadruple star system has been discovered

Justin Crepp, Freimann Assistant Professor of physics at the University of Notre Dame, provided the high-contrast imaging observations that confirmed the first extrasolar planet discovered in a quadruple star system. He is a co-author on a paper about the discovery, “Planet Hunters: A Transiting Circumbinary Planet in a Quadruple Star System,” recently posted to the open-access arXiv.org, and submitted for publication to The Astrophysical Journal.

Crepp’s images revealed that the system involved two sets of binary stars. The planet was first noticed by volunteer citizen scientists studying publicly available Kepler data as part of the Planet Hunters citizen science project.

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Dovichi and Serianni named Fellows of the Royal Chemistry Society

Author: Stephanie Healey

Norman Dovichi

Anthony Serianni

Norman Dovichi, Grace-Rupley Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Anthony Serianni, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, have been named as Fellows of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC).  Fellowships are awarded to members who have made an outstanding contribution to the advancement or application of chemical science, the chemical science profession, or the management or direction of an organization in which Chemical Science is important.

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New paper examines shifting gears in the circadian clock of the heart

Author: William G. Gilroy

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A new study conducted by a team of scientists led by Giles Duffield, assistant professor of biological sciences and a member of the Eck Institute for Global Health at the University of Notre Dame, focuses on the circadian clock of the heart, using cultured heart tissue. The results of the new study have implications for cardiovascular health, including daily changes in responses to stress and the effect of long-term rotational shift work.

“Our data highlights the sensitivity of the body’s major organs to GR signaling, and in particular the heart,” Duffield said. “This could be problematic for users of synthetic glucocorticoids, often used to treat chronic inflammation. Also the differences we observe between important organ systems such as the heart and liver might explain some of the internal disturbance to the synchrony between these tissues that contain their own internal clocks that can occur during shift-work and jet lag."

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The Fall Undergraduate Research Fair will be held on Thursday, October 25

Author: Stephanie Healey

2012 Fall Undergraduate Research Fair

The annual Fall Undergraduate Research Fair will take place on Thursday, October 25 from 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. in the Jordan Hall of Science. All science students are invited and encouraged to attend to learn more about the undergraduate research experience at Notre Dame.

Students who are already involved in research will be at the fair to present their original work through poster presentations. The schedule of events is as follows:

  • Undergraduate Research Opportunities in Chemistry – 6:00-7:00 p.m., Room 105
  • Poster Presentations – 7:00-8:00 p.m., Galleria
  • Undergraduate Research Internship Information Night – 8:00-9:00 p.m., Room 105

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New book takes readers on mathematical excursions to the world’s greatest buildings

Author: William G. Gilroy

Mathematical Excursions to the World's Great Buildings

When many of us view a great building, we are struck by the majesty and artistry that spring from its form, function and materials. University of Notre Dame mathematician Alexander J. Hahn sees all this, but also something more. He sees the mathematics that lies at the heart of great buildings and finds in it a beauty of its own.

Hahn examines the mathematics at work in great buildings in a compelling and richly illustrated new book, “Mathematical Excursions to the World’s Great Buildings,” published by Princeton University Press.

“Mathematical Excursions” discuss the pyramids of Egypt; the Parthenon in Athens; the Colosseum and Pantheon in Rome; the Hagia Sophia; historic mosques; great Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance cathedrals; some of Palladio’s villas; the U.S. Capitol; and three icons of the 20th century: the Sydney Opera House, the Gateway Arch in St. Louis and the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.

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Celebrate Science Indiana educates hundreds of K-12 students

Author: Shelly Goethals

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On Saturday, October 6, the Notre Dame College of Science and Department of Physics were well-represented at the second annual Celebrate Science Indiana (CSI). CSI was a public event held at the Indiana State Fairgrounds intended to demonstrate the importance of studying science and the joy of discovery, the economic value of science, and its significance to society.

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Nanotechnology competition brings top undergraduate researchers from across U.S. to Notre Dame

Author: Arnie Phifer

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Elisabeth Bianco, a senior chemistry major at Ohio State University, received the $3,000 first place award at the second annual Notre Dame Competition in Nanoscience and Nanoengineering, and Campus Tour (NDConnect).

Bianco won for her exploration of the properties of a one-atom-thick layer of the semiconductor germanium, which she synthesized for the first time and then characterized.

“Only a couple of years ago, the Nobel Prize was awarded to the researchers who developed graphene, a two-dimensional material made of carbon atoms,” says Ken Kuno, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Notre Dame.

“Elisabeth’s work moves beyond graphene by looking at a two-dimensional layer of germanium, which has many interesting properties, including advantages in the development of new transistors for computers.”

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Serianni’s Omicron synthesizes molecules other companies use for research

Author: Gene Stowe

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Anthony Serianni was a postdoctoral associate at Cornell University when he and his adviser, Robert Barker, started Omicron Biochemicals in 1982, the same year Serianni joined the chemistry and biochemistry faculty at the University of Notre Dame.

"We had developed some new chemistry that made the synthesis of certain kinds of sugar molecules easier to do," says Serianni, the president and CEO. "At that time, I had intentions of pursuing an academic career. I had already applied to Notre Dame.

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Graduate student Huijing Du is first author on paper published in Biophysical Journal

Author: Gene Stowe

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Huijing Du, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Applied and Computational Mathematics and Statistics, was first author on a paper published in the Biophysical Journal in August. The article, “High density waves of the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa in propagating swarms result in efficient colonization of surfaces,” reports how a bacterium, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, alters its environment as it swarms to colonize surfaces and form biofilms that help it resist antibiotics.

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Notre Dame, Purdue physicists create novel nanostructure that has promise for quantum computation

Author: Marissa Gebhard

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Two Notre Dame physicists, Xinyu Liu; and Jacek Furdyna, have collaborated with Purdue physicist Leonid Rokhinson on constructing a novel nanostructure that has allowed them to observe a long-sought-after particle referred to as Majorana fermion. The existence of this particle was predicted by Ettore Majorana in the 1930s, but until now has eluded observation. Their findings were recently published in Nature Physics.

The long-standing interest in finding the Majorana particle has been twofold. First, from the point of view of fundamentals of physics, the particle has new and completely unique properties that range from its zero mass to the type of statistics to which it conforms. And second, precisely because of its novel statistical properties, it holds great promise for fault-tolerant quantum computation — a field that is expected to revolutionize the way computing will be done in the future.

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New EPA grant will help develop early detection technology for high-risk invasive species

Author: William G. Gilroy

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The University of Notre Dame has received a $599,931 Environmental Protection Agency grant under the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to develop technologies for the early detection of invasive species using environmental DNA.

In the present grant, the efficacy of environmental DNA will be tested across a diverse group of high-risk invasive species threatening the Great Lakes region, including mussels, snails, crayfish and plants such as Hydrilla. The research will develop novel genetic markers for environmental DNA detection of these high-risk invasive species.

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College of Science welcomes new faculty

Author: Brian Powers

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The College of Science is proud to welcome eight new teaching and research faculty members to the University of Notre Dame. They are all talented researchers and teachers, and are enthusiastic about being part of the Notre Dame community. To get to know them better, watch each new faculty member explain why they decided to join the Notre Dame College of Science community.

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Observation night attracts 450 students

Author: Grant Matthews

Physics Star Party 1Sept

The 2012 Annual Star Party was held on Monday, September 24.  Over 450 students, faculty, staff and South Bend community members attended the event. The first participants to arrive were treated to exceptional views of the first quarter Moon.  As the darkness grew deeper, attendees observed a few nebulae and globular clusters.

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Notre Dame entomologists help discover new species of malaria-transmitting mosquito

Author: William G. Gilroy and Sarah Craig

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University of Notre Dame entomologists are part of a team of researchers that recently discovered a potentially dangerous new malaria-transmitting mosquito. The as-yet-unnamed, and previously unreported, mosquito breeds in the western areas of Kenya and has an unknown DNA match to any of the existing malaria-transmitting species.

The Anopheles species of mosquitoes, which transmits malaria in Africa, is already widely studied by researchers. It prefers to rest indoors during the day and feed on humans during the night. Current malaria control programs, including spraying of insecticides and using insecticide-treated bed nets, are designed with these behaviors in mind.

Although the new species has never been implicated in the transmission of malaria, new discoveries in its biting habits pose a threat because it was found to be active outdoors and prefers to bite people earlier in the evening, soon after sunset, when people are not protected by current malaria control techniques.

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