Talk Science showcases CMS research and odysseys in pharmaceutical medicine

Author: Shadia Ajam

Talk Science

Talk Science

The students from Scientia, the undergraduate journal of scientific research, host a monthly seminar series called Talk Science that highlights the work of undergraduate and faculty researchers at the University. This semester, Talk Science events focus on research that can be applied in innovative ways. This month’s presenters were senior physics major Christopher Barnes and Michael Flavin, Ph.D., managing director of Flavin Ventures LLC and CEO of Shamrock Structures.

The first presentation, “Simulation development for equipment upgrades and new physics searches on CMS” showcased Barnes’s research conducted in the past two summers as part of REU programs at Baylor University and Purdue University. CMS is short for The Compact Muon Solenoid, which is one of the four detectors at the Large Hadron Collider. The experiment is one of the largest scientific collaborations in history.

At Baylor, Barnes installed and configured a Monte Carlo event generator, SHERPA (Simulations of the High-Energy Reactions of Particles). His work focused on using information from the photon + 3 jets events and comparing these interactions to Z + 3 jets events to predict the invisible Z background. The Z decays into two neutrinos, which cannot be detected, in the Z + 3 jets interaction. The following summer at Purdue, he generated a simulation to model the efficiency of finding tau clusters using pixel sensor chips.

The presentation “An antibiotic odyssey,” focused on Dr. Flavin’s experience with Advanced Life Sciences, specifically their work on developing and testing their antibiotic, Restanza Dr. Flavin discussed an antibiotic that his company bought from Abbott and the process of taking it through clinical trials, hence his "odyssey" of getting a drug to market. Ultimately, the company must redo their trials because of changes in the FDA's approval process.

Shamrock Structures is a protein crystallography research company founded in 2003 by Flavin Ventures LLC to provide pharmaceutical researchers with access to technologies and expertise for three-dimensional protein structure determination and small molecule drug leads. Dr. Flavin is also CEO of Advanced Life Sciences, a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of new drugs to fight infection, inflammation and cancer. Dr. Flavin received his  B.S. degree in chemistry from Notre Dame and his Ph.D. degree in medicinal chemistry from University of Illinois at Chicago.

Talk Science provides a fun, informal, and stimulating environment for all undergraduates to keep up with research from Notre Dame’s scientific community. All undergraduates with an interest in science, engineering, or research are invited to Scientia’s next Talk Science seminar on Tuesday, April 28 in the Jordan Hall of Science Reading Room. Questions about Scientia or Talk Science can be directed to Katrina Magno or Orrin Belden at