News » Archives » May 2012

The science behind the Transit of Venus

Author: William G. Gilroy

Peter Garnavich

University of Notre Dame professor of physics Peter Garnavich has research interests that cover a wide range of topics in observational astrophysics. In preparation for the Tuesday (June 5) Transit of Venus, he offers an explanation of the science behind this rare event.

“The transit of Venus across the face of the sun is one of the rarest events in the solar system. Venus has passed directly between the Earth and sun only 52 times between 2000 BC and 2000 AD; that’s 4,000 years! There have only been seven Venus transits since the invention of the telescope in the early 1600s. The transit on June 5 will be No. 8. The next chance to see a Venus transit is in 105.5 years."

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Fulbright Award supports LoSecco’s Double Chooz work in France

Author: Shelly Goethals

LoSecco John LoSecco, professor of physics, will spend six months in France as a Fulbright Foreign Scholar starting this fall. The award will enable him to be on-site at a critical stage of the international Double Chooz experiment that has been under way for years. The project will be installing its second neutrino detector north of Paris in August.

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Notre Dame to celebrate Transit of Venus with series of events

Author: William G. Gilroy

Transit of Venus

On Tuesday (June 5), the Earth, Venus and the Sun will align for the last time in the lifetime of any human on the planet. This rare event called the Transit of Venus, when the planet Venus passes directly in front of the Sun, won’t be seen on Earth again until 2117.

The Transit of Venus is a rare astronomical event because Venus and Earth orbit the Sun on planes that align only twice in an eight-year period, and then the orbits do not realign for either 121.5 or 105.5 years.

When Venus transits the sun, what we see from Earth is a small black dot that passes along a path from left to right.

The University of Notre Dame is hosting a series of events to mark the Transit.

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Center for Math hosts undergraduate topology and field theory seminar

Author: Gene Stowe


Twenty-eight undergraduate mathematics students from different universities, including nine students from Notre Dame, gathered on campus May 21-26 to study knot theory, hearing lectures and working in open-ended problem sessions that can continue when the event ends. The session was part of the Center for Mathematics’ Thematic Program on Topology and Field Theories program that includes a week for graduate and postdoctoral students and another for a conference.

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Jeffery Diller earns 2012 Schilts/Leonard Teaching Award

Author: Stephanie Healey


Dean Greg Crawford presented the 2012 Father James. L  Schilts, C.S.C./ Doris and Eugene Leonard Teaching Award to Jeffrey Diller, professor of mathematics, at the annual Dean’s Awards Luncheon.  Over 180 students, family members, faculty, and staff were in attendance at the annual event on May 18, 2012 in the Jordan Hall of Science Galleria.

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Biology Graduate Student Paul Kroeger Receives Oral Presentation Prize from the Society for Developmental Biology

Author: Faith Hagedorn

Paul KroegerThe Society for Developmental Biology has awarded Paul Kroeger with prestigious second place honors for his invited oral presentation at the recent 50th Annual Midwest Developmental Biology Meeting, held May 10-12, 2012 at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH. Paul is a 5th year Ph.D. candidate in the laboratory of Dr. Robert A. Schulz.

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What baboons can teach us about social status

Author: William G. Gilroy

Wounded baboon

Turns out it’s not bad being top dog, or in this case, top baboon.

A new study by University of Notre Dame biologist Beth Archie and colleagues from Princeton and Duke Universities finds that high-ranking male baboons recover more quickly from injuries and are less likely to become ill than other males.

Archie, Jeanne Altmann of Princeton and Susan Alberts of Duke examined health records from the Amboseli Baboon Research Project in Kenya. They found that high rank is associated with faster wound healing. The finding is somewhat surprising, given that top-ranked males also experience high stress, which should suppress immune responses. They also found that social status is a better predictor of wound healing than age.

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Navari presents Olanzapine study results at American Society of Clinical Oncology

Author: Gail Hinchion Mancini

Rudolph M

Cancer patients who suffer chemotherapy–induced nausea and vomiting (CINV) are experiencing effective relief as a result of new research indicating the usefulness of the anti-psychotic olanzapine to control these potentially debilitating side effects.

"This is the first time that breakthrough CINV has been studied in a systematic way," said Dr. Rudolph M. Navari, lead author of the study and professor of medicine, associate dean of IUSM-SB and clinical director of the Harper Cancer Research Institute. "This study suggests that olanzapine will be very useful in these patients who feel very sick and sometimes come to the clinic, hospital or emergency room. As a result, patients will feel better."

Navari is presenting his findings next month at the annual conferences of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer 2012 Annual International Symposium.

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Notre Dame and Cleveland Clinic form health care innovation alliance

Author: Julie Hail Flory

Notre Dame and Cleveland Clinic

The University of Notre Dame has entered into a collaborative relationship with the Cleveland Clinic for joint development and commercialization of medical innovations.

Notre Dame will be the first university within the Cleveland Clinic Healthcare Innovation Alliance network, which includes the largest nonprofit health care system in the mid-Atlantic, MedStar Health and its MedStar Institute for Innovation; and the nation’s second-largest nonprofit, secular health care system, North Shore Long Island Jewish and its Feinstein Institute for Medical Research.

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Science dean biking 3,250 miles to bring attention to rare disease research

Author: Marissa Gebhard

Road to Discovery

Greg Crawford, dean of the College of Science at the University of Notre Dame, will be cycling 3,250 miles from Boston to Pebble Beach, Calif., to raise awareness and funds for research to find a cure for Niemann-Pick Type C (NPC) disease. His third cross-country ride will start May 21 (Monday) and conclude June 22 (Friday), in time for the Parseghian Classic, a golf fundraiser at Pebble Beach Resorts.

The “Road to Discovery” bicycle ride demonstrates Notre Dame’s commitment to research to find a cure or treatments for the devastating disease that took the lives of three grandchildren of former Notre Dame head football coach Ara Parseghian.

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Scientific Entrepreneurship students pitch their business plans

Author: Gene Stowe


Members of Dean Greg Crawford’s Scientific Entrepreneurship course gave semester-culminating formal pitches for businesses developed from research discovery.  Judges included academics and entrepreneurs with experience in presenting business plans to potential investors.

The two-hour course, which includes undergraduates in a range of majors including chemical engineering, environmental science, biological sciences, science-business, physics and mathematics, introduces students to the process of commercializing ideas and products from the laboratory.

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2012 College of Science Joint Annual Meeting showcases undergraduate research to over 400 attendees

Author: Stephanie Healey


The College of Science Joint Annual Meeting (COS-JAM) attracted over 400 hundred student attendees to the Jordan Hall of Science on Friday, May 4.  Undergraduate students presented their original research in the areas of Applied and Computational Mathematics and Statistics, Physics, Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Biological Sciences.  Twenty five students gave oral presentations and 102 students showcased their research through poster presentations. In addition, five guest presenters from the Northern Indiana Regional Science and Engineering Fair for elementary and high school students exhibited their research in the Galleria. The attendance at this year’s event was the largest in the six year history of COS-JAM.

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Undergraduate researchers contribute to new discovery in superconductor metastability

Author: Gene Stowe


Researchers in the laboratory of Professor Morten Ring Eskildsen have recently published the first findings on metastability in the superconductor magnesium diboride (MgB2). The paper, “Observation of Well-Ordered Metastable Vortex Lattice Phases in Superconducting MgB2 Using Small-Angle Neutron Scattering,” appeared in the April 20 issue of Physical Review Letters. Two of its authors, Tommy O'Brien '10 and Kim Schlesinger '11, were undergraduate researchers who had received support from the Glynn Family Honors Program and the summer REU program at Notre Dame.

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Notre Dame student discovers rare star

Author: Marissa Gebhard

Infrared image of the field surrounding WR 142b

Many students work the night shift to get through law school, but Colin Littlefield’s late-night job at the Notre Dame Observatory has led to a one-in-a-billion discovery of a rare type of star, a Wolf-Rayet. Littlefield discovered the exceptional star, named WR 142b, this past summer, and he and his colleagues announced the discovery in a paper accepted for publication in The Astronomical Journal.

Co-authors of the paper include Peter Garnavich, Terry Rettig and Colin McClelland of the University of Notre Dame Department of Physics; Howie Marion of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Jozsef Vinko of the University of Szeged in Hungary; and J. Craig Wheeler of the University of Texas at Austin.

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