Science Seminars

The Physics program promotes special interest topics in science through its weekly Science Seminars which are presented on Thursdays in Carson-Taylor Hall. Members of the scientific community, including Louisiana Tech students, faculty, and alumni, and other experts from around the world, provide attendees with overviews of their work and answer their questions. Attendees also have the opportunity to mingle over cookies and coffee before each seminar. The Science Seminars are free and open to the public.


Past Presentations


April 28, 2022. Speaker: Josh Joffrion, Ph.D. Candidate. "Graphene Nanoscroll Field-Effect Transistor-Based Radiation Sensors"

Graphene nanoscrolls (GNS) are an emerging new carbon nanomaterial that share the extraordinary electrical and mechanical properties of graphene and carbon nanotubes. Mr. Joffrion will explain the scalability and throughput of GNS synthesis techniques and some of the first experimental explorations into GNS applications. GNS has been used as the channel material for the creation of field-effect transistors (FETs), and the functionality of these FETs were extended to be used as radiation sensors for X-rays, gamma rays, and neutrons.

April 22, 2022. Speaker: Dr. Thomas Conner Bishop, Chemistry & Physics Professor. “GrUBS: Grand Unification for the Biology Sciences”

The Big Bang initialized physics. Genomics initialized life. As the language of life, genomes are subject to the rules of information theory. As material entities they are subject to the laws of physics. Here we introduce “genome transforms” for the interconversion between real space (3D material) and sequence space (1D informatics) representations of DNA. Genome transforms provide a framework for the grand unification of physical (microscopy, imaging, structure data) and informatics (sequence, functional data) world views and are the basis for a mathematical model of DNA conformation and dynamics that admits well known analytic solutions, topological analysis, and space-time symmetries.  Similarities with string theory, roller coasters, SMILES strings and more are exploited to develop novel ideas about genomic processes.

March 31, 2022; Speaker: Neven Simicevic, Professor of Physics. "Social Physics: Cats, Ants, and I-phones"

Seminar is on Cats, Ants and I-Phones, but with hidden implication on human behavior. This seminar is a mix of sociology, biology, physics, but, regardless what is your field of interest is, I hope it will make you think about our future.

March 22, 2022. Speaker: Dr. Matthew Klein, Prospective Professor from CERN. “Measurement of Higgs Boson Decays to Bottom Quarks with the ATLAS Detector at the LHC”

Prior to the operation of the Large Hadron Collider, one of the largest missing pieces in our understanding of fundamental physics was the Higgs boson, a theorized particle connected to the masses of other fundamental particles. In 2012, the two large, general purpose LHC experiments discovered a new fundamental particle. One of the primary goals of the LHC experiments going forward is the measurement of the particle’s properties, both to confirm its identity as the Standard Model Higgs boson and to search for deviations from what is expected, which may give evidence of beyond-the-Standard-Model (BSM) effects. It is expected that the Higgs boson decays to bottom quarks most of the time, and particularly due to its frequency, this decay is sensitive to a wide range of BSM effects. However, despite the large branching fraction, measuring this decay has been less precise than other, less frequent, decays, due to large backgrounds and difficulty in measuring and identifying bottom quarks. In this seminar, Dr. Klein will discuss the status and outlook of measurements of Higgs boson decays to bottom quarks, focusing on novel analysis techniques and machine-learning methods to perform these measurements with ever-greater precision.

February 16, 2022. Speaker: Joseph P. Dugas, Ph.D., DABR, Physics Residency Director. "So You Want to Be a Medical Physicist…"

In this talk, Dr. Dugas will introduce the audience to the profession of medical physics by defining both the discipline and the role of a medical physicist in the treatment of cancer and other conditions with emphasis on clinical careers. Practical examples of daily practice at the Willis-Knighton Cancer Center in Shreveport, LA will be discussed. Pathways for pursuing a career in medical physics, particularly for those with a graduate degree in physics or a related field will be examined. The talk will conclude with a discussion on the intersection of clinical practice and basic research as it pertains to the continued advancement of: 1) science, 2) imaging and treatment techniques, and 3) the field of medical physics in general.

February 9, 2022. Speaker: Dr. John Shaw, Physics Professor. "The James Webb Space Telescope: Where is it now and why is it there?"

A talk with a brief discussion of the history of the three-body problem and NASA missions that exploit three body dynamics to do cool things.

February 3, 2022; Speaker: Dr. Rakitha Beminiwattha, Assistant Professor of Physics. “Where Do Neutrons Go?”

Parity Violating Electron Scattering (PVES) is an extremely successful precision frontier tool that has been used for testing the Standard Model (SM) and understanding nucleon structure. PVES of longitudinally polarized electrons from 208Pb nuclei provides a clean measurement of the RMS radius of neutron distribution. A precise measurement of RMS radius provides important constraints to the density dependence of the symmetry energy in neutron-rich nuclear matter, a parameter of the nuclear equation of state. In the summer of 2019, the PREX collaboration successfully measured electroweak parity violating asymmetry to access the neutron distribution of neutron rich 208Pb nucleus using a longitudinally polarized 953 MeV electron beam from the CEBAF accelerator at Jefferson Lab. The PREX collaboration published the final results in the Spring of 2021. During the talk Dr. Beminiwattha will discuss the motivation to find the answer to the seemingly simple question, ‘’Where do neutrons go?’’. Then he will present an overview of the experiment and data analysis towards the final results. Finally, he will discuss the new insights into the structure of both atomic nuclei and neutron stars based on this precise measurement of the radial extent of neutrons in 208Pb nuclei. 

January 13, 2022. Speaker: Benjamin Meleton, Senior Physics Student. "The Astronomical History of Saturn's Rings."

There is no other planet in our solar system quite as dazzling or stunning as Saturn. Specifically, our eyes are drawn to the incredible rings that are chaotic, yet representative of a pattern. For centuries, Saturn’s rings have baffled astronomers as to their formation, the spectrum of their colors, and even their composition. Although many bodies possess ring systems, Saturn’s was the first observed and studied by astronomers. Benjamin led attendees on a journey to see how observational techniques and hypotheses about Saturn’s rings have changed over the centuries, starting with Galileo and ending with our modern-day understanding.


December 9, 2021. Speaker: Dr. Lee Sawyer, Physics Professor. "50 Years of Hadron Colliders."

On January 27, 1971, beams collided for the first time in the world’s first hadron collider, the Intersecting Storage Rings (ISR), changing the course of high-energy particle physics, forever. By May 18, beams were colliding at the design energy of 26.5 GeV/beam, and by July 2, the ISR’s first results were ready for presentation at the International Conference on Elementary Particles in Amsterdam.

Fifty years later, there have been five hadron colliders in the world, three at CERN and two in the US, each of which has enriched the sum of human knowledge and contributed to innovation in numerous ways. The 50th anniversary was an opportunity to look back at the achievements of previous and current machines to build the basis for future hadron colliders.

In this talk, Dr. Sawyer answered the questions “What are hadron colliders?”, “What scientific purpose do they serve?”, and “What are the future prospects for even larger hadron colliders?” Much of the talk was based on the recent symposium on the 50th anniversary, held at CERN on Oct. 14, 2021.

October 14, 2021. Speaker: Dr. Dentcho Genov, Physics Professor. "The Cosmological Model and Why We May Live in a Multiverse."

In this talk, Dr. Genov discussed the current cosmological model of the universe including its successes and failures. He revisited the Bertrand Theorem in classical mechanics and talked about its implications on the nature of the cosmos at large. Using Newtonian mechanics, he presented the equation of motion for the universe scale factor and then generalized it to the current lambda cold dark matter (ΛCDM) model. He talked about predictions of the model with emphasis on future scenarios such as eternal expansion, equilibrium, and contraction. He then deliberated the possible phenomenon behind the cosmological constant (dark energy) and the dramatic failure of the best theory we have to explain it with attendees. Finally, he presented some recent insights into possible extra-large structures beyond the edge of the cosmos such as brane worlds and multiverses. 

October 7, 2021. Speakers: Gabriel Peterman and Nicholas Jones, Nanosystems Engineering Students and Members of the Louisiana Tech Nanotechnology Council. "Summer 2021 Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REUs) of Nanosystems Engineering Students."

Through the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), two students from the Louisiana Tech Nanosystems Engineering program, Nicholas Jones and Gabriel Peterman, participated in separate national REU programs in the summer of 2021. In this talk, Nicholas described his summer research experience involving building a scanning electrochemical microscope at the University of Arkansas. Gabriel spoke on his research concerning the effects of traumatic brain injury on autophagy at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Additionally, both students talked about NSF REU programs in general. Their presentation covered information such as what REU programs are, how to apply, and the benefits of participating.

September 23, 2021. Speakers: Dr. Elisabeth Fatila, Chemistry Assistant Professor, and Deepthi Chappidi, Molecular Science and Nanotechnology Graduate Student. "Research Opportunities on an NSF Supported Project: A Summer at TAMU."

Through the support of the NSF EPSCoR RII: Track 4 program, faculty and students in the Chemistry program at Louisiana Tech were able to visit with the Dunbar lab at Texas A&M University. The scientific goal of the collaboration is to better understand the geometric, steric and electronic factors that can improve the performance of single-molecule magnets (SMMs). In this talk, the scientific goals and objectives of faculty and institutional improvement were covered. Additionally, this presentation included a light-hearted discussion about living in a new city and joining another laboratory from the perspective of a graduate student and faculty member.

September 16, 2021. Speakers: Dr. Neven Simicevic, Physics Professor. "An Introduction to Medical Physics for Everyone."

This seminar introduced Louisiana Tech’s Medical Physics track to students interested in pursuing a medical career, and informed the general public of modern trends in medical imaging diagnosis and therapy. Since we all go to the doctor’s office and often are required to make major decisions about treatment, this seminar touched on topics to help attendees evaluate medical options and make lifesaving decisions.

August 12, 2021. Speakers: Dr. Libo Jiang, Physics Faculty Candidate. "Latrino Oscillation and Interaction Measurements with Liquid Argon Time Projection Chambers."

The Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE) is the US flagship project for long-baseline neutrino oscillation experimentation. The goal of research done through DUNE is to investigate fundamental questions about the university by studying neutrino oscillation, in particular measuring the CP violation phase in neutrino. The DUNE far detector is located 1300 km away and consists of 4 detector modules. The first two modules will use liquid argon time projection chambers (LArTPCs) as chosen technology. The Short Baseline Neutrino Program at Fermilab uses the same technology including the first large LArTPC experiment microBooNE. protoDUNE is a prototype of DUNE far detector. In this talk, Dr. Jiang presented the principle of operation for liquid-argon neutrino detectors, the current status, and ongoing projects of the MicroBooNE, protoDUNE, and DUNE.


December 12, 2019. Speaker: Jessica Wasserman, Chemistry Instructor and Andrew Brown, Louisiana Tech American Chemical Society President. "REU."

Research experiences for undergraduates (REUs) allow students to get first-hand exposure to research, other institutions, and the scientists that work in them. For that reason, REUs are considered an integral part of undergraduate STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education. The presenters discussed the benefits of participating in REUs, and discussed the application process and how to write personal statements. Andrew also gave a first-hand account of his REU experience.

January 17, 2019. Speaker: Evan Norris, Senior Physics Student. "What are Research Experiences for Undergraduates and How to Find One."

Research experiences for undergraduates (REUs) allow students to get first-hand exposure to research and its execution in a different way than is standard within the university setting. For that reason, REUs are considered an integral part of undergraduate STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education. For this presentation, Evan discussed the application process for REUs, how to write personal statements and the benefits of participation with attendees. He also explained his own REU experience to give the audience an idea of what the experience is like.