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Newsletters of the Institute for Physical Science and Technology


Ellen Williams, former Director of ARPA-E and Distinguished University Professor, comments in Science Magazine on recent pick to lead energy technology program

July 17, 2018. Distinguished University Professor Ellen Williams (IPST / Physics) was quoted in Science Magazine, July 13, in an article on the White House nominee for Director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).

From December 2014, Williams served as Director of ARPA-E where she was responsible for the oversight of the Agency. Launched in 2009, ARPA-E focuses on early-stage technologies that could fundamentally change the way we generate, use, and store energy. Prior to Senate confirmation to her role at ARPA-E she was a Senior Advisor, Office of the Secretary of Energy where she established the Office of Technology Transitions, defining its initial goals for technology commercialization and engagement with the business and industrial sectors.


Research reveals how energy dissipates outside Earth's magnetic field

May 22, 2018. NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission, with help from James Drake (IPST / Physics), is the first to observe a new type of turbulent magnetic reconnection, providing important clues about heating in the Sun's outer layers. Read the full story.


Konstantina Trivisa earns 2018 Outstanding Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) Award

May 2, 2018. Konstantina Trivisa (IPST / Math), the Associate Director of IPST, has been selected for the Outstanding Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) Award for 2018, for her energetic leadership of the Applied Mathematics and Statistics, and Scientific Computation Program (AMSC).

The AMSC program is one of the most highly ranked applied math programs in the US. This program is supported jointly by the Department of Mathematics, the Center for Scientific Computation and Mathematical Modeling (CSCAMM), and IPST.

Konstantina's research, combining nonlinear partial differential equations and continuum physics with applications to problems in fluid dynamics, materials science and biology, has been recognized by a Sloan Fellowship, a Presidential Early Career (PECASE) Award, and a Simons Foundation Fellowship, among others. She has also been selected as an ADVANCE Professor and Leadership Fellow at UMD for her work on diversity and inclusion.


Elaine Oran Elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

May 2, 2018. Elaine Oran (IPST / Glenn L. Martin Institute professor of engineering) has been elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is among 213 new members of the academy being recognized for their accomplishments as scholars, scientists, writers, artists, and civic and philanthropic leaders.

The American Academy, founded in 1780, is a society and center for nonpartisan policy research dedicated to the cultivation of the arts and sciences. Other IPST faculty who are members of the American Academy include Distinguished University Professors Michael Fisher, Christopher Jarzynski, Eugenia Kalnay, John Weeks and Ellen Williams. Elaine will be inducted into the American Academy in October in Cambridge, Massachusetts.



IPST faculty use AI to predict chaos

April 26, 2018. Professors Michelle Girvan (IPST / Physics) and Brian Hunt (IPST / Mathematics) along with Edward Ott (Physics / ECE / IREAP) graduate student Jaideep Pathak (Physics / IREAP), and recent Chemical Physics Ph.D. Zhixin Lu (IPST / IREAP, now at the University of Pennsylvania) discovered artificial intelligence's amazing ability to predict chaos. They employed a machine-learning algorithm called reservoir computing to "learn" the dynamics of an archetypal chaotic system called the Kuramoto-Sivashinsky equation. Read the full story.


IPST External Review

April 17, 2018. On Monday and Tuesday, April 23-24, IPST will host a highly distinguished External Review Committee consisting of Professors Russel Caflisch (New York University, Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences), Jean Carlson (UC Santa Barbara, Physics), Herbert Levine (Rice University, Bioengineering), and Steven Sibener, (University of Chicago, Chemistry). This committee has been invited by the College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences to review the Institute and to provide advice regarding its interdisciplinary research and education missions. The committee will meet with IPST faculty, staff and students, and with Dean Amitabh Varshney, and will conclude the visit by writing a report on their findings.


Lise-Marie Imbert-Gérard joins the faculty of IPST, Mathematics, and CSCAMM

April 13, 2018. Dr. Lise-Marie Imbert-Gérard joined the campus community as an Assistant Professor in January 2018, with a joint appointment in the Department of Mathematics, the Center for Scientific Computation and Mathematical Modeling, and IPST.

She earned her Ph.D. in 2013 from Université Pierre et Marie Curie, where she studied with Bruno Després at the Laboratoire Jacques-Louis Lions in Paris, after which she was a postdoctoral research associate at the Courant Institute at New York University. Her research in the propagation of time-harmonic waves in variable media has, more recently, focused on time-dependent problems for resonances.

John Weeks to give inaugural David Chandler Memorial Lecture in Physical Chemistry

April 12, 2018. Distinguished University Professor John Weeks (IPST / Chemistry and Biochemistry) will give the inaugural David Chandler Memorial Lecture in Physical Chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, on April 17. Sponsored by the UC Berkeley College of Chemistry, the lecture series was established in 2017 to carry forward the scientific vision of David Chandler (1944-2017), a pillar of the theoretical physical chemistry community.

In the early 1970's, John Weeks, David Chandler, and Hans Andersen established the foundations of modern liquid state perturbation theory, providing accurate expressions for calculating thermodynamic properties of liquids, as well as deep insights into the crucial roles of short- and long-range forces in determining those properties.


Pratyush Tiwary obtains Graduate School Research and Scholarship Award

December 6, 2017. IPST and Chemistry/Biochemistry Assistant Professor Pratyush Tiwary has been awarded a Graduate School Research and Scholarship Award for Summer 2018. The award program supports faculty research, scholarship and creative activity, while enhancing graduate student mentoring. The award also encourages fellowship proposal writing, ensures accountability and increases visibility of faculty achievement. Tiwary's research group conducts inter-disciplinary theoretical and computational research to model and predict thermodynamics, dynamics and their interplay in complex real-world systems, relevant to pharmaceutical, chemical and materials sciences.


Michelle Girvan and Wolfgang Losert elected Fellows of the American Physical Society

October 12, 2017. Michelle Girvan (IPST / Physics) and Wolfgang Losert (IPST / Physics / IREAP) have been elected Fellows of the American Physical Society (APS) by the APS Council of Representatives upon the recommendations of the Topical Group on Statistical and Nonlinear Physics, for the former, and the Division of Biological Physics, for the later. Election to Fellowship in the APS is limited to no more than one half of one percent of the membership and it is a prestigious recognition by peers of outstanding contributions to physics. The citation for Michelle Girvan reads: For seminal contributions to the nonlinear and statistical physics of complex networks, including the characterization of network structures and dynamics, and interdisciplinary applications. The citation for Wolgang Losert reads: For his imaginative studies of complex living systems. We congratulate both Michelle and Wolfgang for their honors.


Miguel Sanjuán, Fulbright Visiting Scholar, elected member to the Academia Europaea: The Academy of Europe

October 6, 2017. Professor Miguel A. F. Sanjuán (Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Spain), who is currently at IPST as a Fulbright Visiting Scholar, has been elected into the Academia Europaea: The Academy of Europe. He is a regular collaborator with Distinguished University Professor James A. Yorke (IPST / Mathematics / Physics). We congratulate Professor Sanjuán.


23rd Annual Shih-I Pai Lecture

September 19, 2017. The Institute for Physical Science and Technology and the Department of Physics announce the 23rd Annual Shih-I Pai Lecture. This year's lecture will be presented by Danielle S. Bassett, Eduardo D. Glandt Faculty Fellow, Bioengineering Department, University of Pennsylvania, MacArthur Fellow 2014. Her talk, "Perturbation and Control of Human Brain Network Dynamics," will be given on Tuesday, October 17, 2017 at 4:00 pm in room 1412 of the Physics building at the University of Maryland, College Park. A reception preceding the lecture will take place at the James A. Yorke Rotunda in William E. Kirwan Hall from 3 to 3:50 pm. All are invited. Further details can be found at the Annual Shih-I Pai Lecture news announcement.


Chris Jarzynski to give Pitzer Seminar in Physical Chemistry

September 19, 2017. Professor Christopher Jarzynski (IPST / Department of Chemistry and Biochemisty) will give the prestigious Pitzer Seminar in Physical Chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley. The Kenneth S. Pitzer Lecturship was established in the Department of Chemistry at UC Berkeley to bring to that department internationally distinguished physical chemists for the purpose of encouraging and stimulating interest in this field.


Eun-Suk Seo to Chair 19th US-Korea Conference

August 7, 2017. Professor Eun-Suk Seo (IPST / Physics) will be Chairing the 19th US-Korea Conference on Science, Technology and Entrepreneurship, taking place from August 9 to August 12 in Crystal City, VA. The conference will be attended by over 1,000 scientists, engineers, industry executives, government officials and policy-makers from both the U.S. and Korea. The program includes symposia, forums and workshops covering broad areas of science and technology and boasts prominent speakers including Nobel Laureate and College Park Professor John Mather.

Professor Seo is 46th President of the Korean-American Scientists and Engineers Association (KSEA) - the first woman to serve in this capacity. Seo joined the University of Maryland in 1991 where she is the leader of the ISS-CREAM project, an international collaboration investigating the origin of the extremely high energies of cosmic rays.


Second US-Russia workshop on Phase Transitions in Fluids and Plasma

April 18, 2017. Professor Mikhail Anisimov (IPST / ChBE) has organized the Second US-Russia workshop on Phase Transitions in Fluids and Plasma, which will be hosted by IPST on April 21, 2017. This workshop brings together experts from the University of Maryland and the Russian Academy of Sciences to discuss the physics, chemistry and modeling of fluids and plasmas under extreme conditions.


Don Reames publishes a book on Solar Energetic Particles

March 23, 2017. Senior Research Scientist Donald Reams (IPST) published a book entitled "Solar Energetic Particles: A modern Primer on Understanding Sources, Acceleration and Propagation" (Springer) on April 12. The book introduces the background environment and some basic properties of solar energetic particles (SEP) events, time durations, abundances, and solar cycle variations to the non-specialist reader.

Reames, who joined IPST in 2007, earned his Ph.D. in nuclear physics at the University of California at Berkeley. He subsequently joined NASA-Goddard Space Flight Center where he worked with experiments on the Gemini, IMP, ISEE, Helios, Voyager, Wind and STEREO missions. He is the recipient of the 2012 George Ellery Hale Prize from the American Astronomical Society in recognition "...of his pioneering work on the composition and transport of Solar Energetic Particles, and for the key insights that firmly established the modern paradigm for SEP production."


Ellen Williams returns to UMD

March 16, 2017. Our colleague Ellen Williams (IPST / Physics) has returned to the University of Maryland following a leave of absence spent sequentially working as Chief Scientist at BP and as Director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (DOE). Her research interests include the applications of technological innovation for modernizing the world’s energy system, and understanding the uptake and pathways of innovative new energy technologies.


Eun-Suk Seo's work highlighted on eve of upcoming experiment flying to International Space Station

March 3, 2017. Today we are proud to share a new feature story on research from Eun-Suk Seo (IPST / Physics), who leads the Cosmic Ray Physics Group at IPST. For more than a decade, Seo's team has overseen seven Long Duration Balloon (LDB) missions in Antarctica dedicated to studying the nature of cosmic rays. This year, instruments designed and built by Seo's group will journey to the International Space Station for a three-year mission to capture cosmic ray data beyond Earth's atmosphere.


Michael Fisher publishes a book on statistical physics

March 3, 2017. Distinguished University Professor Michael E. Fisher (IPST) recently published a book entitled Excursions in the Land of Statistical Physics". The book provides a collection of selected reviews written by Professor Fisher, spanning a 50-plus year career. The first chapter, written in 1991 by Fisher’s postdoctoral advisor Cyril Domb, talks of his early academic life at King’s College London. The final article, "Statistical Physics in the Oeuvre of Chen Ning Yang" published in the International Journal of Modern Physics B in 2015, stems from the 2015 Conference on 60 Years of Yang-Mills Gauge Field Theories.

In 1983 Fisher was awarded the James Murray Luck Award for Excellence in Scientific Reviewing by the National Academy of Sciences for his "...continuing sequence of reviews that put into proper perspective discoveries concerning critical phenomena and defined the fundamental problems he and others subsequently resolved."


Chemical Physics Alumnus named a 2017 Sloan Research Fellow

February 23, 2017. Professor Suriyanarayanan Vaikuntanathan (University of Chicago) has been awarded a prestigious Sloan Research Fellowship in Chemistry. Suri received his Ph.D. in Chemical Physics from UMD in 2011. An Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Chicago, Suri and his group develop and use tools of equilibrium and non-equilibrium statistical mechanics to understand the behavior of complex systems in physical chemistry, soft condensed matter physics and biophysics.

"I was delighted to hear the news that Suri was named a 2017 Sloan Research Fellow. This award is a testament to his scientific creativity and to the attention that his research has attracted", says Christopher Jarzynski (IPST / Chemistry / Physics), Suri’s Ph.D. advisor.

Vaikuntanathan’s current work has demonstrated how non-equilibrium growth dynamics can be harnessed for novel material self-assembly as well as how information processing mechanisms in biophysical circuits can be protected against rogue fluctuations.

The two-year $60,000 Sloan Research Fellowships are awarded to U.S. and Canadian researchers in the fields of chemistry, computer science, economics, mathematics, computational and evolutionary molecular biology, neuroscience, ocean sciences, and physics.

Since 1955, Sloan Research Fellows have gone on to win 43 Nobel Prizes, 16 Fields Medals, 69 National Medals of Science, 16 John Bates Clark Medals and numerous other distinguished awards.


UMD Student Interdisciplinary Team Head to SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition Design Weekend

January 27, 2017. The UMD Hyperloop Team is in Hawthorne, California testing their human-scale pod on the recently constructed SpaceX test track. One of 30 teams competing, the UMD multi-disciplinary team of more than 25 undergraduate students is supported by IPST, Engineering and CMNS. The SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition, geared towards university students and independent engineering teams, begins on January 27, with the winners being announced on January 29.

Update (1/30/2017): Congratulations to the UMD Hyperloop Team who won the Performance and Operations" award AND placed in the top 10 in the "Design and Construction" category.

See the team assemble the Loop’s frame.


Dan Lathrop elected Vice-Chair of APS/GSNP

January 20, 2017. IPST and Physics Professor Daniel Lathrop was recently elected Vice-Chair of the American Physical Society (APS) Group on Statistical and Nonlinear Physics (GSNP). The Vice-Chair serves in that capacity for one year, becomes Chair-Elect in year two, and then serves as Chair of GSNP in year three.

Lathrop’s research in the Nonlinear Dynamics Lab focuses on turbulent fluid flows, geomagnetism and experiments on superfluid helium. A Fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Lathrop was the recipient of the 2012 Stanley Corrsin Award in recognition of "...his striking observations of flow in a quantum fluid including detection of counter-flow that confirmed the two-fluid picture of quantum fluid, observation and characterization of reconnections of quantized vortices, and the discovery of an inverse-cube tail in the velocity distribution of superfluid turbulence."