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Newsletters of the Institute for Physical Science and Technology

Mary Pitman is inaugural CCR/NCI Outstanding Ph.D. Student Award recipient

February 17, 2020. Mary Pitman, UMD-NCI program student, is an inaugural co-recipient of the NIH Center for Cancer Research (CCR), National Cancer Institute (NCI), Outstanding Ph.D. Student Award. The Center established the award in recognition of their contribution as a group, and to highlight some of the best Ph.D. work in the CCR laboratories. Over 100 students across clinical and basic science labs–including UMD, JHU and Oxford–were considered.

Pitman (advisor Garegin Papoian, IPST/Chemistry) developed novel analytical methods to probe, for the first time, the mechanical properties of nucleosomes in chromatin. She had previously won the Outstanding Graduate Student Award of the Year at NCI.

The University of Maryland and the National Cancer Institute officially created the Partnership for Integrative Cancer Research in May 2010. Since summer 2018 the UMD-NCI partnership has been administered through the Institute for Physical Science and Technology (IPST). IPST, home to three major interdisciplinary graduate programs in CMNS including Biophysics, has been a significant contributor to the UMD-NCI partnership from the start.

Through this Partnership, students, professors, and investigators aim to solve the most pressing problems in cancer research by bringing together the expertise and resources in the mathematical sciences, physical sciences, biological sciences, and engineering at the University of Maryland, College Park, with basic, clinical, and translational research expertise of the National Cancer Institute/Center for Cancer Research. Wolfgang Losert (IPST/Physics) with Doron Levy (Mathematics) and Kimberly Stroka (BioEngineering) is a member of the Leadership team.

Peter Yoon and the Kinetic Theory of Weakly Turbulent Nonlinear Processes

January 4, 2020. Senior Research Scientist Peter Yoon (IPST) is author of the book "Classical Kinetic Theory of Weakly Turbulent Nonlinear Plasma Processes" published by Cambridge University Press. In Yoon's preface, he describes the book as providing "...a systematic overview of the kinetic theory of weak plasma turbulence from a modern perspective." A copy of the book is available in our Olver Room book collection.

A Fellow of the American Physical Society, Yoon was appointed a Senior Research Leader by the Korea Space Science and Astronomy Institute, Daejeon, Korea (2017-2020). He also holds the position of International Scholar Professor at Kyung Hee University, Yongin, Korea.

New report recommends a path for the future of Maryland’s clean energy economy

December 4, 2019. The report, by the Maryland Energy Innovation Institute (MEII), on the future of clean energy innovation in Maryland provides in-depth analysis of the state's support of clean energy and offers a robust set of recommendations to elevate Maryland's leadership in clean energy innovation with economic benefits for its citizens.

Lead author and Distinguished University Professor Ellen D. Williams (IPST/Physics) says "For states such as Maryland, which has a statewide societal commitment to clean energy, the growing world market provides a natural opportunity for economic development. With its top-ten state ranking in innovation capability, its strong University system and the technological strength of its workforce, Maryland is well able to take advantage of this opportunity. By creating MEII and calling for this report, the State has taken an important step in recognizing the economic development potential of clean energy innovation."

Williams was recently named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Distinguished University Professor Ellen Williams named a Fellow of the AAAS

December 4, 2019. Professor Ellen D. Williams has been named one of the 2019 fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She was recognized for scientific contributions to nanotechnology as well as leadership on technical issues in national security and policy.

Williams works at the interface of energy technology and policy, is known for her research in surface properties and nanotechnology and for her engagement with technical issues in national security, both as chief scientist at British Petroleum (BP), and in government service as director of the U.S. Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).

Sixteenth Burgers Symposium

November 12, 2019. Jim Duncan, Chair of the Burgers Program for Fluid Dynamics, invites you to the 2019 Burgers Symposium on Wednesday, November 20th, in the Kay Boardrooms (1107 & 1111) of the Jeong H. Kim Engineering Building. This year marks the 16th anniversary of the annual Burgers Lecture, which will be given by Alexander J. Smits, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Princeton University. There will also be lectures by Jim Wallace, Emeritus Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering & Institute for Physical Science and Technology, University of Maryland; Akua Asa-Awuku, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, University of Maryland; and Christine M. Hartzell, Department of Aerospace Engineering University of Maryland. The event will feature a poster session with prizes awarded to the best poster in each category. For details, visit the Burgers Program for Fluid Dynamics website.

2019 Fall NCI-UMD Partnership for Integrative Research Cancer Minisymposium

November 12, 2019. The Insitute for Physical Science and Technology will host The Integrative Cancer Research Minisymposium. The minisymposium will highlight results from current collaborations and talks from NIH researchers. Researchers from other NIH institutes are welcome to participate and collaborate with our UMD colleagues. During the break, there will be ample time to discuss possible joint research projects. At the minisymposium, we will provide information about the 2020 Call for Proposals for Joint NCI-UMD projects (which provides up to three years of support for one graduate student per project). The deadline for submitting spring proposals is to be determined with project starting dates by the beginning of the spring 2020 semester.

The event will take place on Friday, November 15, 2019 from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in the Clark Hall Engineering Building, room 1101 A/B.

Modeling of magnetohydrodynamic geodynamos provides international research and life experiences to AMSC graduate student Sarah Cassie Burnett

October 11, 2019. Sarah C. Burnett, a 4th year Ph.D. candidate in the Applied Mathematics, Statistics, and Scientific Computing program, received in July 2019 a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program’s (GFRP) Graduate Research Opportunities Worldwide (GROW) Award. With this award, Ms. Burnett, a student of Dan Lathrop and Kayo Ide, has had the opportunity to conduct research at the Université of Grenoble's Institut des Sciences de la Terre (ISTerre) in France under Dr. Nathanaël Schaeffer, an expert in modeling of magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) geodynamos.

Professor Dan Lathrop (IPST / Physics) is an expert on the dynamics of the Earth's magnetic core, and Associate Professor Kayo Ide (IPST / AOSC) conducts world class research in data assimilation and scientific prediction.

25th Annual Shih-I Pai Lecture

September 9, 2019. The Institute for Physical Science and Technology and the Department of Physics announce the 25th Annual Shih-I Pai Lecture. This year's lecture will be presented by Jenann T. Ismael, professor of Philosophy at Columbia University. Her talk, "Information, Time, and Life" will be given on Tuesday, October 15, 2019 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.

Researchers at UMD to study the complex gut-microbiome-brain axis system

August 29, 2019. Reza Ghodssi (ECE /ISR / Fischell Institute), with Wolfgang Losert (IPST / Physics / IREAP), William Bentley (BioE /Fischell Institute / IBBR) and Jens Herberholz (Psychology / NACS), has been awarded a $1M grant from the National Science Foundation. Their project, "Developing engineering solutions to investigate microbiome-to-neuron communication", aims to provide a more realistic picture of the complex gut-microbiome-brain axis system (GMBA). For more, you can read the Brain and Behavior Initiative news story.

Machine Learning and Chemistry

August 8, 2019. IPST and Chemistry/Biochemistry Assistant Professor Pratyush Tiwary is organizing an NSF workshop on machine learning titled "Machine Learning and Chemistry: Challenges on the Way Forward".

The dual-purpose workshop, scheduled for November 16-18, 2019, will be a cross-talk between experts using machine learning (ML) in different aspects of chemistry, such as designing models of molecular interactions, drug design, enhanced sampling, designing chemical synthesis routes and others. As well, the workshop will have a strong emphasis on considering questions concerning the software side of using ML in chemistry.

Located in Room 0112 (Marker Seminar Room) of the Chemistry Building, the workshop should also have hands-on tutorials on machine learning in physical sciences. Limited spots (with no associated fees) for UMD participants are available with deadline for application September 15, 2019. Please submit application as outline in the instructions available for this event.

Wolfgang Losert Named Interim Director of IPST

July 16, 2019. Professor Wolfgang Losert (IPST / Physics / IREAP) has been appointed interim director of the Institute for Physical Science and Technology, effective July 1, 2019. "When I look at our institute, interdisciplinary graduate training really stands out as a major accomplishment."

Losert, who earned his Ph.D. in Physics from the City College of the City University of New York in 1998, will serve in this position while the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences conducts a national search to find a replacement for Christopher Jarzynski, who recently completed his five-year term as director.

IPST and Physics Professor Daniel Lathrop named 2019 Distinguished Scholar-Teacher

June 28, 2019. Professor Daniel Lathrop (IPST / Physics) has been named one of the 2019 Distinguished Scholar-Teachers. The Distinguished Scholar-Teacher Program, established in 1978, honors a small number of faculty members each year who have demonstrated notable success in both scholarship and teaching. Distinguished Scholar-Teachers will make a public presentation on a topic within their scholarly discipline and will receive an honorarium of $5,000 to support their professional activities.

Chemical Physics Alumnus featured in Physics World: Entangled aluminum ion is world’s best timekeeper

June 12, 2019. Samuel M. Brewer (2012 Ph.D. Chemical Physics) was featured in Physics World, June 6. A member of NIST’s Ion Storage Group, Brewer built a quantum-logic clock using a positive ion of aluminum-27 as its timekeeper. The Group, located in Boulder, CO, conducts experiments on atomic ions that are confined in electromagnetic traps and laser-cooled, in some cases, to the ground state of motion.

Dio Margetis named Ordway Distinguished Lecturer and Visitor for the 2019-2020 academic year

March 29, 2019. The School of Mathematics, University of Minnesota has selected Professor Dionisios Margetis (IPST/Mathematics) as an Ordway Distinguished Lecturer and Visitor (2019-2020). This distinction is awarded after faculty nomination and a competitive selection process in the School of Mathematics.

Professor Margetis will deliver lectures on his recent work in mathematical aspects of materials science and mathematical physics. In particular, he plans to talk on recent advances in the theory of plasmonic waves on two-dimensional materials from an applied mathematics perspective.

The Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) ranked the School of Mathematics #11 in the world in 2015 and US News & World Report ranks the Graduate program among the top Mathematics programs both nationally and worldwide.

Pratyush Tiwary is featured in Biochemistry

February 6, 2019. IPST and Chemistry/Biochemistry Assistant Professor Pratyush Tiwary is one of 34 early career biological chemists profiled in Biochemistry’s 2019 special issue "Future of Biochemistry: The International Issue". Tiwary's multi-disciplinary research group aims to "...develop and apply the next generation of all-atom resolution simulation methods, based on statistical mechanics and artificial intelligence, that can transcend time scales from femtoseconds to days". He joins 2 alumni listed in the 2018 special edition, Bryan Dickinson and Sarah Slavoff who both earned their B.S. degree in Biochemistry in 2005. For more, you can read the College of Computer, Mathematical & Natural Sciences' news release.

American Physical Society awards announced / Four with IPST connections

October 26, 2018. Christopher Jarzynski, Dave Thirumalai, former IPST postdoc Christina Marchetti and UMD alumnus Jordan Horowitz were among the American Physical Society’s spring 2019 prize and award winners. All four conduct research in statistical physics.

Distinguished University Professor Christopher Jarzynski (IPST / Chemistry and Biochemistry / Physics) has been awarded the 2019 Lars Onsager Prize for "...seminal contributions to non-equilibrium thermodynamics and statistical mechanics that have had remarkable impact on experimental research in single-molecule and biological physics, engendering whole new fields of theoretical, numerical, and laboratory research, as well as for groundbreaking work on the thermodynamics of small systems."

The prize is presented in recognition of outstanding research in theoretical statistical physics including the quantum fluids.

Jarzynski joins IPST Distinguished University Professor Emeritus Michael E. Fisher who received the inaugural Onsager prize in 1995 for "...his numerous and seminal contributions to statistical mechanics, including but not restricted to the theory of phase transitions and critical phenomena, scaling laws, critical exponents, finite size effects, and the application of the renormalization group to many of the above problems."

Dave Thirumalai, the Collie-Welch Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Texas at Austin, has been awarded the Irving Langmuir Prize in Chemical Physics in recognition of "...the development of analytical and computational approaches to soft-matter systems and their application to the transitional behavior of supercooled fluids and glasses, folding dynamics of protein and RNA biopolymers, and functioning of molecular motors."

The prize recognizes and encourages outstanding interdisciplinary research in chemistry and physics, in the spirit of Irving Langmuir.

Thirumalai joined the University of Maryland in 1985 as an Assistant Professor with a joint appointment in IPST and the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. He was the founding director of the Biophysics Program and was recognized by the University as a Distinguished University Professor in 2010. Thirumalai, who has been at the University of Texas since 2016, focuses his research on developing physical models and theories to understand collective motion of cells, with a particular emphasis on tumor growth.

Cristina Marchetti, IPST Postdoctoral Research Associate working with Bob Dorfman and Ted Kirkpatrick from 1982-1984, was awarded the inaugural Leo P. Kadanoff Prize for "...original contributions to equilibrium and non-equilibrium statistical mechanics, including profound work on equilibrium and driven vortex systems, and fundamental research and leadership in the growing field of active matter."

This prize recognizes a scientist or scientists whose work (theoretical, experimental or computational) has opened new vistas for statistical and / or nonlinear physics.

After three decades as the William R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Physics at Syracuse University, Marchetti is currently a professor of physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Alumnus Jordan Horowitz (2010 Ph.D. Physics, advisor Christopher Jarzynski) is the co-recipient of the inaugural 2019 Irwin Oppenheim Award for the article "'Proof of the finite-time thermodynamic uncertainty relation for steady-state currents', published in Phys. Rev. E *96*, 020103(R) (2017), which demonstrated significance, rigor, and broad impact in the general area of non-equilibrium thermodynamics." His most notable work on information thermodynamics and Maxwell’s demon has, among other things, sparked a revival in the study of the thermodynamics of nonequilibrium computation.

The prize recognizes outstanding contributions to physics by early career scientists who publish in Physical Review E.

Horowitz, a postdoc at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will join the University of Michigan as an assistant professor of Biophysics and faculty member in the Center for the Study of Complex Systems in January 2019.

24th Annual Shih-I Pai Lecture

September 25, 2018. The Institute for Physical Science and Technology and the Department of Physics announce the 24th Annual Shih-I Pai Lecture. This year's lecture will be presented by Charles H. Bennett, IBM Fellow, IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center, and 2018 Wolf Prize Recipient. His talk, "Occam's Razor, Boltzmann's Brain, and Wigner's Friend," will be given on Tuesday, October 9, 2019 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 the Mathematics building from 3 to 3:50 pm. All are invited. Further details can be found at the Annual Shih-I Pai Lecture news announcement.