Speaker Series WN2019
Mar. 21st, Prof. Laura Ruetsche (Philosophy)
Title: What is a philosopher of physics and why am I one?
Abstract: These are questions I often ask myself! I'll try to answer by describing a few problems philosophers of physics work on. [A generic form of these problems is: there's a pretty weird modern physical theory (for instance quantum mechanics) that works really, really well. It seems like its success should be telling us something about the world. But what? You'll want to know what the difference is between physics and philosophy of physics, and I'll say something about that. I'll also describe how I decided to pursue philosophy rather than physics, how my undergraduate background in physics prepared me for philosophy, and what it's been like to be a philosopher of physics who is also (unlike the vast majority of philosophers of physics) a woman.
Feb. 21st, Dr. Brain Beckford
Title: The road less traveled and my path in physics
Abstract: This presentation will review my path in physics from Miami to Michigan and everywhere in between. It will discuss the physics research that I have been involved in including photoproduction and rare decay experiments in Japan. I will review the Neutral Kaon Spectrometer 2 (NKS2) experiment in Sendai, Japan and its aim to measure the photoproduction of strange particles as well as KOTO experiment designed to observe and study the K_L→π nu nu decay.
As I moved through my physics career, I have made it an additional goal to be inclusive in research, mentoring, and teaching. Students from statistically underrepresented minority (URM) groups and women earn a smaller fraction of undergraduate and graduate degrees in most physical sciences. The talk will briefly review data on current levels of representation in physics and the projects and programs I have participated in that are aimed at improving diversity and inclusion.
You are invited to take a stroll along my road.
Jan. 24th, Dr. Farzan Beroz
Title: Morphogenesis and mechanoperception of living architectures
Abstract: Living architectures are extremely disordered on the cellular scale. How do these messy systems reliably perform complex functions? In this talk, I will discuss physical principles that govern the form and structure of cellular architectures from bacterial biofilms to human tissues. First, I will show how the “blueprint” of a living architecture can be encoded in the mechanics of cell-scale interactions and decoded via Newton’s laws through the process of self-assembly. We will then shift gears from dynamics to statics by considering the mechanical interplay between a cell and its environment. To that end, I will present a theory for how a cell in connective tissue might sense the stiffness of its disordered surroundings.