The seminars listed below will take place at 2:20pm in EnGeo 1301. 

Please contact Dr. Ioana Niculescu if you have any questions.


  • Speaker: Dr. Brian Wolin (Northrop Grumman Space Systems)
  • Title: Eyeballs, SmallSats, and other adventures of a physicist turned “Mission Architect”
  • Abstract: I will discuss my experiences as a physicist-turned-engineer working in the private sector. Physicists bring unique skills and perspectives to engineering problems, and can find interesting physics-adjacent projects in a variety of domains. Examples include prototyping novel imaging sensor systems, modeling & simulation, and satellite systems. As academia and industry evolve, career paths for physicists in aerospace & defense continue to expand.
  • Bio: Dr. Wolin is a Mission Architect and physicist working at Northrop Grumman Space Systems. He joined Northrop Grumman in 2017 and currently serves as Chief Architect for several programs delivering integrated space security missions. Brian earned his Ph.D. in physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2017, studying low-temperature magnetic materials using magnetic force microscopy.


  • Speaker: Dr. Victor Galitski (University of Maryland)
  • Title: Strongly correlated electron–photon systems
  • Abstract: An important goal of modern condensed matter physics involves the search for states of matter with new emergent properties and desirable functionalities. Although the tools for material design remain relatively limited, notable advances have been recently achieved by controlling interactions at hetero-interfaces, precise alignment of low-dimensional materials and the use of extreme pressures . In this talk, I will discuss a new paradigm, based on controlling light-matter interactions, which provides a new way to manipulate and synthesize strongly correlated quantum matter. I'll focus on the case in which both electron-electron and electron-photon interactions are strong and give rise to a variety of novel phenomena including photon-mediated superconductivity, cavity-fractional quantum Hall physics and optically driven topological phenomena in low dimensions.
  • Bio: Victor Galitski received his Ph.D. in theoretical condensed matter physics under Prof. A. Larkin at the University of Minnesota after earning a Ph.D. in applied math (in a record 18 months)at the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute (MEPhI). He joined UMD as an assistant professor in 2006. He has received a Simons Investigator Award, CMPS Board of Visitors Faculty Award, and an NSF Career Award. He recently finished translating from Russian to English a textbook, “Exploring Quantum Mechanics: A Collection of 700+ Solved Problems for Students, Lecturers, and Researchers" co-written by his grandfather, physicist V.M. Galitskii. He studies several subfields of condensed matter theory.


  • Speaker: Dr. Paul Gueye (Michigan State University)
  • Title: The power of complementary and adjustable lenses for a quest in understanding nuclei 
  • Abstract: Electron scattering and rare isotopes are unique complementary techniques that provide powerful magnifying glasses to probe the interactions between nucleons inside nuclei. Over more than a quarter century, the 4 GeV and now 12 GeV (un)polarized electron beam of the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (Newport News, Virginia, USA) has unraveled unprecedented insights into nuclear physics, including its unique program to understand elementary strangeness production. On May 10, 2022, the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (East Lansing, Michigan, USA) started its highly anticipated experimental nuclear astrophysics program, opening a new window into our current understanding of a large number of predicted unstable (neutron and proton rich) nuclei.  Scientific discoveries have historically been rooted in the desire for some to take on a quest to tackle the unknown, often with relentless commitments and efforts, and sometimes bold actions that have proven to uncover new pathways. This talk will provide some brief reviews on the role and successes as well as future prospects of nuclear physics experiments and theories at these facilities as they pertain to my journey in becoming a nuclear physicist, including programs to broaden participation for workforce development in nuclear science.  
  • Bio: Prof. Paul Guèye received his BS (1987) and MS (1990) in Physics and Chemistry from the University Cheikh Anta Diop (Dakar, Senegal), and his Ph.D. (1994) in Nuclear Physics from the University of Clermont-Ferrand II (Aubière, France). His thesis focused on electron/positron scattering experiments at the CEA Saclay linear accelerator to probe higher order corrections to the Born Approximation using carbon and lead nuclei. He then joined the nuclear physics group of Hampton University (Hampton, Virginia, USA) as a postdoc and was part of the first sets of experiments conducted at the U.S. Department of Energy funded Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (Newport News, Virginia, USA). Prof. Guèye joined the MoNA Collaboration in 2013 to study neutron unbound nuclei through low energy nuclear physics experiments at the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams/National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (East Lansing, Michigan, USA). He was the Chair of the HU Physics Department from 2015-2018. He joined MSU in the Fall 2018. Some of his accomplishments include the validation of the effective momentum approximation in electron scattering, development of the JLab/Hall C arc energy drift correction tool for its nuclear physics program, development of a silicon-beryllium segmented target at NSCL and several scintillating fiber-based detectors for medical applications that lead to commercially available systems. Prof. Guèye has been and is still actively engaged in various national and international organizations such as: Chair of the Liaison Committee for Under-Represented Minorities of the American Institute of Physics, President of the National Society of Black Physicists, Executive Director of the MoNA Collaboration, Strategic Programs for Innovations in Undergraduate Physics of the American Association of Physics Teachers, Founder and Chair of the Minority Sub-Committee of the American Association for Physicists in Medicine and African Strategy for Fundamental and Applied Physics amongst others. Prof. Guèye was recognized by President Barack Obama in 2015 for some of his work.


  • Speaker: Dr. Xiaoyan Tan (George Mason University)
  • Title: Disorder behavior in non-centrosymmetric magnetic oxides
  • Astract: Materials with non-centrosymmetric (NCS) crystal structures and magnetic ordering are widely used in laser technology, access memory elements, energy conversion, and spintronics. The discovery of such materials has been challenging due to limited design strategies. Here, we report that non-centrosymmetric magnetic oxides can be achieved by introducing the disordered metal sites in centrosymmetric oxides. The disorder behavior and NCS crystal structure were confirmed by the Rietveld refinement using synchrotron X-ray and neutron diffraction data and convergent-beam electron diffraction. The oxidation state of transition metals was confirmed by near-edge X-ray absorption spectroscopy. The magnetic properties of prepared NCS compounds will be compared with these of parent centrosymmetric compounds. 
  • Bio: Xiaoyan Tan received her B. S in Applied Chemistry from Hefei University of Technology and M.S in Inorganic Chemistry from the University of Science and Technology of China. She came to the United States in 2011 and earned her Ph. D degree in Inorganic Chemistry from Florida State University in 2016. After working as a postdoc under Prof. Martha Greenblatt at Rutgers University between 2016 and 2018, she joined the Department of chemistry and biochemistry at George Mason University (GMU) as an assistant professor. Her research group focuses on understanding, designing, and characterizing non-centrosymmetric and polar inorganic materials, including intermetallics and oxides as multifunctional materials with applications in spintronics and magnetic memory devices and energy conversion and storage.


  • Speaker: Lauren Pearce from Penn State New Kensington
  • Title: Wave of the Future: Gravitational Waves and High Energy Physics
  • Abstract: In 2014, scientists at the LIGO observatory measured the first gravitational wave signal, and now there are a variety of upcoming experiments planned. What can we learn from them? In this talk, we’re interested in what we can learn about the early universe and high energy physics from these experiments. We’ll focus on how an early period of matter domination- when there’s more energy in heavy particles than in radiation and relativistic particles- makes gravitational waves these experiments can see. If we have time, we’ll then connect these to questions such as why does the universe have more matter than antimatter and supersymmetry, a proposal in high energy physics.
  • Bio: Lauren Pearce is an Assistant Professor of Physics. Before coming to Penn State New Kensington, she completed post-doctoral fellowships at the University of Minnesota and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She maintains an active research program in theoretical physics, focusing on the intersection of cosmology and high energy physics, looking at questions such as how the universe came to have more matter than antimatter and what enduring evidence an early period of rapid growth, called inflation, might leave.


  • Speaker: Dr. Kent Yagi (University of Virginia)
  • Title: Fundamental Physics Probe with Gravitational Waves
  • Abstract: In 1915, Einstein proposed his famous theory of gravity, general relativity, which replaced the notion of a gravitational force with that of curved space and time. The distortion of spacetime in response to an object's motion can create ripples in spacetime called gravitational waves. These fluctuations of spacetime produce extremely small displacements, which in 2015, 100 years after Einstein’s theory was published, were observed by dedicated gravitational-wave detectors called LIGO. In this talk, I will first give an overview of the current status of gravitational wave astronomy. I will next explain how we can use gravitational-wave observations to probe fundamental physics including gravitational and nuclear physics.
  • Bio: Prof. Kent Yagi received his Ph.D. in physics at Kyoto University, Japan in 2012. After working as a postdoctoral researcher at Montana State University and Princeton University, he joined the University of Virginia in 2017 as a faculty member. He has received the Sloan Research Fellowship as well as the Young Scientist Prize in General Relativity and Gravitation from the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP). He is an executive committee member of the Division of Gravitational Physics (DGRAV) at the American Physical Society (APS) and Chesapeake Sector of the American Association of Physics Teachers (CSAAPT). He also works as an associate editor of the journal General Relativity and Gravitation.


  • Speaker: Anita J Vincent-Johnson, MD
  • Title: The Physics of Medicine
  • Bio: Anita Vincent-Johnson, MD, is a fellowship-trained nephrologist. She helps patients manage acute kidney injury and electrolyte and acid base disorders. She also cares for people with chronic kidney disease and those who need end-stage renal dialysis. She has expertise in renal replacement  therapy, including: Hemodialysis, Peritoneal dialysis and Continuous renal replacement therapy.

    She joined the UVA faculty in 2021 after completing her fellowship training in nephrology at UVA. She has a bachelor’s degree in physics from James Madison University and a medical degree from Ross University. She did her internal medicine residency training at Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine.Growing up with two veterinarians as parents, Dr. Vincent-Johnson had an early interest in medicine. “In high school and again in undergraduate, I took human physiology classes, which I greatly enjoyed,” she says. “I decided my last year of undergraduate school that I wanted to pursue medicine because of my interest in human anatomy and physiology as well as my interest in working and caring for patients.”She adds, “I am hard-working so that my patients get my best care. I work with you to come up with a diagnostic and treatment plan, and I work to accommodate distance, finances or whatever your interests or limitations may be. I make sure to incorporate your health goals as my main goal. I like to get patients interested and invested in their healthcare. I use guidelines to guide my clinical decision-making but also understand that patients are all unique and conform treatment plans to what works best for each patient.”


  • Speaker: Dr. Craig Dukes, UVA
  • Title: Probing the Structures of Pyramids using Cosmic Ray Muons
  • Abstract: The pyramids of ancient Egypt and of pre-Hispanic Mesoamerica have fascinated people since the cultures that built them vanished into the annals of history.  How were they built?  What were they used for?  Are there unknown internal substructures, perhaps hidden chambers that have yet to be discovered?  Using the detector technology, we developed for the Mu2e experiment at Fermilab, we intend to perform non-invasive searches for hidden structures in the Temple of Kukulkán at Chichén Itzá and the Great Pyramid of Khufu, in Egypt.  The apparatus will detect cosmic-ray muons produced high in the atmosphere that course through the pyramids to produce a tomographic image of their interiors. I will review the status of both projects, describe in detail the technique we intend to use, present recent simulation results and detector prototype results.
  • Bio: Professor Dukes’ research is in experimental Elementary Particle Physics where he has worked on experiments at several major accelerator laboratories in the world, and held visiting positions at: Brookhaven National Laboratory, CERN Lab in Geneva, Switzerland, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and the SSC. He is currently the head of the Frontier Physics Group at the University of Virginia. Professor Dukes’ current research lies in two experimental areas: elucidating the source of the slight asymmetry between matter and antimatter in the universe, or CP violation; and discovering dark matter. CP violation is thought to be responsible for the nearly absolute asymmetry between matter and antimatter in the universe, indeed why there is any matter at all in the universe.  By far the largest contribution to the mass of the universe is dark matter, which we know must exist from its gravitational interactions, but of which we know little else. 


  • Speaker: Dr. Jason Czack (JMU Physics and Astronomy)
  • Title: A study of the effects of spatially localized time-delayed feedback schemes on spatio-temporal patterns
  • Abstract: In attempts to manage spatio-temporal chaos in spatially extended systems, these systems are often subjected to protocols that perturb them as a whole and stabilize globally a new dynamic regime, as for example a uniform steady state. We show that selectively perturbing only part of a system can generate space-time patterns that are not observed when controlling the whole system. Depending on the protocol used, these new patterns can emerge either in the perturbed or the unperturbed region. Specifically, we use a spatially localized time-delayed feedback scheme to perturb a chaotic state of a system to create novel periodic patterns within a region of the system.
  • Bio: Dr. Jason Czak is a Lecturer at James Madision University. Dr. Czak earned his doctorate at Virginia Tech in Physics. His research centers on using mathematical modeling and applying elements of control theory to chaos producing models. Some of his other current and past research interests include mathematical modeling of optical properties of semiconductors and applying machine learning to auto-contouring models used in radiation therapy. He has published on several of these topics in Physical Review Journals.


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