Last Sunday, undergrads, grads, and faculty all gathered for a picnic at Lake Nicol. The weather and pizza were excellent! We hung out around the lake before going on a hike. Thank you to everyone who planned the event, and thank you for coming!
Last week PAGSA and SPS helped run the physics booth for UA's homecoming game! We had physics demonstrations, including the dinosaur seesaw. We beat Arksansas 24-1. Later that night students got to learn about thermodynamics at the traditional giant bonfire! Thank you to everyone who helped with the physics demos, and Roll Tide!
We at PAGSA want to thank all those students who came to our welcoming event this semester! It's good for new students to meet older students, and it's so important that new students feel included and like they can ask questions/ for advice.
Thank you again, and I hope you all have a great semester!
Welcome back fellow students! Each year PAGSA hosts an event to help new students meet people in the department and answer any questions about what living in Tuscaloosa is like, what PAGSA is, etc. All physics and astro students are welcome to come and enjoy some food and refreshments!
Please RSVP/inform us about dietary restrictions here!
Earlier this summer Sreetama Goswami completed her dissertation defense on the "Search for High-Energy Neutrino Emission from Hard X-ray AGN with IceCube". The solar system is saturated in neutrinos, yet they are almost undetectable. This means observers look for an overabundance of the particle in a particular direction. Dr. Goswami's work uses archival IceCube neutrino data and Swift-BAT Spectroscopic Survey (BASS) x-ray data to determine if there is a correlation between x-ray AGN activity and neutrino detections.
IceCube is a large collaboration. Dr. Goswami says this has been one of her favorite parts of the job, as it allows for lots of travel to conferences and the opportunity to work as part of a larger team. She is taking a postdoc position in Las Vegas, Nevada, later this summer.
Breakthrough Birmingham is an organization dedicated to educational equality. Over the last ten years, they have improved the prospects of many students in the Birmingham area by providing an engaging experience in mathematics and science to marginalized communities. Last Friday the Physics and Astronomy Department and PAGSA partnered with them to teach their students about optics, electromagnetism, and mechanics. Pictured in the gallery above are PAGSA members, professors, and students performing hands-on experiments and viewing the 16" telescope on campus.
We really enjoyed the opportunity to meet aspiring young scholars, and hope to work with Breakthrough Birmingham again in the future!
Shahram Talei graduated this summer with a PhD in astronomy! During his studies he developed the hydrodynamic code CoSANG (Coupling Semi-Analytic and N-body Galaxies). This program uses a combination of N-body simulations to model dark matter and semi-analytic models to describe baryonic matter. This makes the things much simpler computationally, as hydrodynamics are what take the most time to simulate. Dr. Talei says creating new models to solve problems and seeing how they can be used by other scientists is one of his favorite parts of his job.
Dr. Talei is Intel AI/ML certified and a NatGeo certified educator. In August he will be joining the faculty at Georgia College with a teaching position. If you see Shahram around campus be sure to tell the new doctor congratulations!
With Spring 2023 coming to a close PAGSA wants to wish you all a great summer! Congratulations again to all those students who graduated and became doctors this year, we know you'll do great things!
Last Saturday UA joined MSU and Ole Miss for an intramural, student-lead symposium. Symposia and conferences are important opportunities to present your own work and keep up on what is newest in the field, as well as make connections with other scientists. COVID disrupted a lot of these social-educational gatherings, so we at PAGSA jumped at the chance to help our students practice presenting their research. Pictured above is the group shot of the event (left). Thank you again to the PGSA of MSU, who put on an amazing event, including best presentation and poster contests!
Pictured above and on the right are Micheal Zengel and Riley Nold, undergraduate students from UA who won best poster for their work on Heusler compounds. These compounds are analogous to the materials used in transistors, which often consist of 2-element crystalline structures. Heusler compounds are made from 3 elements, and can exhibit important quantum properties related to spintronics. Zengel and Nold used computer modeling to predict the properties of different Heusler materials to aid in developing and applying exciting new technologies. Congratulations to them both!
On Monday, March 6 this week Wenhao Li defended his dissertation on post-merger galaxies, and became Dr. Li! Mergers commonly trigger both star formation quenching and active galactic nuclei (AGN). By analyzing the star formation history and neutral hydrogen covering fraction of many post-merger galaxies, Wenhao was able to show that star formation quenching is more directly related to the merging behavior than to the ensuing AGN activity.
Dr. Wenhao Li has exciting career prospects, and is considering either entering the private industry in China or continuing with two proposals accepted by NuSTAR and Chandra in 2022. As an observer, Li says one of the most interesting parts of his research is creating a pipeline to take raw observational data such as flux and derive properties of physical interest, such as gas covering fractions and star formation rate. These derived properties have to be properly presented, scaled, and colored to make an accurate and convincing case, as Dr. Li has for the connection between mergers, AGN, and star formation rates.