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Astrophysics Seminars


The CASS Astrophysics Seminar features world-class astrophysicists from around the world speaking on current topics of research. Presentations are aimed at the graduate and post-graduate level, but are open to the general public. CASS seminars take place on Wednesdays from 4:00 - 5:00 p.m. in 383 SERF (Marlar Seminar Room), unless otherwise noted. You can watch a live stream of the talk or prior talks at the CASS Seminar YouTube Channel. The organizers are Prof. Shelley Wright and Prof. George Fuller.

Upcoming Seminars

Fall 2017

September 20, 2017

 "History, Science & Discovery at the Arecibo Observatory"

Joan Schmelz
Arecibo Observatory Deputy Director
Universities Space Research Association (USRA)

 The Arecibo Observatory celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013 and continues to do cutting-edge research in radio astronomy, planetary radar, and atmospheric science. Early discoveries include the 33-ms period of the pulsar in the Crab Nebula supernova remnant and the 59-day rotation rate of the planet Mercury. Later discoveries include the first binary pulsar, the first radar maps of Venus, the first megamaser galaxy, the first millisecond pulsar, and the first extrasolar planet. Arecibo’s legacy of great discoveries continues unbroken to the this day with the new detection of the first repeating Fast Radio Burst, which rules out an entire class of models requiring catastrophic explosions. Arecibo’s planetary radar observations provides information on the orbit and physical properties of the Near-Earth Asteroid, Bennu, paving the way for NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission, which will travel Bennu and return a sample to Earth in 2023. The atmospheric radar has recently discovered the unexpected large amount of helium in the upper reaches of the ionosphere, forcing us to revise our understanding of the coupling between the ionosphere and the plasmasphere. High priority science investigations now include using pulsars to search for gravitational waves, characterizing near-Earth objects that threaten civilization, and heating the ionosphere to perform controlled plasma experiments. This talk will discuss 50 years of science at the Arecibo Observatory, from the early construction to the latest discoveries.

Bio: Joan Schmelz works for Universities Space Research Association (USRA) and currently serves as the deputy director of the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. She was honored in 2015 as one of Nature’s top ten people who made a difference in science for her work fighting sexual harassment. She is a former program officer for the National Science Foundation's Division of Astronomical Sciences and the former chair of the American Astronomical Society's Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy. She was a professor at University of Memphis for over 20 years where she recently resigned her tenured position. During that time, she was a regular visitor to the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, where she worked with multiple colleagues developing observational constraints to test models of solar coronal heating. Schmelz has published papers on a variety of astronomical topics including stars, galaxies, interstellar matter, the cosmic microwave background, and the Sun using data from ground- and space-based telescopes at every band of the electromagnetic spectrum (except gamma rays). She also writes regular posts for the Women in Astronomy BlogSpot on topics such as unconscious bias, stereotype threat, and the gender gap.

September 27, 2017

Eve Lee
Sherman Fairchild Postdoctoral Scholar in Theoretical Physics

October 4, 2017

Ryosuke Sato
Postdoctoral Fellow
Weizmann Institute

October 11, 2017

Anna Nierenberg
UC Chancellor Postdoc
UC Irvine

October 18, 2017

Sibasish Laha
Postdoctoral Scholar

October 25, 2017

Sebastiano Cantalupo
Assistant Professor
Institute for Astronomy, ETH Zurich

November 15, 2017

Cameron Liang
Graduate Student, Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics
University of Chicago

November 29, 2017

Elisabeth Krause
Research Scientist

December 6, 2017

Andrew Siemion
Director, Berkeley SETI Research Center
UC Berkeley

Winter 2018

Spring 2018

May 9, 2018

Jessica Werk
Assistant Professor
University of Washington