Graduate student Lisa Tran's work highlighted on the cover of the June 28th issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

This work, "Lassoing saddle splay and the geometrical control of topological defects," was done with postdoctoral fellow Max Lavrentovich.  The two work with Professors Randy Kamien (Physics and Astronomy) and Kate Stebe (Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering). 

For the full article visit PNAS:

Dr. Dan Beller, Physics and Astronomy alum, won the 2016 Glenn Brown prize from the International Liquid Crystal Society.

The Honors and Awards Committee of the ILCS selected Dr. Beller for his thesis work:

For his outstanding theoretical work to identify the rich possibilities and outcomes of controlling defects in nematic and smectic liquid crystals under a variety of boundary conditions.  The demonstration of the well controlled disclinations and focal conics is expected to open up a novel route for self-assembly in soft-ordered materials.

Royal Astronomical Society spotlights Prof. Mariangela Bernardi's project on black holes

The supermassive black holes found at the centre of every galaxy may be smaller than previously thought. If Mariangela Bernardi and her colleagues are right, then the gravitational waves produced when they merge will be harder to detect than previously assumed.

Prof. Alison Sweeney's paper on open water camouflage just came out and is getting some nice press - a write-up in Science News, and a forthcoming online piece for National Geographic

Deep-sea “glass squids” have cells resembling fiber-optic cable located on the bottoms of their eyes.  A new paper by Amanda Holt and Alison Sweeney shows that these cells are “pipes" for light that are deliberately leaky.

$40 Million Grant Establishes Simons Observatory

Mark Devlin, Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics, will be the spokesperson for the newly formed Simons Observatory. The Simons Foundation funded Observatory will mark a new astronomy facility in Chile’s Atacama Desert that will merge and expand existing efforts to explore the evolution of the universe from its earliest moments, to today. Devlin’s research focuses in the area of cosmology and the evolution of structure in the universe as well as extra-galactic and galactic star formation.

Physics and Astronomy Professor Awarded the 2016 Charles Ludwig Award for Distinguished Teaching

Congratulations to Professor Paul Heiney, the recipient of the Ludwig Award which recognizes his years of dedicated service and committment to our students.

As Dean of the College, Dennis DeTurck wrote in his letter, “The Ludwig Award carries a special significance because the entire process of soliciting nominations and selecting the recipient is carried out by the Student Committee on Undergraduate Education, without intervention by the faculty or administration.”


The Drndic Group Team Up at the Philly Science Festival

"The Drndic group and Project BioEyes from University of Pennsylvania demonstrated how DNA affects physical features in living organisms, like zebrafish, and the importance of DNA sequencing in an educational exhibit at Philadelphia Science Festival on Saturday April 30 2016 as a part of National DNA Day initiative.

Physics and Astronomy Researchers Maxim Lavrentovich, Eric Horsley, Asja Radja, Alison Sweeney and Randall Kamien Explore First-order Patterning Transitions on a Sphere as a Route to Cell Morphology

A common set of intricate cell surface patterns are observed in many different kinds of organisms, from insects to plant pollen to fungal spores to eyelash mite carapaces.  These patterns are most famous in the popular imagination when they’re found on pollen, and can be reticulate, hexagonal, striped, spiky, knobbed, lobed, etc.  To boot, the patterns definitely aren’t random - one tree species will produce billions of nearly identical pollen cells within a single tree and do so stably for millions of years - pollen is a great way to identify things in the fossil record.

Physics and Astronomy Professor in Newly Funded Simons Collaboration

The Simons Foundation has just announced the establishment of the Simons Collaboration on Cracking the Glass Problem, bringing together an international team of scientists, including Professor Andrea Liu, under the direction of Professor Sidney Nagel of the University of Chicago. 

More info on the award can be found here.