Public Nights at the Georgia Tech Observatory are back for 2018-2019! The observatory will be open one Thursday each month for people to observe various celestial bodies. A talk will be given about thirty minutes after the Public Night begins.

Series Schedule

Sep.20, 8-10:30  Moon, Saturn, Mars

Oct.18, 7:30-10  Moon, Mars

Nov.15, 7-9  Moon, Mars

Dec.13, 7-9  Moon, Mars

Jan.17, 7-9  Moon, Orion Nebula

Feb.14, 7-9  Moon, Orion Nebula

March 14, 8-10:30  Moon, Orion Nebula

April11, 8:30-11  Moon, Star Cluster

If you park in a campus Visitor Lot, please pay the fee upon arrival.

The Public Night is contingent on clear weather. Potential closures and driving directions are on the official website



At the 88th LHCb Week, physics Ph.D. student Andrea Welsh will serve as a resource person on early-career, gender, and diversity issues.

"I will talk about mental health as it affects graduate students and physicists and offer some best practices to support those who experience mental health problems," she says.  

LHCb stands for Large Hadron Collider beauty. It is a special experiment investigating the slight differences between matter and antimatter by studying a type of particle called the "beauty quark," or "b quark".

 About 700 scientists from 66 institutes and universities worldwide are involved in the experiment. Together they make up the LHCb collaboration. Collaboration members meet for a week every three months to discuss various issues concerning the science and the scientists. 

The 88th LHCb collaboration meeting, on June 11-15 2018, includes a session on early careers, gender, and diversity. Organizers have invited Andrea Welsh to participate in the session. Welsh is a Ph.D. student in the lab of School of Physics Professor Flavio Fenton.

Welsh is an advocate for mental health awareness, diversity and inclusiveness, and women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). 


AbGradCon (Astrobiology Graduate Conference) provides a unique setting for astrobiology-inclined graduate students and early-career researchers to come together to share their research, collaborate, and network. AbGradCon 2018 marks the 14th year of this conference, each time in a different place and organized by a different group of students and postdoctoral researchers, but always with the original charter as a guide.

Because it is organized and attended by only graduate students, postdocs, and select undergraduates, AbGradCon is an ideal venue for the next generation of career astrobiologists to form bonds, share ideas, and discuss the issues that will shape the future of the field. Take a look at the AbGradCon 2017 conference website to see what's happened in the past.

George Tan, a Ph.D. student of Amanda Stockton in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, chairs the AbGradCon 2018 organizing committee, comprising the following Ph.D. students and postdocs: 

               Marcus Bray                    Justin Lawrence
               Bradley Burcar                 Adriana Lozoya
               Anthony Burnetti              Kennda Lynch
               Heather Chilton               Santiago Mestre Fos
               Chase Chivers                 Marshall Seaton
               Dedra Eichstedt               Micah Schaible
               Zachary Duca                  Elizabeth Spiers
               Jennifer Farrar                 Scot Sutton
               Nicholas Kovacs              Nadia Szeinbaum

Full information is available at the AbGradCon 2018 website. View the AbGradCon 2018 program here.

This popular meeting for students is funded primarily by the NASA Astrobiology Institute. The organizers have also received support from the following:

  • ACS Publications
  • ELSI, Earth Life Science Institute 
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • John Templeton Foundation
  • Nature Publications
  • Simons Foundation

A School of Physics Public Talk

Ever wonder what it would be like to live and work at one of the coldest, most remote places on Earth? James Casey, Georgia Tech alumnus with a Ph.D. in Physics, and Martin Wolf can tell you all about it.

They are adjusting to life in more moderate conditions after 13 months operating the biggest and strangest telescope in the world, the IceCube Neutrino Observatory at the South Pole.

See incredible pictures of their exciting and challenging adventure, and learn what it takes to capture the almost invisible neutrino, nicknamed the ghost particle.

About the Speakers

James Casey
James Casey is from Huntsville, Alabama. Before becoming an IceCube winterover (a person who spends the winter in the South Pole) for the 2016-2017 South Pole season, James completed his Ph.D. in physics at Georgia Tech as a member of the IceCube Collaboration. For his graduate studies, his research focused on neutrinos generated in gamma-ray bursts. Besides physics, he also enjoys amateur radio, general aviation, and scuba diving.

Martin Wolf
Martin Wolf grew up in Germany and was part of the IceCube Collaboration for six years—receiving his Ph.D. in astrophysics—before becoming one of the two IceCube winterovers for the 2016-2017 South Pole season. Photography is one of his personal interests, and you can see his talent from the many wonderful photos he took while at the Pole.

This event is sponsored by IceCube and the School of Physics at Georgia Tech:


School of Physics Associate Professor Ignacio Taboada is hosting the Spring 2018 IceCube Collaboration Meeting, which will be held at Georgia Tech.

IceCube is a neutrino observatory in the South Pole, the first detector of its kind. An international group of scientists responsible for the scientific research makes up the IceCube Collaboration. Currently, the collaboration includes more than 300 people from 49 institutions in 12 countries. It began in 1999 with the submission of the first IceCube proposal, and many of the original members are still active on the project.

The meetings will include planning, workshops, talks, and a banquet.


A School of Physics Joseph Ford Colloquium with Sir Michael Berry

Optical phenomena visible to everyone abundantly illustrate important ideas in science and mathematics. The phenomena considered include rainbows, sparkling reflections on water, green flashes, earthlight on the moon, glories, daylight, crystals, and the squint moon. The concepts include refraction, wave interference, numerical experiments, asymptotics, Regge poles, polarization singularities, conical intersections, and visual illusions.

About the Speaker
Sir Michael Berry is a theoretical physicist known for his research in the ‘borderlands’ between classical and quantum theories and ray and wave optics. His emphasis is on geometrical singularities such as ray caustics and wave vortices.

Berry discovered the geometric phase, a phase difference arising from cyclically changing conditions, with applications in many areas of wave physics, including polarisation optics, condensed matter, and self-propulsion of animals and robots.

He delights in finding the arcane in the mundane: mathematical singularities in rainbows and the dancing lines at the bottom of swimming pools; the twists and turns of a belt that underlie the quantum behaviour of identical particles; a laser pointer shone through bathroom window glass to demonstrate abstract aspects of wave interference; and oriental magic mirrors, illustrating the mathematical Laplace operator.

Berry has received numerous awards, including the Maxwell Medal and the Dirac Medal of the Institute of Physics, the Royal Society’s Royal Medal, the London Mathematical Society’s Pólya Prize, the Wolf Prize, and the Lorentz Medal. He serves on scientific committees of various institutes. He was knighted in 1996.

About the Joseph Ford Commemorative Lecture
Joseph Ford was one of the pioneers in the field of chaotic dynamics in the 1960s. He spent most of his 34-year career furthering the discipline at the Georgia Tech School of Physics. He dedicated his time between research, isupported largely by the National Science Foundation, and education, through conferences or in the classroom. This commemorative lecture is named to honor Ford's memory and influence as a scientist, teacher, and colleague in Georgia Tech and the scientific global community.


Sylvester James Gates Jr. will describe an arc in his mathematical/theoretical physics research that has traversed concept spaces from equations to graphical imagery, to coding theory error-correction and points toward evidence of an evolution-like process possibly having acted on the mathematical laws that describe reality.

About the Speaker
Sylvester James Gates Jr. was appointed Ford Foundation Professor of Physics at Brown University in 2017. He also holds an appointment in the Department of Mathematics.

Gates first joined the Brown community in fall 2016, as an inaugural Provost Visiting Professor. Earlier, he was Distinguished University Professor, University Regents Professor, John H. Toll Professor of Physics, and Director of the Center for Particle and String Theory at the University of Maryland.

Gates received the 2011 National Medal of Science and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. He is a fellow of both the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Physical Society.

He served on the Maryland State Board of Education and was a member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). As a PCAST member, he was co-chair of the council's working group on STEM preeminence for the nation. He co-authored a report to the President: ”Prepare and Inspire K-12 Education in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) for America’s Future.”

About Frontiers in Science Lectures
Lectures in this series are intended to inform, engage, and inspire students, faculty, staff, and the public on developments, breakthroughs, and topics of general interest in the sciences and mathematics. Lecturers tailor their talks for nonexpert audiences.

Gates's lecture is made possible by a collaboration between the College of Computing, the College of Sciences, and the School of Physics.


A Frontiers in Science Panel Discussion

August 17, 2017, is a milestone date for astrophysics. For the first time, the LIGO and Virgo gravitational-wave observatories detected signals from the collision of two neutron stars. The powerful event shook space-time and produced a fireball of light and radiation from the formation of heavy elements.

Satellites and observatories all around the world observed the light produced by this event. For the first time, we have measured gravitational waves and light produced in the same astrophysical event.

What this discovery means for astrophysics is equivalent to the difference between looking at a black-and-white photo and watching a 3-D IMAX movie! 

The combined information of gravitational waves and light is greater than the sum of its parts. The combination allows us to learn new things about physics, the universe, and what we are made of – and perhaps explain mysteries that continue to emerge.  No one has ever been able to do this before!

The historic detection of a cataclysmic celestial collision using signals from multiple messengers signals the era of multi-messenger astrophysics. Discussing the milestone and its implications are School of Physics Professors Laura Cadonati, Nepomuk Otte, and Ignacio Taboada. School of Physics Chair and Professor Pablo Laguna will moderate the discussion. The panel discussion is part of the College of Sciences' Frontiers in Science Lecture Series. 

About Frontiers in Science Lectures

Lectures in this series are intended to inform, engage, and inspire students, faculty, staff, and the public on developments, breakthroughs, and topics of general interest in the sciences and mathematics. Lecturers tailor their talks for nonexpert audiences.


An Inquiring Minds Public Lecture from the School of Physics

The world of quantum physics appears mysterious, even spooky, and far removed from everyday phenomena we can observe in the world around us. Especially the realm of living organisms was thought to be far too disorganized and noisy for quantum phenomena to play a role.

Recently, however, clues have been mounting that the rules governing the subatomic world may play an unexpectedly pivotal role for phenomena in biology. One particularly fascinating example of this emerging field of quantum biology is bird navigation.

Even without GPS, birds are able to travel up to thousands of miles and return to their original location, aided by a physiological magnetic compass sense. Despite having been discovered more than 50 years ago, the underlying mechanism for this “sixth sense” still remains a mystery.

Thorsten Ritz will present evidence for the idea that a quantum mechanical reaction may lie at the heart of the magnetic compass of birds and possibly other organisms.

About the Speaker 

Thorsten Ritz is a biophysicist and assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of California, Irvine. Ritz received his Diplom degree from the University of Frankfurt in 1996 and then joined Klaus Schulten’s theoretical biophysics group at the University of Illinois. He finished his Ph.D. under the direction of Schulten and Nienhaus at the University of Ulm in 2001. Ritz received a postdoctoral fellowship from the Fetzer Institute and worked in the Phillips group in the Department of Biology at Virginia Tech and with Peter Hore’s group in the Department of Physics at Oxford.

Ritz’s area of science is very broad. He has already published 13 papers at the interface of the physical and biological sciences. Currently he is interested in the assembly of protein aggregates in cells though his study of light-harvesting systems (photosynthesis). He is also interested in the effect of weak magnetic fields on biochemical reactions, in particular on photosynthesis. This route led him to study and propose a new chemical mechanism for how birds use the geomagnetic field to provide them a sense of direction. He has proposed several experiments to verify this new idea, which could solve a very fundamental problem in sensory biology.



School of Physics Assistant Professor Nepomuk Otte hosts astrophysics researchers in the VERITAS (Very Energetic Radiation Imaging Telescope Array System) and CTA (Cherenkov Telescope Array) collaborations. Attendees are coming not only from the U.S. but also from Canada, Ireland, Germany, Italy, and Japan. 

The VERITAS collaboration operates four telescope arrays in southern Arizona. Researchers will discuss recent results obtained with the instruments and where the work is headed. Also to be discussed are some management items.

The CTA-US collaboration is constructing a new type of telescope at the VERITAS site for a future experiment. Researchers will discuss the status of construction and experiment planning. 


Flashpoint works closely with founders to enable them to think clearly about their businesses. It is unique in implementing startup engineering, a business creation and innovation process developed by Merrick Furst, Distinguished Professor in the College of Computing at Georgia Tech.

For the second year in a row, Flashpoint is hosting the Innovation for All Conference. The theme for 2018 is Building a Deliberately Innovative Culture. Participants will learn how entrepreneurs, large enterprises, and educational institutions use deliberate innovation practices to avoid common failure paths and innovate reliably.

The conference will begin with a panel discussion moderated by Rich A. DeMillo, director of the Center for 21st Century Universities  at Georgia Tech.

Among the panel discussants are two faculty members from the College of Sciences: Lew Lefton and Michael Schatz. Lefton is Georgia Tech assistant vice president for research cyberinfrastructure, College of Sciences assistant dean for information technology, and School of Mathematics senior academic professional. Schatz is a professor in the School of Physics.

The conference includes a demonstration of Flashpoint techniques in a master class-type setting, with innovation teams from startups, large companies and from Georgia Tech. 

Register at



A Bold Ideas in Physics and Frontiers in Science Lecture by Abhay Ashtekar, Pennsylvania State University

For over two millennia, civilizations have pondered over the questions of cosmogenesis. But serious attempts to address them began only with Einstein's discovery of general relativity a century ago. Advances over the past 25 years have led to the fascinating conclusion that the large-scale structure of the universe can be traced back to quantum nothingness.
Investigations in quantum gravity are now addressing the issue of the origin of space and time itself, enabling us to peer past the Big Bang. This talk will provide an overview of this saga in terms that are accessible to undergraduates and the general public.
About the Speaker
Abhay Vasant Ashtekar is a theoretical physicist. He is the Eberly Professor of Physics and the Director of the Institute for Gravitation and the Cosmos at Pennsylvania State University. As the creator of Ashtekar variables, he is one of the founders of loop quantum gravity and its subfield, loop quantum cosmology. He has written a number of descriptions of loop quantum gravity that are accessible to non-physicists.
In 1999, Ashtekar and his colleagues calculated the entropy for a black hole, matching a legendary 1974 prediction by Stephen Hawking. Oxford mathematical physicist Roger Penrose has described Ashtekar's approach to quantum gravity as "the most important of all the attempts at 'quantizing' general relativity."
About the David Ritz Finkenstein Bold Ideas in Physics Lectures
Lectures in this series celebrate the memory of Georgia Tech physicist David Ritz Finkelstein, who took intellectual risks, avoided safe questions, and instead took on deep and challenging problems of real significance and potential.
About Frontiers in Science Lectures
Lectures in this series are intended to inform, engage, and inspire students, faculty, staff, and the public on developments, breakthroughs, and topics of general interest in the sciences and mathematics. Lecturers tailor their talk for nonexpert audiences. 

An international conference, entitled "Gravity and Black Holes," marking the 75th birthday of Stephen Hawking, will be held at the Centre for Mathematical Sciences, Wilberforce Road, Cambridge, UK, in July 2017.

This meeting will discuss recent advances in gravitational physics and cosmology, and the exciting future of this field following the recent direct detection of gravitational waves.

School of Physics Chair Pablo Laguna will deliver a lecture on "The Kicking of Black Holes" on July 4, 2017.

Here's a complete list of conference speakers:

Bruce Allen (Max Planck Institute)
Raphael Bousso (Berkeley)
Mihalis Dafermos (Cambridge)
Gary Gibbons (Cambridge)
Gabriela González (LSU) 
James Hartle (UCSB)
Thomas Hertog (Leuven)
Gary Horowitz (UCSB)
Theodore Jacobson (Maryland)
Renata Kallosh (Stanford)
Eiichiro Komatsu (Max Planck Institute)
Pablo Laguna (Georgia Tech)
Andrei Linde (Stanford)
Viatcheslav Mukhanov (Munich)
Hiranya Peiris (UCL)
Harald Pfeiffer (Toronto)
Frans Pretorius (Princeton)
Douglas Stanford (IAS)
Jeff Steinhauer (Technion)
Andy Strominger (Harvard)


The Soft Materials Workgroup of Georgia Tech and Emory University are hosting the 10th annual meeting of researchers interested in soft materials, fluids, and biophysics to discuss their work and inspire new partnerships.

The day will include breakfast, lunch, and coffee. 

Registration is FREE, but required. Registration deadline is May 8, 2017.

The following are the invited speakers:

  • Itai Cohen, Cornell University
  • Ravi Kane, Georgia Tech
  • Eric Weeks, Emory University
  • Alberto Fernandez-Nieves, Georgia Tech
  • Khalid Salaita, Emory University

Register now: http://Soft Materials Workshop