This year the planetarium marks its 50th anniversary with the installation of a new star projector and the arrival of a new director, Shannon Schmoll. The planetarium’s new projector – the Digistar 5 – was installed in August, just in time for a series of new shows in the fall.
For more information about Abrams Planetarium's programs, see http://www.abramsplanetarium.org/.
On 30 June 2014, Professor Hendrik Schatz, director of the Joint Institute for Nuclear Astrophysics (JINA), a NSF physics frontiers center, received news that it would be continued for another five years. In this phase of the program, JINA will strive to understand the evolution of the elements in the universe. The lead organization in this renewal is MSU, with Notre Dame and U. Chicago as participating units. These centers are amongst the most prized and prestigious centers funded by the NSF and accolades should go to Hendrik Schatz and his team for this success.
The DOE Office of Science Office of Project Assessment concluded its June 24-26 review of the FRIB project and will recommend to the DOE Office of Science Acquisition Executive that FRIB is ready for technical construction (CD-3b). The review committee was organized into eight subcommittees and FRIB staff gave 45 presentations. MSU President Simon and Executive Vice President Udpa represented MSU at the review.
The Department of Physics and Astronomy has welcomed six new faculty members in 2014.
The MSU Department of Physics and Astronomy will be visited by internationally noted climatologist Dr. Kevin Trenberth, Distinguished Senior Scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), on Thursday, September 18th, 2014.
At 4:10 pm, Dr. Trenberth will give the weekly departmental colloquium talk on the topic "Earth's Energy Balance Revisited". See this for more details.
Physics & Astronomy Professor Lisa Lapidus's research deals with the physical properties of proteins and how they behave under various conditions. This research has recently yielded promising results about a protein common in brain tissue which lead to the possibility that the protein's aggregation in cases of Parkinson's Disease and other brain disorders may be influenced by other molecules in such a way as to prevent this aggregation and thus short-circuit the development of the disorder.
On a clear but cold 17th of March 2014, the groundbreaking ceremony for the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) was held near the FRIB construction worksite on the MSU campus.
On January 22nd, 2014, the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science (DOE-SC) gave the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) official notice that it can now begin construction. This notice completes the process begun when President Obama signed into law the 2014 federal budget approved by the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate, which includes $55 million to support FRIB construction in the coming year.
Ehren Benson, the P-A Department's Windows Systems Administrator for nearly seven years, has accepted a position with MSU IT Services' Virtualization, Storage & Systems group. His last day with the department was Wednesday, 23 October 2013. A recent winner of the P-A Outstanding Staff Award, he will be missed for his diligence and dedication in providing computing services to this department and others.
Professor Stephen Zepf, Associate Chair for Astronomy & Astrophysics, was named one of the top 25 Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) professors in Michigan by the "Online Schools in Michigan" website (http://onlineschoolsmichigan.com), one of four MSU professors to be included on their Top 25 list for this year. For further information, see also this MSU Today article.
Opti O2, a Michigan State University Department of Physics & Astronomy spinout company started by Ruby Ghosh, received a venture funding award at the Entrepreneur-YOU Business Competition on 24 September 2013 in Troy, MI.
Physics and Astronomy Professors Elizabeth Simmons and Georg Bollen were both designated University Distinguished Professor at the June 21st meeting of the MSU Board of Trustees, as reported in this MSUToday article.
Dr. Bauer will continue as a professor in the P-A Department, but has also accepted a position in the office of MSU's executive vice president for administrative services.
Astronomy & Astrophysics Professor Megan Donahue's article for the "Faculty Voice" feature of the MSU Today online newsletter appeared in May 2013. It describes her experiences as a member of a team of researchers exploring some of the largest galaxy clusters in the universe using a very extensive set of observations from the Hubble Space Telescope.
The Department of Physics & Astronomy's Associate Chair for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Professor Stephen Zepf, is one of ten Michigan State University faculty members who will be honored for their outstanding contributions to education and research with Distinguished Faculty Awards at the annual MSU Awards Convocation on Feb. 12th, 2013.
The Dean of MSU's Lyman Briggs College and Professor in the Department of Physics & Astronomy, Elizabeth Simmons, has received Michigan State University's 2013 Robert F. Banks Award for Institutional Leadership. This award goes to a member of the faculty, academic staff, or support staff in recognition of extraordinary and sustained institutional leadership that advances MSU’s commitment to connectivity, quality and inclusion. It will be presented to Dr. Simmons by MSU President Lou Anna K.
MSU Astronomy & Astrophysics Assistant Professor Jay Strader (pictured at lower right) was the lead author for an Astrophysical Journal Letter (volume 775, letter 6, 20 Sept 2013) describing the characteristics of an ultra-compact galaxy called M60-UCD1, with a density 15,000 times that of the region of the Milky Way near the Sun, making it the densest galaxy currently known. Typical spacing between stars in M60-UCD1 is only 4% that found in our stellar neighborhood.
G. Mark Voit, MSU Professor of Astronomy & Astrophysics, was one of four MSU faculty members among the 701 scientists selected as AAAS Fellows in 2012 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.