Alpheus Smith Lecture – tomorrow

The Department of Physics presents the 56th annual Alpheus Smith Lecture.  This takes place tomorrow, October 17, at 8:00 p.m., in 131 Hitchcock Hall at 2070 Neil Avenue.

The speaker is Nobel Laureate Dr. Rainer Weiss.  He will speak on “Exploration of the Universe with Gravitational Waves”

“Exploration of the Universe with Gravitational Waves” investigates the universe with multi-messenger astronomy.  Gravitational waves allow for novel observation of the universe’s phenomena, as well as the ability to test general relativity in the limit of strong gravitational interactions.  The lecture defines basic concepts of gravitational waves and describes various methods for data analysis that enable the measurement of certain gravitational wave strains before presenting the results of recent runs.  The lecture concludes with a vision for the future of gravitational wave astrophysics and astronomy.

The lecture is free and open to the public.  These are usually great talks, and I encourage you to attend.




Masters and Ph.D. studies in Chile

Just saw this on Facebook.  (Yes, I look at Facebook once in a while.)

For anyone with students looking to move into grad school soon, and who would like to do so in Chile, our call for applicants to the Ph.D and Masters program at the Universidad de Chile is open. Deadline is the 4th of November. You can find more details here:

I loved my years working in Chile, and I aim to spend about six weeks in Santiago in May – June, 2019.  Write to me if you want more details.


Ph.D. studies in Germany #2

From a recent announcement about Ph.D. research in solar system science:

The International Max Planck Research School for Solar System Science at the University of Göttingen ( applications for several PhD positions to start in 2019.

Full details may be found at

The application window opens on October 1, with a deadline of November 15, 2018.

Ph.D. studies in Germany

Here’s an announcement that showed up last week:

The International Max Planck Research School on Astrophysics (IMPRS)  in Garching/Munich (Bavaria, Germany) is soliciting applications for its PhD program. We would appreciate if you could distribute the information among interested students in the program.

IMPRS provides much more details at its website.

The deadline for applications is November 15. 2018.

Canadian Ph.D. programs in Exoplanet Science

I recently received an announcement about opportunities for Masters and Ph.D. studies in exoplanet sciences in Canada.  Specifically

We are happy to announce new M.Sc./Ph.D. positions in exoplanetary science at the Institute for Research on Exoplanets (iREx) at the Université de Montréal or the other home institutions of iREx professors (McGill University, Bishop’s University), starting either in the Spring or Fall 2019 semesters.

If you are interested, please read the announcement carefully before applying.   Graduate programs in Canada typically admit students only for study in research groups; one doesn’t apply generally to a department or program as people do in the US.  So it is necessary to contact potential groups to see when there might be openings.

You have to move fast on this one.  The program wants students to contact the professor(s) they want to work with by September 24.

Retention of female STEM students

Check out this really interesting article summarizing recent research at Ohio State on why women stay or leave graduate school.  One of the largest factors is the number of other women in the program.

A new study found that the fewer females who enter a doctoral program at the same time, the less likely any one of them will graduate within six years.

In the worst-case scenario – where there’s just one woman in a new class – she is 12 percentage points less likely to graduate within six years than her male classmates, the study found.

Astronomy’s undergrad major is pretty skewed, with only about 20-25% of students who are women.  And it’s even worse in Physics, where our majors take most of their classes.  Statistics don’t indicate that women leave the Astronomy major more often than men do, but that does not mean that the climate itself is not a barrier to success.

I’d love to hear your comments on the article or on the way gender imbalance manifests itself in the program.  If you prefer, you can write to me privately; any comments sent by email will remain confidential.


Students for the Exploration and Development of Space

I recently received this in the email:

Hello all!

Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) is ready for liftoff this school year! We had an amazingly successful involvement fair last week, and we are about to jump off the launchpad!

We have a lot of new and exciting events coming up, and it all starts at our first event of the year this Thursday, August 30th at 5pm in Page Hall 240 where we will be drawing for the winner of the telescope raffle, as well as talking about the upcoming year! Our next 2 meetings are on Thursdays, September 6th and 13th at 5pm in the same room. There will be food!

I am excited to see you all there, and tell your friends to join us!

First meeting of the Astronomical Society

The Astronomical Society of Ohio State is an undergraduate organization with these goals:  1) to learn about topics in astronomy and educate others, 2) to provide support for undergraduate astronomy and astrophysics majors and minors, and 3) to create a social environment for anyone interested in astronomy.

The first meeting is this Friday Thursday!  From their recent announcement:

First Meeting Thursday, August 30th at 6:30 pm

The Astronomical Society will be having its first meeting this Thursday, August 30th. We will first be meeting at the Planetarium (5th floor of Smith Lab) at 6:30 pm, where we will talk about the club, meet each other, and make use of the solar telescopes on the roof. We will then go over to McPherson 4054 around 7:15 pm for pizza!

You can view the society on Facebook:  search for “The Astronomical Society at OSU”.

The Polaris Mentorship Program

Here’s an announcement I got about an exciting mentorship program for new STEM students in Physics and Astronomy. [The message has been lightly edited to include links and email addresses.]

Welcome to Ohio State! We’re writing to invite you to apply to Polaris, a mentorship program in the Physics and Astronomy departments. Polaris’s goal is to help get you started in your career in STEM, and to foster a diverse and inclusive environment, because we deeply believe that science is for everyone.
The program will meet once a week on Mondays from 1:50-2:45 pm (details are in an announcement and a syllabus). Most meetings will involve a discussion of a topic related to diversity and inclusion in STEM. Several meetings are devoted instead career development activities, like coding workshops and introductions to college level research. You’ll also be paired with a graduate or upper-level undergraduate mentor who can be a resource for any problems you’re having. You’ll have some time at each meeting to talk one-on-one with your mentor.
If possible, you can even gain one course credit for participating in the program! To apply, send email to with your name and dot number (the number you use to log into your e-mail), and we’ll give you instructions about how to register. 
Hope to see you soon!
Polaris Leadership Team


Empty chairs

Here’s a wonderful essay from 2014 called “Empty Chairs“.  In this, author Azza Cohen, at the time an undergrad major in history, discusses a number of important opportunities that are often ignored.  Chief among these is professor office hours.  Cohen writes:

During a Breakout trip last year, I asked David Super ’80, a professor of law at Georgetown and Princeton alumnus, for his best advice about Princeton. “Go to office hours,” he urged. “The saddest thing at Princeton is empty chairs at office hours.”

I encourage you to read the essay.  Go to office hours.  Take advantage of the opportunities given to you!

If you are in one of my classes. my office hours are Tuesdays from 2:00 – 4:00.  If you want to see me for an advising matter, see my online scheduling tool.  My office is 4033 McPherson Lab.