Carnegie Mellon University
November 09, 2017

MCS Physicists Host National Meeting of Nuclear Scientists

By Emily Payne

Jocelyn Duffy

Mellon College of Science physicists helped to organize a well-attended meeting of the nation’s nuclear physics researchers in Pittsburgh at the end of October. About 800 faculty, researchers and students converged for the annual meeting of the American Physical Society’s Division of Nuclear Physics, held at the Pittsburgh Marriot City Center, downtown.

Carnegie Mellon Professor of Physics Reinhard Schumacher chaired a local committee that organized the four-day, science-packed agenda.

"We enjoyed bringing the country’s nuclear physics community to Pittsburgh for an exciting program highlighting new results and plans for future research."

City Councilman Dan Gilman formally welcomed the meeting and its attendees to the city and opened the floor to the meeting's plenary sessions, beginning with a talk by 2004 Nobel Laureate David Gross. Gross won the Nobel Prize in Physics for his contributions to the discovery of asymptotic freedom in the theory of the strong interaction, which led to the theory of quantum chromodynamics. His talk chronicled the history and application of the field over the last 50 years.

Invited national and international physicists and graduate students presented over 550 scientific talks about recent advances in experimental and theoretical aspects of the fundamental interactions among quarks, mesons, baryons and nuclei. Additional workshops for younger conference attendees focused on modern machine learning methods in data analysis, theoretical approaches to hadron structure and advances in particle detectors.

“We enjoyed bringing the country’s nuclear physics community to Pittsburgh for an exciting program highlighting new results and plans for future research,” said Schumacher.

About 200 undergraduate physics students from around the country joined the meeting as part of the 20th annual Conference Experience for Undergraduates (CEU). CEU allows students to experience a large scientific meeting, attend seminars and graduate school recruitment sessions and present their research at a poster session. Carnegie Mellon Physics majors Viren Bajaj and Samuel Dai presented their work with Schumacher on the photoproduction of baryon-antibaryon particle pairs at the poster session.

“I thoroughly enjoyed sharing my work with such passionate and bright minds from around the country,” said Bajaj of his CEU experience. “It was inspiring to see the quality and volume of research being done — one of the key reasons I came to the United States for my undergraduate degree.”

At the closing banquet, MCS Dean Rebecca Doerge introduced Carnegie Mellon Professor of Psychology Marcel Just. Just discussed his fMRI brain imaging studies that show how the brain encodes physics concepts such as “momentum” or “gravity” in contrast to disparate concepts such as “hammer” or “shelter.”

Members of the local organizing committee for the DNP meeting included Schumacher, Gregg Franklin, Curtis Meyer, Colin Morningstar, Diana Parno and Brian Quinn from Carnegie Mellon; Fatiha Benmokhtar from Duquesne University; Michael McCracken from Washington and Jefferson College; and Eric Swanson for the University of Pittsburgh.

Dan Gilman

City Councilman Dan Gilman welcomes the 2017 DNP Meeting to Pittsburgh

Physics major Viren Bajaj

Physics major Viren Bajaj presents at the CEU Poster Session

Samuel Dai

Physics major Samuel Dai presents at the CEU Poster Session