UCD School of Physics Seminars

Upcoming seminars: 

Tuesday 26th February 2019 at 3pm in SCN 128

Engaging Students in Authentic Scientific Practices in Physics Lab Courses

Prof Heather Lewandowski

Department of Physics, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, USA

Bio / profile

ABSTRACT: Physics is an empirical science. Therefore, learning physics must include learning how to design and conduct experiments, analyze and interpret data, and revise models and apparatus. Physics lab courses at the introductory and upper-division levels are one of only a few opportunities for students to engage in these authentic physics practices. For many students, instructional labs are the only opportunity. However, these courses do not always have the students reach the desired learning goals. Our work looks to improve lab experiences by improving students’ competency with modeling of physical and measurement systems, troubleshooting skills, documentation practices, and views of the nature of experimental physics.

Organiser/contact: Dr Tom McCormack
Seminar co-hosted with the School of Education

UCD School of Physics, Belfield Campus, Science Centre North, Seminar Room 128 at 3pm

Tuesday 26th February 2019 at 2pm in SCN 128

PhD Transfer Presentations 

Emma Callis

Observations of Supernovae with Strong Circumstellar Interaction


Sarah Walsh

Observing the WHIM using Gamma Ray Bursts with the Athena X-IFU


Lana Salmon

Electromagnetic follow-up of gravitational wave sources


Organiser/contact: Prof Ronan McNulty

UCD School of Physics, Belfield Campus, Science Centre North, Seminar Room 128 at 2pm



Thursday 21st March 2019 at 2pm in SCN 128

The Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) and Fast Radio Bursts

Dr. Jojo Boyle

CHIME/FRB Project Manager, McGill University, Montreal, Canada

Bio / profile

The Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) is a new and novel radio telescope consisting of four 20m X 100m cylindrical reflectors and is located at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory in British Columbia. CHIME was originally designed to map neutral hydrogen as a function of redshift to probe the expansion history of the Universe.  However, with a field of view of 250 square degrees and a wide operating bandwidth of 400-800 MHz, CHIME is also an excellent instrument to search for Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs).  I will present an overview of CHIME and its FRB search engine together with early science results that includes the first detection of FRBs at frequencies as low as 400 MHz and the discovery of a second-ever repeating FRB.

Organiser/contact: Prof. John Quinn

UCD School of Physics, Belfield Campus, Science Centre North, Seminar Room 128 at 2pm

Thursday 28th March 2019 at 2pm in SCN 128

The ever-changing Universe: Exploding stars and catastrophic collisions

Dr Kate Maguire

Astrophysics Research Centre, School of Mathematics and Physics, Queen's University Belfast, UK 

Bio / profile

ABSTRACT: Supernovae are the incredibly luminous deaths of stars that play vital roles in chemical enrichment, galaxy feedback mechanisms, and stellar evolution. In particular, Type Ia supernovae, the explosions of white dwarf stars in binary systems, were instrumental in the discovery of dark energy. However, what are their progenitor systems, and how they explode, remains a mystery. There is increasing observational evidence that there are multiple ways in which white dwarfs can explode. I will review the status of what we know about the stellar systems that produce Type Ia supernovae, as well as discuss the recently discovered zoo of peculiar transients that are also predicted to result from the explosions of white dwarfs, such as He-shell mergers, tidal disruption events, and violent mergers. Distinguishing between these explosion scenarios and understanding their diversity is vital for producing the best samples for future precision measurements of the cosmological parameters. Finally, I will highlight the link to the exciting new area of transient research in the identifying and studying of the electromagnetic counterparts to gravitational waves sources and future complementary discovery and follow-up transient surveys.

Organiser/contact: Dr Morgan Fraser

UCD School of Physics, Belfield Campus, Science Centre North, Seminar Room 128 at 2pm

Thursday 25th April 2019 at 2pm in SCN 128

Nanosatellites for Gamma-Ray Astronomy

Prof Lorraine Hanlon

UCD School of Physics

Bio / Profile

ABSTRACT: Gamma-ray space missions have had extensive success in discovering and characterising the transient high-energy universe, including Gamma-Ray Bursts (GRBs). Their connection to catastrophic events involving stellar-mass objects means that GRBs are also excellent electromagnetic counterpart candidates to gravitational wave sources. The discovery of a short-lived gamma-ray transient by Fermi/GBM and INTEGRAL/SPI-ACS, associated with the gravitational wave source GW170817 discovered by Advanced LIGO, has now provided direct evidence for the binary neutron star merger origin of a subset of GRBs. The current fleet of high energy astrophysics missions includes INTEGRAL, Swift, Fermi, and other missions that make up the Inter-Planetary Network. In many cases these missions are all approaching, or have already exceeded, their nominal lifetimes.  There may therefore be a gap in the availability of future high-energy, wide-field facilities, that coincides with the timeline for major upgrades and achievement of design sensitivity for ground-based gravitational wave (GW) detectors from the early 2020’s and the future LISA mission (c. 2034). One approach to ensuring all-sky coverage for the detection of GRBs is to deploy small instruments on one or more nanosatellite platforms. While having limitations of size and detector volume, there are significant advantages such as rapid implementation timescales, relatively modest costs, in-orbit technology demonstration and wide accessibility. Several such nanosatellite gamma-ray mission concepts are now in development, including EIRSAT-1, and will be discussed in this talk.

Organiser/contact: Prof Lorraine Hanlon

UCD School of Physics, Belfield Campus, Science Centre North, Seminar Room 128 at 2pm

Thursday 13th June 2019 at 2pm in SCN 128

Title TBA

Prof. Douglas MacFarlane

School of Chemistry, Monash University, Australia 

Bio / profile


Organiser/contact: Dr Antonio Benedetto

UCD School of Physics, Belfield Campus, Science Centre North, Seminar Room 128 at 2pm

Date TBA

Opening a New Window on the Universe: The Cherenkov Telescope Array

Prof Paula Chadwick 

Department of Physics, University of Durham, UK


Rare and elusive, very high energy (VHE) gamma rays - a few 10s of GeV and above - are produced in violent events in our Galaxy and beyond and are indicative of the existence of high-energy particle acceleration processes. Detecting them is something of a challenge, but over the last decade, instruments such as the H.E.S.S. and VERITAS telescopes have revealed to us many new VHE gamma-ray emitting objects, providing us with a handle on the origin of cosmic rays, high energy process in active galaxies and even the earliest stars in the universe. The field is now about to undergo a revolution with the construction of the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA), which will offer unprecedented sensitivity and angular resolution. The observatory will provide access to the whole sky, with array in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres, and represent the first open, proposal-driven, VHE gamma-ray observatory. This talk will put CTA in the context of astroparticle physics and of past efforts to open this new window on the universe before looking at some of the exciting science we expect from CTA.

Organiser/contact: Prof John Quinn

UCD School of Physics, Belfield Campus, Science Centre North, Seminar Room 128 at 2:00pm



Date TBA

Title TBA

Dr Brian Reville

Centre for Plasma Physics, School of Mathematics and Physics Queen's University, Belfast

Bio / profile

Organiser/contact: Prof Peter Duffy

UCD School of Physics, Belfield Campus, Science Centre North, Seminar Room 128 at 3pm

Date TBA

Time-dependent spectral functions of quantum impurity systems

Prof Theo Costi

Theoretical Nanoelectronics, Peter Grünberg Institut, Forschungszentrum Jülich, Germany

Bio / profile

Organiser/contact: Dr Andrew Mitchell

UCD School of Physics, Belfield Campus, Science Centre North, Seminar Room 128 at 3pm



Archive of previous seminars: click here