Latest News and Announcements

UChicago camp teaches middle-schoolers STEM skills and develops growth mindsets

Nearly 40 students from seven Chicago Public Schools attended UChicago STEM Education’s South Side STEM free day camp where they engaged with a curriculum designed to build confidence and excitement around mathematics, cryptography, and engineering.

Read more about the curriculum and its impact here.

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NASA Parker Solar Probe, named after UChicago scientist, begins historic mission

At 2:31 a.m. CDT on Sunday, Aug. 12, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe blasted off into the predawn darkness, on its way to explore the sun on a mission that will send it closer to our star than any previous spacecraft. With its liftoff, University of Chicago Prof. Emeritus Eugene Parker became the first person to witness the launch of a namesake spacecraft.

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UChicago Computer Science Part of $15 Million Effort to Build First Practical Quantum Computer

A new collaboration of seven universities, including the University of Chicago, will work together to create the pioneering hardware, software, and applications needed to realize the world’s first practical quantum computer. Fred Chong, the Seymour Goodman Professor of Computer Science at the University of Chicago, will receive $3 million to lead the Software-Tailored Architecture for Quantum (STAQ) software team. Read the full article via UChicago's Department of Computer Science

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PSD Physicist Wins Dirac Medal for Work on Novel Phases in Many-Body Systems

Physicist Dam Thanh Son, University Professor at the University of Chicago, has been awarded the 2018 ICTP Dirac Medal for his contributions to revolutionizing human understanding of how quantum mechanics affects large groups of particles.

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Studies show why some internal clocks are like wristwatches and some hourglasses

In a new study, scientists studied mechanisms of two kinds of circadian “clocks” in organisms—one a “true” clock like a wristwatch and the other more like an hourglass, which needs to be reset with external daily cues.

Read more about circadian clocks here.

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Associate professor Charles Smart summits the Abelian sandpile

UChicago associate professor Charles Smart combined mathematical expertise with Lionel Levine, and Wesley Pegden to develop a precise explanation for the emergence of patterns in chaos.

Read more about the Abelian sandpile model.

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UChicago, Field Museum scientists find evidence of energetic particles from early sun

In a new study in Nature Astronomy by scientists with the University of Chicago, the Field Museum and ETH Zurich, ancient blue crystals trapped in meteorites reveal what the early sun was like.

Read more about the sun’s activity in its early life.

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World's Next Largest Telescope Hopes to Answer Question of Life Beyond Earth

Wendy Freedman, the John and Marion Sullivan University Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Chicago, spoke with Chicago Tonight about the Giant Magellan Telescope, currently under construction in Chile. The telescope, slated to become the world's largest, will help to reveal the characteristics of exoplantets.

Watch the interview.

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Eckhardt Scholars Collaborate, Create, and Communicate

Launched in 2016, the Physical Sciences Division’s Eckhardt Graduate Scholars Program forms a collaborative environment among doctoral students and faculty to help the students prepare for careers creating and conducting the science of the future.

Read interviews with 27 Eckhardt Graduate Scholars.

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Electron Microscope Detector Achieves Record Resolution

A team of researchers from both Cornell and the University of Chicago have developed a method for achieving ultra-high resolution without the need for “corrective lenses” for their microscope. 

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Joshua Frieman Looks to Future as Head of Particle Physics Research at Fermilab

The role of director of the Dark Energy Survey has given Fermilab scientist and University of Chicago professor Josh Frieman, PhD’89, the opportunity to work with diverse groups of people toward a common goal, a skill that comes in handy as he takes on the role of Particle Physics Division head at the Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.

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Twelve Women Researches to Explain Science on Soapboxes at Navy Pier

Maria Weber, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Chicago, organized Soapbox Science Chicago, the first Soapbox Science event in the United States. The tradition of speakers climbing on soapboxes to argue for civil liberties began in Victorian Britain and was revived in 2011 as a way to talk about gender equality in science.

Read an interview with event organizer, Maria Weber.

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UChicago Astrophysicist Eugene Parker Will Be First to Watch His Namesake Spacecraft Launch

On Aug. 6, the launch window opens for NASA’s Parker Solar Probe to begin its journey to the corona of the sun, a mission that will bring a spacecraft closer to the sun than any ever before.

Read more about the mission and watch a video of Parker discussing solar winds.

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Geophysical Science Professor Wins Nicholas P. Fofonoff Award

Congratulations to Malte Jansen for earning the prestigious Nicholas P. Fofonoff Award from the American Meteorological Society. This early-career award recognizes research achievement in the field of physical oceanography.

Read more about Malte Jansen.

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UChicago, Argonne Scientists Find Atomic Explanation for Easing Electrons’ Paths

new study published in Nature Nanotechnology helps fill in the cracks for scientists trying to use nanocrystals to design better electronic and optoelectronic devices. According to research by University of Chicago, Argonne National Laboratory and Max Planck Institute for Iron Research scientists, inorganic links between the nanoparticles themselves are changing and reforming on the surface of the nanoparticles.

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Rain or Snow Likely Formed Martian Rivers

By comparing the patterns of rivers in different climates here on Earth, a new Science Advances study, coauthored by Edwin Kite, assistant professor in the Department of Geophysical Sciences, adds to a growing body of evidence that river valleys on Mars were created by water flowing across the surface—the result of rain or snowmelt, not by slow leaks from underground. The answer provides clues to what Mars’ climate would have looked like eons ago when the rivers were flowing.

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Students and Argonne Scientists Turn Wrigley Field into Data Lab

As part an ambitious University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory initiative to "instrument the city," the Array of Things project installed sensors to measure sound, weather, and fan satisfaction at Wrigley Field.

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Tiny Brushes that Make Surfaces Slippery May Not Work as Intended, Study Finds

A type of molecular surface thought to be extremely slippery may not stay that way under all conditions, according to new UChicago and Argonne research in Science. This discovery has implications for future technologies like joint replacements or anti-fogging surfaces.

Learn more about the research.

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PSD Chemists Expand Possibilities for Building Complicated Molecules for Drugs, Agriculture

In a new paper published in Nature Chemistry, Guangbin Dong, professor of chemistry, and graduate student Jianchun Wang laid out a new approach that streamlines the process and expands the possibilities for building a class of molecules used in pharmaceutics, agriculture and materials. 

Read more about the new approach.

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Three PSD Scholars Receive 2018 Simons Foundation Awards

Three University of Chicago scientists have received 2018 awards from the Simons Foundation. Shinsei Ryu, associate professor of physics, and André Neves, professor of mathematics, were named Simons Investigators and will receive $100,000 of research support per year for five years. String theorist Emil Martinec was named a Simons Fellow in Theoretical Physics.

Read more about the awards.

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UChicago Activities at Yerkes Observatory to End in 2018

The University of Chicago has announced plans to wind down its activities at Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay, Wis., over the next six months and to formally cease on-site operations by Oct. 1, 2018.

Despite its important history, the Yerkes facility and its instrumentation no longer contribute directly to the research mission of the University of Chicago, which has made major investments in the Magellan and Giant Magellan telescopes in Chile.

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Congratulations to Assistant Professor Blase Ur!

Blase Ur was recently named a winner of the ACM SIGCHI Outstanding Dissertation Award.  This award is given annually by the Special Interest Group on Human-Computer Interaction and “recognizes excellent thesis research by recent Ph.D. recipients in Human-Computer Interaction".  Up to three such awards are given in a year, and this year they gave only two.

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Congratulations to Professors Alexander Beilinson and Vladimir Drinfeld!

Alexander Beilinson and Vladimir Drinfeld have won the 2018 Wolf Prize in Mathematics. The Israeli Wolf Prize will be awarded at the end of May to nine laureates in the fields of mathematics, agriculure, physics, chemistry, and music. Beilinson and Drinfeld will share the mathematics prize this year as their work has made significant progress "at the interface of geometry and mathematical physics."

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Congratulations to Assistant Professor Abby Vieregg!

Research Corporation for Science Advancement (RCSA) has named twenty-four top early career academic scientists  as 2018 Cottrell Scholars. UChicago's own Abby Vieregg has been named for her work in physics and her research searching for astrophysical ultra-high energy (UHE) neutrinos using radio detection techniques.

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UChicago Postdoctoral Scholar named 51 Pegasi b Fellow by the Heising-Simons Foundation

University of Chicago scientist Thaddeus Komacek is one of eight postdoctoral scholars to be selected for the 2018 class of the prestigious Heising-Simons Foundation 51 Pegasi b Fellowship.

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Doomsday Clock Moves its Closest to Midnight Since the Height of the Cold War

Citing growing nuclear risks and unchecked climate dangers, the Doomsday Clock has been moved to two minutes before midnight—its closest point symbolically to total catastrophe since the height of the Cold War. This 30-second move forward is a direct reflection of nuclear tensions and the need for action combating climate change. 

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Scientists get Better Numbers on What Happens When Electrons get Wet

A crucial part of the chemical reactions that govern many of the processes around us is electrons striking water. Despite how common place these reactions are, scientists still have to estimate numbers for certain parts of the equation when they use computers to model them. 

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Siebel Foundation Names Inaugural Group of UChicago Computer Science Scholars

Three master's students studying computation and public policy were honored by the foundation, and thus, the University's Department of Computer Science joins a select group of international programs as the three students are the first in the University's computer science program to be selected. 

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Dark Energy Survey Finds Remains of 11 Galaxies Eaten by the Milky Way

Scientists have released the preliminary cosmological findings from the Dark Energy Survey -- research on about 400 million astronomical objects from distant galaxies to the stars we see in the night sky. Among these findings was the discovery of new stellar streams - remnants of smaller galaxies destroyed and essentially eaten by our own Milky Way. Read More

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Proton Hydration Structures are Asymmetric, Study Reveals

Research has implications for clean energy sources that use water as fuel

How water solvates and transports protons is a fundamental question facing chemists and biologists alike and is vital to our understanding of processes such as photosynthesis and cellular respiration. 

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Rogue Neutrino Likely Came from Supermassive Black Hole, Scientists Say

The VERITAS Collaboration, including scientists at the University of Chicago, has confirmed the detection of very high-energy gamma rays from the vicinity of a supermassive black hole. While such detections are relatively commonplace for VERITAS, this black hole is potentially the first known astrophysical source of high-energy cosmic neutrinos—a type of ghostly subatomic particle.

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Big Brains Podcast Explores how World’s Largest Telescope Might Glimpse Universe’s Birth

Big Brains is a new University of Chicago podcast in which some of the pioneering minds on campus discuss their groundbreaking ideas and the stories behind them.

Prof. Wendy Freedman spent much of her career measuring the age of the universe. Now she’s working on a project that may very well give scientists a chance to glimpse into its birth.

Read More and Listen Here

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Josh Frieman Takes on Role of Fermilab Particle Physics Division Head

As director of the Dark Energy Survey, Fermilab scientist Josh Frieman leads more than 400 scientists from over 25 institutions across the world in the quest to unravel mysteries of the universe. The role, he says, has given him the opportunity to work with diverse groups of people toward a common goal, a skill that comes in handy as he takes on the role of Particle Physics Division head at the Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.

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UChicago Library Receives Medals and Papers of Nobel-Winning Physicist James Cronin

The University of Chicago Library has received the medals and academic papers of Nobel-winning physicist James Cronin, SM’53, PhD’55, the late UChicago scientist who made defining contributions to physics and astronomical observation.

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New $1.3 million Grant from the National Science Foundation for Science Formative Assessment in Grades 3-5

Drs. Liz Lehman and Meg Bates, along with collaborators at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Learning Sciences Research Institute, have received an award from the National Science Foundation’s Discovery Research PreK-12 program. The grant to UChicago STEM Education will support a 4-year project to develop assessments for formative use in elementary science classrooms and improve teacher capacity in science instruction and assessment.

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A Singular Loss

The world lost a brilliant scienfitic mind this March when Stephen Hawking died. However, his legacy and scientific contributions will continue to inspire and influence physicists and scientists for years. UChicago physicist Daniel Holz, SM'94, PhD'98, wrote an appreciation of Hawking's legacy explaining that when he applied quantum mechanics to the classical physics of black holes, they appeared to leak particles. 

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Through Thick and Thin: Researchers Solve Decades-Old Fluid Question

A team of nanoscientists and physicists from Argonne National Laboratory has unraveled the 30-year mystery of shear thickening by studying a shear-thickening fluid with X-rays. The study could lead to applications in 3-D printing, the chemical industry and the biomedical field.

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Postdoctoral Fellow Leads Physics Lectures on the Mysteries of Neutrinos

This spring’s free lectures series is named for pioneering University of Chicago physicist and Nobel laureate Arthur Holly Compton, who demonstrated that light can be both particle and wave. The lecture series will be held 11 a.m. Saturday mornings at the Kersten Physics Teaching Center through June 2 (except for Memorial Day weekend).

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Learn, Observe, Control: UChicago to Commercialize a Generalized Software Optimization Framework

UChicago, in partnership with the Chicago Group, has begun the process of taking the Hoffmann Optimization Framework to the broader market. It ingests data and makes adujstments to how that system operates in order to maintain the best level of performance, even in adverse conditions. The framework is able to deliever performance guarantees formally proven with cold hard math. 

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Fifteen UChicago Faculty Elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Fifteen faculty members at the University of Chicago have been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the nation’s most prestigious honorary societies. This year’s class also includes President Barack Obama, and from the PSD, Professors Henrich Jaeger, Laurie Butler, and Andrei Tokmakoff. 

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UChicago Launches Center for Data Science and Computing Research

The University of Chicago is launching the Center for Data and Applied Computing, a research center for developing new methods in computation and data analytics and applying them to ambitious projects across the full spectrum of science and scholarship. The Center for Data and Applied Computing, which opens this summer, will provide computationally focused, interdisciplinary projects at the university.

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Research Suggests Water Appeared While Earth was Still Growing

A team including UChicago cosmochemist Nicolas Dauphas performed the largest study to date of oxygen isotopes in lunar rocks, and found a small but measurable difference in the makeup of the moon and Earth. The research proposes that Earth acquired the majority of its water during the main stage of its growth—which counters a popular theory.

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Scientists Confirm Water Trapped Inside Diamonds Deep Below Earth’s Surface

The discovery, which relies on extremely bright X-ray beams from the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory, could change our understanding of how water circulates deep in the Earth’s mantle and how heat escapes from the lower regions of our planet. 

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Scientists Build Army of Metal-Organic Nanoflowers to Treat Cancer

Scientists with the University of Chicago have designed an army of tiny flower-shaped metal-and-organic nanoparticles that deliver a one-two punch—first boosting the effects of radiation at the tumor site and then jumpstarting the immune system to search out any remaining tumors.

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UChicago Scientists Build Trap to Make Tiny Packages of Light ‘Collide’

The universe is illuminated via photons, the tiny individual particles that make up light, but they don’t interact with each other. To make them see the light, a team of University of Chicago physicists built a trap to help photons bounce off each other. Their photon collider is the latest effort to make photons behave like other particles such as electrons—a step toward greater understanding and control of quantum systems.

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Genetic Analysis Uncovers the Evolutionary Origin of Vertebrate Limbs

A new study by researchers from the University of Chicago and the Andalusian Center for Development Biology in Spain shows how these creatures used an even more primitive genetic blueprint to develop their proto-limbs: the single dorsal, or back, fin common to all jawed fish.

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First Look at Jupiter’s Poles Show Strange Geometric Arrays of Storms

In the past two years, with NASA’s Juno spacecraft, found bizarre geometric arrangements of storms, each arrayed around one cyclone over both poles—unlike any storm formation seen in the universe. 

The study was authored by scientists from an international group of institutions including the University of Chicago.

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Student-Run Hackathons Use Uncommon Approaches to Educate and Inspire

Hackathons, daylong or overnight events in which teams work on a project in tech, data science or programming, have become a popular activity worldwide. In January, a UChicago student organization called compileHer gathered 70 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students from 50 schools across Chicago for an all-day hackathon at the Logan Center for the Arts.

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UChicago Scientists to Lead $10 Million NSF 'Expedition' for Practical Quantum Computing

Co-design of quantum achitectures, software helps realize promise of new technology sooner. 

University of Chicago computer scientists an “expedition” into the burgeoning field of quantum computing, bringing applications of the nascent technology for computer science, physics, chemistry and other fields at least a decade closer to practical use.

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Scientists use Tiny Diamond Anvils to Put Squeeze on Materials

Scientists have turned tiny bits of diamond and super-hard specks into “molecular anvils” that squeeze and twist molecules until chemical bonds break and atoms exchange electrons. They believe the method­ offers a new way to perform chemistry research at the molecular level that is greener, more efficient and much more precise.

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Henry Luce Foundation Grant to Support Science Professorships for Women

A grant from the Henry Luce Foundation will support an initiative to significantly increase the gender diversity of faculty members across the Physical Sciences Division by 2023.

The five-year, $500,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation will fund three Clare Boothe Luce Professorships for women in the Departments of Astronomy & Astrophysics and Physics. Additional financial and programmatic support from the Physical Sciences Division and the Office of the Provost will ensure the success of the three new faculty members at the University.

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