Past Events

August 19 and August 27, 2020
Virtual Workshop on Atmospheric Oxygen

Originally planned as a 3-day event on the Bowdoin Campus, this gathering of researchers from the US, Europe and Asia will instead be held as two 90-minute sessions, bringing together the global community of scientists working on this topic to share and coordinate research plans.  An in-person workshop on the Bowdoin campus with more extensive research reports is scheduled for August 18-20 of 2021.

One reason atmospheric oxygen is worthy of study is because its variability in controlled by many of the same processes that determine the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide.  Thus, oxygen can provide unique insight into the buildup of the greenhouse gas primarily responsible for global warming.

More information on the workshop is available here, or by contacting Mark Battle (

February 27, 2020
3:45 p.m.
Searles 315
Dr. Peter Nagler
"Exoplanet Characterization and Superconducting Sensors” 

February 21, 2020
12:30 p.m.
Searles 315
Katherine Aidala, Mount Holyoke College
“Scanning Probe Microscopy: A versatile tool for electrical, mechanical and magnetic measurements"

February 20, 2020
6:00 p.m.
Searles 315
Katherine Aidala, Mount Holyoke College
“Why aren't more women in science?”

February 14, 2020
1 p.m.
Hutchinson Room (back right corner of Thorne)
Professor Msall will be giving a talk titled: "Spintronics and sound: how focused strain waves can transport spin qubits in low dimensional electron systems." Sponsored by the Bowdoin Women in Physics. All are welcome!

November 25, 2019
3:00 p.m.
Searles 315
Cyril Creque-Sarbinowski, Johns Hopkins University
"Direct millicharged dark matter cannot explain EDGES"

Heat transfer between baryons and millicharged dark matter has been invoked as a possible explanation for the anomalous 21-cm absorption signal seen by EDGES. Prior work has shown that the solution requires that millicharged particles make up only a fraction of the dark matter and have mass and charge within a certain range. Here we show that such particles come into chemical equilibrium before recombination, and so are subject to a constraint on the effective number of relativistic degrees of freedom, which we update using Planck 2018 data. We moreover determine the precise relic abundance f that results for a given mass and charge and incorporate this abundance into the constraints on the millicharged-dark-matter solution to EDGES. With these two results, the solution is ruled out if the relic abundance is set by freeze-out.

October 30, 2019
4:30 p.m.
Searles 315
Dale Kocevski, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Colby College
"Illuminating the Black Hole – Galaxy Connection"

Supermassive black holes, and the active galactic nuclei (AGN) that they power, are thought to play an integral role in the evolution of galaxies by acting to regulate, and eventually suppress, the star formation activity of their host galaxies.  I will discuss recent efforts to test this proposed connection by studying the demographics of galaxies undergoing active black hole growth.  In particular, I will highlight results from the CANDELS survey, which has used infrared imaging from the Hubble Space Telescope to study of properties of galaxy back when the Universe was a quarter of its current age.  It is during this era of cosmic history that black hole growth and star formation activity in the Universe are at their peak.  I will discuss what CANDELS is currently revealing about the mechanisms that fuel AGN activity at this epoch and the connection between black hole growth and the emergence of the first generation of passive galaxies in the Universe.

October 10, 2019
12:00 p.m.
Searles 315
Professor Richard Alley
"Falling Dominoes:  Ice Sheets and Sea Level”

October 10, 2019
7:30 p.m.
Smith Auditorium, Sills Hall
Public lecture: “Climate has always changed naturally”—How climate history increases concerns about fossil-fuel burning"

Professor Richard Alley is this year’s Carl F. Cranor Visiting Scholar. Support for his visit is provided by Phi Beta Kappa Society and Bowdoin’s Kibbe Science Lecture Fund.

Richard Alley is Evan Pugh University Professor of Geosciences at Penn State. He studies the great ice sheets to help predict future changes in climate and sea level, including multiple trips to Antarctica, Greenland, Alaska, and elsewhere. He has been honored for research (including election to the US National Academy of Sciences and Foreign Membership in the Royal Society), teaching, and service. Dr. Alley participated in the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize), and has provided requested advice to numerous government officials in multiple administrations. He has authored or coauthored over 300 refereed scientific papers. He was presenter for the PBS TV miniseries on climate and energy Earth: The Operators’ Manual, and author of the book. His popular account of climate change and ice cores, The Two-Mile Time Machine, won the Phi Beta Kappa Award in Science. 

September 27, 2019
Margaret Geller
"Caught in the Cosmic Web"

Join Margaret Geller for a journey through the universe. Throughout her career, she has been caught in the cosmic web, the largest pattern we know in nature. She will describe her role in discovering these patterns in the nearby universe and her ongoing work to map  the way they evolve over the last eight gigayears of cosmic history.

September 26, 2019 
Scott Kenyon
"Pluto Strikes Back!"

Over a decade ago, astronomers decided to demote Pluto as a planet and call it a ‘dwarf planet’. After a brief summary of Pluto’s discovery and demotion, I will discuss the amazing discoveries about Pluto we have made in the last 15 years and describe how Pluto provides important information on how much larger planets form around other stars.