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Career orientation conference for PHD students

img_20170616_092519We took part in the organising the seventh DOFFI Conference, which is an event for hungarian PhD students in the field of physics to present their research and to learn about the others’ as well. The annual conference is also a great opportunity for the students to connect and build networks with academics and each other, too.
The event itself was four days long. Each day was divided into 15-minute sessions. During these sessions the students had 12 minutes to present their work. After that there were 3-minute periods when an assigned discussant, an academic of the student’s field and the audience could analyse and give feedback on the work and presentation.The students could also present their work on posters that were shown throughout the whole conference.
Academics were invited each day to hold plenary lectures about the newest research topics, this year for example about transport properties of graphene-BiTeI hybrid structures and the effect of virtual reality on human balance.
Several companies that employ physicists (e.g. Morgan Stanley) were invited to give presentations on the opportunities a student can get if they choose to work for them.
There was also a forum for discussing the difficulties that affect the community of physisists.
The conference was held in Balatonfenyves, a small town next to lake Balaton, where the participants could relax and go to the beach each day.
We hope that the participants learned a lot, and got to know each other.

Webpage with abstracts, pictures and program:

Colloquium “Topology in atomic flatland”

Dalibard2On the 7th of March 2017, the Antwerp Young Minds section invited Professor Doctor Jean Dalibard to give a colloquium at the University of Antwerp about his work on topology-related effects in 2D quantum gases. The target audience were the students and researchers of the University of Antwerp physics department, many of whom attended the lecture.

Professor Jean Dalibard is a professor at Collège de France and researcher at the Kastler Brossel Laboratory. His research focuses on the study of quantum gases, in particular Bose-Einstein condensates, and explores, among other subjects, the properties of rotating and low dimensional gases. His work on topologic transitions and other topology-related effects in 2D quantum gases served as a very fascinating subject for the colloquium, especially because of its close connection to the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics.

Professor Dalibard began his talk with a general introduction on the subject of quantum gases in order to make those who might not yet be familiar with these systems acquainted with the topic. Subsequently, he focused on the key aspects of 2D quantum gases such as their topological transition to a superfluid state. He also addressed other topology-related effects in these systems, related to the creation of artificial gauge fields and quantum-Hall type phenomena. The colloquium as a whole was a great occasion for students to be introduced to the concepts of quantum gases, topology and the subject of last year’s Nobel Prize, while at the same time providing the researchers of our department with more profound insights into the underlying theory of these phenomena.

The lecture was followed by a reception, where the audience members and speaker could enjoy a drink and a bite. This also presented our students and researchers with the opportunity to speak with professor Dalibard in a more informal setting than the lecture itself.

The colloquium received a lot of positive feedback from the students and researchers who attended it.

Poster session at the Physics Department

Trieste2One of the goals of the Young Minds Project is to foster the networking among young researchers
and students. As our first activity, we organized a spring poster session for the master and PhD
students of the Physics Department of the University of Trieste. The poster session took place in
the corridors of the Physics Department on the two days of the presentation to the students of the
Master Course in Physics and during the following week. The posters had, therefore, a high visibility
due both to the high number of people present for the Master Course presentation and to their
location in the core place of the Department’s life.
The posters numbered 16 and were presented by master and PhD students. Among the topics
covered we had high-energy astrophysics, quantum information, chemical evolution of galaxies,
out-of-equilibrium condensed matter, space and satellites physics, density functional theory
calculations, and stabilization of laser cavities. For the PhD students, the poster session has been
very useful to present their work to fellow PhD students and possible bachelor and master students
coming to their labs and groups for their internships or theses. To the master students, it provided
the opportunity to present for the first time their thesis work, a few months before the final
graduation defense.
In addition to the presenting students and to the audience, the activity was welcomed also by the
Professors, who encouraged their students to present a poster on their work. Given the success of
the activity, it will be repeated in late spring 2017.

Strathclyde’s Physics Journal Club

SCOPEIn 2016 Strathclyde SCOPE YM has successfully run the Strathclyde’s Physics Journal Club fortnightly with really good acceptance and collaboration from the students involved. The aim of this activity was to both give the chapter members the opportunity to present some of the relevant papers in their field or more generally in general interest science and also enhance the communication with other students, learning and talking about physics in a relaxed atmosphere. As many of the students were lacking this kind of activities in their own groups, we provided this student-run platform with great success.

Throughout the year, we had the chance to learn about a whole variety of physics subjects from quantum optics to optogenetics. The participants ranging from 10 to 20 people with high regularity chaired at least one session during this period. The presentation was usually 20 to 30 minutes long, followed by an informal discussion with some refreshments. During the presentation most of the participants will make use of both whiteboard sketches and projector slides to support their speech. The rest of the students provided some feedback after the presentation helping the speakers improve their weaker points during the presentation.

We consider that this activity was helping to develop a vital skill for junior scientists which is the ability to efficiently analyze and present a high-profile scientific paper. The fact that this activity was held in a student atmosphere helped reducing the fear of some participants to make mistakes and allowed them to expand their knowledge in a much less anxious way.

We regularly asked for feedback to our participants and adapted the sessions to their needs. The atmosphere was really friendly during the sessions and we are certain that this activity will remain valued by the students in the coming years.

Popular Science Writing Course 2016

Rome1On March the 3rd and the 4th at University “La Sapienza” Physics Department was held the workshop on scientific writing “Laboratorio di scrittura divulgativa” .
The workshop, mainly addressed to PhD students in scientific subjects (physics, chemistry, biology), was intended to give to the participants the basic tools on the non-academic scientific writing: the students would learn how to write articles for the general public instead of papers for the academic community.
To achieve this aim, the workshop was held by Manuela Cirilli and Massimiliano Razzano, both physicists and science communicators. Manuela Cirilli, in fact, is a particle physicists who works in the Knowledge Transfer Group of CERN, while Massimiliano Razzano is an astrophysicists and a professional journalist who writes for some of the most popular italian newspapers.

The workshop was divided in two days corresponding to two main parts. During the first part there was a theoretical introduction about the scientific communication in general, with a particular focus on the non-academic scientific writing. The second part of the workshop was instead more practical, because the participants were asked to become journalists themselves: under the guidance of the teachers, the students simulated an editorial meeting and wrote their own scientific articles. In this way, they learned not only how to present to the general public their scientific work in a more intriguing way, but also how to interact with the editorial staff.

This year we organised also a social event at the end of the course, in collaboration with the “Assaggi” bookstore, to present section activities to physics student and increase the section active members.

Physics development in Morocco

MoroccoThe physics education in secondary schools in Morocco is focused only on theory; the lack of practical work is mainly due to the high price of teaching equipment. Therefore, to improve the quality of Moroccan teaching and to facilitate and approach young physicists to understand the physical phenomena. The USMS PHYSICS Young Minds Section of Beni Mellal has set up several activities during the year 2015-2016 in the context of the transmission of technology to high school students and contribution to several projects that are supervised by the Sultan Moulay Slimane University and other associations. These activities are summarized in the following points:
• Achievements of practical work’s kits based on simple components for high school students, these kits are:
– Light diffraction kit, to visualize the diffraction phenomena and to calculate the wavelength of the monochromatic light. This Kit is mainly composed of a source of monochromatic light, a slot, a screen and a wooden support.
– Kit for calculating the sound speed in air using an ultrasonic sensor (transmitter and receiver), an obstacle and an acquisition card such as ARDUINO.
– A meteorological station for high school students. This station is composed of various types of sensors (temperature, humidity and solar irradiation) to acquire meteorological data.

• Organization of a summer school, entitled: The experimental physic-chemistry of surfaces and interfaces.

As is it was notified in our activity, the young minds section visited several high schools in the Beni Mellal region such as: Mohammed 5 high school, Ibn sina high school and … (joined flyer file)

There was an interesting contact with the youngest students, they discovered a new relation between theoretical concept and easy experimental setup (pictures file). Also their teachers were also much imprisoned with the equipment homemade, low price and giving correct results.

• Participation in the development of solar energy lighting kits for rural areas in agreement with the association Letter of Light and the association Migration and Co-Development Alsace.

Specialized talk

posterKonstanz jDPG-YM Section organized a specialized talk about a research topic which is not present at the University of Konstanz. The invited speaker was Dr. Benjamin Reuter from the WSL – Institute for snow and avalanche research SLF in Davos, Switzerland. The title of the talk was “Avalanches – from cloud to cloud”. The specialized talk was held in framework of the colloquium of the physical department of the University of Konstanz. In a very impressive way Dr. Reuter introduced the audience to avalanche research and common measurement and forecasting techniques. In the talk he presented some of the general properties of snow and a fracture mechanical framework to interpret snow properties in view of snow instability. He showed measurement techniques to obtain such measures in the field, but also modelling approaches. The presentation indicated that the application of this framework to real cases will reveal the driving agents shaping the mountain snow cover and influencing snow instability under real, observed meteorological conditions. Assessing the influence of those driving agents is the key to future numerical avalanche forecasting approaches.
Due to the geographical location of Konstanz many of the faculty members are doing snow sports, so our intention to invite a guest who gives insight into a new research topic which is interesting for many faculty members was completely fulfilled. The attendance was significantly above the ordinary and a lot of students were introduced to the colloquium. For us the specialized talk was a great success and we got a lot positive feedback.

Seminars on membrane technology

In this activity, we have organized seminars on thermoplasmonics and its novel applications, with particular emphasis to seawater desalination and membrane technology.
The technological applications related to the excitation of localized surface plasmon modes have originated the emerging field of plasmonics. Among the various technological capabilities of plasmonics, those related to thermoplasmonics are particularly promising. Thermoplasmonics, i.e. the Joule heating associated to optically resonant plasmonic excitations in metal nanoparticles, is based on the control by means of light source of nanoscale thermal hotspots.
The most important concepts in nanotechnology and nanoscience have been clarified in a first seminar by dr. Marco Alfano, who described the impact of nanomaterials in technology in different fields. The synthesis of nanomaterials and nanoparticles has been also included in the discussion.
In a following seminar, Dr. Antonio Politano has explained the mechanisms of the first prototype of a system for membrane distillation for seawater desalination exploiting thermoplasmonic effects using nanomaterials as nanofillers in membranes. This is the result of a collaboration among physicists, chemists and chemical engineers of our University.
During this talk, it has been demonstrated how thermoplasmonics can be used as a viable and effective tool for improving the efficiency of membrane distillation to produce desalted water at high recovery factor and relatively low energy input.
The problem of the production of desalted water via seawater desalination is becoming remarkable since the number of countries suffering water scarcity problem has increased significantly in the last decades, due to the steadily demographic expansion and the amplified demand for water in industrial activities, in agriculture and for municipal purposes.
Particular attention has been dedicated to the attempt to improve the interaction with other departments. This is beneficial for our EPS-YM section, since we find a lot of interest toward thermoplasmonics from chemical engineers in our university. We find different contact points with young researchers in membrane technology.
In the seminar on thermoplasmonics, the state of the art has been presented, with attention on the various aspects: the characteristics of thermoplasmonics and the use of nanoscale thermal hotspots in various fields.
Seminars have been attended by about 30 students, coming from Physics, Materials Science and Chemical Engineering.
After the seminars, a discussion with students about the prospect of applied research on advanced materials has been done, under the coordination of prof. Chiarello, associate professor of Applied Physics.

Náboj Physics in Budapest 2016

BudapestPhysics Náboj is an international physics competition designed for teams of five high-school students that represent their schools. The problems in Náboj differ considerably from the routine school exercises which usually require only direct application of a given method: the Náboj problems require certain amount of inventiveness and ingenuity. Success in the competition is not depend on the individual abilities of the team members only but also on their efficient cooperation. This year the competition was held on the 4th of November 2016 at the exact same time at different locations, different countries.

The Hungarian part of the Náboj Physics was hosted by the Budapest Young Minds Section in Budapest, and we were able to organize the competition for 70 high school students without a registration fee. Teams were competing in two categories, Juniors and Seniors. The Junior category was open only for teams with all members attending first or second grade of a 4-year high school (or a corresponding grade in 5- or 8-year high school). The Senior category was open to any team consisting of high school students. The competition lasted 120 minutes during which the teams were trying to solve as many given problems as possible.

At the beginning of the competition each team received eight problems. As soon as the team correctly solved any of the problems, it received a new one. The solutions of the problems were mostly numerical. The winner was the team that solved most problems correctly in the given time limit. The difficulty of the problems was appropriate both for students inexperienced in physics competitions and for students who have already succeeded in Physics Olympiad or seminars. This was achieved by arranging the problems in order of their perceived difficulty. This year as the years before the professional quality of the problems were guaranteed by the organizers of Physics Correspondence Seminar part of Trojsten. After the competition and before the announcement of the results Dálya Gergely, a member of the Gravitational research group in the Eötvös University, held an informative lecture about gravitational waves for the students and the accompanying teachers. In the end, the best teams received certificates and prizes, like T-shirts, first-class physics literature (used worldwide for preparation for studying physics), and complimentary ticket to the CSOPA Science Center.
More about the competition: https://physics.naboj.org
Pictures: https://goo.gl/photos/us4Q5E2LnbNjQKKs6

The physics of imperfect graphene

rsz_dsc_7495On the 29th of September 2016 the Antwerp Young Mind section invited Professor Doctor Eva Y. Andrei to give a colloquium at the University of Antwerp about her work on imperfect graphene. The target audience were the students and researchers of the University of Antwerp physics department, many of whom attended the lecture.
Professor Eva Andrei is an experimental condensed matter physicist at the Rutgers University in New Jersey, USA. Her research focuses on the electronic properties of graphene and other low dimensional materials and explores the effects of external perturbations on these types of systems. The experimental work done by her and her group led to several important discoveries, including the observation of the fractional quantum Hall effect in suspended graphene and the discovery of Van Hove singularities in twisted graphene layers. The speaker’s extensive experience and knowledge of these topics entitle her as an international authority on the subject of graphene.

Professor Andrei began her talk with a general introduction on the subject of graphene in order to make those who might not yet be familiar with this system acquainted with the topic. Subsequently, she focused on more specialized phenomena that emerge when the lattice of graphene is disrupted. In particular, she discussed her work on the effects of single atom vacancies on graphene’s electronic and magnetic properties. The colloquium as a whole was a great occasion for students to be introduced to the concepts of two-dimensional systems and graphene, while at the same time it provided the researchers of our department with a more profound overview of the theory and workings of imperfect graphene.

The lecture was followed by a reception, where the audience members and speaker could enjoy a drink and a bite. This also presented our students and researchers the opportunity to speak with professor Andrei in a more informal setting than the lecture itself.

Altogether, the colloquium was a great way for our university’s physics department to kick off the academic year.