News: 2021


Ten papers at CHI 2021 flourish frontiers of HCI research at UChicago CS

May 18, 2021

A woman wearing virtual reality goggles walks through an illustrated depiction of what her goggles show her, with the conference logo for CHI 2021.

Computer Science participated in CHI 2021, a Human Computer Interaction conference, with an emerging group of UChicago faculty and student researchers representing the many different corners of HCI. This year, ten UChicago papers were accepted to the prestigious conference, with one receiving a Best Paper Award (given to the top 1 percent of submissions) and three others receiving Honorable Mentions (top 5 percent).

Symposium highlights UChicago collaborations with leading French research center

May 18, 2021

Yi Liu

An online symposium featured 11 presentations by student teams from UChicago and French universities affiliated with the French National Centre for Scientific Research, with questions and discussion from faculty supervisors. Attendees voted to choose the best presentations and awarded two prizes. PSD’s Yi Liu in the Department of Statistics (pictured) and Maria Douaihy of CNRS – U. Montpellier won second place for “Modeling Transcriptional Bursting in Space and Time.” First place was awarded to Marie Greaney of BSD and Maxime Lehman of CNRS – U. Paris-Saclay for “How is Sensory Information Transformed into Appropriate Motor Control?”

How a UChicago initiative fostered ‘synergy’ between art and science

May 18, 2021

Two students observe a hand held object.

The Arts, Science + Culture initiative seeks to foster cross-disciplinary collaborations between the arts and sciences, and is celebrating its 10-year anniversary. The many projects it has supported have encouraged PSD students to approach a research question interdisciplinarily. (Pictured) "Biophilia," co-led by Rossy Natale, a PhD student in integrative biology at UChicago.

Meet biophysical sciences student, Walter Alvarado

May 17, 2021

Walter Alvarado

Walter Alvarado was born in South Central, Los Angeles, California. Before joining UChicago, he completed a master’s in physics at Cal State University, Long Beach. He has been a graduate student here for three years in the Department of Biophysical Sciences, where his research combines computational physics and machine learning to elucidate chromatin remodeling and epigenetic regulation.

Incoming president Paul Alivisatos to join Department of Chemistry and PME

May 13, 2021

Paul Alivisatos

The Physical Sciences Division is pleased to announce incoming President of the University of Chicago Paul Alivisatos will become a Professor in the Department of Chemistry and the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering, starting September 1. Alivisatos is a pioneer in nanotechnologies and materials sciences.

Building molecules like Tinkertoys? A breakthrough study may pave the way

May 12, 2021

Balu Dherange and Kathleen Berger on either end of blackboard with a chemistry illustration in chalk

A new discovery from the group led by Asst. Prof. Mark Levin, Department of Chemistry, can easily cut nitrogen atoms from molecules. Similar processes currently in use generate a very toxic molecule—but Levin’s group instead adds a key reagent so nitrogen is released as two bonded nitrogens. As a new foundational method, the discovery opens up avenues for constructing molecules.

Kirk Lancaster, SB’18 Chemistry, named Knight-Hennessy Scholar

May 12, 2021

Chemistry alumnus Kirk Lancaster, SB’18, has been selected as a Knight-Hennessy Scholar and will receive full funding to pursue graduate studies at Stanford University. A student of Chinese language and formerly an intern at the State Department’s Office of Chemical and Biological Weapons Affairs, he will pursue advanced study of his intersecting interests of law, technology and international politics.

Two PSD undergraduates awarded Goldwater Scholarships to support STEM education

May 11, 2021

Portraits of second-year Alexandra Masegian and third-year Claudia Yao

Two PSD undergraduates have received Barry Goldwater Scholarships, awarded annually based on academic merit and undergraduate research in the natural sciences, mathematics and engineering. Second-year Alexandra Masegian, who is interested in astronomy, and third-year Claudia Yao, a mathematics major interested in topology, are among the 409 U.S. college students to be selected for this award—the preeminent undergraduate award of its kind in these fields—which covers the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to $7,500 per year. Read more about their academic interests.

Chemist named 2021 Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar

May 11, 2021

John Anderson

John Anderson, assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Chicago, has been named a 2021 Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar for leveraging unorthodox bonding effects in transition metal molecules and materials. According to the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, the award recognizes early-career faculty who have "an outstanding independent body of scholarship and are deeply committed to education." Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholars receive an unrestricted research grant of $100,000.

Quanta podcast: Amie Wilkinson sees the dynamic chaos in puff pastry

May 7, 2021

Amie Willkinson

To a dynamicist like Amie Wilkinson, understanding the universe is about knowing all the right moves. Find out more on this podcast from Quanta Magazine.

Victor Barcilon, applied mathematician and geophysical scientist, 1939-2020

May 7, 2021

Victor Barcilon stands in front of a chalkboard where math equations are written

Prof. Emeritus Victor Barcilon, applied mathematician and geophysical scientist, died April 15, 2020. A long-time professor at the University of Chicago, Barcilon showed a gift for using a type of mathematics called asymptotic analysis to improve understanding of the physical principles behind the world, from the mechanics of neurons to the behavior of oceans, glaciers and rock over time.

In unique year, UChicago students find togetherness—apart

May 6, 2021

Image of Gather Town screen with UChicago students

In a unique year, UChicago students find togetherness—apart. Students across majors joined astro professor Daniel Holz for “Are We Doomed?,” a class that uses readings and guest experts to inform different apocalyptic scenarios: nuclear war, climate change, artificial intelligence, and of course, pandemics and related biological issues.

Physicist Marc Kamionkowski, PhD’91, awarded 2021 Gruber Cosmology Prize

May 5, 2021

Marc Kamionkowski

Theoretical physicist Marc Kamionkowski, PhD’91, has been awarded the 2021 Gruber Cosmology Prize, along with Uroš Seljak of UC Berkeley and LBL, and Matias Zaldarriaga of IAS, for their contributions to methods essential for studying the early universe through analysis of the polarization of the cosmic microwave background. The award is given through the Gruber Foundation, which was established at Yale to honor and encourage excellence in the fields of cosmology, genetics, neuroscience, justice, and women’s rights.

Physicists reveal how motion can be generated by frustration

May 3, 2021

An interdisciplinary team of UChicago physicists, including Michael Fruchart, Ryo Hanai, Peter Littlewood, and Vincenzo Vitelli, published a new theory for non-reciprocal matter in Nature. They describe how systems composed of many objects that have non-reciprocal interactions can evolve in surprising ways. This may underlie many phenomena we see around us, from neurons to bird flocks and quantum systems.


Physics students selected for DOE national lab research program

April 29, 2021

Edgar Marrufo and Aurora Ireland

Edgar Marrufo and Aurora Ireland, graduate students in the Department of Physics, are among 78 outstanding U.S. graduate students who have been selected by The Department of Energy Office of Science Graduate Student Research (SCGSR) Program to perform research in national laboratories.