Season Schedule

image

September 2019

Gone With the Wind: How predictable is weather forecasting?

Sharon Sullivan, Meteorologist, NOAA


Presenter's Essay and Bio

Presenter's Essay

About the Presenter

Sharon Sullivan

The air felt thick and warm. A funnel cloud came down from the sky as I watched from the swing set I was sitting on. With a roaring sound, the funnel cloud disappeared almost as fast as it had formed. While most of my classmates were frightened, I was fascinated by what I had seen. I am a meteorologist with the U.S. National Weather Service in Albuquerque, who’s interest in meteorology was sparked at the young age of 8. Since then, my interest in meteorology has only grown. As an Albuquerque native, I graduated with a Bachelor’s in Applied Mathematics from the University of New Mexico and volunteered at the NWS Albuquerque office during my college years. I went on to complete a Master’s in Atmospheric Science at the University of Wyoming. I’ve been on academic probation and had been suspended from my program more times than I care to admit. I went from barely passing and having to retake several classes over to getting an A in my hardest class. In the same way that my interest in math and sciences was encouraged by my parents and mentors at a young age, I think it is important for students to pursue their passions and know of the opportunities they have within the STEM field, especially among other young female Hispanic minorities. I am particularly interested in the education and outreach aspect of the National Weather Service, involving helping the public understand what meteorology is and instructing people on how to be safe during a severe weather event. Working as a National Weather Service meteorologist combines several of my interests: meteorology, mathematics, education, and helping others. One thing I enjoy about meteorology? The constantly changing environment. No work day is the same and it’s brought me new friends, different opportunities, and travel to several different states. My first entry-level position brought me to the great state of Alaska! In my spare time, I enjoy ballet, fishing, hunting, traveling, and trying new foods. As Confucius once said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”.

Contact the presenter - remember to include your email address if you want a response.

image

September 2019

The Northern New Mexico Climate Change Corps: Natural Resource Management

Brooke Zanetell

University of New Mexico- Taos


image

September 2019

The Search for a Sterile Neutrino: Could the discovery of this ghostly particle solve some of the mysteries of the universe?

William Louis

Los Alamos National Laboratory


Presenter's Essay and Bio

Presenter's Essay

Two of the biggest questions in physics today concern the properties of dark matter and dark energy, which make up approximately 95% of the mass-energy of the universe. In comparison, normal matter made of protons and neutrons make up the remaining 5%. It is thought that dark matter, representing about 25% of the universe’s mass-energy consists of new particles that interact very weakly, if at all, with Standard Model particles.

One possible dark matter particle is the sterile neutrino, which would only interact by gravity and possibly by new interactions with the Dark Sector. Evidence for sterile neutrinos comes from the LSND and MiniBooNE neutrino experiments and from the gallium and reactor neutrino anomalies. Therefore, sterile neutrinos, if they exist, may provide the portal between the Standard Model and the Dark Sector. These sterile neutrinos can be detected indirectly through their oscillations with Standard Model neutrinos and, thereby, can provide a window into the Dark Sector.

In order to test this hypothesis, there are experiments under construction or taking data worldwide that will either confirm or rule out over the next 5-10 years the existence of sterile neutrinos.

About the Presenter

William Louis

I grew up in Atlanta, Georgia and attended university at Georgia Tech as a physics major. During my junior year, I took a particle physics course, which was utterly fascinating. In 1971 the weak interaction was beginning to be understood and the Standard Model of particle physics was beginning to be put together. This interest in particle physics led me to go to graduate school at the University of Michigan and study neutrinos, which only interact by gravity and the weak interaction.

My PhD thesis tested the newly formulated Standard Model with neutrino interactions, where our measurements agreed with the Standard Model, but with very large uncertainties. Following graduate school, I was a postdoctoral research at the Rutherford Laboratory in England, where I worked on charged hyperon experiments at CERN, the European Laboratory for particle physics. Following Rutherford Laboratory, I was an assistant professor at Princeton, working on a dimuon experiment at Fermilab and a rare kaon decay experiment at Brookhaven Laboratory.

Finally, in 1987 I moved to LANL, where I have been extremely fortunate to work on the LSND neutrino experiment at LANL, followed by the MiniBooNE neutrino experiment at Fermilab. LSND took data in the 1990s and obtained the first evidence for electron-neutrino appearance, while MiniBooNE, taking data from 2002-2019, has confirmed this excess of electron-like events. These signals from LSND and MiniBooNE imply the possible existence of sterile neutrinos, which would be new fundamental particles of the universe that only interact by gravity (and perhaps by new interactions associated with the dark sector).

Needless to say, I find particle physics to be a most exciting adventure.

Contact the presenter - remember to include your email address if you want a response.

image

October 2019

Forecasting Infectious Diseases Using Internet Data: Can we forecast diseases like the weather?

Sara Del Valle

Los Alamos National Laboratory


image

October 2019

Computer Hacking Fundamentals: Learning to think like an attacker so you can be a good defender

Neale Pickett

Los Alamos National Laboratory


image

January 2020

Fast Pitch: Asteroid Impacts and How to Stop Them

Catherine Plesko

Los Alamos National Laboratory


image

March 2020

Portable Nuclear Reactors: Power for our planet and beyond

Mikaela Blood

Los Alamos National Laboratory


image

March 2020

Geoengineering the Planet: Salvation or Curse? ...a debate!

Matthew Hecht

Los Alamos National Laboratory