Talks


***Are you a graduate student or undergraduate researcher interested in giving a CU-Prime talk?
Fill out our Speaker Application Form!***

The CU-Prime talk series give students and members of the broader community the opportunity to hear about the life of a grad student and learn about current research in STEM in a jargon-free way.
In the Fall 2020 semester, talks will be on Tuesdays at 5:30–6:30 pm Mountain Time. All talks will be conducted remotely over Zoom, and recordings will also be available for viewing online following each talk.

All are welcome to attend—to receive the Zoom link and password for the next upcoming talk, please fill out the following form:


Upcoming Talks (Fall 2020): (all at 5:30 pm MT)
 Sep. 8
 Ian Leahy: "Things You Put on Your Fridge -- Magnetic Materials Research at CU!"
 Sep. 22  Sarah Stevenson: "Time Flies: Sending Really Precise Time Signals Through the Air with Pulses of Light"
 Oct. 13    (speaker still needed)
 Oct. 27  Trevor Wright
 Nov. 11  (speaker still needed)


See below for details on upcoming talks and previous talks.

Sarah Stevenson - Time Flies: Sending Really Precise Time Signals Through the Air with Pulses of Light (9/22/20)

posted Sep 20, 2020, 11:29 AM by Tyler McMaken   [ updated Sep 20, 2020, 11:30 AM ]

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2020 at 5:30pm
Held virtually on Zoom (fill out the above form for the link & password)
 Time Flies:
 Sending Really Precise Time Signals Through the Air with Pulses of Light


One of Boulder’s claims to fame is having some of the world’s most precise clocks. But as the clocks developed by researchers at CU and NIST get more and more precise, we also need more and more precise techniques for sending their time signals to other people. In this talk I’ll discuss a technique for distributing extremely precise time signals over open space and how I got my favorite-ever job description, “I shoot lasers off the roof of a government laboratory.”


 Sarah Stevenson

Ian Leahy - Things You Put on Your Fridge -- Magnetic Materials Research at CU! (9/8/20)

posted Sep 2, 2020, 2:53 PM by Tyler McMaken   [ updated Sep 2, 2020, 2:54 PM ]

Tuesday, September 8th, 2020 at 5:30pm
Held virtually on Zoom (fill out the above form for the link & password)
 Things You Put on Your Fridge -- Magnetic Materials Research at CU!

Don't we know everything about magnets? How do physicists study magnetism? Can magnetic fields affect the properties of nonmagnetic materials? What do floating frogs have to do with any of this? In this talk, I will give an overview of how we use a smattering of experimental techniques at temperatures near absolute zero in combination with large magnetic fields to gain insight into the nature of the novel physics governing quantum materials!


 Ian Leahy
 M. Lee Lab

Hope Whitelock - Making the World's Most Expensive Light Bulb (3/10/20)

posted Feb 26, 2020, 9:35 AM by Tyler McMaken

Tuesday, March 10th, 2020 at 5pm
Gamow Tower, 11th floor,
Commons Room
Free Pizza
 Making the World's Most Expensive Light Bulb*

To watch a chemical reaction in real time, you usually need x-rays, which come from an expensive, inaccessible x-ray facility like a free electron laser or synchrotron. Most of those x-rays then get wasted and never make it to a detector. This makes x-ray experiments expensive, inconvenient, and just plain difficult. But what if we could do it on a table top? What if we could do it with just a light bulb? What if we could make detectors that caught all of the x-rays? In this talk, I’ll introduce how a fancy light bulb and a camera made of cold metal are going to change the future of ultrafast chemistry.


 Hope Whitelock


*okay there might be one or two that are more expensive.

Lucas Kolanz - Unexpected Ionization with Ultrashort Laser Pulses (2/13/20)

posted Feb 13, 2020, 4:46 PM by Tyler McMaken   [ updated Feb 13, 2020, 4:47 PM ]

Tuesday, February 25th, 2020 at 5pm
Gamow Tower, 11th floor,
Commons Room
Free Pizza
 Unexpected Ionization with Ultrashort Laser Pulses

The concept of ionization is not hard to grasp. If you excite an atom enough, an electron can leave, and the atom becomes an ion. But what happens when we start to see anomalies in ionization? Spoiler alert: we can simulate atoms being shot by lasers and see what happens! In this talk we will look into two of these “anomalies” and see why ionization doesn’t always behave how we think it should.


 Lucas Kolanz
 Becker Group

Josie Meyer - Let's Talk About Physics Culture (2/11/20)

posted Jan 29, 2020, 8:31 AM by Tyler McMaken   [ updated Feb 9, 2020, 7:48 PM ]

Tuesday, February 11th, 2020 at 5:00pm
Gamow Tower, 11th floor,
Commons Room
Free Pizza
 Let's Talk About Physics Culture

Physics and anthropology may seem like completely unrelated sciences, but that's what makes their intersection so fascinating. By analyzing physics as a culture, we can understand why physics has such an entrenched diversity problem, and why physics classrooms and laboratories can seem particularly inviting or uninviting to different groups of people. We are then empowered to embrace or, if necessary, change this culture to create an environment where we and others can succeed.


 Josie Meyer
 Ye Group

Claire Savard - Applying Machine Learning to Particle Physics (1/28/20)

posted Jan 14, 2020, 10:13 PM by Tyler McMaken   [ updated Jan 14, 2020, 10:15 PM ]

Image: Fermilab/CERN
Tuesday, January 28th, 2020 at 5:00pm
Gamow Tower, 11th floor,
Commons Room
Free Pizza
 Applying Machine Learning to Particle Physics

Machine learning is used widely across many fields, including, you guessed it, physics! But what really is machine learning, and how can it be applied to different physics tasks? Can your computer be a better physicist than you? In this talk, I will introduce machine learning and the reasons why it is beneficial to use in particle physics.


 Claire Savard
 CU Boulder's CMS Group (LHC)

Tori Borish - Using Giant Atoms to Create Nature’s Best Rulers

posted Nov 22, 2019, 11:36 AM by Tyler McMaken

Thursday, December 5th, 2019 at 4:15pm
Gamow Tower, 11th floor,
Commons Room
Free Pizza
 Using Giant Atoms to Create Nature’s Best Rulers

Is there a limit to how precisely you can measure something? In this talk, I will discuss a fundamental limit to measurements and how we can use quantum systems (focusing on the example of highly excited neutral atoms) to overcome this. I will also discuss my path through physics, including working in a physics lab abroad between undergrad and graduate school, how I ended up in my research field, and what it’s like to be the first graduate student building up a new atomic physics experiment.


 Tori Borish
 Shleier-Smith Lab, Stanford University

Ariel Shlosberg - The Many Facets of Quantum Error Correction: Cryptography, Holography, and Computation

posted Nov 14, 2019, 3:57 PM by Tyler McMaken

Tuesday, November 19th, 2019 at 5pm
Gamow Tower, 11th floor,
Commons Room
Free Pizza
 The Many Facets of Quantum Error Correction: Cryptography, Holography, and Computation

Information is a fundamental aspect of our daily lives and the universe that we inhabit. From cryptography to cell phone networks to spacetime, both classical and quantum information have a role to play. In order to achieve the full set of advantages afforded by quantum mechanics, we must find ways to correct errors that occur in the course of computation and communication. What computational advantages can quantum physics provide, has quantum encryption finally settled the war between code-makers and code-breakers, and what possible relation could there be between the information that you send over the internet and spacetime?


 Ariel Shlosberg
 Graeme Smith Group

Matt Mitchell - How to Simulate a Plasma

posted Nov 4, 2019, 12:15 PM by Tyler McMaken


Tuesday, November 5th, 2019 at 5pm
Gamow Tower, 11th floor,
Commons Room
Free Pizza

 How to Simulate a Plasma

Accurately modeling the behavior of plasmas is vitally important to many scientific pursuits, from designing fusion reactors, to improving particle accelerators, to understanding the structure of the sun. However, the large scale behavior of plasmas is incredibly complex, and plasma experiments are difficult to conduct, so it's often better to simulate them on supercomputers. But what's the best way to simulate a plasma? How can we improve our models to better reproduce physical behavior? In this talk, I'll discuss our group's work on a new approach to plasma simulation and some of the mathematical tricks we used to create it.


 Matt Mitchell
 CIPS (Center for Integrated Plasma Studies)

Jarrod Reilly - Particle Slowing Using Quantum Shortcuts

posted Oct 16, 2019, 6:53 AM by Tyler McMaken


Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019 at 5pm
Gamow Tower, 11th floor,
Commons Room
Free Pizza

 Particle Slowing Using Quantum Shortcuts

For decades, cooling atoms and molecules to near absolute zero has been at the forefront of physics research. Physicist use the ultracold particles to test fundamental physics, create new forms of matter, and as quantum simulators. Often, a preliminary step to cooling particles is to first slow them down to speeds of about one meter per second. However, many modern slowing processes require a long time, and thus the particles travel a large distance, sometimes as much as 3 meters, before coming to a stop. To overcome this problem, I use quantum shortcuts to speed up the slowing process and thus reduce the slowing distance required to the order of centimeters. In this talk, I will teach you how quantum systems change when they interact with a laser, explain how particles are slowed with lasers traditionally, and then explain how to implement these shortcuts to create new slowing techniques.


 Jarrod Reilly
 Holland Group

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