News, Science & Research

Science & Research Roundup, Sept. 19

By
University News Editor
Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Professor of Physics S. James Gates was elected to the presidential line of the American Physical Society.

U. professor elected to board of American Physical Society

The American Physical Society has elected Professor of Physics S. James Gates to its presidential line, according to a University press release. The APS — a nonprofit organization representing over 55,000 physicists around the world — aims to use research and outreach to “advance and diffuse the knowledge of physics,” according to the release.

By joining the presidential line, Gates will start his role as vice president Jan. 1, 2019 before becoming president-elect in 2020 and president in 2021.

Gates is “known for pioneering work in theoretical physics, including the areas of supersymmetry and supergravity,” according to the press release. He has won numerous awards for his work, including the National Medal of Science, an honor given by the President of the United States to scientists and engineers.

Throughout his career, Gates has also made a name for himself as a science communicator, appearing regularly as an expert on science series and news broadcasts, according to the press release. He believes the APS should also play a role in communicating science to the public.

U. to sponsor celebration of science at WaterFire

The University will co-host a science-focused event at WaterFire this Saturday. The Big Bang Science Fair will use activities, talks, exhibits and performances to “share the wonder of science” and explore the intersection of science and art, according to a University press release.

The family-friendly fair hopes to engage both scientists and non-scientists of all ages. Through the event, Professor of Physics Meenakshi Narain, a co-organizer, hopes to broaden the public’s perspective of science and convey the importance of science in people’s everyday lives, according to the release.

The fair will feature activities such as programming a robot and a video game design workshop. Speakers include Professor of Physics S. James Gates and Micky Dolenz, who is a “science enthusiast and member of the band The Monkees,” according to the press release.

The event begins at 3 p.m. in Providence’s Market Square and 7 Canal Walk.

Students spend summer developing introductory robotics course

Four undergraduate students spent this past summer helping to create a robotics class, CSCI 1951-R: “Introduction to Robotics.” The course, taught by Professor of Computer Science Stefanie Tellex, teaches students how to assemble and eventually fly their own quadcopter drones, according to a press release from the computer science department.

Using funding from an Undergraduate Teaching and Research Award, Luke Eller ’21, Theo Guerin ’21, Garrett Warren ’21 and Sophie Yang ’21 worked to improve and refine the algorithms behind the drones and update the course based on last year’s student feedback, according to the press release. One algorithm they refined even allows the drones to fly autonomously.

The course itself uses inexpensive and rudimentary drones to teach students the basic concepts behind robotics, like how to integrate hardware and software. Eller, Guerin, Warren and Yang all agreed that their summer work helped them learn more about advanced robotics, according to the press release. All four students will serve as the course’s teaching assistants this fall.