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So far Lauren Mason has created 29 blog entries.

Native American Heritage Month at UCI: Franklin Dollar

Native American Heritage Month at Physical Sciences: This month, you’ll be hearing about Native Americans at the School of Physical Sciences, and how they make the School what it is.

I’m Franklin Dollar, a member of the Dry Creek Band of Pomo Indians and an Associate Professor in the Department of Physics & Astronomy at UCI. I study ultrafast laser matter interactions, and how we can convert laser energy into beams of particles and X-rays for next-generation microscopes. I also try to understand how physics education can be improved, from mentorship, to curriculum, to environment.

PS: What advice do you have for Native American students who are considering a career in STEM?

The most important thing you learn with a degree like physics is how to solve problems in the real world. This is useful in nearly any career, and can provide the flexibility to try out different career paths. So though you may not know what you want to do today, as you work and learn you will be able to find your own path.


Charging-driven coarsening and melting of a colloidal nanoparticle monolayer at an ionic-liquid vacuum interface

Colloidal materials are a platform for studying self-assembly as well as the bottom-up creation of next generation hierarchical materials, and controllably perturbing their collective dynamics is an important step towards directing their assembly. In a liquid droplet, silica nanoparticles collect on the surface and organize to form an ordered 2D lattice. A STROBE research team led by Naomi Ginsberg (UC Berkeley) investigated these monolayers on a low vapor pressure ionic liquid, allowing experiments to be performed under the vacuum environment of a scanning electron microscope. Alongside imaging the particles, the electron beam serves as a perturbative tool for controllably charging the colloidal lattice. As particles charge, they sink into the droplet reducing the monolayer’s density and driving a melting transition. These findings will provide new insights for understanding phase transitions in soft materials and analogous atomic crystals.

Computer Vision for Imaging

This talk will discuss examples of computer vision algorithms applied to XRT, XRD and optical microscopy; it will also illustrate image transformations using Jupyter notebooks. Dani Ushizima PhD, is a Staff Scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, a Data Scientist at UC Berkeley and an Affiliate Faculty at UC San Francisco. In 2015, Ushizima received the U.S. Department of Energy Early Career award to focus on pattern recognition applied to diverse scientific domains, such as structural analysis of materials science samples. She is also recipient of the Science without Borders Researcher award (CNPq/Brazil) for her work on machine learning applied to cytology, as part of an initiative focused on public healthcare. She has also led the Image Processing team for the Center for Advanced Mathematics for Energy Related Applications (CAMERA). Recently, she’s been investigating lung scans for COVID-19 screening as part of initiatives related to the National Virtual Biotechnology Laboratory (NVBL).

“Determining Atomic Structures from Digitally Defined Regions of Nanocrystals” and “High resolution imaging through scattering media”

Determining Atomic Structures from Digitally Defined Regions of Nanocrystals
Presented by Marcus Gallagher-Jones, postdoc, Jose Rodriguez group, UCLA
The ability of molecules to form ordered assemblies is a crucial first step in preparing samples for structural characterization with atomic-level detail. For many complex molecules, the length scales to which this order extends is limited, thus hampering efforts to solve their structures. In our current work we attempt to overcome these challenges by extending recent developments in 4D-STEM. By combining 4D-STEM data collection with tomography we demonstrate that atomic structures of macromolecules can be solved from specific regions of polymer nanocrystals. In this method, scanning nanobeam electron diffraction tomography (nanoEDT), peptide nanocrystals are rotated about a tilt axis in one-degree steps.  At each tilt angle a direct electron detector captures thousands of sparse diffraction patterns mapped to specific locations within a single crystal. The use of direct electron detection, in combination with data collection at cryogenic temperatures and a hybrid counting algorithm, allows even weak signals from high-resolution Bragg peaks to be accurately recorded from radiation sensitive crystals. NanoEDT breaks new ground in nanocrystallography by allowing atomic structures to be determined from any region of a nanocrystal through the use of virtual, selected-area apertures, potentially leading to the determination of atomic structures from heterogeneous or polycrystalline nanoassemblies.
High resolution imaging through scattering media
Presented by Sakshi Singh & Evolene Premillieu, graduate students, Rafael Piestun group, CU Boulder
Imaging through scattering media is a critical area with impact in biological and biomedical research. While most current research focuses on achieving the highest possible resolution, in practice, scattering is often the main limitation. Scattering diffuses light, leading to a reduction in contrast and signal-to-noise ratio, which makes imaging impractical. The implications of this study span all imaging modalities from visible light to electron beam. One approach to deal with scattering involves characterizing the medium by measuring its transmission Matrix (TM). Once the TM is acquired, imaging and focusing inside the medium become feasible. Here we present two critical advances in this field. The first involves TM measurement using fluorescence (namely incoherent light) as feedback, allowing to focus light on an extended field of view behind a scatterer. Secondly, we demonstrate a huge step up in the imaging speed with the help of a grating light valve (GLV) that enables rapid and continuous focusing through scattering media at a record speed.

From nanotech to living sensors: unraveling the spin physics of biosensing at the nanoscale

Substantial in vitro and physiological experimental results suggest that similar coherent spin physics might underlie phenomena as varied as the biosensing of magnetic fields in animal navigation and the magnetosensitivity of metabolic reactions related to oxidative stress in cells. If this is correct, organisms might behave, for a short time, as “living quantum sensors” and might be studied and controlled using quantum sensing techniques developed for technological sensors. I will outline our approach towards performing coherent quantum measurements and control on proteins, cells and organisms in order to understand how they interact with their environment, and how physiology is regulated by such interactions. Can coherent spin physics be established – or refuted! – to account for physiologically relevant biosensing phenomena, and be manipulated to technological and therapeutic advantage?

What to Know if You’re Teaching Physics Labs Remotely

The coronavirus pandemic upended schools in the spring of 2020, sending students and faculty home. This rapidly changed how instructors handled laboratory physics courses. With a NSF RAPID grant, JILA Fellow Heather Lewandowski asked instructors what worked—and what didn’t—as they moved their lab courses online.

New electron microscope at CU Boulder enables groundbreaking research across disciplines—and from a distance

Capable of achieving spatial resolutions of 70 pm—smaller than the size of an atom—the Thermo Scientific Titan Themis S/TEM, located in the newly-launched CU Facility for Electron Microscopy of Materials (CU FEMM), is now the highest-resolution electron microscope in Colorado.

Taller than a person and equipped with multiple cameras and detectors, this state-of-the-art, aberration-corrected electron microscopy platform makes groundbreaking research possible in a wide range of fields, including catalysis, advanced imaging, quantum information, energy conversion, biomaterials, battery research, geology, materials development and even archaeology. A team from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) is even exploring a potential COVID-19 study using the microscope to inspect the salt from dried saliva droplets.

Congrats to Jose Rodriguez for Being Recognized as One of the Most Inspiring Hispanic/Latinx Scientists in the United States by Cell Press

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, we’re showcasing 100 of the most inspiring Hispanic/Latinx scientists working in the United States. This list—selected based on scholarly achievements, mentoring excellence, and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion—represents only a subset of the scientific role models in the community. Our aim in assembling these names is to put an end to the harmful myth that there are not enough diverse scientists to give seminars, serve as panelists, or fill scientific positions. We highlight scientists encompassing careers within academia, government, and biotech and showcase individuals committed to serving diverse student populations at Hispanic-serving institutions. Although we understand this list is not fully representative of the Hispanic/Latinx scientific community, we hope it will help to change the perception of what a scientist looks like and makes our collective image more representative of society at large.

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