Renowned Astrophysicist to Speak at 25th Sigma Xi Research Symposium

Paul Steinhardt of Princeton University to receive Clavius Award

Friday, April 11, 2014

PHILADELPHIA (April 11, 2014) — The Saint Joseph’s University Chapter of Sigma Xi, the scientific research society, will host the 25th annual student research symposium on Saturday, April 12. Keynote speaker Paul Steinhardt, Ph.D., Princeton University’s Albert Einstein Professor of Science and director of the Princeton Center for Theoretical Science, will receive the Christopher Clavius, S.J., Award, an honor that recognizes inspirational and groundbreaking scientists and researchers.

The address, which is free and open to the public, is scheduled for 2 p.m. in the Wolfington Teletorium of Mandeville Hall.

In his presentation, “Seeking the Impossible,” Steinhardt will discuss his work with quasicrystals, exotic forms of matter that have symmetries once thought to be non-existent. Steinhardt will describe the dozen-year search that eventually answered whether or not the crystals, first hypothesized and discovered in the laboratory 30 years ago,  occur in nature.

“Dr. Steinhardt’s journey is one of the most fantastic scientific stories imaginable,” says Clint Springer, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology and president of SJU’s Sigma Xi chapter. “It includes mystery, intrigue and an expedition to one of the most remote places on Earth, the Far East of Russia. We are delighted to have him speak at this year's symposium, and to honor him with the Christopher Clavius, S.J. Award.”

Steinhardt is on the faculty of both the Department of Physics and the Department of Astrophysical Sciences at Princeton. He received his B.S. in Physics at California Institute of Technology in 1974, and his M.A. in Physics in 1975, and Ph.D. in Physics in 1978 at Harvard University.

A Fellow in the American Physical Society and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, Steinhardt shared the P.A.M. Dirac Medal from the International Centre for Theoretical Physics in 2002 for his contribution to the development of the inflationary model of the universe; the Oliver E. Buckley Prize of the American Physical Society in 2010 for his contribution to the theory of quasicrystals; and the John Scott Award in 2012 for his contributions to both fields. In 2012, he was named Simons Fellow in Theoretical Physics; Radcliffe Institute Fellow at Harvard; and Moore Fellow at Caltech.  

He is the author of over 200 refereed articles, six patents, two patents pending, three technical books, numerous popular articles and, in 2007, co-authored Endless Universe: The Big Bang and Beyond, a popular book on contemporary theories of cosmology. He is one of the co-discoverers of the first natural quasicrystal and, in 2011, led a geological expedition to Chukotka in Far Eastern Russia to find new information about its origin and search for more samples.

Two hundred-fifty students and faculty from the region’s colleges and universities are expected to attend the symposium this year, with 140 student research projects presented during the poster session. Sigma Xi gives undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to present their research in mathematics, computer science, engineering, and the natural and social sciences, and to view the work of their peers. In addition, 38 Saint Joseph’s students will be inducted as associate members, and Shantanu Bhatt, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology, will be inducted as a full Sigma Xi member. 

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As Philadelphia's Jesuit, Catholic University, founded by the Society of Jesus in 1851, Saint Joseph's University provides a rigorous, student-centered education rooted in the liberal arts. SJU ranks as a top university in the Northeast, with a Phi Beta Kappa chapter in the College of Arts and Sciences and AACSB accreditation of the  Erivan K. Haub School of Business. The University is also deeply committed to the Jesuit tradition of scholarship and service, earning a place on the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll and the community engagement classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. With courses offered on campus and online, SJU prepares its more than 8,000 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students to lead lives of personal excellence, professional success and engaged citizenship.


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