What is the world made of? A journey into the infinitely small.

More than 50 years of experimentation has led to the development of a coherent picture of what matter is made of at the smallest distance scales. All matter in the Universe appears to be made of elementary particles that can undergo a well-defined set of interactions. 

In this talk, I will first summarize our current knowledge of particle physics and then describethe mysteries that remain. Ongoing and future experiments designed to provide insights into some of these mysteries of the Universe will be presented. Rapid technological developments continuously open the door to new research avenues, such that important breakthroughs are expected in the coming years. This is an exciting time for particle physics research!


Ultrasound-activated nanostructures for cancer imaging and therapy

Imaging is a fundamental tool in the practice of medicine. In parallel with the development of improved imaging systems and techniques, there is increasing interest in designing new contrast agents that can help guide and assess personalized treatment for cancer patients. A new opportunity in materials science is the development of new injectable materials that can be both tracked using medical imaging and remotely activated from outside the patient to treat cancer.

This talk will focus on the development of ultrasound-activated contrast agents that can facilitate more focused and targeted delivery of cancer therapies to tumours towards the ultimate goal of improving outcomes for cancer patients. Specific examples of contrast agents that are assembled to address and balance biological and physical challenges of contrast agent development will be given, with a focus on the use of perfluorocarbon bubbles and droplets for ultrasound imaging and therapy applications.

Star-formation in Galaxies as Seen by SITELLE

Developing new astronomical instruments is a key element for science progress. By building SpIOMM and SITELLE, two imaging Fourier transform spectrograph (IFTS), Quebec and Canada stand out for their ingeniousness. I currently work with SITELLE at the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope. I observe some regions in nearby galaxies where new stars are formed. The young and massive stars can heat the surrounding environment and ionize the interstellar gas. During this presentation, we will focus on how we can use the light emitted by the gas around these star-forming regions to understand the physics involved in the star formation process. Such a detailed analysis would be unthinkable without SITELLE.

Applying Physics to Air Quality & Climate Problems

This talk will begin with an overview of the role that physics plays in interdisciplinary research into some major environmental issues facing humanity today:  air quality, climate change, and ozone layer depletion and recovery.  Next, I will discuss my current research in remote sensing of atmospheric composition as applied to a problem of marine shipping pollution emission and dispersion in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  Finally, I will touch on some frontiers of atmospheric environmental physics (e.g., detection and attribution of anthropogenic climate change, and land-atmosphere gas exchange).

Earth: a global map of wind, weather, and ocean conditions: https://earth.nullschool.net/fr/

Nanoelectronic sensors for biological molecules

Our research focuses on the design and application of ultraminiaturized electrical circuits able tocapture and probe individual biomolecules, in real time and over a wide range of timescales. Such nanosensors allow to follow, through fluctuations in electrical conductance, successive chemical eactions and conformational changes occurring on ensemble or isolated biomolecules. I will present recent strategies for assembling such sensors using carbon nanotubes and graphene, as well as experiments based on this approach to explore the conformational and hybridization dynamics of DNA sequences. Finally, I will discuss our plans to expand this emerging technique towards other biomolecular mechanisms and lab on a-chip biomedical technology.

Quantum Materials for Topological Quantum Computation (tentative)

Quantum computers create exponentially greater processing power but their qubits made of electrons or photons suffer from decoherence. Topological quantum computation refers to error-correcting quantum codes protected from decoherence. This requires a long-range entanglement and fractionalized particles obeying nontrivial statistics. These so-called anyons may emerge from strong electron-electron interactions, and exactly solvable mathematical models for topological quantum computation have been known for a while. However, their realization in solid-state materials has not been clear until very recently. I will present a brief historical review and discuss how to search for strongly correlated topological materials.

What should you do with quantum-dot doped composites, an atomic clock and a frequency comb interferometer?

The most counter-intuitive ideas of quantum theories, such as superposition and entanglement, are progressively becoming common place in many physics laboratories thanks to designer materials and extraordinary instrumentation. I will present our research efforts into improving quantum optical systems towards technologies that could even become part of your everyday life. 

Semiconductor nanocrystals now allow us to actuate the textbook problem of the particle-in-a-box in almost any shape, overcoming the atomic potential and periodic table constraint, thus earning the name colloidal quantum dots. Challenges still occur in perfecting their interaction with light in order to produce indistinguishable single photons on demand, so we investigate the effect of embedding these quantum dots in polymers with the goal of drawing such composite materials into optical fibers. The Purcell effect can then accelerate the radiative transition dynamics thanks to confined electromagnetic field interacting with the quantum dots. However, precise metrology tools such as atomic clocks are needed to quantify the changes expected on the shortest time scales. I will therefore conclude the presentation on our adaptation of pump-probe spectroscopic techniques to state-of-the-art frequency comb interferometry.

‘Cool’ transistors: When devices from microelectronics industry become quantum!

Silicon transistors are widely used throughout our everyday life. Our need for always faster and more powerful devices has driven a dramatic scaling down in the size of individual transistors such that transistors become very sensitive to a single atom’s displacement and to quantum effects at low temperature. I will show how this apparent current limitation in reality opens up an entire new era: Quantum Nanoelectronics, where the bit of information is now encoded in the spin instead of the charge and devices are governed by the laws of quantum mechanics. I will show how these transistors, performing at low temperature, could become the building blocks for powerful quantum computation.


La situation des femmes en SNG au Québec et au Canada

Still today, women face barriers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). In Canada, they represent less than a third of STEM graduates and STEM workers. Furthermore, their proportion decreases with career advancement, and a glass ceiling still limits their access to decision-making positions. This is observed notably among university professors. In the 2016-2017 competitions for FRQNT’s programs, women represented 35% of applicants for scholarships, and only 18% of applicants for grant programs. Factors contributing to this situation are present early in life, with children being exposed to gender stereotypes that can affect girls and women’s perception of, and experience in STEM. To help identify and improve policies designed to support gender equality in STEM, Quebec is participating in UNESCO’s SAGA (STEM and Gender Advancement) project.

Confronting Barriers for Women along Educational and Career Pathways in STEM

Women’s underrepresentation in STEM, once attributed to lack of interest and ability, is now recognized to be a function of myriad barriers along the educational and career pathways leading to fulfilling science careers. Although both men and women confront some of the same barriers, the negative effects tend to be exacerbated for women. In addition, women can face unique obstacles owing to their minority status in some science fields. Topics covered in this talk include extracurricular activities, professional development experiences, STEM embeddedness, inclusive climate, and work-life challenges.

Stereotypes threat and implicit math-gender stereotypes: Obstacles and solutions for women’s advancement in physics

Given the increased gender diversity in our workforce, one question that arises is why there continues to be fewer women than men pursuing and succeeding in prestigious careers in math and science? In this talk I will start by reviewing research examining stereotype threat and implicit math-gender stereotyping that provides evidence that gender stereotypes are a continuing, yet often “hidden”, obstacle to women’s advancement in math and science. Next, I will provide evidence that interventions can be introduced and contexts can be changed to decrease and even eliminate these potential barriers. Taken together the data clearly suggest that while stereotypes provide additional challenges for educators and women alike, they are fortunately not insurmountable. The implications of these findings for both women and men in STEM fields will be discussed.

Importance of diversity and concrete actions to make the STEM environment more inclusive

What are the benefits of diversity? Its challenges? Why should we care about making the STEM environment more inclusive and what can we do to succeed? While there are no quick fixes, this presentation will explore possible solutions and examples of concrete actions to bring change.

From a sense of belonging to self-confidence, many women encounter barriers from childhood to adulthood. These barriers, which are challenges to gender diversity in STEM, will divert them from STEM studies or interfere with their happiness in these careers. We therefore have a responsibility as parents, siblings, teachers, colleagues, and employers to value the presence of women in STEM, even though managing diversity can be a challenge in itself.


Research skills for a successful career in physics

To have a successful career requires many skills not taught in the classroom and negotiations skills are one of them. They occur everyday in the scientific laboratory and workplace and often involve issues that are key to research success and career advancement. This presentation will inform you of the fundamentals of negotiation relevant to a variety of one-on-one conversations and group settings. Topics include the importance of negotiation to advance research and career objectives, identification of negotiables for research and career advancement, elements of a successful negotiation, the importance of developing alternatives to an agreement, techniques for handling difficult people and conversations, the importance of listening and appreciating different viewpoints and identification of short and long-term negotiation goals.

Feminist Physics, Feminist Physicists: Improving lives in academia and beyond

Science is often portrayed as bigger than humanity, as something that overcomes inequalities by relying on facts and observations. Feminist philosophers, among others, have criticized this idea. Scientists are subject to societal biases, from how they hire researchers to what forms of technology their research develops. This workshop aims to make some of these philosophical ideas and criticisms accessible and applicable.

Understanding how our knowledge is developed from a feminist standpoint can help us understand how marginalized people are routinely ignored and pushed out of science, empowering us to address these deep-rooted inequalities.

This workshop will provide some background on feminist studies of physics, science as a cultural and historical practice, and knowledge as an element of power dynamics. We’ll discuss methods for applying these concepts, including designing meetings for equity, building community, and practicing feminist physics.

FemPhys page: https://uwaterloo.ca/femphys/

Feminist physics further resources: PDF document

Leadership and your “Best Self” – capitalizing on your hidden leadership potential

Work is social.  Leadership is not about being best in a talent contest.  You can become a thought leader that way, but you’ll not be a valued collaborator.  Leadership needs to be redefined as an activity which facilitates people doing their best thinking together. In this session we will explore leadership from the inside-out.  How can becoming more “authentic” and real help you be more effective in your work generally and in your leadership roles specifically?  We will explore why old habits can limit us, how purpose is core to feeling balanced and engaged and how simply listening and being more present can help us deal with the opportunities, challenges and sometimes difficult dynamics of today’s workplace.

More information

More information about Ursula Franklin: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ursula_Franklin

More information about Renee Horton: https://www.reneehortonphd.com/about.html

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