Distinguished Faculty Lecture Series
Established in 1974, the annual Distinguished Faculty Lecture is dedicated to acknowledging the work of our most esteemed and accomplished faculty members. The lecture series not only honors individual faculty members and their achievements, but also celebrates the values of academic excellence that we share as a community. Each honoree is presented with the Chancellor’s Medal, the highest recognition bestowed upon faculty by the campus.
Professor Elizabeth Bertone-Johnson
October 7, 2020, 4:00pm
Why the Menstrual Cycle Matters
Though nearly half of the world’s population menstruates, very little is known about how the menstrual cycle is associated with other aspects of health. However, exciting new evidence suggests that the timing of someone’s final menstrual period and whether they experience premenstrual symptoms in their 20s, 30s and 40s may predict their health after menopause. In this talk, Professor Elizabeth Bertone-Johnson will discuss how these aspects of the menstrual cycle may predict long-term risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. If it can be determined whether these menstrual-related factors may be early sentinels of future disease, this knowledge can be used to identify young women to target for early intervention. Bertone-Johnson will present results from her research investigating how modifiable factors such as diet, smoking, weight gain, and behavioral health play important roles in these relations, and discuss how improving health behaviors in adolescence and young adulthood may have lasting positive impacts on women’s health.
Professor Panos Kevrekidis
November 10, 2020, 4:00pm
Nonlinear Waves and their Applications: From Oceans to Planets, From Lasers to Quantum Fluids, From Origami to Pandemics
In this talk, Professor Panos Kevrekidis will explore a number of ideas about nonlinear waves and their implications to a diverse array of fields: from mathematics to physics, engineering, computing, biology, and even (a little) art. He will begin with some history from 18th and 19th century fluid waves in channels and oceans, associated engineering observations, and artistic renderings. Next, he will share an intriguing story of (non) equity and inclusion around the first computer in post-atomic-bomb Los Alamos National Lab. The presentation will then pass through some Nobel Prize winning physical ideas related to the laser, quantum fluids, and some of their recent variations pursued experimentally including here in Amherst. Finally, the audience will learn how in the past few years such wave phenomena have emerged in exotic materials, such as lattices made of origami elements, and how in the last few months they are being considered toward studying the spread of pandemic infections. Time permitting, Kevrekidis will also touch upon the intriguing work of the UMass Amherst chancellor in the field of nonlinear waves!
Professor Daniela Calzetti
December 1, 2020, 4:00pm
Stars are not “Spherical Cows”
Stars are the sources of all the light we see in the universe. Whether investigating our own celestial neighborhood or the most distant corners of the universe, we use stars as our beacons. The universe is mostly made of dark energy, and galaxies and clusters mostly of dark matter. But it is stars like our sun that trace them all. Stars are not eternal balls of gas churning out energy from their nuclear furnaces. They are born, they live, and they die. The birth of stars is particularly important as it can be traced back to the birth and evolution of galaxies across cosmic times. Professor Daniela Calzetti will review progress over the past decade in understanding how stars form out of the gas clouds that pervade galaxies, and how this has helped with furthering our understanding of the universe. Space missions, as well as advanced ground-based telescopes, have played key roles in advancing our knowledge. With many challenges still ahead of us, the way forward will require innovative thinking for the future missions and facilities that will enable humanity one day to say, “We know where we came from.”