(Posted March 6, 2018)

Huntingdon, Pa. – High School students from across the region attending the 53rd Pennsylvania Junior Science and Humanities Symposium will soon be learning from a super-cool scientist. In addition to presenting their original research investigations in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), these future scientists will soon have the opportunity to learn from William Phillips, an expert on ultra-cold atoms who earned a Nobel Prize in Physics.

Phillips, who will present, “Time, Einstein and the Coolest Things in the Universe,” for high school participants at the March 6-8 symposium at Juniata College, often shares live demonstrations. By cooling atoms to shrink balloons and smashing fresh flowers which, moments before, were immersed into liquid nitrogen, Phillips show the principles of extreme hot and cold temperatures.

In addition to taking in presentations, student participants will receive unique opportunities to network with each other, Juniata College science students and working scientists, like Phillips.

The Symposium, which part of a U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force sponsored program administered by the Academy of Applied Science, is occurring because Juniata’s Science in Motion program was awarded a grant to host the event.

“At Science in Motion, we are very excited about this topic because it has sparked many ideas for our Juniata College students enrolled in the Science Outreach Leadership class who implement activities at the event that are designed to engage participants,” says Briana Benson, Science in Motion outreach coordinator, of Phillips’s presentation at the Symposium.

The Symposium invites students in grades 9-12 enrolled in public, private or home schools to make an oral presentation on the results of their original research investigations in STEM. Presentations are based on the written paper they submit before the event, which enables them to compete for scholarships and a chance to compete at the National Symposium, which will be held in Hunt Valley, Maryland.

Phillips participated in last year’s National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, which was held in San Diego, California. So, Dave Klindienst, the Pennsylvania Symposium program director, invited Phillips to return to present at the Pennsylvania symposium.

“There will be teachers, parents, session moderators, student volunteers and judges participating,” says Pat Myers, Science in Motion outreach coordinator. “We are very grateful for the support and participation of the Juniata faculty and administration in this event, and we are pleased that Dr. Phillips could attend and support the regional symposium.”

Phillips, a 1970 Juniata graduate, pursued his graduate study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. There, he accepted a Chaim Weizmann fellowship to continue at the Institute for two additional years to work on his own selected projects relating to collisions of laser-excited atoms.

In 1978, Phillips accepted a position with the National Bureau of Standards (NBS) and began to pursue laser cooling, which led to his winning the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1997, along with Claude Cogen-Tannoudji and Steven Chu. The three scientists earned the prize for their development of methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light.

Phillips is a distinguished professor at the University of Maryland in College Park, Md. He is also employed by the Joint Quantum Institute at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Maryland. 

He returns to Juniata every couple of years to perform at the College’s Physics Phun Night, a night of physics demonstrations for the campus and Huntingdon communities. He is known for reserving the first few rows of the auditorium for young, K-8 students.

To learn more about the Pennsylvania Symposium, visit: tinyurl.com/JuniataJSHS


--Written by Taylor M. Smallwood ’19-- 

Contact Gabe Welsch at welschg@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.