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MCLA Physics Department Launches Speaker Series with Recent Grant Award
08:00AM / Wednesday, February 14, 2024
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass.—The MCLA Physics Department will host its first speaker this month as part of a larger campaign supported by funding from the American Institute of Physics (AIP) Foundation through its TEAM-UP Together Expanding Expertise, Championing Excellence & Leadership (TUT EXCEL) program.
Trevor David Rhone, assistant professor in the Department of Physics, Applied Physics and Astronomy at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute will deliver a presentation on Atoma, a laboratory artificial intelligence (AI) assistant, and how it can be combined with materials research to accelerate science innovation and discovery. The talk will take place in the Feigenbaum Center for Science and Innovation (CSI) 121 on Wednesday, February 21 at 5 p.m. with a reception in the CSI atrium at 4 p.m.
Rhone received a liberal arts education from Macalester College in Saint Paul. He went on to pursue his doctoral studies at Columbia University where he did experimental studies of two-dimensional electron systems in the extreme quantum limit. Rhone spent several years at NTT Basic research laboratories in Japan.  During a research stint at the National Institute of Materials Science in Japan, he transitioned to materials informatics research - exploiting machine learning tools to perform materials research. He continued this work at Harvard University where he used machine learning tools to search for new 2D magnetic materials.
Rhone's research interests involve using machine learning tools for materials discovery and knowledge discovery. Materials discovery could manifest in the search new 2D materials with exotic properties, the prediction of the outcome of industrially relevant catalytic reactions or for other compelling research problems. In addition, data analytics tools will be used to aid in developing a better understanding of physical systems.
According to a press release, the AIP funding will advance the College's efforts to increase its African American physics student enrollment, increase African American students' sense of department belonging, and introduce systemic changes to the physics bachelor of arts degree program to ensure positive outcomes for the department's African American students. It also allows MCLA to implement four main initiatives: a specialized recruitment campaign, a revised corequisite model ensuring all students have a path to the degree, strategic external partnerships, and on-campus activities.
"This significant funding opportunity enables us to directly support our current and future African American students in ways that we previously could not," said MCLA Associate Professor and Chair of the Physics Department Dr. Kebra Ward. "We're committed to leveraging this grant to nurture a thriving, inclusive physics community at MCLA and empower future generations of African American physicists."
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