Go on a science adventure with PPPL’s Science on Saturday Lecture series

Written by
Jeanne Jackson DeVoe
Jan. 12, 2022

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) will once again give science fans of all ages a way to escape the winter doldrums with a series of scientific adventures exploring new frontiers in cutting-edge science during the Laboratory’s popular lecture series beginning Jan. 29.  

The Ronald E. Hatcher Science on Saturday lectures will be offered live online for the third year and will be held at 9:30 a.m. weekly through March 12. (There is no lecture on Feb.  19 due to the Department of Energy’s Science Bowl). You must register online one time to get a link to attend all the lectures.

Deedee Ortiz, the Science Education program manager who organizes the series, said she is grateful to be able to offer the program again for the 38th year despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It has been another crazy year of ups and downs and it's wonderful that we are still able to have a little bit of ‘normalcy’ these days with the Science on Saturday series,” she said. “Thank you to our speakers for being the absolute best for giving of their time and energy from all over the country and to our loyal and amazing audience members for sticking by us for our 38th year of talks!”

The series kicks off with a talk on “New Technological Frontiers in Cities”by Elie Bou-Zeid, a Princeton University professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of the Program in Environmental Engineering and Water Resources.

Other talks will focus on a variety of topics, including plasma physics, ocean robotics, and auroras.

The Science on Saturday series is named for PPPL’s beloved Ronald E. Hatcher, the PPPL engineer who hosted Science on Saturday for many years and who died in 2014. The series attracts hundreds of science enthusiasts each year ranging from elementary school students to those who have attended the lectures for decades. It is hosted by Andrew Zwicker, head of Communications and Public Outreach at PPPL.

If you can’t make it to the lectures or want to check out previous talks, the lectures will be posted on the Science on Saturday archives.

The complete schedule for the year is:

Jan. 29 at 9:30 a.m.: Elie Bou-Zeid, professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of the Program in Environmental Engineering and Water Resources, Princeton University, “New Technological Frontiers in Cities”

Feb. 5 at 9:30 a.m.: PPPL physicist Florian Laggner, “Diagnosing Fusion Plasmas: How to Perform Measurements in a 100 Million Degree Environment”

Feb. 12 at 9:30 a.m.: Janet Iawasa, Biochemistry Department, University of Utah School of Medicine, “Animating Molecular Machines”  

Feb. 19 at 9:30 a.m.: No Science on Saturday due to U.S. Department of Energy Science Bowl

Feb. 26 at 9:30 a.m.: James Schroeder, Wheaton College Department of Physics and Engineering, “Answering a 40-year-old Riddle: Can Alfven Waves Cause Auroras?”

March 5 at 9:30 a.m.: Travis Miles, Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Rutgers University, “Ocean Robotics for the New Blue Economy”

March 12 at 9:30 a.m.: Evdokiya Kostadinova, Auburn University Physics Department, “Feeling the Heat: Fusion Plasmas Used to Study Spacecraft Heat Shields”

PPPL, on Princeton University's Forrestal Campus in Plainsboro, N.J., is devoted to creating new knowledge about the physics of plasmas — ultra-hot, charged gases — and to developing practical solutions for the creation of fusion energy. The Laboratory is managed by the University for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit energy.gov/science.

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