Nadya Mason Selected for 2018-19 Defense Science Study Group

Caitlin Shea McCoy for Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory
4/25/2017

Nadya Mason poses with some of her graduate students in her laboratory in the Frederick Seitz Materials Research Lab. Photo by L. Brian Stauffer, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Nadya Mason poses with some of her graduate students in her laboratory in the Frederick Seitz Materials Research Lab. Photo by L. Brian Stauffer, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Physics Professor Nadya Mason has been selected for the 2018-19 Defense Science Study Group (DSSG). The DSSG is a program of education and study that introduces outstanding science and engineering professors to United States’ security challenges and encourages the scholars to apply their talents to these issues.

“It’s a great honor to have been selected for the 2018 DSSG class,” Mason shares. “I’m excited about the unique opportunity to learn more about our nation’s security issues and the technical challenges that face us… and the geek in me also looks forward to seeing some cool airplanes, ships and submarines!”

Started in 1986, this program is directed by the non-profit Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) and sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). According to the DSSG site, this program is an investment in the future. Although there are almost 200 alumni, this is a highly selective program, with only 18 people selected from across the country every two years.

“This is a rather significant honor,” Professor and Director of the Materials Research Lab Paul Braun comments. “We are very happy for Professor Mason and excited to see what she is able to do with this group.”

Each group meets approximately 20 days per year for those two years. During these sessions, members focus on defense policy, related research and development, and the systems, missions, and operations of the armed forces and the intelligence community.

“Illinois has had excellent representation among DSSG classes from the beginning, so it’s an additional pleasure to be continuing the Illinois tradition,” Mason adds.

 

Recent News

  • In the Media

Growing up in Trinidad and Tobago, Kandice Tanner went to a school where she was one of only a dozen girls among 1200 pupils. She had switched from an all-girl school to avoid the distractions of socializing and to take the more advanced math classes offered at the boys’ school. “Being submerged in an all-male environment early on was beneficial to me,” Tanner says. “I felt comfortable with guys, and more important, I knew I could hold my own in a male-dominated environment.”

  • Research
  • Condensed Matter Physics

Illinois Physics Professor Philip Phillips and Math Professor Gabriele La Nave have theorized a new kind of electromagnetism far beyond anything conceivable in classical electromagnetism today, a conjecture that would upend our current understanding of the physical world, from the propagation of light to the quantization of charge. Their revolutionary new theory, which Phillips has dubbed “fractional electromagnetism,” would also solve an intriguing problem that has baffled physicists for decades, elucidating emergent behavior in the “strange metal” of the cuprate superconductors.

This research is published in an upcoming colloquium paper in Reviews of Modern Physics (arXiv:1904.01023v1).

  • Accolades
  • Student News

The BPS Art of Science Image Contest took place again this year, during the 63rd Annual Meeting in Baltimore. The image that won first place was submitted by Angela Barragan, PhD Candidate at the Beckman Institute UIUC. Barragan took some time to provide information about the image and the science it represents.

  • Research
  • Condensed Matter Physics

Researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland working with scientists at institutions in Germany, Great Britain, Spain, and the US, have investigated a novel crystalline material, a chiral semimetal, exhibiting never-before-seen electronic properties. These include so-called chiral Rarita-Schwinger fermions in the interior and very long, quadruple topological Fermi arcs on the surface. The crystal, synthesized at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Physics of Solids in Dresden, Germany, comprises aluminum and platinum atoms arranged in a helical pattern, like a spiral staircase. It’s the crystal’s chiral symmetry that hosts exotic emergent electronic properties.

These research findings, published online in the journal Nature Physics on May 6, 2019, validate a 2016 theoretical prediction by University of Illinois Physics Professor Barry Bradlyn (then a postdoc at the Princeton Center for Theoretical Science), et al., in the journal Science (vol. 353, no. 6299, aaf5037). That theoretical work was subsequently rounded out by a team of physicists at Princeton University, in research published in 2017 and 2018.