Helen Quinn to present Marker Lectures in physical sciences

April 02, 2012

Helen Quinn, a professor emerita in the Penn State's Department of Particle Physics and Astrophysics at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, will present the Russell Marker Lectures in the Physical Sciences on April 11, 12 and 13, on the University Park campus. The lecture series includes a presentation intended for a general audience, "Roaming planets, falling apples, bending light rays, whirling galaxies, and gravity puzzles: What they taught us about the Universe, what they teach us about how science proceeds," which will be held at 8 p.m. on April 11, in 119 Osmond Laboratory, with light refreshments following the talk. In addition, Quinn will give two specialized lectures on April 12 an 13. The Marker Lectures are sponsored by the Penn State Eberly College of Science.

Quinn is a theoretical physicist who was inducted into the National Academy of Sciences in 2003 and holds numerous honors, including the Dirac and Klein medals, for her research contributions. Among the work for which Quinn is known are the pioneering calculations, which she co-developed with her colleagues Howard Georgi and Steven Weinberg, showing that the natural mass scale for the unification of the strong and weak electromagnetic interactions is close to the Planck scale, i.e., the intrinsic scale of gravity. She also is known for her fundamental insights, which she co-developed with her colleague Roberto Peccei, about an important concept in particle physics known as CP conservation.

Quinn, who has been an active contributor to the California State Science Standards development, has worked at the local, state, and national levels on helping to design science curricula and standards for classrooms. She also has helped to prepare continuing-education programs for science teachers. In addition, Quinn served as a member of the National Research Council's Committee on Physics of the Universe and on the High Energy Physics 2010 panel, and was a member of the Particle Astrophysics group for the Astrophysics 2010 Panel. She is a fellow and former president of the American Physical Society. She currently chairs the Board on Science Education of the National Research Council and has served on a number of the Board's studies including "Taking Science to School," and she also chaired a panel that reviewed NASA's K-12 activities. In addition, she chaired the National Research Council's study committee that developed a teaching manual called "A Framework for K-12 Science Education."

Quinn received a doctoral degree in physics from Stanford University in 1967. After postdoctoral work at the German Electron Synchrotron (DESY), the biggest German research center for particle physics, located in Hamburg, Germany, she spent seven years at Harvard University, before returning to Stanford University.

The Marker Lectures were established in 1984 through a gift from Penn State Professor Emeritus of Chemistry Russell Earl Marker, whose pioneering synthetic methods revolutionized the steroid-hormone industry and opened the door to the current era of hormone therapies, including the birth-control pill. The Marker endowment allows the Penn State Eberly College of Science to present annual Marker Lectures in astronomy and astrophysics, the chemical sciences, evolutionary biology, genetic engineering, the mathematical sciences and physics.

For more information or access assistance, contact Mary McMonagle at mmm55@psu.edu.


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Last Updated January 09, 2015