Meeting Information

The Matter of Our Matter: Tales from Nuclear Science

June 19, 2013
American Center for Physics
College Park, MD

Speaker: Betsy Beise, University of Maryland

Topic: The Matter of Our Matter: Tales from Nuclear Science

Time and Location: 1:00 PM, with Q&A to follow; in a 1st floor conference room at the American Center for Physics (, 1 Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD-- off River Rd., between Kenilworth Ave. and Paint Branch Parkway.

Abstract: Astrophysical observations seem to tell us that only a small fraction of the matter of the universe is visible, the rest identified as either “dark matter” or “dark energy.” Yet that small sliver that we can see, estimated to be about 4%, is responsible for all of the stars, planets, and the atoms that make up us. This “matter of our matter” is the primary focus of nuclear science, spanning the creation of chemical elements in stars to the first emergence of their basic building blocks, the protons and neutrons inside atomic nuclei. Even these basic building blocks have a complex structure, composed of point-like quarks popping in and out of existence and bound together by force-carrying particles called gluons. How they assemble themselves to produce the characteristics that we can measure very precisely, such as charge and magnetism, is still a mystery. This talk will be a broad overview of some of the major open questions of nuclear science and the tools used to address them. Some examples of the benefits of nuclear science to society will also be given. I will draw heavily from the most recent National Academies decadal survey of nuclear science, “Exploring the Heart of Matter”, published in 2012.

Biography: Betsy Beise is a Professor of Physics and the Associate Provost for Academic Planning and Programs at the University of Maryland College Park. Her current responsibilities include oversight of the development and implementation of new academic programs and oversight of graduate and undergraduate curriculum changes across the campus. She came to the University of Maryland in 1993 as an assistant professor after working as a research scientist in the Kellogg Radiation Lab at the California Institute of Technology. Her research in experimental nuclear physics focuses on the use of electromagnetic and weak probes of the internal structure of protons, neutrons and light nuclei, and on the use of nuclear physics techniques to test fundamental symmetries of nature. In 1998, she received the Maria Goeppert-Mayer Award from the American Physical Society (APS), which recognizes outstanding achievement by a woman physicist in the early years of her career. From 2004 to 2006, she was a Program Director for Nuclear Physics at the National Science Foundation. In 2008, she received the Physics department’s George Snow Award for helping to advance the representation of women in the field physics and she is currently a co-PI on UMD’s NSF-ADVANCE grant to support retention and recruitment of women faculty. In 2012 she was recognized as a UMD Distinguished Scholar Teacher. Dr. Beise earned her B.A. in Physics from Carleton College, and her Ph.D. in Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.