Astrophysicist Evalyn Gates to present public lecture on dark matter and dark energy
March 13, 2012
Evalyn Gates, astrophysicist, author, and executive director and CEO of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, will present a public lecture titled, “Einstein’s Telescope: The Hunt for Dark Matter and Dark Energy” on Thursday, March 29. The event will be at 7:30 p.m. at the Graduate Life Center Auditorium at Virginia Tech. Gates’ lecture is part of Graduate Education Week and Women’s Month. Her visit is sponsored by the Department of Physics, the College of Science, the Virginia Tech Graduate School, and Women in Leadership and Philanthropy.
Gates’ book, with the same title as her lecture, was published by W.W. Norton in February 2009. A book signing by Gates will be held outside the entrance to the auditorium starting at 7 p.m.
Her research focuses on various aspects of cosmology and particle astrophysics, from neutrinos to the cosmic microwave background. Most recently, she has been working on various aspects of dark matter and searching for ancient stellar fossils in the form of the oldest white dwarfs. White dwarfs are thought to be the final evolutionary state for most stars.
Gates has a strong interest in addressing the under-representation of women and minorities in the physical sciences and has written several articles on the topic of women in physics.
Her lecture will focus on how “gravitational lensing,” which was dismissed by Einstein in 1936 as a “most curious effect “ that had little chance of ever being observed, is currently one of the most powerful techniques for exploring dark matter of the universe. Using the warps and dimples in the space-time continuum, which is described by Einstein’s theory of general relativity, as “cosmic lenses,” gravitational lensing allows us to search for black holes and planets within our own galaxy, to map out dark matter in distant galaxies, and to detect the subtle influences of dark energy on the evolution and formation of structure in the universe.
Before coming to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History in May 2010, Gates was the assistant director of the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics and a senior research associate in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Chicago.
Gates received her Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Case Western Reserve University and held postdoctoral fellowships at Yale University and the University of Chicago. She was a member of the theoretical astrophysics research group at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and spent seven years as an administrator at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago.
Gates’ lecture is free and open to the public. Parking is available in the Graduate Life Center or Architecture Annex lots. See the online campus map for more information.
About the sponsors
Women in Leadership and Philanthropy is a Virginia Tech initiative that encourages women — both alumnae and friends — to get involved in the university community by taking on leadership and philanthropic roles. The group encourages women to support the university by making gifts, serving on advisory boards, speaking at university gatherings, and discussing policies with administration officials.