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MIT Professor, Researcher to be Main Speaker at Honors Convocation

Public Relations
Posted: Wednesday Apr 3, 2013

April 3, 2013

Dr. Michael Williams, a Saint Vincent College graduate and Hempfield Township native who is now a professor of physics and researcher at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will be the main speaker at the annual spring honors convocation of Saint Vincent College on Wednesday, April 24 at 12:30 p.m. in the Saint Vincent Archabbey Basilica.

At the academic convocation, outstanding senior students will be recognized for academic excellence in their major fields of study, the winners of the Ragan Poetry Award and Fr. Ronald Gorka Scholarship will be announced and special awards will be presented by the Student Government Association for service to the college community.

Saint Vincent College’s highest student honor, the President’s Award, will be presented to one member of the graduating class in recognition of academic accomplishment, leadership ability and community service which best demonstrate the College’s mission as a Catholic, Benedictine, liberal arts college.

Following the honors convocation, the College will present the Tenth Annual Academic Conference from 2 to 7 p.m. in the Sis and Herman Dupré Science Pavilion to recognize the completion of research projects and creative work of students in all academic fields. Students will be making presentations and displaying posters of their work throughout the Pavilion. Admission is free and open to the College community as well as the general public.

A graduate of Hempfield Area High School, Dr. Williams earned a bachelor of science degree with highest honor in both mathematics and physics at Saint Vincent College in 2001. While at Saint Vincent, he was a member of the dean’s list and was recognized with the Department Awards for Academic Excellence in both Mathematics and Physics.
He continued his education at Carnegie Mellon University where he earned master of science and Ph.D. degrees in physics. He was honored at Carnegie Mellon with the Mellon College of Science’s Guy C. Berry Graduate Research Award for excellence in research. He also won the Jefferson Laboratory Thesis Prize for nuclear physics research he did at the Thomas Jefferson Laboratory in Virginia.

He was a postdoctoral research associate at Imperial College, London, from 2008 to 2012.

He has been an assistant professor of physics in the department of physics and a researcher in the Laboratory for Nuclear Science (LNS) at MIT since July 2012. Williams is using data from the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) experiment at the Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) to study differences in the behavior of matter and antimatter. These studies could lead to the discovery of physics beyond the standard model and possibly to an explanation of the origins of the matter-antimatter asymmetry observed in the universe today. He is also working on a project that will study the structure of strongly interacting systems at the Jefferson Lab. Of particular interest is probing the role that gluons play in such systems. He has a strong interest in applying machine learning techniques to physics analyses and also in using and developing advanced statistical methods to further his research goals. He is the author or co-author of more than 200 publications.

He was the co-organizer of PHYSTAT2011, International Conference on Statistical Problems in Physics in Geneva in January 2011 and was an invited lecturer at the Third International Doctorate Network in Particle Physics, Astrophysics and Cosmology in Spain in January.

Williams, 34, is the son of Jim and Marsha Williams of Hempfield Township. He and his wife, Caroline, have a son, Callum, 8 months.

In addition to his honors convocation address, he will give a public lecture about his research on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 25 in the Luparello Lecture Hall in the Sis and Herman Dupré Science Pavilion in conjunction with the induction ceremony of the Physics Honor Society hosted by the Physics Club. Admission is free and open to the public. LHC is an $8 billion international organization which operates the largest and most expansive particle physics laboratory on earth.

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Photo: Dr. Michael Williams 

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PR2013-159