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Science Friday to tape at ND

| Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The College of Science’s sesquicentennial celebration will continue on Wednesday night with the taping of “Science Friday” in the Leighton Concert Hall of the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center (DPAC) at 7 p.m. to a sold-out crowd. Science Friday, an NPR radio talk show dedicated to science news and entertainment stories, airs every Friday on NPR affiliate stations from 2-4 p.m. EST.

Host and producer Ira Flatow will interview three Notre Dame faculty members as part of the show in addition to at least four other non-Notre Dame guests, according to Marissa Gebhard, assistant director of marketing and communications for the College of Science and a 1998 graduate of Saint Mary’s College.

The show will be divided into six segments, and the Notre Dame Glee Club will sing “science-themed songs” in between, Gebhard said.

Associate professor Philippe Collon, who specializes in experimental nuclear physics, will speak about the applications of his research on the world of art. Through his research, Collon has developed a method of revealing counterfeit artwork without destroying the sample taken as happens with chemical analysis, according to Gebhard.

“He uses nuclear physics to pinpoint the age, date, and material of artwork,” Gebhard said. “Collon will be joined by Greg Smith from the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and together they are going to talk about combating counterfeit art.”

Collon’s work centers on “radionuclides,” or radioactive isotopes, which are atoms with unstable nuclei. Radiocarbon dating uses relative amounts of certain types of these isotopes to date artwork and determine authenticity.

“The field I work in is called Accelerator Mass Spectrometry or AMS for short. It basically is a very sensitive detection technique that combines accelerators and nuclear physics detection techniques to allow the detection of radionuclides at extremely low concentrations (i.e. the ‘needle in the haystack’),” Collon said in an email.

“This technique has applications in art and archaeology,” Collon said. “I got particularly interested in this through the development of the ‘Physics Methods in Art and Archaelogy’ course—PHYS 10262—with my colleague Michael Wiescher. We have now been teaching this course for over eight years here at Notre Dame and it is a fantastic way of introducing modern physics through the bias of art and archaeology to numerous students who would not traditionally be taking a modern physics course.”

Jeanne Romero-Severson, professor of biology, will kick off the Science Friday taping, Gebhard said.

“Jeanne Romero-Severson, who studies plant microbiomes, will be the first segment,” Gebhard said. “She does a lot of work related to the health of oak trees. Her research has implications for outbreaks of foodborne illness linked to contaminated seed sprouts, and she’s working to combat those bacterial infections.”

In the program’s third segment, David Lodge, founder and director of the Notre Dame Environmental Change Initiative, will speak about the ecology of the Great Lakes. Lodge is currently on a one-year leave as a Jefferson Science Fellow in the U.S. Department of State.

“[Lodge] is a world-renowned expert on invasive species,” Gebhard said. “He is one of the faculty that is in the media the most of all of the Notre Dame faculty. He studies Asian carp and some other invasive species, which is of particular interest to everyone in the Great Lakes area, as we spend millions and millions of dollars trying to clean them up.”

Other guests to the show will include representatives from Studebaker to discuss their electric car, forensic science professor Anne Perez from Saint Joseph’s College, who will discuss her work in forensic entomology and interviews with the Kellogg brothers with University of Michigan professor Howard Markel, according to the College of Science press release.

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About Margaret Hynds

Margaret is a senior Political Science major and the former Editor-in-Chief of The Observer. She hails from Washington, D.C., and is a former Phox of Pangborn Hall. Follow Margaret on Twitter @MargaretHynds

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