College of Arts and Sciences

Special Physics Presentation, April 22

April 11, 2011

Speaker: Dr. Michael Baxa
Date: April 22, 2011 (Friday)
Time: 10 am
Room: 336 Currens Hall


Bio-Physics: A Natural Transition for Today’s Physicist


Abstract:
This presentation will provide insight on how a physics and/or mathematics undergraduate can become well-prepared to enter the exciting field of bio-physics. The speaker will pull from his own personal experiences to share how his undergraduate education and student research experience provided the foundation he required for graduate school and his subsequent postdoctoral fellowships. Bio-physics is currently a popular field with a multitude of exciting research problems that physicists are actively pursuing. By nature, bio-physics is an interdisciplinary science that integrates experimental, theoretical, and computational methods, all of which are accessible to those with a more traditional physics background. During the presentation the speaker will present a brief overview of his own research, but the primary focus of this talk will be to provide a more general overview of the bio-physics field today, and the acquaint the listeners with opportunities that are available to young physicists who are currently considering engaging in undergraduate research opportunities.

About the speaker:
Michael C. Baxa, Ph.D, a recent WIU Physics alumnus with highest honors (suma cum laude--Honors Scholar--BS in Physics & Mathematics 2002, Physics Department Scholar and Outstanding Senior Award), will visit the WIU campus on Friday, April 22nd, 2011, and present a seminar in Currens Hall 336 at 10 a.m. During his time as an undergraduate in the WIU Physics Department, Michael actively conducted student research with Dr. Mark S. Boley (currently department chair) studying the properties of high-temperature superconductors, widening the scope of his research by summer internships at Argonne National Laboratory, and presenting his research results at numerous regional and national scientific conferences. In 2001, under Dr. Boley's mentorship, and in recognition of his outstanding undergraduate scientific research achievements, he became WIU's first recipient of the prestigious national Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, followed by the award of a national Phi Kappa Phi Graduate Fellowship in 2002. After graduating from WIU, he entered the graduate physics program at The University of Chicago (UC), where he conducted research in the area of protein folding and dynamics, receiving his Ph.D. in bio-physics in the fall of 2009. After continuing in a brief post-doctoral position at UC, Michael joined the Georgia Institute of Technology where he is currently a second-year post-doctoral fellow in the Center for the Study of Systems Biology, where he performs research on structure and function conservation. Michael currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia, with his wife Sybil (Doran) Baxa, whom he met at WIU (she is also a WIU alumnus of 2002), and their 13-month-old daughter Josie.