Upcoming Colloquia

Wednesday, October 26

4:00 PM, C215 ESC

Tim McLain

BYU Department of Mechanical Engineering

Unmanned Aircraft: Challenges, Opportunities, and Research at BYU

Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), commonly called drones, have transformed military operations and have the potential to impact our daily lives in significant ways. This presentation will explore potential applications for small UAS and examine technical gaps that limit their widespread use. Two particular areas of research will be highlighted: navigation in cluttered environments with degraded GPS and detecting and avoiding other aircraft in the airspace.


Tim McLain is a professor of mechanical engineering at Brigham Young University. He received BS and MS degrees in Mechanical Engineering from BYU in 1986 and 1987 respectively. Prior to pursuing additional studies, he was a design engineer for the Center for Engineering Design at the University of Utah. He received a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University in 1995, after which he joined the Mechanical Engineering Department at BYU. During 1999 and 2000, he was a visiting scientist at the Air Force Research Laboratory where he initiated research in the guidance and control of unmanned aircraft systems. Since then, his UAS research has attracted the support of the Air Force, the Army, DARPA, NASA, NSF, and ONR. He is the author of over 130 peer-reviewed articles with over 6300 citations of his work. With Randy Beard, he is the author of the textbook Small Unmanned Aircraft. He is currently the director of the Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

Wednesday, November 9

4:00 PM, C215 ESC

Ken Watanabe

Chemistry & Physics, Florida Gulf Coast University

Introduction to Gamma-ray Astrophysics

Observational Gamma-ray Astrophysics was born in the 1960s. NASA's Compton GammaRay Observatory (CGRO) was launched by Space Shuttle Atlantis in 1991 and revealed many mysterious high energy phenomena in the Universe such as Gamma-ray Bursts (GRBs), 511 keV emission from the galactic center, Gamma-ray Pulsars, so on. Currently, NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope & SWIFT, and ESA's INTErnational Gamma-RAy Laboratory (INTEGRAL) are still operational in these fields. We will discuss highlights from the past and current missions as well as the future of Gamma-ray Astrophysics.


Dr. Ken Watanabe received his BS in Physics from TOHOKU University in Japan, and PhD from CLEMSON University. He is currently Physics Program Leader in Department of Chemistry and Physics at Florida Gulf Coast University. His research expertise is Gamma-ray Astrophysics. Before joining FGCU he worked at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in Greenbelt, MD as Astrophysicist. The space missions he worked on at GSFC were Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory (CGRO), Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE), and  INTErnational Gamma-RAy  Laboratory (INTEGRAL)  which is a space mission of the European Space Agency (ESA), as well as Earth Observing missions.  His main research interests are Cosmic Diffuse Gamma-ray Background, Nucleosynthesis in the Universe, 511 keV line at the galactic center, Gamma-ray transient sources, Gamma-Ray Bursts (GRBs) after glow, and Terrestrial Gamma-ray Flashes (TGFs). His collaborators and he constructed an optical observation system on the FGCU campus to study connections between Sprites and TGFs by utilizing the optical data with additional data from NASA’s Fermi and RHESSI missions.  

We welcome anyone who wish to attend, and typically serve refreshments ten minutes before the colloquium begins. Speakers generally keep their presentation accessible to undergraduate physics students.