Science Workshop: Discovering the Higgs Boson


The ATLAS detector at CERN in Switzerland.

In the summer of 2013 two experimental collaborations independently reported on the discovery of a new particle at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland.  In this talk, Dr. Emlyn Hughes (Columbia University) will review the field of particle physics and discuss the discovery of the Higgs Boson.


Three exciting events that highlight our understanding of the ocean:

Thursday, March 13 at 7:30 pm in CAPA Symposium

Ocean Apocalypse Woodworth Science Lecture will be presented by distinguished marine scientist Dr. Jeremy Jackson, Professor of Oceanography and Director Geosciences Research Division, Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Jackson’s seminal work on the loss of ocean biodiversity has informed scientists, governments, NGOs and citizen groups all around the world. He warns that saving the oceans and ourselves will require fundamental changes in how we live.

schooling silversides



Friday, March 14 at 11:45-12:45, downstairs in Dickinson

benn students


Pizza Poster Session. Join us for pizza and other cool stuff as students from the Bennington Coral Reef Project display their research.



Friday, March 14 at 1:00-2:00 pm, Dickinson 225



Science Workshop. 

Finally, at this week’s Science Workshop, two distinguished marine scientists will present their current research:



Dr. Nancy KnowltonNew genetic approaches to understanding marine diversity

Dr. Jeremy JacksonThe future of Caribbean Coral Reefs                                        

We hope you can come to all of these events.

Science workshop this friday: Can you fish better than a robot?


Matthew Holden will talk about his research on the management of renewable resources, using fish as an example. Can mathematical models be used to improve the management of fisheries? As a baseline for comparison, we will play an interactive web-game, where you fish a hypothetical sockeye salmon population (so bring your laptops/tablets!). We will discuss the strategies you use and I will demonstrate some of the quantitative tools economists, fishery scientists and mathematicians have developed to maximize revenue and keep a sustainable number of fish in the ocean. How well can you manage the fishery using your intuition compared to a robot using only math? Come to Science Workshop this friday and find out!

Science workshops are fridays from 1 pm – 2 pm in Dickinson 148.

Ben Broderick-Phillips ’13 at OpenCompute

Ben and Andrew @ OCP

Ben Broderick-Phillips (’13) and Andrew Cencini (faculty) caught in a rare moment of being dressed well.

About two weeks ago, I traveled to San Jose, CA for the OpenCompute summit – a gathering of people working on open-source data center hardware and software.  It was a good event, and my friend Steve White and I did a brief introduction to the hardware hackathon that took place there (we submitted winning entries in previous years, so we sat this one out).

But perhaps one of the most exciting things was running into Ben Broderick-Phillips (’13) at the conference.  Ben is currently working as a software engineer for Nebula, and doing great work.  He was showing off some cool and groundbreaking work that he has been doing at Nebula, and by all accounts has been helping to give Bennington a good name in the technology industry.  Hopefully, we will see Ben on campus some time this spring.

Field Course in Coral Reef Science

learning to divebenn studentsWhat were 11 students and 2 science professors doing on the caribbean island of Grand Cayman this past January? SCUBA diving, snorkeling, and studying the biology and chemistry of the coral reef environment. Students did research on fish diversity and temperature and pH of the ocean and tide pools. The data they gathered will be submitted to (an international clearinghouse for reef fish diversity used by scientists, governments, and NGOs around the world). Coral reefs are among the most diverse, unique and beautiful of ecosystems on the planet. Their very existence is threatened, however, due to numerous and rapid environmental perturbations generated by humans.

The students will report the results of their research in a poster session in March during the visit of world renowned marine biologists Dr. Jeremy Jackson and Dr. Nancy Knowlton.

Where is Tim?

Tim Schroeder analyzing mid-ocean ridge rocks on the University of Bremen's electron microprobe

Tim caught in the act of working on sabbatical. Here I am analyzing mid-ocean ridge rocks on the University of Bremen’s electron microprobe



This is a part of a core-storage room at the Bremen Core Repository. You accumulate a lot of rock and sediment in 40+ years of scientific drilling. This room is kept at just above freezing temp. More sensitive cores are kept well below freezing in a separate room.

Greetings fellow Benningtonians. I am missing you all, but am having a happy and productive sabbatical in Bremen, Germany.

Contrary to some reports, I have been up to more than touring and sampling food & drink. Though, I have done a good amount of that. You might ask, why did Tim go on sabbatical to the drizzly, wind-swept plains of northern Germany, ~150 km from the nearest rock outcrop. This is a fair question.

About 15 years ago I began studying major faults at mid-ocean ridges, which are the centers from which new ocean crust is generated in Earth’s ocean basins. These faults very similar to faults in the regions of the southwestern US that I had previously worked. I participated in several research cruises that sampled rocks from the Atlantic seafloor, and discovered interesting parallels between fault activity at mid-ocean ridges and continental rift zones. I have subsequently become interested in how fluids and magma use these faults as conduits to exchange ions between ocean crust and seawater. This activity may be an important control on global seawater chemistry and the carbon cycling.

A logging table at the Bremen Core Repository. This is where I have been spending a good amount of time examining samples drilled at the Mid-Atlantic Ridge over the past 40 years.

A logging table at the Bremen Core Repository. This is where I have been spending a good amount of time examining samples drilled at the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

My interests led me to my current collaboration with the “Petrologie der Ozeankruste” group at the University of Bremen. The faculty and researchers in this group study how ocean crust forms and how its composition evolves over time as it migrates away from mid-ocean ridges. The Hanse-Wissenschaftkolleg institute (HWK), which is a collaborative research center sponsored by the German states of Lower-Saxony and Bremen, awarded me a fellowship to pursue this collaboration. We are housed in an apartment on the HWK campus, and I have been riding my bike and/or trains about 20 km to the University of Bremen from here.

The University of Bremen also houses MARUM, the Germany Marine Environmental Sciences Institute, where scientific rock drill core from the Atlantic Ocean is archived. This is a wealth of rock samples drilled over a 40-year period by the international research community, including the Deep Sea Drilling Project, Ocean Drilling Program, and the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program.

I have been visiting the core repository and examining rocks sampled during several cruises that drilled holes penetrating into the deep oceanic crust. My sampling proposal allows me to collect samples from the core for detailed analyses. For me, this includes performing chemical and isotopic analyses of individual mineral grains to learn about the origins of the fluids from which the minerals precipitated, and how the history of faulting is related to fluid movement through the oceanic crust.

When not working, I have been enjoying the culture of northern Germany. Bremen is an amazing city with interesting history, architecture, and culture. There always seems to be something going on here, and the locals are always out doing things no matter how awful the weather is. Overall, my family is enjoying a change of pace from peaceful North Bennington.


Here Karen and I are enjoying one of Bremen’s fine biergartens at the “Schlachte” promenade along the River Wesser. This was in August; Bremen looks nothing like this at the time of posting.

“Pssssst. Buddy, I got some news you wanna hear.

genetics lab2

 Original Post: But I’m only telling you ‘cuz you got an honest face. Can I trust you?


Not out loud! Just nod your head. Good. Like that. Now, can I trust you? OK.

Write this down: Friday, December 6th is WinterPaloozaPosterFestFeast. C’mon, don’t look so surprised, pal, you knew it was coming. It happens every year at this time. And this year it’s gonna blow them argyle socks right off yer feet. You want Genetics? The WHOLE flippin’ Genetics class is doing a project that they’ll present in a poster. That’s them down there, right below.

genetics lab1

Oh, I get, you’re one of them there physics types, I can tell by that look in yer eyes. There’ll be tons of physics posters. And math. And so many animal phys posters you won’t be able to swing a dead cat without hittin’ one. And for the coop degracey, we got more than a baker’s dozen of posters in two – that’s right two – flavors of ecology: Landscape Ecology and  Agroecology.

Now, can I count on you?

Yes, yes, yes, there’ll be chow – lots of pizza, drinks, desserts. Word on the street is there may even be some vindyloo. The grub’ll be ready at noon and posters’ll  be startin’ at 12:30. Where? In Dickinson – all over the building.

physics lab




You in? Great! Now go spread the word.”



Update (12/6): Terrific job today, everyone – lots of great science was enjoyed by all.