College of Natural Sciences’ Professor Laureate Lecture and Awards Ceremony – December 2

A black and white portrait of Robert Wilson.
Robert Wilson.

“Away from the glare of city lights, the beautifully clear Colorado night skies afford a spectacular view of just a fraction of the billions and billions of stars in the cosmos,” wrote Robert Wilson, a professor in the Department of Physics in the abstract of his Professor Laureate lecture.

“Each one of those stars is pumping out unimaginable numbers of the most abundant known matter particle in the universe – the ghostly neutrino.”

Wilson, the second 2021 College of Natural Sciences Professor Laureate, will introduce this enigmatic yet ubiquitous entity during a lecture at the College of Natural Sciences Fall 2021 Professor Laureate Lecture and Teaching & Mentoring Awards Ceremony.

The ceremony will be on Thursday, December 2, 2021 from 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. in the LSC Cherokee Park Ballroom.

Shapeshifting particles

Wilson, the director of the High Energy Physics and Particle Astrophysics Program, a CSU Program of Research and Scholarly Excellence, has been at CSU since 1997.

Wilson studies “phantom particles” known as neutrinos that are “the most abundant known matter particle in the universe,” he said.

While a hundred billion neutrinos pass through your fingertip every second, they change their identity as they travel through space and matter, thus making them hard to study. Neutrinos’ ability to shape shift may reveal the secret of how matter survived the Big Bang and so enabled humans to be here at all.

Wilson’s research to understand neutrinos involves massive international collaboration involving more than 1,100 scientists and engineers from 30 countries.

“I have always been awed by the accomplishments of past Professor Laureates, so it is a great honor to be recognized by the College of Natural Sciences in this way,” said Wilson.

Professor Laureate Award

The Professor Laureate Award is the college’s highest academic honor, bestowed upon dedicated faculty with outstanding contributions to the missions of research, teaching, mentoring and outreach. The designation is intended to honor recipients and to provide the college with exceptional role models. The title is held for three years and includes an honorarium and two years of research funding.

The other 2021 Professor Laureate award was presented to Indrakshi Ray, a professor in the Department of Computer Science, who presented a lecture in the Spring.