Sievert Prize Lecture Series
Join us in 2024!
Every saturday at 11:00 AM from January 6-February 24
2024 Annual Sievert Prize Lectures
Lectures: "Networks: From Brains and Quantum Internet to Climate Change"
Every Saturday at 11:00 AM from January 6-February 24 at Norris University Center at Northwestern University.
Join us each week for an exciting and educational lecture by Arthur Montanari, a researcher working at the Center for Network Dynamics at Northwestern.
- January 6, "Network Theory: A Theory of Almost Everything" Wildcat Room 1-101 View recording
- Networks are everywhere. In nature, they regulate food webs, brain activity, and cellular processes. In engineering, they deliver energy and water, mediate traffic, and disseminate information. In society, they govern financial, social, and environmental dynamics. We explore the theory describing the science of interactions and its power to address disparate systems
- January 13, "Emergence: Syncing Waves" Wildcat Room 1-101 View recording
- Fireflies flashing together, waves formed in the brain, power-grid generators operating in coordination, and the way your body responds to day-night cycles. These systems are described by the phenomenon of synchronization. We break down and model the main actors responsible for this phenomenon in one equation. What the agents are, how they interact, and who they interact with.
- January 20, "Anyone's Perspective is Wrong" Wildcat Room 1-101 View recording
- Networks are more than the sum of the parts. Observing only the individual pieces of a network cannot give us the big picture. How intelligence emerges from neural networks? Who to test for the early detection of an epidemic outbreak? Why do your friends have more friends than you do? We discuss how reductionism is a powerful tool for the analysis of networks that must be used carefully.
- January 27, "Why We Get Stuck and It is So Hard to Change" Northwestern Room 2-160 View recording
- A new road that slows traffic, a top basketball player that lowers the team’s performance, or a new transmission line that reduces the grid efficiency. Additional resources are expected to improve performance, but lack of network cooperativity can lead to adverse outcomes. We examine such network paradoxes, when they appear, and why they cannot be avoided through unilateral changes.
- February 3, "Cascades: The Achilles' Heel of Networks" Wildcat Room 1-101 View recording
- Networks are known to be fairly resilient. However, when networks are hit the right way, damage can spread through a cascade and lead to the collapse of an entire system. We see this in blackouts, extinction events, and financial crashes. We show how simple models can describe network cascades and the obstacles to controlling them.
- February 10, "Irreversibility: No Return Beyond the Tipping Point" Wildcat Room 1-101 View recording
- Every system has an “equilibrium” state. Disturbances can alter this state and sometimes lead to irreversible changes. Reversible and irreversible changes are separated by tipping points, which are hard to predict but govern transitions from ecosystem shift to neurodegeneration. We show how theory can provide early warnings and control approaches to prevent and mitigate irreversible transitions
- February 17, "Birds of Different Feathers" Wildcat Room 1-101
- Flocking, synchronization, and consensus are rhythmic dynamics. Do these behaviors require the agents to be identical or similar? Strikingly, coherent behavior often occurs not despite but because of the different inherent rhythms of the agents. We investigate the effects of diversity, heterogeneity, and disorder in a wide range of systems, from flocks to chaos.
- February 24, "Outlook: The Advent of Network Technologies" Northwestern Room 2-160
- Network phenomena are not only recurring in physics but also used to develop new technologies. From social networks, self-driving vehicles, and smart grids to internet-of-things and quantum networks, we discuss the network foundation of many emerging technologies and related challenges.
These lectures are free and open to the public. Free parking is available in the South Campus Parking Garage (1841 Sheridan Rd, Evanston).
The Norris University Center is located at 1999 Campus Dr, Evanston, IL. Click here for directions
View the Sievert Prize Lecture Archive
The Department of Physics and Astronomy thanks Paul R. Sievert for his generous support of the Sievert Prize at Northwestern University. Paul Sievert created this endowment in memory of his wife, Ilene B. Sievert in 2020 in order to strengthen the Physics and Astronomy program at Northwestern for the benefit of the Northwestern community and the general public. This prize is awarded to one or more postdoctoral researchers in the department.
About the Ilene B. Sievert Prize Lectures
This series of lectures was established and endowed by Paul R. Sievert to honor the memory of his late wife Ilene (9/5/1940 - 12/16/2012).
Ilene was an undergraduate at the University of Chicago when she married another undergraduate, a physics student, Paul, in 1960. She had started in biology but switched to her second major interest, English literature after her marriage.
She obtained her B.A. and then took a job in the Computer Institute eventually working as one of Nick Metropolis’s programmers. She programmed an early machine, the Maniac III. Paul went on to graduate school at U. of Chicago.
Eventually Paul and Ilene came to Evanston in 1974. Paul became CEO of Allied Valve Industries in Chicago while Ilene was a housewife and mother. After her children were sufficiently grown she went back to her first interest, biology, specifically herpetology. She raised and studied poison dart frogs and published a number of papers on herpetology in the journal of the Chicago Herpetological Society. She had a lively interest in evolutionary theory, one of her favorite books being the Origin of Species by Darwin. Others included the evolutionary writings of Gould and Dawkins. She also followed her husband’s continuing interest in physics.
Ilene also served for a time as the president of the PTA for Park School in Evanston. Park School is for mentally handicapped children and is where her son attended. She had many friends in Evanston and some from her time at U of C, including John Ketterson, a current faculty member in the physics department at Northwestern University. Her interest in science and the knowledge that she certainly would have attended these lectures is one of the main motivations for the endowment of this prize.
The purpose of these lectures is to present to the interested general public cutting edge research results in hard science by an up-and-coming researcher in the field.
The topics could cover any field in science: biology, physics, chemistry, astronomy, mathematics, etc. The number of lectures and the depth of presentation is such that the intelligent general public should be able to follow and come away with an understanding and appreciation for a current subject of research and its importance. Though this prize program is being administered by the Physics Department of Northwestern University, other hard science departments of Northwestern will be consulted as prize recipients and lecture subject.