Symposium Information

The 5th Annual PHAS Symposium is hosted by the PHAS Departmental Graduate Association (DGA) and will take place on Wednesday, February 19, 2020 in the Taylor Institute of the University of Calgary. In addition to student talks, we will also have two keynote speakers.

There is a registration fee of 5$ for both presenters and attendees.

Keynote Speakers

Dr. Ann-Lise Norman: Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy

About the speaker: Aerosols and climate are intimately linked within many spheres: the atmosphere, biosphere, cryosphere and lithosphere. Understanding these linkages and delving into interdisciplinary research have been a hallmark of my research: bridging cloud physics, atmospheric chemistry, oceanography and the cryosphere. I grew up in Calgary and am fortunate to have had the opportunity to pursue my research and career, and to teach wonderfully gifted University of Calgary students at a quality University. I became fascinated with isotopes and their versatility working as an undergraduate in the laboratory of an excellent mentor and world-renowned international researcher, Dr. Roy Krouse. Research was my passion and I was thrilled to be able to pursue my interests right through to my PhD here at University of Calgary. During my graduate studies I spent several months in Bermuda getting acquainted with aerosol studies at an oceanography field station. I also travelled to the Institute for Ecotoxicology in Braunschweig, Germany, for my PhD and spent a year there to study sulfur cycling in the Black Forest. After graduation, I landed a position as a research Chemist at Environment Canada in Toronto where I set up and directed the isotope measurement laboratory for 3 years. A fortuitous joint professorship between Physics and Astronomy and the Undergraduate Environmental Science Program that enhanced interdisciplinary research opened at the UofC just as I was transitioning to a “next level” within the federal government research ranks. The freedom of the academic environment, the engagement teaching students, and the opportunity to explore non-siloed research attracted me back to Calgary. 


Oceanic links to aerosols, clouds, precipitation & climate 

The ocean gives off a sulfurous gas that signals the presence of food to whales, seabirds and other mammals in the ocean. You might relate to this gas, dimethylsulfide (DMS), as the “smell of the ocean”. Although it exists in parts per trillion levels, its impact on climate is significant. It’s thought to be the climate “brake” in comparison to the climate greenhouse gas “accelerator” throughout geological time. DMS contributes to the creation of aerosols over the remote oceans as it oxidizes and the sulfate it forms alters cloud properties that in turn scatter incoming solar radiation back to space. It also may play an important role in manipulating precipitation formation and ice nucleation in the Arctic through the formation of a second compound, methanesulfonic acid (MSA). Field campaigns over the remote ocean and the Northwest Passage to explore the role of DMS in forming nanometer to micrometer size airborne particles, and DMS’s role in aerosol formation and growth as well as precipitation formation over the remote oceans, is the subject of several student theses. I will speak about how we use S and O isotopes to quantify how important DMS and its oxidation products are in comparison to the atmospheric sulfur compounds we generate from human activities. This talk will explore the revelations and new avenues for research in this exciting, interdisciplinary field of study. 

Lohrasp Seify : Data Scientist , Quantitative Analyst (M.Sc., MCSE)

About the speaker: Ever since graduating with a Master’s in Physics, Lohrasp has switched between careers until he settled in with Blackline Safety. His academic experience in analyzing data obtained from particle accelerators and computer simulations, set him up to transition into any career that deals with data – or in today’s world, almost any professional job out there. He now manages the data science, analytics, and data divisions of Blackline Safety. 


From Academia to Industry 

A physics degree does not necessarily give you relevant experience when it comes to a specific technology platform, a specific field of industry, or even how to communicate with everyday people – that believe it or not, might not be physicists. In this presentation, I’m going to tell the story of how I transitioned from a purely academic path into careers in different industries. I will discuss the pitfalls I experienced and the tangible qualities – which my physics degree taught me – that I used to excel in the industry.