The J. Mark Sower Distinguished Lecture Series in the College of Science at Virginia Tech enables the college to host a series of lectures designed to be a forum to exchange new and innovative ideas in scientific fields. Generously supported by J. Mark Sowers, this series provides opportunities for the university community and general public to interact with and learn from eminent scholars and industry experts with experience in academia, science, business, government, and medicine, among other fields. 

All talks are free and open to the public.

2017 Speakers

'How unusual: Going 1.2 Miles Underground to Study the Sun and the Space Between the Stars'

Arthur B. McDonald

Emeritus Professor of Physics

Director of the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory Collaboration

Co-recipient of the 2007 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Physics, the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics, and the 2016 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics

Queen's University


Arthur B. McDonald

By going more than a mile underground and creating an ultra-clean laboratory it is possible to address some very fundamental questions about our universe: How does the sun burn? What are the dark matter particles making up 27 percent of our universe? What are the properties of neutrinos, elusive particles that are one of the fundamental building blocks of nature? How do these particles influence how our universe evolves? With the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory, we were able to observe new properties of neutrinos that go beyond the standard model of elementary particles and also confirm that the models of how the sun burns are very accurate. We are welcoming the world in collaborative experiments that are looking for the properties of dark matter particles (present in the spaces between the stars) and looking for neutrino signals from supernovae in our galaxy, from the Earth and from the sun. The advantages created by the development of one of the lowest radioactivity laboratories in the world and the resulting fundamental science will be described by McDonald during his talk.


April 27, 2017
7:30 PM


McBryde Hall, Room 100

For more information:

Contact Katie Lafon,
Director of Alumni Relations for the College of Science


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Nigel D. Goldenfeld

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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J. David Sweatt

Vanderbilt University

Watch past talks with the Sowers series

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Naomi Halas of Rice University, Feb. 23, 2017

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David Reitze of LIGO Project, Feb. 1, 2017