Notre Dame astrophysicists publish new approach to cosmic lithium in the early universe

Author: Marissa Gebhard and Gene Stowe

One of the four European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescopes (VLT) One of the four European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescopes (VLT) with the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds in the background. Notre Dame astrophysicists used the VLT to observe gas in the Small Magellanic Cloud to constrain the cosmic abundance of lithium. Image: ESO/B. Tafreshi (

J. Christopher Howk, Nicolas Lehner and Grant Mathews of the Center for Astrophysics at the University of Notre Dame published a paper this week in the journal Nature titled “Observation of interstellar lithium in the low-metallicity Small Magellanic Cloud.” The astrophysicists have explored a discrepancy between the amount of lithium predicted by the standard models of elemental production during the Big Bang and the amount of lithium observed in the gas of the Small Magellanic Cloud, a galaxy near to our own.

“The paper involves measuring the amount of lithium in the interstellar gas of a nearby galaxy, but it may have implications for fundamental physics, in that it could imply the presence of dark matter particles in the early universe that decay or annihilate one another,” Howk says. “This may be a probe of physics in the early universe that gives us a handle on new physics we don’t have another way to get a handle on right now.” Read More >

1916: What it meant to Ireland

Author: Notre Dame News

"1916: What it meant to Ireland" at the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin The Royal Irish Academy in Dublin

Notre Dame brought together some of the world’s top intellectuals on the 1916 Irish Rising to speak to a packed house at the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin. Read More >

Templeton Foundation awards Notre Dame $1.58 million for interdisciplinary study


Donald Stelluto, left, and Vittorio Hösle Donald Stelluto, left, and Vittorio Hösle

Two scholars from the University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Advanced Study (NDIAS) recently were awarded a $1.58 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation for a three-year program to promote dialogue across academic disciplines.

Vittorio Hösle, Paul Kimball Chair of Arts and Letters and director of NDIAS, and Donald Stelluto, associate director of NDIAS, won the award for their proposal, “Pursuing the Unity of Knowledge: Integrating Religion, Science, and the Academic Disciplines.”

The program will foster inquiry into the “great questions” in an environment that considers secular and spiritual knowledge as mutually beneficial ways of learning, rather than rivals in a winner-take-all competition. Read More >

Golfers support NPC research through Parseghian Classic at Pebble Beach Resorts

Author: Marissa Gebhard

Pebble Beach Golf Links

Golfers are teaming with the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation and the University of Notre Dame to find a treatment or cure for Niemann-Pick Type C (NPC) disease, a rare and fatal neurodegenerative disease that primarily strikes children before and during adolescence. Proceeds raised from the Parseghian Classic golf fundraiser at Pebble Beach Resorts on June 22-24 will fund NPC research at Notre Dame and other institutions.

“Notre Dame researchers are at the forefront of NPC research and their advances in the understanding of this disease give hope to all NPC children and their families,” says Cindy Parseghian, who co-founded the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation just two months after three of her four children were diagnosed with NPC. Read More >

New paper examines issues raised by Fukushima reactor accident

Author: William G. Gilroy

Fukushima Daiichi

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As the one-year anniversary of the Fukushima Daiichi reactor accident is marked on March 11, a new paper by Peter C. Burns, Henry Massman Professor of Civil Engineering and Geological Sciences at the University of Notre Dame, and colleagues from the University of Michigan and the University of California, Davis, stresses that we need much more knowledge about how nuclear fuel interacts with the environment during and after an accident.

In the paper, which appears in the March 9 edition of the journal Science, Burns, Rodney C. Ewing of the University of Michigan and Alexandra Navrotsky of the University of California, Davis, call for increased research to help develop predictive models for future nuclear accidents. Read More >

New study examines microorganisms in aquatic ecosystems

Author: William G. Gilroy

Aquatic ecosystem

Microorganisms play pivotal functions in nature, particularly within aquatic ecosystems. Whether in an ocean or a lake, they are key players in the food chain and the vitality of individual ecosystems.

A team of researchers led by Arezoo M. Ardekani, the Rev. John Cardinal O’Hara, C.S.C., Assistant Professor of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Notre Dame, has shown that density stratification, a frequent feature of aquatic environments, has important ecological consequences on these small organisms. Read More >

Bengal Bouts participants aid in concussion research

Author: William G. Gilroy

82nd Annual Bengal Bouts

The University of Notre Dame’s annual Bengal Bouts student boxing tournament’s longtime mantra is “Strong bodies fight, that weak bodies may be nourished.”

The unusual mantra is fitting for an unusual competition whose ticket sale proceeds benefit Holy Cross Missions in Bangladesh, part of the ministry of the Congregation of Holy Cross, Notre Dame’s founding religious community.

However, this year a large number of Bengal Bouts boxers are going even further to do good by volunteering to participate in post-bout concussion testing. Read More >

Team of scientists wins grant to research tuberculosis diagnostics

Author: Sarah Craig

Jeff Schorey

University of Notre Dame Professor Jeff Schorey, associate director of the Eck Institute for Global Health and a member of the Center for Rare and Neglected Diseases, is part of a team of researchers who received one of 10 new Grand Challenges in Global Health (GCGH) Grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to identify biomarkers for the diagnosis of tuberculosis (TB).

TB is one of the world’s deadliest infectious diseases with an estimated 9 million individuals diagnosed and 1.6 million deaths every year. This makes TB the second leading cause of death by an infectious agent, behind only HIV. Read More >

Engineering professor Timothy Ovaert receives 1st Source Commercialization Award

Author: William G. Gilroy

1st Source logo

University of Notre Dame professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering Timothy Ovaert has been named recipient of the 1st Source Commercialization Award celebrating research that has made it to the marketplace.

Ovaert was honored for his impact-reducing flooring system, SorbaSHOCK. SorbaSHOCK is a specially engineered flooring system with specific biomechanical impact-reducing properties that can be installed directly on a concrete subfloor to form a coherent underlayment system. Read More >