Science symposium features new physics professor

Pratik Patel, Staff Writer

Dr. Jacob Moldenhauer, a new assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, will be presenting “Observational Constraints of the Standard Model of Cosmology and Competitive Modified Gravity Models” at the science symposium held on Thursday, Sept. 8 in LSF L102.

“(I) start off with going through, giving everybody a perspective on what cosmology is, where we do our work, some basic concepts of red shift and big bang expansion model and going into the current observations,” Moldenhauer said.

Moldenhauer works with large amounts of data collected by satellites to observe cosmic changes, namely, the acceleration of the expansion of the universe.

“We’re going to talk about how the current observations are showing cosmic acceleration, go into detail about some of those observations: the super nova, the CMB (cosmic microwave background), and baryonic acoustic oscillations,” Moldenhauer said.

Moldenhauer, who specializes in dark energy and the expansion of the universe, earned an undergraduate degree in physics from the University of Ozarks, a master’s degree in 2007 and a Ph.D. in physics in 2010 from the University of Texas at Dallas. Moldenhauer then taught at Collin College in Texas for a year.

Moldenhauer will be one of many speakers at the science symposium, which is held on most Thursdays throughout the semester. The symposium spotlights talks about current topics in mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology and other subjects.

Dr. Jeff Steinmetz, Assistant Professor of Biology, is the organizer of the science symposium. Steinmetz said that he believes that the symposium is a unique opportunity for students and faculty alike.

“The science symposiums have been going on for a number of years,” Steinmetz said. “The goals are really to try and get students and faculty exposed to a wider range of research … and what people on campus are doing for research.”

Symposiums like the one being held at FMU are readily available at larger universities, but are a rarity for a university of this size. Steinmetz said that he is enthusiastic about the robustness of the seminar series and believes that it will be beneficial to the students of FMU – science students in particular.

“I think it really gives them a good idea of sort of current research, you know, what’s going on in different fields, how research is done,” Steinmetz said. “It exposes them to a more formal scientific talk than the one they get in their class.”

However, as Steinmetz explained, the symposium is not just for science and math majors.

“For students that are not science majors, it really depends on their interests,” Steinmetz said. “If this is a topic of interest for them, it gives them an opportunity to come and learn about more about either the talk or perhaps there’s a faculty member that they know and they like, and (they can) learn a little bit more about what they do.”

A list of upcoming speakers and their abstracts for the fall semester is available on Steinmetz’s Francis Marion web site at