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George C. Benson Memorial Lecture

Thursday, March 9, 2023
7:00 pm
Kreger Hall 319

The George C. Benson Memorial Lectures are in honor of a man whose memory lives with those whose lives crossed his. George spent the years 1960 to 1962 at Miami earning his Master's Degree in Physics. A native Ohioan, he attended public schools in Lodi, Ohio prior to entering Wittenberg College, class of 1958. For two years he taught high school physics, chemistry, and general science at Olmsted Falls, Ohio. His next two years in Oxford gained him the friendship and respect of faculty, fellow students, and others who knew him. His outstanding performance continued at the University of Michigan, where in December 1966 he earned his Ph.D. in Physics, his dissertation topic being "Mesons and Spectator Protons at 3.65 BeV/c." Three months later he died in an airplane crash which killed all aboard.

For years these lectures have brought distinguished speakers, including three Nobel Laureates, to the Miami University campus. The talks have been interdisciplinary in nature, showing the relationship of physics to other fields of human endeavor. They have ranged in subject from Henry Margenau's discussion of the interaction of physics and philosophy to discussions of the relevance of physics to music, medicine, and our environment. The public, as well as the university community, is encouraged to attend all talks.

If you would like to help continue this valuable lecture series, please visit:

Christopher Jarzynski received his bachelor’s degree from Princeton University (1987) and his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley (1994), both in Physics. After a two-year independent postdoctoral fellowship at the Institute for Nuclear Theory in Seattle, he spent ten years in the Theoretical Division at Los Alamos National Laboratory, first as a Director-Funded Postdoctoral Fellow and later as a technical staff member in the Complex Systems group. In 2006 he moved to the University of Maryland, College Park, where he is a Distinguished University Professor with appointments in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, the Institute for Physical Science and Technology (IPST), and the Department of Physics. He has recently served a five-year appointment as the Director of IPST (2014-2019).

Jarzynski’s research interests include theoretical and computational work at the interface of physics, chemistry and biology, with a particular focus on nonequilibrium phenomena and the application of thermodynamic principles to microscopic systems. In 1996 he derived an equality that relates irreversible work to equilibrium free energy differences. This prediction has been verified in numerous experiments over the past two decades, on systems ranging from optically manipulated biomolecules to torsional pendula to quantum dots. Jarzynski’s 1997 paper in Physical Review Letters on this result has been designated the Milestone Letter of 1997 by that journal. His recent research focus includes quantum control and thermodynamics, the thermodynamic arrow of time, and the physical implications of information processing. He is the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship (1987), the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Prize in the Physical Sciences (2005), and the Lars Onsager Prize in theoretical statistical physics (2019). He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Dr. Christopher Jarzynski
Dr. Christopher Jarzynski
Distinguished University Professor, University of Maryland