May 15, 2015
Professor James O'Brien Earns President's Award for Distinguished Scholarship
The President’s Award for Distinguished Scholarship has been awarded to Associate Professor James O’Brien of the Department of Sciences. Professor O’Brien has an active scholarly life in the field of physics that has resulted in a number of prestigious publications and invited talks. His main area of interest lies in the theory of conformal gravity, which is an alternative to the concept of dark matter. Both theories provide explanations regarding galactic behavior, with dark matter being a requirement needed within standard Newton-Einstein gravitational theory. However, the work of Professor O’Brien has shown that the theory of conformal gravity correctly predicts astronomical phenomena without the need of dark matter. His research in this area has been published in a number of prestigious journals, most notably including his paper entitled “Impact of a global quadratic potential on galactic rotation curves” published in Physical Review Letters in collaboration with Professor P. D. Mannheim at the University of Connecticut. It has also led to a number of conference presentations for both national and international societies in physics, including a presentation at the International Association of Relativistic Dynamics (IARD) conference. He is an active member of a number of professional societies, including IARD and the American Physical Society (APS) and was recently the Program Director for the APS regional meeting, which was held at Wentworth in the Fall 2014.
Besides his work in theoretical physics, Professor O’Brien has also been actively involved in scholarly work involving undergraduate education. He has advised Wentworth undergraduate students on research projects, which has led to conference presentations, with publications pending. An interdisciplinary collaboration between students of physics and industrial design led to the development of Sector Vector – a game whose concept was designed by physics students and then literally designed and built by industrial design students. This game has not only led to related scholarly presentations on the topic, but has garnered much interest from those wanting to receive a copy of the game. The success of Sector Vector has led to a second game in development – ResisTile, which is designed to teach circuit concepts. Professor O’Brien’s scholarly work since coming to Wentworth is impressive and demonstrates his commitment and engagement within the physics community and Wentworth academics.