Laird Lecture

The Elizabeth Memorial Laird Lecture series was initiated in 1970 to honour Professor Elizabeth Rebecca Laird—a long-time associate, colleague, and friend of the Physics Department at The University of Western Ontario. It was the first lecture series in the Faculty of Science at Western to carry the name of an individual, which is particularly fitting since she accomplished so many “firsts” in her long and distinguished career.

These lectures are designed to bring to the general public some of the excitement that leading physicists from all over the world have as they understand fundamentals and apply their special talents to solving many of today’s scientific and technological problems.

This year, CUPC is honoured to host the annual Elizabeth Memorial Lecture, in association with Western University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, on Friday November 6th, 2020 from 6:30 – 8:30pm EST. The Laird Lecture speaker for 2020-21 is Dr. Catherine Beauchemin.

Catherine Beauchemin

Catherine Beauchemin a Professor of Physics at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada, and a Deputy Program Director in iTHEMS at RIKEN in Japan. As an undergraduate student in Computational Physics at the University of Ottawa, she became interested in complex systems and natural computations. During her Doctoral studies in Biophysics at the University of Alberta, she began to apply physics and computer modelling to study virus infections. As a postdoctoral fellow in the Los Alamos National Laboratory, working with Prof. Alan Perelson, she began to develop what is now her primary research focus: developing parsimonious, accurate computer/math models of virus infections in vitro, mostly influenza but also HIV, hepatitis C virus, respiratory syncytial virus and ebola virus. Generally, she applies the methods of physics and computer modelling to fields where theoretical/quantitative analysis is less commonplace, like biology and health research, or even ergonomics! She feels the methodologies developed in physics can translate to many other fields and provide new insights. Most of her work requires direct collaborations with experimental virologists, and she also really enjoys convincing other physicists and mathematicians to join her in solving these types of problems across disciplines.