The Elizabeth Laird Memorial Lectures

Elizabeth Laird at deskThis 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.

Dr. Elizabeth Rebecca Laird was born in Owen Sound, Ontario on December 6th, 1874. Laird wanted to start her graduate work immediately after receiving her B.A. in 1896 from the University of Toronto. Her scholarship applications were rejected on the basis of gender, despite the fact that she had been first in her class for three years.

From 1901 to 1940, as Professor and Head of the Mount Holyoke physics department, Laird trained many women who became active physicists and set an example for the participation of women in research.

In World War II, Laird came out of retirement to work at The University of Western Ontario on the development of radar. She made substantial contributions and was invited to remain at the University. She was a remarkable person.

Speakers in the Elizabeth Laird Memorial Lecture Series:

Previous Laird Lecture Speakers
Academic Year
Ryerson University
Department of Physics
University of Waterloo
Department of Physics and Astronomy
"The Eye as a Window on the Brain"
2018-19 Dame Professor JOCELYN BELL BURNELL
Mansfield Fellow and Professorial Fellow in Physics
University of Oxford
Department of Physics
"Bursts, bangs and things that go bump in the night"
2017-18 Dr. C. MEGAN URRY
srael Munson Professor of Physics and Astronomy
Director – Yale Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics
Yale University
"Black Holes, Galaxies, and the Evolution of the Universe"
2015-16 Dr. ADA YONATH (Cancelled)
Winner - 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry
Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel
"The Origin of Life"
2014-15 Dr. OLGA POPOVA
Institute for Dynamics of Geospheres
Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow
"The Chelyabinsk Meteoroid Entry and Airburst Damage"
2013-14 Dr. KLAUS von KLITZING 
Winner - 1985 Nobel Prize in Physics
Max-Planck Institute for Solid State Sciences, Stuttgart, Germany
"The Quantum Hall Effect: Physics and Application"
2012-13 Dr. EDWARD "ROCKY" W. KOLB 
Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics
The University of Chicago
"Mysteries of the Dark Universe"
Director, Institute for Advanced Materials, Devices and Nanotechnology
and V-P, Physical Science and Engineering Partnerships
Rutgers University
"The Materials Revolution"
Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics
Pune, India
"Searches for Micro-organisms in the Earth's Atmosphere"
2006-07 Dr. ANNE M. THOMPSON
Department of Meteorology
Penn State University
"OZONE: the Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde of the Atmosphere"
2005-06 Dr. VIOLA VOGEL
Laboratory of Biologically Oriented Materials
Department of Materials at ETH
Zürich, Switzerland
"Biological Nanotricks: Shuttling and Switching at the Nanoscale"
Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics
Waterloo ON
"Is Space Real?"
2003-04 Dr. HEIDI HAMMEL
Space Science Institute
Boulder CO
"The Future of Planetary Exploration"
University of California, Irvine
"Cosmology: Man's Place in the Universe"
2000-01 Dr. PAUL C. W. CHU
University of Houston
"The Odyssey: The Path of Zero Resistance"
1998-99 Dr. WENDY FREEDMAN  
Carnegie Observatories
Pasadena CA
"The Age and Size of the Universe"
National Optical Astronomy Observatories
Tucson, AZ 
"Telescopes of the 21st Century"
1996-97 Dr. URSULA M. FRANKLIN   
University of Toronto
"Questions not Asked, Answers not Desired"
1992-93 Dr. CLAUDINE SIMSON   
Director of Technology
Northern Telecom
Nepean, ON
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
"Molecules Beyond the Solar System"
1990-91 Dr. GEORGE EWAN   
Queen's University
"The Sudbury Neutrino Observatory - Studying the Universe from 2 km Underground"
1989-90 Dr. SUSAN SOLOMON   
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Aeronomy Laboratory, Boulder CO
"Ozone Depletion at the Ends of the Earth"
1988-89 Dr. EMIL WOLF   
Department of Physics and Astronomy
and the Institute of Optics
University of Rochester
"The Redshift Controversy"
1987-88 Dr. RALPH NICHOLLS   
Distinguished Research Professor of Physics
and Director, Centre for Research in Experimental Space Science
York University
"Canada in Space"
1986-87 Dr. ERICH W. VOGT   
TRIUMF, Vancouver
"The New Physics of Matter - toward Supergravity with Supercolliders"
1985-86 Dr. BORIS P. STOICHEFF   
University of Toronto
"Light Scattering, Spontaneous and Stimulated"
1983-84 Dr. M. E. FISHER   
Cornell University
"Universality and Singularity: Phase Transitions and our Understanding of the Physical World"
1977-78 Dr. DAVID J. ROSE   
Nuclear Engineering, M.I.T.
"Energy - more than Technology"
1976-77 Dr. A. G. W. CAMERON   
Nuclear Engineering, M.I.T.
"Energy - more than Technology"
1975-76 Dr. JOHN C. POLYANI   
Co-Winner - 1986 Nobel Prize in Chemistry
University of Toronto
"The Nuclear Arms Race"
1974-75 Dr. J. D. JACKSON   
University of California, Berkeley
"Recent Discoveries in Particle Physics - The Beginnings of a New Synthesis?"
1973-74 Dr. W. B. LEWIS   
Queen's University
"Abundant Energy at Low Cost and Low Risk from Nuclear Fission"
1973-74 Dr. THOMAS GOLD   
Cornell University
Director, Center for Radiophysics and Space Research
"Masses and Sizes of Objects in the Universe"
1972-73 Dr. S. A. BOWHILL   
International Union of Radio Science (URSI)
"Development of Physical Sciences - Unsolved Problems of the Earth's Environment"
1971-72 Dr. ELLIOTT W. MONTROLL   
Director, Institute for Fundamental Studies
University of Rochester
"Quantitative Aspects of Social Phenomena"
1970-71 Dr. LOTHAR W. NORDHEIN   
Duke University
"Energy for Man: Past and Future"
Winner - 1971 Nobel Prize in Chemistry
National Research Council of Canada
"The Interstellar Medium"
1970-71 Sir HARRIE MASSEY   
Head, Physics Department
University College London
"The Development of Physical Science"
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