Einstein’s theory of general relativity reimagines gravity as a consequence of the curvature of spacetime caused by matter rather than an attractive force between objects with mass. In his theory, moving masses can cause wave-like oscillations in spacetime called gravitational waves. Gravitational waves are important to scientists because they carry vital information about gravitating sources.

Gravitational waves were first detected by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) in the Fall of 2015.  These waves originated in the collision of two colliding black holes 1.3 billion lightyears away.  In addition to coalescing black hole binaries, LIGO is also sensitive to binaries consisting of neutron stars.  Encoded within the gravitational waves from these collisions is information about their source that might otherwise have remained a mystery.

Leslie is a member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration.  His research includes searching for gravitational waves from massive black hole binary systems. He also works on estimating the source parameters of binary neutron-star systems in an effort to determine the neutron-star equation of state.

Areas of Expertise

Gravitational-wave physics, astrophysics and computational physics.

Education

2015 — Doctor of Philosophy from Univ of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

2009 — Bachelor of Science from Bates College

Courses Recently Taught

This course introduces the modern understanding of the solar system, including planets, moons and smaller bodies (asteroids, comets, meteorites). Topics include planetary interiors, surface modification processes, planetary atmospheres and the evolution of the solar system. Evening laboratory sessions will utilize a variety of methods for exploring space-science topics, including telescopic observations, computer simulations and laboratory investigations. No prerequisite.

Around us we see a vast, expanding universe of galaxies. The galaxies are composed of stars, some of which planets orbit. At least one of these planets in the universe is inhabited by an astoundingly complex set of living things. Where did all this come from? This course presents an overview of the formation and evolution of the universe, the solar system, planet Earth, and life on our planet. Astronomical observations, computer simulations and laboratory experiments will supplement lectures and readings. No prerequisite.

This course focuses on a wide variety of physics topics relevant to students in the life sciences. Topics include wave phenomena, geometrical and physical optics, elementary quantum theory, atomic physics, X-rays, radioactivity, nuclear physics and thermodynamics. When possible, examples will relate to life-science contexts. The course will be taught using a combination of lectures, in-class exercises, homework assignments and examinations. Prerequisite: PHYS 130 and concurrent enrollment in PHYS 136. Offered every spring.

This seminar will explore a significant current topic in physics that will challenge first-year students. The topic varies from year to year. In the past, the seminar has explored such topics such nanoscience, astrophysics, particle physics, biological physics and gravitation. In addition to introducing the fundamental physics connected with these topics, the course will expose students to recent developments, as the topics are often closely related to the research area of faculty teaching the seminar. The seminar meets one evening a week for lectures, discussions, laboratory experiments and computer exercises. This course fulfills the concurrent laboratory requirement of PHYS 140 and serves as solid preparation for PHYS 146. Prerequisite: first-year students who are concurrently enrolled in or have placed out of PHYS 140. Offered every fall.

This laboratory course is a corequisite for all students enrolled in PHYS 135 or 145. The course meets one afternoon each week and is organized around weekly experiments demonstrating the phenomena of waves, optics, X-rays, and atomic and nuclear physics. Lectures cover the theory and instrumentation required to understand each experiment. Experimental techniques include the use of lasers, X-ray diffraction and fluorescence, optical spectroscopy, and nuclear counting and spectroscopy. Students are introduced to computer-assisted graphical and statistical analysis of data, as well as the analysis of experimental uncertainty. Prerequisite: PHYS 131 or 141 and concurrent enrollment in PHYS 145. Offered every spring.

This lecture course is the third semester of the calculus-based introductory sequence in physics, which begins with PHYS 140 and PHYS 145. Topics include electric charge, electric and magnetic fields, electrostatic potentials, electromagnetic induction, Maxwell's equations in integral form, electromagnetic waves, the postulates of the special theory of relativity, relativistic kinematics and dynamics, and the connections between special relativity and electromagnetism. This course may be an appropriate first course for particularly strong students with advanced placement in physics; such students must be interviewed by and obtain permission from the chair of the Physics Department. Prerequisite: PHYS 140 or equivalent and concurrent enrollment in PHYS 241 (upperclass students) or PHYS 141 (first-years) and MATH 213 or equivalent. Offered every fall.

This laboratory course is a corequisite for all upperclass students enrolled in PHYS 240. The course is organized around experiments demonstrating various phenomena associated with the special theory of relativity and electric and magnetic fields. Lectures cover the theory and instrumentation required to understand each experiment. Laboratory work emphasizes computerized acquisition and analysis of data, the use of a wide variety of modern instrumentation and the analysis of experimental uncertainty. Prerequisite: PHYS 140 and 141 or equivalent and concurrent enrollment in PHYS 240. Offered every fall.

This course presents an introduction to theoretical quantum mechanics. Topics include wave mechanics, the Schrödinger equation, angular momentum, the hydrogen atom and spin. Prerequisite: PHYS 245 and MATH 213. Offered every other year.

Section 01 (0.25 units): In this course students will conduct research, synthesize and share experiences, attend professional presentations in the department, and present their research with oral and written presentations. Students will complete a minimum of three hours of independent research under the supervision of a faculty member as well as participate in discussion sections and other commitments as designed by the instructor. This course does not count toward any major requirement. Permission of instructor required. Offered every semester.\n\nSection 02 (0.5 units): This section carries the same requirements as Section 01, except that the time commitment is six to eight hours of individual research under the supervision of a faculty member. This section represents a significant commitment to a research project. Enrollment in this section requires consultation with the department chair. This course does not count toward any major requirement. Permission of instructor required. Offered every semester.

Individual studies may involve various types of inquiry: reading, problem solving, experimentation, computation, etc. To enroll in individual study, a student must identify a physics faculty member willing to guide the course and work with that professor to develop a description. The description should include topics and content areas, learning goals, prior coursework qualifying the student to pursue the study, resources to be used (e.g., specific texts, instrumentation), a list of assignments and the weight of each in the final grade, and a detailed schedule of meetings and assignments. The student must submit this description to the Physics Department chair. In the case of a small-group individual study, a single description may be submitted and all students must follow that plan. The amount of work in an individual study should approximate the work typically required in other physics courses of similar types at similar levels, adjusted for the amount of credit to be awarded. An individual study course in physics is designed for .25 unit of credit. Individual study courses should supplement, not replace, courses regularly offered by the department. Because students must enroll for individual studies by the end of the seventh class day of each semester, they should begin discussion of the proposed individual study preferably the semester before, so that there is time to devise the proposal and seek departmental approval before the established deadline. Individual studies do not count towards the QR (quantitative reasoning) requirement. If a student wishes to satisfy the QR requirement through an individual study in physics, they must receive approval through the college petition process.

This capstone course is intended to provide an in-depth experience in computational approaches to science. Students will work on individual computational projects in various scientific disciplines. Each student will give several presentation to the class throughout the semester. Permission of the instructor and program director required.This interdisciplinary course does not count toward the completion of any diversification requirement. Prerequisite: SCMP 118 or PHYS 270, senior standing, completion of at least 0.5 units of an intermediate course and at least 0.5 units of a contributory course.

The Individual Study is to enable students to explore a pedagogically valuable topic in computing applied to the sciences that is not part of a regularly offered SCMP course. A student who wishes to propose an individual study course must first find a SCMP faculty member willing to supervise the course. The student and faculty member then craft a course syllabus that describes in detail the expected coursework and how a grade will be assigned. The amount of credit to be assigned to the IS course should be determined with respect to the amount of effort expected in a regular Kenyon class. The syllabus must be approved by the director of the SCMP program. In the case of a small group IS, a single syllabus may be submitted and all students must follow the same syllabus. Because students must enroll for individual studies by the end of the seventh class day of each semester, they should begin discussion of the proposed individual study preferably the semester before, so that there is time to devise the proposal and seek departmental approval before the registrar’s deadline. This interdisciplinary course does not count toward the completion of any diversification requirement. Permission of the instructor and program director required. No prerequisite. \n