AIP History Center Newsletter
Volume XXXVII , No. 2, Fall 2005


Grants-in-Aid to Serve Variety of Purposes

Thanks to the generosity of our Friends, the Center is able to give grants-in-aid of up to $2000 (the amount has varied from year to year) to help reimburse expenses for visiting the Niels Bohr Library, conducting oral history interviews and the like (see We were recently pleased and surprised to get a letter from one of the former recipients:

"Three years ago," writes Lambert Williams (a doctoral candidate at Harvard currently visiting the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science), "while still a Master's student at New York University, I was the recipient of a grant-in-aid from the History Center of the AlP. It was only very recently, while sorting through some old papers, that I was reminded of the request that feedback be given once the grant has expired.... My particular grant was awarded for what was then very early-stage research on Felix Bloch's `experimental turn' upon emigrating to the US, and on one or two related issues in solid state physics between 1927 and the 1950's. At the time the award was made, I was in the very earliest days of rethinking my trajectory, moving from a background strictly in philosophy and logic to work of a far more historical flavor.

"... I did not use the full amount of my grant, but the part that I did use resulted firstly in a talk that was well received at two professional conferences. More importantly, though, the upshot of my research on Bloch was to decide to pursue a PhD in the history of science... using my findings on Bloch as a writing sample ultimately helped me to secure a place at Harvard in Fall 2002.

"Since that time, the focus of my work has changed slightly (the dissertation project deals with the Sciences of Chaos and Complexity post 1960) but there are of course still substantial points of contact with solid state/condensed matter work.... This both required and will require a familiarity with basic concepts and archival materials I would not have had without the support of the AlP History Center.

"My work on Bloch... has unquestionably served as a springboard to places that back then seemed inconceivable... my warmest thanks for your support."

Our Grants-in-aid have not only helped launch careers, but are prized by postdoctoral students and both junior and senior historians from less-wealthy countries. For such scholars, a level of support that is small by most standards can make all the difference.

In the November 2004 and May 2005 rounds, grants-in-aid were awarded to: Joseph Bassi for research on the solar-terrestrial (Sun-Earth) connection; Peter Bryne for research on Hugh Everett and his interpretation of quantum mechanics; Martha Harris for research on the chemical bond and the growth of chemical physics in the 1920s and 30s; Arne Herndon & Thomas William for an oral history interview of Dorrit Hoffleit; Maria V. Mokrova for research on Soviet-American contacts in physics, and Doogab Yi for research on biophysics and the discovery of DNA repair in postwar America he has already sent us his oral history interviews with Richard B. Setlow and Harold J. Morowitz.

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AIP History CenterCenter for History of Physics
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