Oral History Interviews

Interviews that offer unique insights into the lives, works, and personalities of modern scientists

Manfred Biondi remembers how he was able to follow his own path during graduate work to make new discoveries.

Oral history audio excerpt

Manfred Biondi remembers how he was able to follow his own path during graduate work to make new discoveries.

Cameron:

Okay. In your graduate work, did you more or less follow along with what they wanted you to do? [No.] Or did you have your own interests?

 

Biondi:

We were in a virgin field. We were just discovering things right and left, and that was the really neat part about it. I mean you could show your professor something he didn't know anything about. No, I lucked out, and as I say, I got to make an ionized gas and watch it disappear and try to figure out what was causing it to disappear after you turned off the excitation source. That’s how I discovered a couple of things — and things I had to show my professor, not the other way around. So I’d say that we were turned loose. We had the equipment. We had people there to help us, but pretty much you sort of made your own way, at least with the group I was in. For some groups which were working on complicated microwaves, effectively instrumentation of studying things, the professor had to really sort of tell the people what they had to be doing. In our case, the apparatus we used was on that level simple compared to what they were trying to develop, and so the student could actually do it.