This is an interview with Claire Max, Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz, and Director of University of California Observatories. Max recounts her childhood in Manhattan, and she describes the formative influence of her father’s work in science on her blossoming academic interests. She describes her undergraduate education at Radcliffe where she pursued a degree in astronomy, and the opportunities leading to her graduate degree at Princeton where she studied pulsars under the direction of Francis Perkins. Max discusses her postdoctoral research at Berkeley working with Allan Kaufman and her subsequent work at Livermore Lab on laser plasma interactions, and where she did formative work developing laser guide stars for adaptive optics in astronomy. She describes her entrée into the JASON advisory group, and what it was like as the first woman to become a JASON. Max explains her decision to join the faculty at Santa Cruz, the opportunities leading to her directorship of the Observatory, and her interest in leading research in extrasolar planets. She reflects on some of the budgetary and administrative challenges she has faced at the Observatory, and she discusses some of the characteristics that her most successful graduate students have shared over the years. At the end of the interview, Max discusses the controversy over the Thirty Meter Telescope site in Hawaii, she explains why promoting diversity in the field is personally important to her, and why future advances in galaxy merger research are so promising.
Interview with David Sokoloff, Professor Emeritus of Physics at the University of Oregon. Sokoloff discusses his focus on improving physics education at the collegiate level, and the programs and methods he has implemented to ensure that the state of physics education, both domestically and internationally, continues to advance. He discusses the workshops he has organized around the world for the development of Active Learning in Optics and Photonics (ALOP). These workshops also involve Interactive Lecture Demonstrations (ILDs), which Sokoloff has utilized throughout his career as a physics educator. He also reflects on creating Home-Adapted ILDs during COVID so that students could continue learning about these concepts during the pandemic. Sokoloff talks about how he has grappled with active throughout the pandemic, when so many aspects of education have been forced online. He discusses the challenges of replicating live learning situations through online platforms. Sokoloff then looks back on his time at MIT and his engagement with local and national politics during the 1960s and 1970s, particularly with the Teacher Corps. He returns to his discussions of Active Learning workshops and his multi-year collaboration with Priscilla Laws and Ron Thornton. Towards the end of the interview, Sokoloff remarks upon his experiences as a rep to the U.S. Liaison Committee for the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics, a rep to the International Commission on Physics Education, and a recipient of the Oersted Medal. Sokoloff rounds out the conversation discussing the importance of active learning in physics education, as well as how vital it is that students are given the space and opportunity to question ideas, make mistakes, and speak up for themselves.
In this interview, David Zierler, Oral Historian for AIP, interviews John Browne, former Director of Los Alamos Laboratory. Browne recounts his working-class childhood in Pennsylvania. He discusses his early interests in science and the influence of his father, who was an electrician. He explains his decision to attend Drexel, and the factors leading his commitment to major in physics. Browne describes his graduate studies at Duke University, where he worked on techniques to create a feedback system with an atomic beam and a molecular beam. He discusses his decision to join Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and then Argonne National Laboratory. The bulk of the interview concerns Browne’s tenure at Los Alamos where he worked on the weapons program and diagnostic testing. He discusses his promotions at Los Alamos and his increasing communication with the DOE on policy relevant issues. Browne discusses his decision to accept the directorship at Los Alamos and the numerous security and accounting issues he had to deal with, which included the major security breach involving Wen Ho Lee. He discusses the creation of the NNSA and the impact of September 11th on Los Alamos and the national security world generally, and in the last portion of the interview, Browne describes his ongoing work in consulting and professional service.