Interview with Elaine Oran, Professor of Aerospace Engineering and O’Donnell Foundation Chair at Texas A&M. Oran describes her core interest in fluid dynamics and why aerospace engineering provides an ideal home department for her research. She recounts her childhood in Philadelphia, her early interests in science, and her undergraduate experience at Bryn Mawr. She explains her decision to attend Yale for her graduate work in physics, where she focused on phase transitions, and she explains the opportunities that led to her work at the Naval Research Laboratory. Oran describes her research in laser-matter interactions and the value of the Laboratory for Computational Physics. She discusses her early interests in reactive flows and how this field became broadly applicable across the sciences. Oran describes being in Washington on 9/11 and her involvement in studying the explosions. She discusses her decision to join the faculty at the University of Maryland and her research in fire whirls and she explains her subsequent move to A&M where she was attracted by the interdisciplinary research opportunities. Oran describes her work in numerical simulations and the interplay between theory and experiment in her research. At the end of the interview, Oran emphasizes the importance of spontaneity and an openness to pursue science in unexpected directions.
In this interview, David Zierler, Oral Historian for AIP, interviews Thomas C. Blum, Professor of Physics at the University of Connecticut. Blum recounts his childhood in Reno, Nevada and he describes his early interests in math and science. He describes his undergraduate work in aeronautical and astronomical engineering at the University of Washington. Blum discusses his job focusing on computational fluid dynamics at Boeing after college and he explains his decision to pursue a Ph.D. in physics at the University of Arizona. He describes his graduate work in lattice gauge theory studying under Doug Toussaint. Blum discusses his postdoctoral work at Brookhaven, where he continued to work on lattice gauge theory, and he describes his decision to join the faculty at UConn. He describes his ongoing interests in chiral symmetry, g-2 and QCD research, and he conveys his excitement over possible future breakthroughs in hadronic vacuum polarization. At the end of the interview, Blum conveys how much fundamental work remains to be done in physics, and as an example he raises what remains an open-ended question: what is the real structure of the proton?