Time Projection Chamber

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Video conference

In this interview, David Zierler, Oral Historian for AIP, interviews Marjorie Shapiro, Professor of Physics at UC Berkeley and Faculty Senior Scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Shapiro describes the value of this dual affiliation and she surveys the current state of play at the LHC and its work on dark matter research, and what physics beyond the Standard Model might look like. She recounts her upbringing in Brooklyn and her father’s work as a medical physicist, and she explains the opportunities that led to her undergraduate admission at Harvard. Shapiro describes her immediate attraction to experimental particle physics and some of the challenges she faced as a woman. She explains her decision to go to Berkeley for graduate school, where the Lab was a specific draw and where she worked under the direction of Dave Nygren, whose group was working on the Time Projection Chamber. Shapiro describes her postdoctoral appointment back at Harvard to work on the CDF collaboration with Roy Schwitters, who was CDF spokesman at the time. She explains the exciting discoveries at Fermilab, her involvement in B physics, and the friendly competition with DZero. Shapiro explains that her first faculty appointment at Harvard was never something that she assumed would be long term, and the circumstances leading to her appointment at Berkeley. She explains Berkeley’s pivot to CERN following the cancellation of the SSC and the trajectory of the ATLAS program to study electroweak symmetry breaking, and she discusses her advisory work on HEPAP. Shapiro narrates the buildup and elation surrounding the discovery of the Higgs and she describes her accomplishments as the first woman to chair the Department of Physics at Berkeley. She discusses her post-Higgs concentration on SUSY and she explains that in addition to pursuing physics beyond the Standard Model and why the LHC data suggests that there remains much to be learned within the Standard Model. At the end of the interview, Shapiro explains why there remains fundamental unanswered questions on CP violation, and she explains why young physicists should pursue their research in the broadest possible way.