Johns Hopkins University

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

In this interview, David Zierler, Oral Historian for AIP, interviews Wayne Hendrickson, Violin Family Professor of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics at Columbia University. Hendrickson recounts his childhood on a dairy farm in Wisconsin and explains how this environment fostered his interest in the natural world. He describes his undergraduate experience at the University of Wisconsin at River Falls, and his formative work at Argonne Lab where he studied Caesium-137 levels in beagle dogs. Hendrickson describes his intent to focus on biophysics in graduate school and his decision to accept at offer at Johns Hopkins, where he became interested in protein crystallography and electron microscopy. He discusses his dissertation research under the direction of Warner Love and the importance of the research conducted at Woods Hole which influences his work on studying hemoglobin in lampreys. Hendrickson describes the importance of computational biology and the promises this offered protein crystallography, and he explains the influence of Linus Pauling in advancing the field. He explains why he stayed on at Hopkins after his defense because he felt there was more work for him to complete on the Patterson function. Hendrickson discusses his work at the Naval Research Laboratory on parvalbumin molecules and his developing interests in anomalous scattering techniques. He discusses how the field matured and had gained broader acceptance, and he surmises how these trends led to recruitment efforts that led to his tenure at Columbia in the 1980s. Hendrickson explains the labyrinthine nature of his many appointments and affiliations at Columbia, and the opportunities he has had to teach and to mentor graduate students within an environment that is primarily research-focused. He discusses the improvement of technology over the course of his time at Columbia, and he discusses his work on beamlines at Howard Hughes and Brookhaven. Hendrickson describes his work as scientific director of the New York Structural Biology Center, and he explains how his research has moved closer toward clinical motivations in recent years. At the end of the interview, Hendrickson reflects on his long career in biophysics, and he draws on the story of HIV infectivity as an example of how the field can progress from a place of really not understanding basic biological problems, to developing effective therapies.

 

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

This is an interview with David Kaplan, Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Johns Hopkins University. He recounts his childhood in New York and then Seattle, and he explains his complex Jewish-Israeli family roots. Kaplan describes his early aptitude for math, and he discusses his education at Chapman College and his transfer to Berkeley, where he completed his undergraduate degree in physics. He explains his near-accidental entrée into the graduate program in physics at the University of Washington, and he describes the formative influence of Ann Nelson. He conveys the excitement surrounding supersymmetry during his time in graduate school and his research on quark masses, and he recounts his postdoctoral research, which was split between Argonne Lab and the University of Chicago. Kaplan discusses the crisis of confidence he felt in his early career and he describes his second postdoctoral appointment at SLAC where he worked with Savas Dimopoulos on supersymmetry and became involved in the B physics endeavor. He conveys his long-held contempt for string theory and attacks it on both sociological and scientific grounds, and he explains the circumstances leading to his hire and tenure at Johns Hopkins. Kaplan describes how he used startup funds to invite speakers to the department, and he explains how imposter syndrome affects faculty members as much as anyone else. He explains the various issues surrounding the cancellation of the SSC, the viability of the LHC, and the prospects of the ILC, and he offers his view on what these projects say about the state of particle physics globally. Kaplan discusses the significance of WIMP dark matter, and why more physicists should work on issues beyond string theory and collider physics. At the end of the interview, Kaplan describes how he tries to make his research an antidote to the problems he sees in the field, and he discusses his ongoing interest in general Higgs decays.  

 

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Remote Interview
Abstract

In this interview, David Zierler, Oral Historian for AIP, interviews Meg Urry, Israel Munson Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Yale University, and Director of the Yale Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics. She recounts her childhood in Indiana and then in Boston and she discusses her family background and what she gained as a result of having a father who was a professor of chemistry. Urry describes her undergraduate experience at Tufts, where she developed her career interests in physics, and she describes a formative summer working at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, where she became the first person to identify the first gravitational lens source of a background quasar. Urry discusses the circumstances leading to her graduate work at Johns Hopkins, where she conducted research with Art Davidsen, and she explains how she got her first job at the Goddard Space Flight Center where she spent a majority of her time during graduate school. She describes her research with Richard Mushotzky on blazars, and she explains some of the cultural differences between physics, which she felt was overly hierarchical and astronomy, which was more laid back and which employed many more women. Urry discusses her postdoctoral research on Seyfert galaxy spectra at MIT with Claude Canizares, who at the time was building the Chandra X-ray Observatory. She describes her second postdoctoral position at the Space Telescope Science Institute where she focused on the unification of radio-loud AGN, and she describes the decisions that led to her first full-time job at Space Telescope. She describes the high-pressure work environment at Space Telescope, and some of the structural disadvantages she experienced as a woman. Urry reflects on some of the shifting distinctions in the terms astronomy and astrophysics, and she explains the centrality of supermassive black holes during her tenure at Space Telescope. Urry recounts her decision to join the physics faculty at Yale, and she describes her excitement at the prospect of teaching in an academic environment. She describes how she maintained her collaborations with her former colleagues associates with the Hubble telescope. Urry describes tenure as chair of the department, and she reflects on her efforts to encourage a culture of greater diversity and inclusivity in the department, where she championed the recognition and promotion of many women and people of color, and she shares her ideas on how the physics community can work collectively to continue to advance this work. Urry discusses her work as president of the American Astronomical Society, and she reflects on the lessons of perseverance she learned from her father. At the end of the interview, Urry provides an overview of the current state of research on supermassive black holes, and she describes her work conveying scientific concepts to a broader audience. At the end of the interview, Urry explains the specific threats that science faces in a culture of eroding trust in public institutions.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Remote Interview
Abstract

In this interview, David Zierler, Oral Historian for AIP, interviews Charles Bennett, Bloomberg Distinguished Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and in the Applied Physics Laboratory at the Johns Hopkins University. He recounts his childhood in suburban Washington, D.C., and he describes the influence of his father, who was a physicist with the National Bureau of Standards. He describes his early interests in radio waves and telescopes. He describes his decision to attend the University of Maryland on the basis of its excellent reputation in radio astronomy, and he discusses his interests in instrumentation and his work at the Clark Lake Radio Observatory. Bennett describes the circumstances regarding his decision to attend MIT for graduate school, where he worked with Bernie Burke on analyzing radio observatory data. He discusses his career at Goddard at NASA and his involvement in some of the major missions of the time, including COBE and WMAP. Bennett describes his decision to join the faculty at Hopkins, and the ways in which his research changed in an academic setting. He discusses his current interest in the Hubble constant measurement and the importance in conveying scientific concepts to the broader public. At the end of the interview, Bennett shares his thoughts on how the scientific community can continue to progress in areas relating to diversity and inclusivity in the field, and he relates that his sense of wonder at what can be learned by looking at the universe remains much the same as when he was a boy.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

In this interview, David Zierler, Oral Historian for AIP, interviews Paul Feldman, professor emeritus of physics at Johns Hopkins. Feldman recounts his childhood in New York, his education at Brooklyn Tech, and his undergraduate work at Columbia, where he studied with Polykarp Kusch and worked at Brookhaven Lab during the summers. Feldman describes his decision to stay on at Columbia for graduate school to work in high energy physics, his work at the Naval Research Laboratory, and he provides a broad overview of atomic physics going back to the 1940s. Feldman details his longtime collaboration on projects with NASA during his career at Johns Hopkins, and he describes the significance of the Hubble telescope. In the last portion of the interview, Feldman shares his views on what he considers to be the most important current and future topics of research in astrophysics.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Teleconference
Abstract

In this interview, David Zierler interviews Dr. Lynnae Quick, Ocean Worlds Planetary Geophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Quick discusses the past year and the challenges associated with increasing diversity in the field, and she recounts her childhood in North Carolina. She describes her early interests in science and her undergraduate experience at North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University and the value of attending an HBCU. Quick discusses her initial graduate work at Catholic University and a formative internship she spent working with Aki Roberge at Goddard on exoplanets and how she became interested in planetary geology and ultimately cyrovolcanism. Quick explains her decision to transfer to Johns Hopkins where there were more opportunities to study planetary science and to work with Bruce Marsh and Louise Prockter as a co-advisor. She discusses her thesis research on Europa, and she explains when it is possible to extrapolate findings on one exoplanet to others. Quick describes her postdoctoral research with Lori Glaze on cryovolcanism on Venus at Goddard and explains the relevance of this field to astrobiology. She describes her first staff scientist position at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum where she worked on the Europa Clipper mission and she describes the opportunity to join Goddard in a full time position, where she picked back up on the cryovolcanism research she had some as a postdoctoral researcher. Quick discusses her current work on extrasolar planets. At the end of the interview, Quick surveys the state of diversity and inclusivity in the field, and the work that remains to be done building on the efforts undertaken over the past year, and she conveys optimism that imaging geysers on Europa could yield evidence of life.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Teleconference
Abstract

In this interview, David Zierler, Oral Historian for AIP, interviews Dr. Lynnae Quick, Ocean Worlds Planetary Geophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Quick discusses the past year and the challenges associated with increasing diversity in the field, and she recounts her childhood in North Carolina. She describes her early interests in science and her undergraduate experience at North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University and the value of attending an HBCU. Quick discusses her initial graduate work at Catholic University and a formative internship she spent working with Aki Roberge at Goddard on exoplanets and how she became interested in planetary geology and ultimately cyrovolcanism. Quick explains her decision to transfer to Johns Hopkins where there were more opportunities to study planetary science and to work with Bruce Marsh and Louise Prockter as a co-advisor. She discusses her thesis research on Europa, and she explains when it is possible to extrapolate findings on one exoplanet to others. Quick describes her postdoctoral research with Lori Glaze on cryovolcanism on Venus at Goddard and explains the relevance of this field to astrobiology. She describes her first staff scientist position at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum where she worked on the Europa Clipper mission and she describes the opportunity to join Goddard in a full time position, where she picked back up on the cryovolcanism research she had some as a postdoctoral researcher. Quick discusses her current work on extrasolar planets. At the end of the interview, Quick surveys the state of diversity and inclusivity in the field, and the work that remains to be done building on the efforts undertaken over the past year, and she conveys optimism that imaging geysers on Europa could yield evidence of life.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Essex, Maryland
Abstract

In this interview, David Zierler, Oral Historian for AIP, interviews L. Mario Amzel, Director of the Department of Biophysics and Biophysical Chemistry at Johns Hopkins. Amzel recounts his childhood in Argentina and discusses his developing interests in physics and thermodynamics as an undergraduate. He describes his graduate work in crystallography and liquid crystal displays under the direction of Leo Becka. Amzel describes the tumultuous political situation in Argentina and the impact these events had on his academic career, including his decision in 1967 to leave the country and continue his studies in Venezuela. He describes the circumstances leading to his decision to come to John Hopkins in 1969. Amzel describes the range of research projects he has worked on over the past fifty years, including his work on immunoglobulin and monoclonal antibodies, mitochondrial ATPase, leukotriene synthesis, and voltage-gated sodium channels. He explains the relevance of his work on various clinical and pharmacological therapies. Amzel emphasizes the importance and relevance of physics first principles in all of his work, and in particular statistical thermodynamics. He reflects on how his work sits at the nexus of physics, chemistry, and biology. At the end of the interview, Amzel describes the evolution of biophysics over the course of his career. 

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
video conference
Abstract

In this interview, David Zierler, Oral Historian for AIP, interviews Warren Moos, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Johns Hopkins. Moos recounts his childhood on Long Island, he describes his undergraduate experience at Brown and what it was like to witness major advances in BCS theory. He explains his decision to pursue graduate work in physics at the University of Michigan, where he studied under Dick Sands, who was doing paramagnetic resonance. Moos discusses his postdoctoral work at Stanford with Arthur Schawlow who had hired him to build a lab to study selective excitation of chemical bonds. He describes his early years on the faculty at Johns Hopkins, and he describes the department's leading program in rare earth materials led by Gerhard Dieke. Moos discusses his involvement in satellite launches in the mid-1960s and he explains some of the structural reasons why the U.S. was in a leadership position during the early space race. He discusses the origins of the Space Telescope Science Institute and the related merging of astronomy into the physics department. Moos discusses his contributions to the field of ultraviolet spectroscopy, and its value to space missions. He describes the partnership NASA and Hopkins have maintained over the decades, he describes his tenure on the board of Associated Universities, Inc., and he provides an overview of the European Space Agency and European Southern Observatory. At the end of the interview, Moos reflects on the value of his broad education and research agenda, and he emphasizes the importance of taking on new projects over the course of his career.

Interviewed by
John L. Heilbron
Interview date
Location
La Jolla, California
Abstract

This interview was conducted as part of the Archives for the History of Quantum Physics project, which includes tapes and transcripts of oral history interviews conducted with ca. 100 atomic and quantum physicists. Subjects discuss their family backgrounds, how they became interested in physics, their educations, people who influenced them, their careers including social influences on the conditions of research, and the state of atomic, nuclear, and quantum physics during the period in which they worked. Discussions of scientific matters relate to work that was done between approximately 1900 and 1930, with an emphasis on the discovery and interpretations of quantum mechanics in the 1920s. Also prominently mentioned are: Bichowsky, Raymond Thayer Birge, Walker Bleakney, Niels Henrik David Bohr, Ferdinand Graft Brickwedde, Compton, Albert Einstein, Samuel Abraham Goudsmit, Werner Heisenberg, Richard Jesse, Edwin Crawford Kemble, Hendrik Anthony Kramers, Ralph de Laer Kronig, Gilbert Newton Lewis, Hendrik Antoon Lorentz, Robert Sanderson Mulliken, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Linus Pauling, Arthur Edward Ruark, John Clarke Slater, Arnold Sommerfeld, George Eugene Uhlenbeck, Robert Williams Wood; Columbia University, Johns Hopkins University, Kobenhavns Universitet, University of California at Berkeley, and University of Montana.