Spectrum analysis

Interviewed by
Michael Stinson
Interview date
Location
National Research Council in Ottawa, Ontario
Abstract

Interview with Gilles Daigle. The interview begins with Daigle discussing his current work at MG Acoustics, a small consulting R&D firm. Then he recalls joining Acoustical Society of America (ASA) as a master’s student after being encouraged to join by his thesis supervisor, Tony Embleton. Daigle overviews the committees he has served on and positions he held within ASA over the years, culminating in his term as president from 2007-2008. Daigle then recounts his childhood in New Brunswick and how a chemistry project in high school inspired him to major in chemistry at the University of Moncton. However, he changed his major to physics and worked in a small nuclear physics lab. Daigle describes pursuing his master’s degree at Carleton University in Ottawa, initially studying nuclear physics but eventually switching to acoustics, where he studied atmospheric turbulence. He continued at Carleton for his doctorate and took a teaching position at University of Moncton, before accepting a position with National Research Council Canada, where he remained for 30 years. At the end of the interview, Daigle discusses the creation of MG Acoustics, the awards he has received from the ASA, his family life, and his avid interest in bird photography.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Location
Video conference
Abstract

The interviewee has not given permission for this interview to be shared at this time. Transcripts will be updated as they become available to the public. For any questions about this policy, please contact .

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

Interview with Joel Primack, Distinguished Professor of Physics Emeritus at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Primack discusses what he has been able to do in his free time since his retirement, including writing papers, giving lectures, hosting meetings at UC Santa Cruz, leading international collaborations, and supervising research. He sees the new data coming from the Vera Rubin Observatory and the Gaia Survey as exciting developments in the realm of astrophysics, and he is looking forward to adding to this data when we begin receiving images from the James Webb Space Telescope. Primack discusses his work with various simulations that he has utilized to understand what may be occurring within galaxies, and the growing importance of astrobiology in these simulations. He takes us back into his early years in Montana, where his passion for science began to develop, and how his high school education and internships led him to Princeton University for his undergraduate career. While at Princeton, Primack took classes from John Wheeler, worked at the Jet Propulsion Lab under Bill Pickering, and participated in the Students for a Democratic Society, where his interest in the combination of politics and science began to grow. Primack discusses how important the communication between politicians and scientists is, and he saw this need for improved communication early on. He started the Congressional Science and Technology Fellowship program as a preliminary way to work on the relationship between government and science. He then recounts his experiences at Harvard University and his eventual move to Santa Cruz, where he continued working on dark matter and dark energy, among other things. He remarks on his relationship and work with Nancy Abrams, including the courses they taught and the books they wrote together. He ends the interview talking about his family, his recovery from cancer, and the people he’s looking forward to working with in the future.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

In this interview, Sandra Faber, Professor Emerita in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, UC Santa Cruz and Astronomer Emerita at the University of California Observatories discusses her career and her involvement in various projects. Faber describes the relationship between these appointments, and she describes some of the benefits that remote work has allowed during the Covid-19 pandemic. She describes the DEIMOS spectrograph project as an outgrowth from her interest in galaxy formation and the centrality of steady state theory to this research. Faber discusses the importance of NSF support for her work, and she explains some of the cultural sensitivities in setting up a major telescope project in Hawaii. She explains the difference between ancient and more recent galaxy formation, and she explains how the next generation of spectrographs has surpassed what DEIMOS has been able to achieve. Faber discusses the famous optical flaw that threatened the viability of the Hubble Telescope and how this issue was resolved and the import of the CANDELS project. She explains the value of advanced computing for black hole quenching models, and she discusses her long-term collaboration with Chinese scientists and some of the political and international considerations inherent in these partnerships. Faber describes the origins of the Osterbrock Leadership Program and its value for fostering the careers of the next generation of scientists. At the end of the interview, Faber describes the meaning of “Cosmic Knowledge,” and she explains how this concept of humanity’s greater appreciation of our place in the universe can have ethically positive and long-lasting impacts beyond astronomy.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

Interview with Vyacheslav Romanov, Research Physical Scientist at the National Energy Technology Laboratory. Romanov recounts his upbringing in the Urals region of the Soviet Union, and he describes his education at a special high school for gifted students in Moscow. He explains the circumstances that led to his enrollment at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology for graduate school and his dawning realization that one can make sense of the world through physics. Romanov discusses his thesis research on the kinetics of light-matter interactions, and he describes his postgraduate work for the Soviet Space Program to develop thin film solar cells to power the International Space Station. He discusses the collapse of science funding after the breakup of the USSR and the opportunity he saw to emigrate to the United States at part of the Symposium on Diplomacy and Global Affairs in Washington, D.C. Romanov explains why he got an MBA from Waynesburg College and how this program put him on the path to U.S. citizenship. After a stint in the materials science industry, he describes his PhD research in physical chemistry and spectroscopy at the University of Pittsburgh, and how this led to his employment at NETL, first as a postdoc and then as a full-time employee. Romanov explains his initial work in geology and data analysis, his subsequent work in optimizing power plant generation, and his current research in reducing the environmental footprint of energy systems with machine learning. He describes the political and economic ramifications of his research, and he explains why carbon-based energy is central to the transition to a de-carbonized future, which, he asserts, will take decades to realize. At the end of the interview, Romanov explains why global efforts to mitigate environmental energy problems must rely on successful cooperation between the U.S. and China. 

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

Interview with Piero Pianetta, Research Professor in the Photon Science Department, joint with Electrical Engineering, at Stanford. He recounts his family’s Italian heritage, and his upbringing in Italy and then in California. He explains his interest in pursuing physics as an undergraduate at Santa Clara University, and his graduate work at Stanford where he worked on monochromator experiments and contributed to the SPEAR collaboration at SLAC. Pianetta discusses his scientific interests converging on surface science and the influence of Seb Doniach on his research. He describes his postgraduate work at HP where he focused on laser annealing and subsequently SSRL to conduct research on device technology and photoemission techniques. Pianetta explains how SSRL became integrated in SLAC and how he became administratively housed in the Photon Science department, and how this development is illustrative of the way SLAC has diversified its research and redefined its relationship with the Department of Energy. He describes his most recent responsibilities as chair of the photon science group at SLAC and his current work chairing the laboratory promotions committee. At the end of the interview, Pianetta reflects on the long-term impact of remote work for SLAC generally and he conveys optimism on improving SSRL’s long-term capabilities.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

Interview with Marcelle Soares-Santos, assistant professor of physics at the University of Michigan. Soares-Santos recounts her childhood in Brazil, her early interests in science, and her graduate work in physics at the University of São Paulo. She describes her graduate visit to Fermilab to study galaxy clusters as a way to map the history of the expanding universe, which formed the basis of her thesis research. Soares-Santos discusses her return to Fermilab as a postdoctoral researcher, where she joined the Dark Energy Survey, and she explains how DES is getting us closer to understanding what dark energy is. She describes Fermilab’s broad-scale transition into astrophysics, and she explains the opportunities that led to her faculty appointment first at Brandeis before moving to Michigan. Soares-Santos discusses her current work in gravitational waves, and she prognosticates on what the discovery of dark energy (or energies) will look like. She shares her perspective on recent efforts to improve diversity and inclusivity in STEM. At the end of the interview, Soares-Santos explains why observation is leading theory in the current work of astrophysics and cosmology and why she is optimistic for fundamental advances in the field.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

In this interview, David Zierler, Oral Historian for AIP, interviews Nathalie de Leon, Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering at Princeton. de Leon describes being an “interloper in EE” because her degree is in chemical physics, and she surveys her research agenda and how it fits across a range of departments at Princeton. She describes her Filipino heritage and her upbringing in the Philippines and in California, and discusses her scientific interests and her admission to Stanford for her undergraduate study. de Leon describes her interests in laser spectroscopy and she compares the difficulties as a student woman of color in STEM against those as a faculty woman of color in STEM. She describes her graduate research at Harvard to work with Hongkun Park on a variety of projects, including nanowire devices, photoelectrochemistry, and plasmonics. de Leon discusses many exciting developments in NV centers, and she explains her decision to remain at Harvard for her postdoctoral research to do QED experiments with atoms. de Leon describes the opportunities that led to her faculty appointment at Princeton, and the process of getting her lab operational. She discusses advances in superconducting qubits and she describes the value of applying metrics to make STEM more inclusive. At the end of the interview, de Leon explains why her curiosity about applying material science to quantum technology permeates all her research, and she expresses optimism for the future, but unknown, possibilities of quantum computing.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

Interview with Melissa Franklin, Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics at Harvard. Franklin notes her affiliation with the ATLAS experiment, and she discusses the importance of remote data analysis from CERN which is possible in the current mandates of remote work. Franklin recounts her childhood in Edmonton, then Vancouver, and then Toronto, and she discusses the alternative educational experiences she pursued through high school. She describes her undergraduate experience at the University of Toronto and her decision to study physics and the summers she spent at Fermilab making a tagged photon beam. Franklin discusses her graduate work at Stanford, where she was motivated to work at SLAC with Martin Perl and then Gary Feldman. She describes her postdoctoral appointment at Berkeley working on an experiment at Fermilab, and her decision to join the faculty at the University of Illinois before accepting an offer to become a junior fellow and then an assistant professor at Harvard. Franklin describes her work on the CDF at Fermilab and measuring the mass of the W and the Z, and she surveys her style as a mentor to graduate students. She explains how she became involved with ATLAS and her interest in fundamental questions like the possible coupling of the Higgs to dark matter. Franklin describes her efforts to make the Harvard physics department a more caring place for postdocs, graduate students and support staff, and why she believes physics education research needs to be more rigorously incorporated at the department level. At the end of the interview, Franklin reflects on the significance of the discovery of the top quark, and she conveys her ambition to build a very small accelerator with a very high energy.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

Interview with Zane Arp, director for Biomedical Physics at the FDA. Arp provides an organizational overview of where his office sits within the FDA and its key institutional partners throughout and beyond the federal government. He recounts his childhood in Texas and his undergraduate experience at Angelo State where he majored in chemistry. Arp explains his decision to pursue a PhD in physical chemistry at Texas A&M with a focus on quantum chemistry through spectroscopy, and he describes his postgraduate work at Los Alamos on laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy. He discusses his subsequent work at Wye Laboratories and Johnson Space Controls in support of the International Space Station. Arp describes his next job at GlaxoSmithKline to work on pharmaceutical development and where he grew into management leadership roles. He describes the opportunities that led to him joining the FDA and he describes his game plan for improving the biomedical device research and regulatory process. Arp explains why this is a long-term proposition and he describes how COVID has, and has not changed FDA’s regulatory environment. At the end of the interview, he reflects on what shifts he been able to put in place so far at the FDA and why his office truly benefits from having a mission statement.