University of Rochester

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

In this interview, David Zierler interviews Deborah Harris, professor of physics at York University and Senior Scientist at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. Harris discusses her work as co-spokesperson for MINERvA, and she recounts her childhood and her father’s work as a physicist at Fermilab. She describes her undergraduate work at Cornell before she transferred to Berkeley. Harris discusses her graduate work at Chicago, where she contributed to the E799 experiment, and her thesis research on Kaon decay modes. She describes her postdoctoral research at the University of Rochester in neutrino physics, and her full time transition as a staff scientist at Fermilab to focus on neutrino oscillations. Harris discusses her subsequent work on MINERvA and MINOS and how the neutrino community has grown over the past fifteen years. She describes her contributions to the DUNE collaboration and its goal of taking neutrino measurements over a broad range of energy. At the end of the interview, Harris explains her decision to take a faculty appointment at York, and how neutrino research contributes to broader questions in physics.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

Interview with Kyle Myers, Director of the Division of Imaging, Diagnostics, and Software Reliability in the FDA Center for Devices in Radiological Health. Myers recounts her childhood and the many moves her family made in support of her father's career in engineering management for General Electric, and she describes her father's formative influence and encouragement for her to pursue a career in science. She describes her college course work in physics at Occidental and Caltech, and she describes her decision to pursue a degree in optical sciences at the University of Arizona. She describes her work at the Jet Propulsion Lab and how this experience focused her interest on optics. Myers discusses working with her graduate advisor Harry Barrett on human perception and radiological imaging, and the importance of the research support she received from Kodak. She describes her postdoctoral work at Corning developing long-distance optical fibers, and she explains the circumstances leading to her career focus in medical imaging research at the FDA. Myers discusses the administrative evolution of the relevant offices and research centers at the FDA over the course of her career, and she discusses some of the major technological advances and her role in their development, including CT imaging, MRIs, and mammography screening. She describes some of the partnerships in the trade industry and across the federal interagency process that serve as important partners in her work, and she explains the adjudication process when a company is at odds with an FDA review of a given device. At the end of the interview Myers conveys her interest in the future prospects of digital pathology and the benefits it promises in disease detection and treatment.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

In this interview, David Zierler, Oral Historian for AIP, interviews Evan Granite, Research Chemical Engineer at the National Energy Technology Laboratory in the Department of Energy. He explains the value of his adjunct appointment at the University of Pittsburgh and he provides an overall view of the structure and organization of NETL. Granite recounts his childhood in Brooklyn and his early interests in math and science, and he discusses his undergraduate education at Cooper Union where he focused on chemical engineering. Granite describes his interest in energy issues and his decision to pursue a graduate degree at the University of Rochester, where he focused on hydrocarbon catalysis. He explains his initial work at the Pittsburgh lab of NETL studying mercury pollution and coal emissions. Granite discusses his transition from postdoc to federal employee and his long-term focus on the photochemical removal of mercury from simulated flue gases. He describes his subsequent work on carbon dioxide capture, and the importance of this research on global warming mitigation. Granite discusses the science of fracking, and he explains how the instrumentation available at NETL enables him to conduct cutting-edge research experiments. At the end of the interview, Granite explains how technological advances can theoretically get U.S. energy production to a place where fossil fuels can be burned for the next fifty years with minimal increases in carbon emissions.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

Interview with Sarah Demers, Horace D. Taft Associate Professor of Physics at Yale University. Demers explains her academic lineage connection to Taft, and she surveys the challenges of remote work in the pandemic. She recounts her Vermont childhood growing up in the church as the daughter of a United Methodist minister and how her family discussed the compatibility of science and religion. Demers discusses her undergraduate experience at Harvard and her early struggles with physics. She describes her relationship with Melissa Franklin and her first experiences with the CDF detector project at Fermilab. Demers explains her decision to go to the University of Rochester for graduate school where she studied under the direction of Kevin McFarland, and she describes plotting the Z boson at Fermilab. She describes her first job teaching at Roberts Wesleyan College and her subsequent appointment as part of SLAC’s team for ATLAS at CERN, where she developed an infinity for the triggers of experiments. Demers explains the opportunities that led to her faculty appointment at Yale, and she describes the interests that led to her book on physics and dance. She discusses her ongoing collaboration with ATLAS, the tenure process at Yale, and her work on Mu2e. Demers describes the “aesthetic hints” that may prove to be physics beyond the Standard Model, and she explains why the LHC can play a pivotal role in the search for dark matter. At the end of the interview, Demers discusses her current interest in tau leptons, she describes the issue of bias as a blockage to improving diversity in the field, and she reflects on the technological improvements that have propelled her field forward. 

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

Interview with Young-Kee Kim, Louis Block Distinguished Professor of Physics, Chair of the Department of Physics, and Senior Advisor to the Provost for Global Scientific Initiatives at the University of Chicago. She explains her advisory role to the Provost and she surveys the many challenges associated with remote work during the pandemic. Kim recounts her childhood in South Korea, her early interests in math, and her plans in college to pursue a career in theoretical physics. She describes the opportunities that allowed her to come to the United States to pursue thesis research at the University of Rochester to work with Steve Olsen on the AMY experiment and to test QCD via properties of quarks and gluons. Kim describes her postdoctoral work at Berkeley Lab on the CDF experiment at Fermilab, and she explains her decision to join the faculty at UC Berkeley as she was becoming more involved in ATLAS at CERN. She describes the shutdown of the Tevatron and her appointment as Deputy Director of Fermilab, and she explains her decision to move to the University of Chicago. Kim describes the broader view she gained of the DOE in her leadership role at Fermilab and she surveys the reverberating discoveries that occurred as a result of finding the Higgs at the LHC. She explains why electromagnetism is her favorite course to teach and she reflects on the physics community’s recent push to emphasize the importance of diversity and inclusivity. At the end of the interview, Kim conveys the value of taking a global approach to the biggest questions in science and she explains why she remains focused on the Higgs boson, which she believes could offer a pathway to the discovery of new physics. 

Interviewed by
Freire, Olival
Interview date
Location
Geneva (Switzerland)
Abstract

In this interview Nicolas Gisin discusses topics such as: his family and educational background; University of Geneva; Constantin Piron; Gerard Emch; University of Rochester; optics and quanum optics; Abner Shimony; Alphatronix; Guisan at the University of Geneva Group of Applied Physics (GAP); John Bell; Alain Aspect; Jean-Claude Zambrini; quantum cryptography; optical fibers.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
video conference
Abstract

In this interview, David Zierler, Oral Historian for AIP, interviews Stephen McGuire, James and Ruth Smith Endowed Professor of Physics, Emeritus, at Southern University and A&M College. McGuire recounts his family’s heritage in Louisiana and his upbringing in New Orleans, which was completely segregated during his childhood. He describes his early interests in physics and how NASA and the space race captured his boyhood imagination. McGuire describes his undergraduate education at Southern, where he was given a full scholarship and where he pursued a degree in physics. He explains his decision to enter graduate school at the University of Rochester where he focused on experimental nuclear physics and was supported by the NSF on the Nuclear Structure Research Laboratory. He discusses the import of the Cold War on nuclear physics during his graduate school years, and his work with the Fulbright Group, named after Harry Fulbright, who worked on the Manhattan Project. McGuire explains his decision to transfer from Rochester to the Applied and Engineering Physics Program at Cornell for his Ph.D. and where he studied under David Delano Clark, who was the director of the Ward Laboratory of Nuclear Engineering. He discusses his postdoctoral work at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory where he joined the High Flux Isotope Reactor group, and his subsequent work as a professor at Alabama A&M. He describes the satisfaction he felt teaching at a Historically Black University and how the proximity to the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center led to his collaborative work with NASA. McGuire explains his decision to move back to Cornell where he had a joint appointment in the nuclear reactor laboratory and the physics department. He discusses his subsequent move to Southern, where he became chair of the physics department, and he explains the origins of LIGO’s Observatory in Louisiana. McGuire explains Southern’s contributions to the LIGO collaboration, his specific research on reducing noise in the test mass mirror substrates and coatings, and he provides an overview of how the project has changed over his twenty years of involvement, and what we know about the universe as a result of LIGO. At the end of the interview, McGuire reflects on his efforts to make physics and STEM more inclusive of under-represented groups and why optimism in the future has and continues to serve him well as a citizen and as a scientist. 

Interviewed by
David DeVorkin
Interview date
Location
Kamiokande Facility, Kamioka, Japan
Abstract

This interview is part of a small program to document the recent history of the American Astronomical Society. These interviews were used as background studies to help authors of chapters for the centennial history volume of the Society research and organize documentary materials. The volume to be published in 1999.

Interviewed by
David DeVorkin
Interview date
Location
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Abstract

Extensive interview covering early life and family in New York and Maine; schooling and early interests in astronomy in New York City; observing Halley's comet in 1910; World War I and college years at Harvard University majoring in chemistry; medical degree from Cornell University; contacts with Henry Norris Russell and Harlow Shapley, and decision to move into astronomy; graduate work at Princeton; postdoctoral work and staff position at Mt. Wilson in the 1930s; interests in instrumentation and planetary atmospheres; the role of the Schmidt Camera in spectroscopy; planetary spectroscopy and the nature of the interstellar medium; founding of the FAR (Fund for Astronomical Research); World war II and work in optics for the National Defense Research Committee (NDRC) of the Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD); travels to Britian during the war; decision to leave astronomy after the war; move to Rochester for biophysical research; return to astronomy in 1952. The second interview concentrates on his contacts with Henry Norris Russell and activities during World War II.

Interviewed by
David DeVorkin
Interview date
Location
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Abstract

Extensive interview covering early life and family in New York and Maine; schooling and early interests in astronomy in New York City; observing Halley's comet in 1910; World War I and college years at Harvard University majoring in chemistry; medical degree from Cornell University; contacts with Henry Norris Russell and Harlow Shapley, and decision to move into astronomy; graduate work at Princeton; postdoctoral work and staff position at Mt. Wilson in the 1930s; interests in instrumentation and planetary atmospheres; the role of the Schmidt Camera in spectroscopy; planetary spectroscopy and the nature of the interstellar medium; founding of the FAR (Fund for Astronomical Research); World war II and work in optics for the National Defense Research Committee (NDRC) of the Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD); travels to Britian during the war; decision to leave astronomy after the war; move to Rochester for biophysical research; return to astronomy in 1952. The second interview concentrates on his contacts with Henry Norris Russell and activities during World War II.