Arizona State University

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

Interview with John Spence, Richard Snell Professor of Physics at Arizona State University. Spence discusses his dual role as a Director of Science at NSF and his focus on research at the intersection of biology and physics. He recounts his childhood in Australia and his undergraduate education at Queensland University. Spence describes his graduate research on plasmons at Melbourne and the opportunities that led to his postdoctoral appointment at Oxford, where he worked with Mike Whelan and David Cockayne on quantifying atom arrangements in solids. He describes his decision to join the faculty at Arizona State, and the nascent field of high-resolution electron microscopy, which compelled him to write a book on the topic. Spence discusses his work on the structure of defects in superconductors and his collaborations with Bell Labs, and he explains the significance of the LCLS to his research. He describes the BioXFEL project, his work as part of the broader community of crystallographers, and the intellectual origins of the book "Lightspeed". At the end of the interview, Spence credits Michael Crow for bringing ASU to the forefront of so much innovation in science, and he reflects on how physics has never failed to surprise him.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Remote Interview
Abstract

In this interview, David Zierler, Oral Historian for AIP, interviews Dan Neumann, Group Leader for Neutron Condensed Matter Science at the NIST Center for Neutron Research. Neumann recounts his childhood growing up on a farm in Nebraska and later on in Arizona. He discusses his undergraduate experience at Arizona State and his developing interest in condensed matter physics. Neumann describes his graduate work at the University of Illinois, and he describes his lab work, his AT&T fellowship and research at Bell Labs, and his dissertation work under the direction of Hartmut Zabel. He explains the circumstances leading to his appointment at NIST, and he describes the value of neutron scattering as a means of understanding materials at atomic, nanoscale levels. Neumann describes how neutron scattering fits within the overall mission of NIST, and he explains NIST's support for basic science and why its laboratories have attracted a wide array of researchers. He explains how neutron scattering is the key to developing new materials for both research and commercial applications. Neumann describes some of the key interagency partnership that have advanced neutron scattering research, and he explains some recent projects he has been involved in, including hydrogen fuel cell research, dynamic work on proteins, and pharmaceutical work. At the end of the interview, Neumann describes how closely his work at NIST has been integrated within the broader physics community.

Interviewed by
William K. Hartmann
Interview date
Location
San Diego, California
Abstract

In this interview, William Hartmann of the Acoustical Society of American interviews William Yost, Research Professor of Speech and Hearing Sciences at Arizona State University. Yost discusses his graduate work on signal detection at Indiana University, the development of his Fundamentals of Hearing textbook, co-authored with Donald Nielson, and his early research into noise control at the University of Florida. Yost describes his activities with the Acoustical Society of America, his efforts to promote hearing science at NIH and NSF, and the ASA’s relationship with the Association for Research in Otolaryngology. The interview concludes with a discussion of Yost’s research into modulation detection interference and his move to his current position at Arizona State University.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
video conference
Abstract

In this interview, David Zierler, Oral Historian for AIP, interviews Stuart Lindsay, university and regents professor at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University. He recounts his childhood in the U.K. and how he developed his early interest in physics after he learned about Bohr’s theory of the atom. Lindsay discusses his education at the University of Manchester and his strong interest in conservative politics. He describes his decision to stay at Manchester for graduate school, where he worked with Ian Shepherd on low frequency exhortations in polymers. Lindsay describes his work in power semiconductor development at Philips and he recounts the opportunities leading to his faculty appointment at ASU. He explains his developing interests in biophysics building off the strength of the solid-state physics program on campus, and he describes the painstaking process building his lab. Lindsay discusses his interest in statistical mechanics, atomic force microscopy, and nano-biological issues. He describes his forays into commercial ventures based on his academic research, his interests in DNA protein sequencing, and his tenure as director for the Center for Single Molecule Biophysics. At the end of the interview, Lindsay reflects on his eclectic research agenda, his contributions to many research endeavors, and the ongoing value of statistical mechanics as an intellectual framework and pathway to discovery.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

In this interview, David Zierler, Oral Historian for AIP, interviews Frank Wilczek, Herman Feshbach Professor of Physics at MIT. Wilczek recounts his family background and childhood in Queens, and he describes how his early curiosity would come to inform the many intellectual pursuits he would take on later in his career. He describes his undergraduate education at the University of Chicago, where he enrolled at the age of fifteen, and he discusses his early interest in applied and pure mathematics. Wilczek describes the key influence of Peter Freund at Chicago, and his decision to pursue graduate work at Princeton. He explains how David Gross became his advisor, and he describes his idea to apply the renormalization group to theories of the weak interaction. Wilczek describes his decision to join the Princeton physics faculty immediately after his graduate work, and his developing interest in cosmological issues, as well as his ongoing efforts to extend models of the weak interactions. Wilczek shares his ideas on a grand unified theory and what he sees as the ongoing value of particle physics to cosmological inquiry. He explains what is known and unknown in the early universe, and how his training in philosophy informs those questions. Wilczek conveys his excitement at the possibilities of computers to move science forward, and he narrates the growing interest in his research which led to the Nobel Prize in 2004. He discusses the ways he has used the platform conferred by this recognition as a vehicle for him to pursue other interests. Wilczek discusses his interest in time crystals, and he discusses the origins of the Wilczek Quantum Center in China, and he explains the collaborative work he is pursuing at Arizona State University in neurobiology and expanding human capacity for sensory perception. At the end of the discussion, Wilczek explains how the concept of beauty has always, and continues to inform his scientific pursuits.