Interview with Allan Pierce, Professor Emeritus at Boston University and President of the Cape Cod Institute for Science and Engineering. Pierce recounts his childhood in Kansas and New Mexico, where his father worked on building aircraft during World War II. He remembers tinkering with a chemistry set as a child and building his own little radio. Pierce describes his undergraduate studies in physics at New Mexico State University and winning an NSF Fellowship to attend MIT for free for his graduate studies. Upon completing his PhD, Pierce recalls working for RAND Corporation on defense-related issues at the height of the Cold War, as well as his burgeoning interest in acoustics. Pierce describes his career trajectory that took him to Avco Space Systems Division, the Mechanical Engineering Department at MIT, and Georgia Tech. He recounts his research in a variety of fields such as helicopter noise, sonic booms, wind turbines, and underwater acoustics. Pierce talks about the genesis of his famed acoustics textbook and speaks in detail about several topics in the book, such as the wave theory of sound, plane waves, and room acoustics. Pierce describes moving to Penn State, then Boston University, and finally the formation of the Cape Code Institute. He also reflects on his time as Editor in Chief of the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. The interview concludes with Pierce reflecting on his unique historical perspective and appreciation for acoustics, and how he has seen the ASA change over the years.
This is an interview with Paula Hammond, David H. Koch Chair of Engineering at the Department of Chemical Engineering, Department Head of Chemical Engineering at MIT, and member of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research. She describes her childhood in Detroit and her parents’ professions in medicine and science, her father’s activity with the NAACP, and an influential schoolteacher who encouraged her to look into chemical engineering. Hammond describes the opportunities and attraction that led her to enroll at MIT as an undergraduate, where she focused on chemical engineering and developed a particular interest in polymer science. She describes her brief work as a process engineer at Motorola before getting a Master’s at Georgia Tech before returning to MIT to join a new PhD program, Polymer Science and Technology, founded by Robert Cohen who had mentored Hammond as an undergraduate, and where Michael Rubner supervised her thesis research in diacetylene and high-strength fibers. She describes her postdoctoral research at Harvard before returning to MIT to join the faculty and her subsequent focus on soft lithography, carbon nanotube electrodes for high-density batteries, and electrochemistry on patterned surfaces. Hammond explains how she became interested in chemical engineering applications to biology, and how her sensibilities are useful to the biologists she collaborates with, and the physicists with whom she is working on battery technologies and energy efficiencies research. She describes the impact of growing computational power on her research over the years, and she discusses her current interests in nanoparticles for drug delivery in cancer therapies. Hammond shares her perspective on recent efforts to enhance diversity and inclusivity across STEM, and at the end of the interview, she expresses her optimism with MRNA technology.