In this interview, David Zierler, Oral Historian for AIP, interviews Douglas Brash, Professor in the Department of Therapeutic Radiology in the Yale School of Medicine. Brash recounts his childhood in a rural community outside of Cleveland, and then in Chicago, and he describes his early interests in science and his determination to become a physicist by the third grade. He discusses his education at Illinois where he majored in engineering physics, and he describes his formative summer job at Livermore Laboratory which helped to compel him to pursue biophysics for graduate school. Brash discusses his research at Ohio State under the supervision of Karl Kornacker, and the work of his graduate adviser, Ron Hart who was focused on DNA repair. Brash discusses his interests in aging and molecular biology which was the foundation for his dissertation, and he provides an overview of biophysics as a discrete field in the 1970s. He discusses the distinctions in his research regarding basic science and clinically relevant therapies as it relates to understanding cancer, and he describes the varying interests in environmental carcinogenesis and retroviruses as a basis for cancer research. Brash explains the origins of the discovery of oncogenes and the connection leading to his specialty in skin cancer research. He describes his postdoctoral research at Harvard and the Dana Farber Institute with Bill Haseltine working on DNA damage and mutagenesis. Brash discusses his subsequent work at the NIH where he continued his research in cell mutation and where he began to study the effect of UV rays on skin cancer. He explains the circumstances leading to his decision to join the faculty at Yale, where he realized he had greater opportunity to continue examining UV rays and skin cancer. Brash offers an overview of the major advances over the last two decades in skin cancer research, and he describes the central importance in DNA sequencing and Chemiecxitation. He discusses the many research advantages associated with having an appointment in a medical school, and at the of the interview, Brash describes the value of bringing a physics approach to cancer research, and some of the policy and communication implications that come with working at the cutting edge of the field.
In this interview, David Zierler, Oral Historian for AIP, interviews Katie Mack, Assistant Professor of Physics at North Carolina State University. Mack discusses her website AstroKatie.com, and some of the challenges inherent in conveying scientific concepts over her widely followed Twitter account. She describes her childhood in Long Beach, California, and her early interests in math and science. Mack discusses her undergraduate experience at Caltech, where she studied physics with a special interest in cosmology and the excitement surrounding LIGO, WMAP and the CMB experiments. She explains her decision to go to Princeton, where she studied under the direction of Paul Steinhardt, and the formative time she spent working on theory at Cambridge, first during her graduate school time and then as a postdoctoral researcher. Mack describes the origins of her interests in communicating science to broad audiences and she discusses her focus on axions and inflation for her thesis research. She discusses her subsequent postdoctoral research at the University of Melbourne where she worked with Stuart Wyithe, and she describes some of the cultural difference of physics in Australia. Mack describes her current interests in different versions of dark matter, and she explains her conception of time as it relates to the universe having a narrative with a beginning and an end. She discusses her work on cosmic eschatology and the book project that resulted from these interests. At the end of the interview, Mack discusses her research agenda at NC State, the importance she places on science communication, and she conveys her excitement about future work on dark matter annihilation in the cosmic dawn and the exotic early universe models of dark matter.