Robert C. Richardson
Bob Richardson attended Virginia Polytechnic Institute between 1954 and 1960 where he obtained both B.S. and M.S. degrees in physics. After a brief time in the United States Army he returned to graduate school in physics at Duke University. His thesis work involved NMR studies of solid 3He. He obtained his Ph. D. degree from Duke in 1966.
In the Fall of 1966 he began work at Cornell University in the laboratory of David Lee. Their research goal was to observe the nuclear magnetic phase transition in solid 3He which could be predicted from Richardson's thesis work with Horst Meyer at Duke. In collaboration with Douglas Osheroff, a student who joined the group in 1967, they worked on cooling techniques and NMR instrumentation for studying low temperature helium liquids and solids. In the Fall of 1971, they made the accidental discovery that liquid 3He undergoes a pairing transition similar to that of superconductors. The three were awarded for that work the Simon Prize in 1976, the Buckley Prize in 1981, and the Nobel Prize in 1996. Richardson was also recognized by twice being awarded Guggenheim Fellowships in 1975 and in 1982, and by memberships in the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society.
Bob has been on the Cornell faculty since 1967. He served as Director of the Laboratory of Atomic and Solid State Physics from 1990 to 1997 and is currently the F. R. Newman Professor of Physics. After 32 years of teaching undergraduates and leading an active research program in studies of matter at very low temperatures, he joined the Cornell Administration to serve as the Vice Provost for Research and as the Senior Science Advisor to the Provost and President of Cornell.
Richardson has served on a number of boards related to research and teaching among which are: The National Science Board, the governing body of the NSF; The Duke University Board of Trustees; The Board of Directors of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; The Board on Physics and Astronomy of the NRC; The Board of Directors of Brookhaven Science Associates; and The Board of Directors of Associated University Incorporated. He has served on other science panels and committees the most recent of which is National Research Council Committee on “Understanding the Impact of Selling the U.S. Helium Reserve” which he serves as Co-Chair (report due June 2009).
Richardson has made it a point to serve on committees and panels of The American Physical Society, feeling that he has significant debt to the field of physics. He served on the American Physical Society Panel, POPA (Panel on Public Affairs) in 1989 to1991. POPA prepares public policy documents for the APS and Richardson’s principal contribution to POPA was to chair the committee that wrote the statement of ethics for members of the APS. In 1990 through 1991 he was a member of CISA, the Committee on International Scientific Affairs, the committee that considers interactions between the APS and other international scientific entities. He served as Vice Chair, Chair, and Past Chair of the Division of Condensed Matter Physics from 1994 through 1996. Finally, he served the on the PPC, Physics Planning Committee between 1998 and 2002, the last three years as the Chair. Among other things, the PPC operates as the principle congressional relations arm of the APS. In that capacity he gave testimony before U. S. Congress four times on behalf of the APS.
The wise use of science and technology is the path out of the present grave economic difficulty for the United States. For that matter opportunities offered by science would serve to aid the rest of the world, too. Physics is one of the crucial building blocks of the recovery. For the past decade the Federal and State governments have underfunded physics. There is a pent-up demand to fund outstanding research proposals. Specific plans exist to do transformative research in practically every field.
My vision for the American Physical Society is the combination of continuing service and of enlightened self-interest. It is also based upon the Vision Statement for the APS.
The American Physical Society should continue to be the leading voice of physics and the authoritative source of physics information. The APS has a special obligation to maintain the reputation of its excellent journals and publications. We should also remain vigilant about the ethical standards of our profession.
The Society must be a leader in collaboration with other national scientific organizations. This is especially important in gathering public support for physics. The Physics Planning Committee has led other scientific societies in the collaboration for the advancement of science and science education.
We should cooperate with international physics societies to promote physics, to support physicists worldwide and to foster international collaboration. In many of our disciplines, such as particle physics, plasma physics, astrophysics, materials physics and gravitational physics, the need to have international collaborations to build the required advanced facilities is imperative for the fields to progress.
We should strive to have an active, engaged and diverse membership and support the activities of the APS units and members. Physics as a profession has yet to achieve the desirable racial and gender balance in its population. We must do more to encourage young women and under-represented minority groups to become physicists.