Brad Marston

Candidate for General Councilor

Biographical SummaryBrad Marston
Brad Marston is a professor of physics at Brown University. A graduate of Caltech, he received his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1989 and did postdoctoral work at Cornell University. He has been a visiting scientist at the Institute for Theoretical Physics at UC Santa Barbara, a visiting professor at MIT, a visiting associate at Caltech, and a visiting professor at ENS-Lyon. Marston is an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow and a recipient of a National Young Investigator Award. In 2008 he was designated a NSF American Competitiveness and Innovation Fellow, and in 2010 an APS Outstanding Referee.


He is a Fellow and lifetime member of the American Physical Society and is also a member of the American Geophysical Union and the American Meteorological Society. He has chaired the Advisory Board of the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (KITP), and is currently Vice-Chair of the APS Topical Group on the Physics of Climate (GPC).

Marston was originally trained in theoretical condensed matter physics but has also worked on climate physics since 1990. He co-organized workshops and programs at the Aspen Center for Physics in 2005 and 2012, at the KITP in 2008 and 2014, and an invited session at the 2013 APS DFD meeting. His research interests in condensed matter focus on systems with strong electronic correlations and/or driven far from equilibrium. He has made contributions to the theory of quantum antiferromagnetism, bosonization, the electronic properties of layered materials, atom-surface scattering, and the numerical simulation of quantum many-body systems.

He has presented over 65 colloquia on climate physics and is co-editing an issue of the New Journal of Physics focused on "Stochastic Flows and Climate Statistics." His NSF-funded climate research program is focused on the direct statistical simulation of large-scale atmospheric and oceanic circulation using concepts adapted from non-equilibrium statistical physics and large deviation theory. He is also interested in the atmospheric dynamics of other planets including exoplanets. His app "GCM," freely available on the Apple Mac App Store and installed over 2,200 times, illustrates the statistical approach and can also be used in the classroom as an educational tool. He is currently working to incorporate subgrid processes such as boundary-layer turbulence and clouds within the framework of direct statistical simulation.

Candidate's Statement
The APS bylaws state: "In the firm belief that an understanding of the nature of the physical universe will be of benefit to all humanity, the Society shall have as its objective the advancement and diffusion of the knowledge of physics." The uniquely powerful ways that physicists understand nature—experimentally, observationally, computationally, and theoretically—have made invaluable contributions to both basic and applied science. In a time when the scientific method is under political and ideological attack, the APS plays a vital role by reminding both the public and those in government of contributions made by physicists. This is essential if physics is to enjoy continued support, but it is even more important to ensure that the spirit of scientific inquiry is not lost but rather embraced by humanity.

Seeing the minds of first-year college students in my introductory physics course light up when they first encounter relativity and quantum mechanics reminds me that young people are the future of the APS. Most will go on to careers outside of physics departments and laboratories, and not join the APS, but many will continue to think of themselves—correctly—as physicists. Many members of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) for instance are physicists but do not (yet!) belong to the APS. The APS should strive to attract and retain these and other physicists as members, as they can bring invaluable knowledge and perspectives.

Topical Groups allow the APS to respond flexibly to new areas of member interest. As a member of the initial Organizing Committee, and later the Executive Committee of the newly formed Topical Group on the Physics of Climate (GPC), I had the privilege and challenge of helping the GPC evolve from an idea into a functioning entity. Several other Topical Groups have organized recently, and by expanding the range of topics studied by physicists, the Groups are in an excellent position to interest members of underrepresented groups to participate in the journey towards a deeper understanding of nature. At the same time each Topical Group confronts challenges that differ from those facing the larger Divisions. As a General Councilor I would bring a working knowledge of a Topical Group to the APS Council. 

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