A. J. Stewart Smith

Princeton University

Candidate for Vice President A. J. Stewart (Stew) Smith

Biographical Summary

Stewart Smith is a particle physicist whose major research interest for many years has been the the BaBar experiment at SLAC. As Spokesperson (2000-02) and Technical Coordinator (1999) he had central roles in BaBar's 2001 discovery of CP-violating asymmetries in B meson processes, which culminated 37 years of searches for CP violation outside the neutral kaon system. This result, and the rich programs that followed it in BaBar and in the Belle experiment in Japan, confirmed conclusively the Cabibbo-Kobayashi-Maskawa picture of CP violation, within the Standard Model.  Previously, Dr. Smith carried out experiments at the Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY) on tests of quantum electrodynamics; at Fermilab on lepton-pair production and hadron structure functions; and on rare kaon decays at the Brookhaven AGS, for which he was awarded the 2011 W.K.H. Panofsky Prize in experimental particle physics by the APS.

Dr. Smith received BA and MSc degrees from the University of British Columbia and his PhD degree from Princeton University in 1966. After post-doctoral work at DESY on a Stiftung Volkswagenwerk fellowship he joined the Princeton faculty in 1967, chairing the Physics department from 1990 to 1998, and spending 2000 to 2002 as Visiting Professor at Stanford University. In 2006 Dr. Smith was appointed Princeton's first Dean for Research, bringing under his umbrella several previously separate administrative departments. Several major campus research centers report to him, as does the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), operated by Princeton as one of the ten national laboratories in the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science. 

This summer Dr. Smith will take on a new university position of Vice President for PPPL, to focus on enabling new research collaborations between PPPL and scientists at Princeton and other universities and laboratories, in fields such as plasma physics, plasma astrophysics, and fusion.

A fellow of the American Physical Society, Dr. Smith chaired the APS Division of Particles and Fields in 1991 and later served on the Physics Planning Committee.  He has worked on numerous advisory committees over the years for the DOE and for National Laboratories in the US, Canada, and at CERN. In particular he provided bimonthly oversight to the CMS experiment during its construction phase from 2004 through 2009 as the "main referee" of the CERN Large Hadron Collider Committee.  Currently he serves on the Board of Directors of Brookhaven Science Associates and the AURA Management Council for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope and chairs the Experimental Advisory Committee at SNOLAB (Sudbury, Ontario). He also is a member of the Visiting Committee for the MIT Physics Department. In 2009 Dr. Smith received an honorary DSc. degree from the University of Victoria.

Candidate Statement

The American Physical Society plays a vital role in the professional life of physicists at every stage, from students to senior researchers and teachers, via its meetings, publications and host of divisional activities. But the APS also plays a critical role — needed now more than ever — in providing vision, leadership and advocacy in support of basic physics research and education. Should you choose me to join the APS leadership team I will devote my energy and experience to supporting the APS in all its roles and to helping the physics community through this era of political and fiscal uncertainty.

Until six years ago I had been spending most of my time doing science, along with a modest amount of outreach and service to the particle physics community. Upon becoming the Dean for Research at Princeton, I moved my focus toward the support of science, spending hours with federal lawmakers and staff members to encourage a healthy level of financial support for research.  I have found that the large majority of these policy-makers like science and want to help, but they are consumed by short-term, often divisive issues. They need our support. 

A major goal for us therefore is to  provide examples, in plain language, of ways in which basic physics research both  answers the most  fundamental questions about the Universe and also leads unexpectedly to transformational technologies and new industries.  It is important to stress to the public that physics, already acknowledged as a field essential for national and international security, is also vital in addressing global issues such as health, energy, and environment, and plays a central role in fields like biology and neuroscience, which are becoming increasingly quantitative and interdisciplinary. 

We also must stimulate people's intrinsic curiosity about science through outreach at all levels — in the community, in Congress, at funding agencies, in schools. At PPPL, I have seen tremendous enthusiasm for public science programs. For example, our weekly Science on Saturdays is invariably filled to the rafters, not just with budding scientists but with a complete cross section of the community — a perfect set of informed citizens to help us make the case for science. The diversity of these young enthusiasts is thrilling — and we must focus on keeping them engaged, especially young women and other underrepresented constituencies. 

Finally, we need to explain the critical importance of international collaborations and partnerships; and that to maintain US leadership and competitiveness we need to simplify the visa and immigration processes for outstanding scientists who wish to work in the US, many of whom we have trained at our universities supported by federal funds.

To summarize, the APS mission statement hits the nail on the head on what is needed: "Be the leading voice for physics and an authoritative source of physics information for the advancement of physics and the benefit of humanity."  It would be the greatest honor, and a labor of love, to have a chance to contribute to the leadership of this great organization. 

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