Curtis Callan Elected next APS Vice-President
Pictured here are the members of the APS Presidential line who will assume office on January 1, 2008. From top: Curtis Callan,Vice President, Arthur Bienenstock, President; Cherry Murray, President-elect and Leo Kadanoff, past-President.
In other election results, Angela Olinto, a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the University of Chicago, was selected as the new vice-chair of the APS Nominating Committee, which has the responsibility of selecting a slate of candidates each year to run for APS office. Katherine Freese, a professor of physics at the University of Michigan, and Marcela Carena, a senior scientist at Fermilab, were elected as general councilors. Sabyasachi (Shobo) Bhattacharya, Director of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai, India, was elected as international councilor.
Callan, a theoretical particle physicist, received his PhD from Princeton in 1964. In 1967, after postdoctoral work at Princeton, he took an assistant professorship in physics at Harvard University. In 1969, he moved back to Princeton as a long-term member of the Institute for Advanced Study and rejoined Princeton University in 1972. He is currently the J. S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of Physics. Callan is a long-time member, and was chair from 1990 to 1995, of JASON, a group that advises the US government on national security implications of science and technology. He has served as chair of the Nominating Committee of the APS. Callan was elected to membership in the National Academy of Sciences in 1987. He received the 2000 Sakurai Medal for Particle Theory of the APS and the 2004 Dirac Medal of the International Center for Theoretical Physics.
Callan’s early work focused on using general properties of quantum field theory to understand the new phenomena of particle physics. Later he turned to the study of nonperturbative gauge theory phenomena. Callan’s research then turned toward string theory. In recent years, he has been exploring how physical principles may constrain biological phenomena.
Callan said he was “honored to receive the votes of the American Physical Society members.”
In considering his priorities as he joins the presidential line, “my overriding goal is to make sure that APS does the right thing to ensure the vitality of our science,” he said. “I will do my best to serve the interests of the physics profession as issues present themselves. Everybody can have some view of what he would like to accomplish; what you can actually accomplish depends on the opportunities that present themselves.”
In his candidate’s statement, Callan said he had been drawn to physics as a student by the “fascinating scientific mysteries the field addressed,” and he believes that APS can play an important role in keeping the frontier of physics open. He suggested that one way to push the frontier is to “define physics as the unceasing quest to expand the scope of precise mathematical understanding to the widest possible range of natural phenomena. The nascent attempt to subject the phenomena of life to physics-style explanation is a promising example of an expansion of physics beyond its historic bounds,” he said in his statement. He also stressed the connection between physics and societal issues. The APS is the natural vehicle for articulating the position of the physics profession and for making that position known to the public.”
Olinto received her PhD in Physics from MIT in 1987. She is now a professor at the University of Chicago. Her recent work has focused on the nature of the dark matter in the universe and the origin of the highest energy cosmic particles. She has served on many advisory committees for the NRC, DOE, NSF, and NASA. In 2006, she received the Chaire d’Excellence Award of the French Agence Nationale de Recherche.
“One of the top challenges of our leadership should be to increase the funding for basic research with a well planned long term vision. As part of facing this challenge, the effective communication of the fundamental value of the scientific endeavor and, in particular, of the physical sciences, to policy makers and the public at large should be a priority,” Olinto said in her candidate’s statement.
A theoretical cosmologist, Freese received her PhD in Physics in 1984 from the University of Chicago. She is now a professor of physics at the University of Michigan. Her interests span particle physics, astrophysics, general relativity, and climate science. Freese has served on many advisory panels and committees, including the Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee (AAAC) mandated by Congress; and the Dark Matter Scientific Advisory Group. In 1997 she was Senior Program Officer at the Board of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate at the National Research Council.
In her candidate’s statement, she emphasized the need for APS to inform and engage the public, encourage young people to pursue physics, and advocate for science funding. “Science is the “seed corn” for many developments in society which must be sustained. It is our job to make sure that members of Congress as well as the public at large realize the big returns for society that result from every dollar spent on science,” she wrote.
Carena, a theoretical particle physicist, received her PhD in physics from the University of Hamburg in 1989. She has been a staff scientist at Fermilab since 1997. Her research explores the possible connections between Higgs physics, supersymmetry, unification, flavor physics, and dark matter. Carena is a member of the APS Committee on International Scientific Affairs. She is a former member of the APS Division of Particles and Fields Executive Committee and the current chair of the DPF Nominating Committee. She also serves on the Particle Physics Project Prioritization Panel (P5) of the U.S. DOE/NSF High Energy Physics Advisory Panel. She originated a visitor program that brings Latin American students to pursue research at Fermilab, and has given public outreach lectures in the Fermilab area.
Carena sees an important role for APS in bringing together the different subfields. “As physics becomes broader and more complex, it is important to maintain the strength of our core disciplines. The field must meet this goal by fostering the interconnections, both intellectual and technical, that increasingly tie together different subfields,” she said in her candidate’s statement. She also supports APS education and outreach and partnerships with related organizations such as AAPT.
Bhattacharya is an experimental condensed matter physicist. He received his PhD in physics in 1978 from Northwestern University. He spent his post-doctoral years at the University of Rhode Island, and at the University of Chicago. Subsequently, he worked at Exxon Corporate Research, New Jersey and at the NEC Research Institute, Princeton. In 2002 he left NEC to join the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR). His current research interests include scanning probe studies of domain wall dynamics in systems such as ferroelectrics, ferromagnets and multiferroics as well as optical tweezer-based studies of complex fluids. He serves several committees, including the Commission on Structure and Dynamics of Condensed Matter of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP), the editorial board of Reports on Progress in Physics of the Institute of Physics, UK, the Scientific Advisory Committee to the Cabinet, Government of India and the Basic Sciences Steering Committee of the Planning Commission, Government of India.
“I believe that the active involvement of practicing physicists is essential for framing informed policies and putting in place mechanisms for substantive global engagement,” he said in his candidate’s statement. He plans to build on his experience in both academia and industry in America and internationally to “help strengthen the ability of the APS to forge mutually beneficial partnerships with its peer groups around the world.”
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Contributing Editor: Jennifer Ouellette
Staff Writer: Ernie Tretkoff