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Falcone received his A.B. in Physics (1974) from Princeton, and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering (1979) from Stanford, and was a Marvin Chodorow Fellow in Applied Physics (1980-83) at Stanford.
He serves on the Science and Technology Committee for the Board of Governors of Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore Labs; chairs the Advisory Board for Paul Scherrer Institut in Switzerland; is director of the UC Institute for Materials Dynamics at Extreme Conditions; was Co-Chair of the NSF-DMR Committee for the report: NSF Materials 2022; and is past member of the APS Panel on Public Affairs.
Falcone chairs the faculty advisory committee for Berkeley's Lawrence Hall of Science; was a founding trustee of the Lafayette Library and Learning Center in his hometown; was co-faculty director of California Teach at Berkeley, a program training science and math undergraduates to become K-12 teachers; and was elected to his local school board.
Falcone is a Fellow of APS, OSA, and AAAS. He shared the APS Szilard Lectureship (2005) with the APS Study Group for National Missile Defense; shared the Halbach Prize for Instrumentation at the ALS, LBNL (2000) with R.W. Schoenlein; was a Distinguished Traveling Lecturer of the APS Laser Science Topical Group (1992-93); and received a Young Investigator Award from the NSF (1984).
Falcone's research primarily involves the interaction of intense light and x-rays with matter, and he has co-authored over 150 publications. He uses lasers to create and probe plasmas, to study chemical dynamics in gas phase, and to compress matter to pressures near a billion atmospheres. His experiments range from those involving single students in university labs, to teams at large-scale national lab facilities, including the NIF laser at LLNL, the ALS synchrotron at LBNL, the OMEGA laser at LLE, and the LCLS laser at SLAC. He has developed technologies and techniques to study matter at extreme conditions using ultrashort-pulse lasers and fast detectors.
The breadth of physics extends from searching for deeper understanding of the organizing principles of the universe to meeting societal needs, with the APS acting as a community-driven structure that helps scientists address these areas. APS can strengthen the collective impact of physicists, and improve the educational, industrial, private, and government institutions within which science is carried out.
Global challenges facing science broadly include inherently limited resources, while the need for research and new ideas are expanding, as well as (arguably) increasingly costly educational and research institutions. APS serves as a place where conversations can happen, about funding policies, approaches to teaching and learning, impacts, the benefits of international collaborations as well as the challenges of international competition, new directions for philanthropic foundations, infrastructure needs, and innovation for economic growth. APS can help develop strategies for the physics community and communicate with decision makers. Physicists have often played important roles in influencing policy, for projects involving fundamental studies of the universe, in enhancing national and international security, and in understanding human impacts on the environment.
My early interest in physics was influenced by my technically-inclined father and eclectic NYC public high school teachers. My interest in teaching and citizenship was stimulated by my mother, who had a career in editing. As a physics undergrad I discovered how engineering was coping with emerging problems in energy and the environment, and was encouraged by mentors to go to grad school in engineering and later take a fellowship in applied physics. An understanding of work outside of academia came through helping friends start an instrument company, as well as research experiments with friends at Bell Labs.
I am attracted to greater service within the APS because of the broader influence our community can have on institutional policies. Also, given my own career trajectory, I understand that there are many paths for students who have interests in science to allow them to contribute, and I believe APS can reinforce that idea. As educators, leaders, and scientists we should act on the concept that diversity (most broadly defined) is necessary to meet challenges. We should therefore celebrate and expand APS' outreach activities—including conferences that encourage underrepresented groups to consider pursuing science, climate surveys that provide institutional feedback, and outreach that informs and excites the public and government—all of which should lead to more inclusive and creative environments, and encourage the broadest participation and strongest performance overall.