David J. Gross

2017 APS Vice President

Biographical Summary

David J. GrossDavid Gross is Chancellor’s Chair Professor of Theoretical Physics and former Director of the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics at UCSB. Born in Washington D.C., he received his Ph.D. in 1966 at UC Berkeley. After a Junior Fellowship at Harvard he taught at Princeton for 27 years, where he was Eugene Higgins Professor of Physics and then Thomas Jones Professor of Mathematical Physics. In 1997 he moved to UCSB, where he served as Director of the Institute for Theoretical Physics until 2012.

Gross has been a central figure in particle physics and string theory. His discovery, with his student Frank Wilczek, of asymptotic freedom—the primary feature of non­Abelian gauge theories—led Gross and Wilczek to the formulation of Quantum Chromodynamics, the theory of the strong nuclear force, completing the Standard Model of particle physics—the electromagnetic force, the weak force, and the strong force. Gross was awarded the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physics, with Politzer and Wilczek, for this discovery. He has also made seminal contributions to the theory of quantum fields and superstrings.

His awards include the Sakurai Prize, MacArthur Prize, Dirac Medal, Oscar Klein Medal, Harvey Prize, the EPS Particle Physics Prize, the Grande Medaille d’Or and the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2004. He is a member/fellow of the American Physical Society, the U.S. National Academy of Science, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the AAAS, the American Philosophical Society, the Indian Academy of Science, the Chinese Academy of Science, and the Third World Academy of Science. He holds 12 honorary degrees from the United States, Britain, France, Israel, Brazil, Belgium, and China.

Gross has been involved in many countries around the world in promoting, advising, and aiding science. He has helped to establish centers for theoretical physics in China, Europe, India, South America, and Vietnam. He chairs the Physics Committee of the Solvay Institutes and has organized the Solvay Conferences for the last 12 years. He has directed the Jerusalem Winter School in Physics for the last 15 years.

Candidate Statement

I have been a member of the APS for over 50 years and have benefited from its journals, its meetings and its role as the premier physics society in the advocacy of Physics. As Vice-President I would seek to continue and strengthen the role of the society in serving the community of physicists, informing the public and encouraging public support for science.

The APS, with its over 50,000 members, has an important role to play in representing the community of physicists to the public and to the government. Founded "to advance and diffuse the knowledge of physics," the APS is the voice of physics in the US and throughout the world. It should inform the public and the government about scientific issues that affect society and advocate support of science. We must increase our effort to share the wonder of science with our fellow citizens and to explain its long-term benefits. Science can only flourish if the public truly supports it.

As director of the KITP, I had the opportunity to experience the enormous breath and vitality of physics across its many sub-fields of specialization. I sought to support the expansion of physics to new fields, often at the intersection of traditional disciplines, where many of the most exciting discoveries are being made. When asked whether quantitative biology belonged at the KITP, and “Is this Physics?”, I would respond: “Physics is what physicists do.” Physicists do many things, bringing our vast arsenal of tools to bear on new problems. And yet physics remains unified, sharing a common culture. This unity is one of the great strengths of our discipline and must be preserved. The APS can play a useful role by fostering outreach within our own community, improving the annual meetings and encouraging cross-fertilization of new ideas.

Physics today is increasingly international. Big science projects need and benefit from worldwide collaboration. The APS, with over 10,000 members from outside the U.S., can play an important role in supporting physics and physicists throughout the world and fostering international collaboration. I would hope to strengthen and expand the role of the APS throughout the world.

Over the last decade there has been a marked increase in the number of students choosing to major in physics. The effort to convince young people that a career in STEM is exciting and worthwhile is beginning to work. We need a similar effort to convince underrepresented and diverse communities, especially young students, that they too can do physics. We need them.

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