Message to the Physics Community, Monday, March 15, 2021

Dear Physics Community,

A year has passed since the pandemic began, and I went back to look at the messages I sent back then.  They were hard to send then and are hard to read now.  In the last week, we reflected on all the things that have happened, good and bad, last year. With 530,000 lives lost to date in the US and 2.6 million worldwide, the pandemic has changed all of us forever.

Last week, our new president told of new plans for the vaccine in a prime time address (worth watching here).  Some of us have been vaccinated, we all know people who have been vaccinated, and the delivery rate is ramping up.

We will have to follow the CDC guidance about masks, distancing, and small gatherings for the coming months with all the hopeful news.  A recent issue of Science has an excellent article everyone should read.  Here is an important graphic from the paper about the vaccine, variants, and behavior.  This figure tells us why we have to keep up with CDC guidance: the vaccine will help slow the spread in the face of new variants only if we continue to wear masks, keep 6 feet apart, and do not congregate in closed areas.

For myself, I am decided to commit to living the COVID-19 life until June 1, vaccinated or not (currently not).

A year has passed since I started these Messages to the Physics Community. Things have evolved: Ryan Higgins started weekly events announcement, and Cathy Modica and the APO have been producing a robust student newsletter for several years.  In recent months, the urgent pandemic-related announcements, the original reason for my Community Messages, has slowed, now.mit.edu started, and the Institute decision making has become more anodyne.  Putting all this together, we’ve decided to put the community-wide messages and anything I have to say into Ryan’s message and keep student-oriented announcements in the APO weekly newsletter.  If you have an announcement, please send it to any of us, and we will make sure your announcement goes to the right place.

Most times, I’ve enjoyed writing these messages, although it does take time.  I’m viewing merging my messages with Ryan’s announcements as something good we have captured from the pandemic times. Thanks to everyone who contributed to these messages over the past year.

Peter

Announcements

  • MindHandHeart grants – everyone may apply
  • Graduate student transitional support letter
  • New DOE program in Accelerator Workforce Training

Physics

  • First neutrino interaction on the Glashow resonance, from Janet, news story here and article here

 

Weekly Message to the Physics Community, Friday, February 19, 2021

Dear Physics Community,

Several interesting things from today’s academic continuity meeting.  Have a good weekend.

Peter

Resources form TLL:

Report on Spring Move-in here with statistics

Weekly Message to the Physics Community, Friday January 29, 2021

Dear Physics Community,

Some goods news: MIT has become a vaccination site and will deliver vaccines to the whole MIT community (50,000 people) regardless of where they get their health care.  Details here, LRR letter here.

The Thursday lunch was about international engagements, prompted by our colleague Prof. Gang Chen’s awful situation.  Report here: covid-19 fundamental.

Peter

Above the Fold

Announcements

Physics

Weekly Message to the Physics Community, Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Dear Physics Community,

I am still reeling from last week and distracted/scared/discombobulated by Inauguration tomorrow, plus not feeling well.  Some good things may be happening: the SARS-Cov-2 mRNA in the waste water may be dropping, MIT vaccinations have started, and preparations are underway to welcome our students back for Spring. The shortest (Dec. 22)  and coldest (Jan. 17) days of the year are behind us. Finally, MIT has a couple of timely seminars: “Coping with Politically Charged Trauma”, here.

Peter

Above the Fold – MartinLuther King day

  • MLK Day Message from Jon Bagger, CEO of APS
  • Nominations for MLK Visiting Professor at MIT

Announcements

  • Dan David Doctoral and Post Doctoral scholarships
  • IDEAs Social Innovation Challenge announcement
  • Apply for a Graduate Student Instrumentation Award in High Energy Physics here
  • David Martin from the Industrial Liaison Program (ILP) gave our lunch talk Thursday, slides here.  Whether or not your research connects with industry or business, if you are interested in connecting, please contact David.

Physics

Weekly Message to the Physics Community, Friday, January 8, 2021

Dear Physics Community,

Sorry, but I do not have words for this week.

Peter

Above the Fold

Announcements – Fellowships and Positions

  • Google internships from Michael Brenner at Harvard
  • San Diego State University Master’s Physics and at the Computational Science Research Center
  • Repperger Research Intern Program here
  • Post doc position in Nuclear/AMO at Stanford here
  • Undergraduate research at Notre Dame through REU here
  • Los Alamos Rosen Scholar Program here
  • L’Oreal award for women post docs. Lindley had one of these

Announcements – Grants

Announcements – Lectures and Programs

  • IAP Technology Licensing Office Intellectual Property Speaker Series
  • Teaching and Learning Lab panel on Assessment and Assignments for Remote Learning with Michelle here

Physics

Random Stuff of Note

 

 

Last (of 2020) Weekly Message to the Physics Community, Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020

Dear Physics Communiy,

This is the last message of 2020.  The first was March 13 and there have been 108 since then.  Seems like forever. We have some time now without the frantic pace of the term.

Speaking of forever, Tavneet and I handed in our reports — Tavneet’s to the Chair of the Faculty and mine to the Provost.  We started Oct. 15, 2019 and worked through the pandemic because we thought it was important.  We still do and I believe the Administration will act on our recommendations in January.

I’ve been watching the COVID-19 measurements in the waste water at Deer Island — went up, was going down until Thanksgiving, then up, now going down again.  Maybe it stick this time.

Many will celebrate the end of 2020 by burning their calendars or with dumpster fires of 2020 memorabilia.  I saw a lot of good in 2020 — our students that worked as mentors and tutors, staff that, after taking care of their normal work plus the extra COVID-19 work, to the faculty that held courses, research groups, and advisees together.  All of us had families and friends remotes from us that we had to find new ways to care for and love.  And we all had to take care of ourselves.  This is what I hope I remember.

Peter

Above the Fold

  • Slides on COVID-19 vaccine rollout at MIT
  • FAQ, etc. for international students from Ian Waitz

Announcements

  • Announcement of DOE Diversity Program here
  • Announcement of DOE Quantum Information Science  funds here
  • Jack Steinberger, physicist and alum, dies at 99.  His daughter, Julia, is also a physics alum
  • JWEL grants call for proposals here

Physics

Semi-Weekly Message to the Physics Community, Friday, Dec. 11, 2020

Dear Physics Community,

You may have heard that the Office of the Vice-Chancellor has sent a letter to require all graduate students outside the US to return to the US or risk losing their support from MIT.  A similar directive was issued in the Fall.  As in the Fall, the Department will work with all such affected students to arrange that they can remain where they are and continue to receive support from our Department.  In some cases, this will mean changing how they are supported, and in others, it will mean us helping them through an exception process.

Our Academic Programs Administrator Cathy Modica will lead this effort, and we expect, as was the case in Fall, that we will be able to find solutions for all our impacted students.  The downside to this is that it will consume staff time and discretionary funds, but supporting our graduate students is our top priority, and we will have to live with the consequences.  We are a strong Department, and we will manage, though I do not know how at this moment.

Thank you to everyone on the Physics staff for their work on this.  They have been ahead of the curve since Monday.

Peter

Above the Fold

  • News story, “Pompeo Shames MIT…”
  • Cambridge Good Riddance to 2020 this weekend here

Announcements

  • Five reasons to be an AFRL Scholar here
  • Spring Canvas info from Krishna and Sheryl

Physics

  • DOE Office of Science funding for Advanced Computation
  • People like Will and Phiala try to make computers go fast, but some work at making them go slow.

 

Weekly Message to the Physics Community, Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Dear Physics Community,

Yesterday, Dec. 8,  was “Safe Harbor Day”, the day by which states are supposed to have certified their elections and accredited their Electoral College delegates.  I believe all the states except Wisconsin did.  Yesterday was the day the first COVID-19 vaccine injections were given in Britain.  Some progress.

Some sad news  – I’m writing to share the disappointing news that Ibrahim Cissé will be leaving our department and MIT.  Ibrahim has accepted a position at CalTech. Nergis and I worked hard to keep him at MIT.

Ibrahim Cisse earned tenure earlier this year and formally became a joint faculty member in Biology.  In his 6 short years at MIT, he has made significant contributions to understanding gene expression in living cells, using and developing techniques of super-resolution microscopy in live cells. He has been awarded numerous grants and awards, including the NIH New Innovator Award and the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Biomedical Science. He has been a positive force in the department in all ways: his science, as an instructor (especially in our first-year subjects), his service (especially as Colloquium Committee Chair), and his powerful voice in DEI issues. 

Please join me in wishing Ibrahim well as he begins the transition to CalTech and Los Angeles.

Peter

Above the Fold

Announcements

  • NRT announcement for seniors here
  • University of Chicago Grainger Postdoctoral Fellowship in Experimental Physics, deadline Dec. 15, here

Physics

 

Weekly Message to the Physics Community, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020

Dear Physics Community,

Happy Thanksgiving.  In my view, today is one of the honest holidays: we give thanks for what we have and think of how to help those around who need help. I feel like I have much to be thankful for — everyone in the Department has worked hard to get hear and now has a few days of rest before the final push. Thank you all and I am very grateful.

Peter

Above the fold

Announcements and Useful Information

  • How MIT handles positive COVID cases
  • The Biden’s Op Ed on thanksgiving
  • A virtual Aspen Conference on Dark Matter and how to support diversity, equity, and inclusion in experimental particle physics