Download Imagine 2021

Greetings from Brown Physics! Normally, “Imagine” magazine is published at the end of each academic year. But the current academic year is not yet over, as remote and hybrid teaching continues during the summertime for our first-year undergraduates. It has been a tumultuous year, full of uncertainty and challenges. The pandemic has fundamentally changed the modality of instruction, research, and operation of our department, and technologies such as Zoom and cloud computing have helped bring cohesion to our community. But what has sustained the department most of all is the dedication, commitment, and perseverance of our students, faculty, and staff.

In this issue of “Imagine,” we celebrate the achievements of our students, who have overcome mental stress and limited access to physical resources and close personal interaction. They refused to let the upheaval of the pandemic define their experience, and have strived more than previous generations to reach all their academic milestones. As you will see, many of them have received prestigious awards and fellowships as a result of their accomplishments. 

I am grateful to the Brown Physics faculty for their great contributions to this department and the University. They did not lower their standards in education or research under very difficult circumstances. On the contrary, they showed great care with our students, and have generated record amounts of scholarship and external funding. At the same time, more of our faculty have become leaders in professional societies and organizations. Professor Sylvester James Gates, Jr. currently serves as President of the American Physical Society, Professor Stephon Alexander serves as President of the National Society of Black Physicists, and Professor Meenakshi Narain serves as Co-Convener of the Energy Frontier of the Particle Physics Community Planning Exercise. We have many stories in this issue that demonstrate how the Brown Physics community refused to accept setbacks as inevitable, and instead embraced the crisis as a vehicle for change and advancement. 

I want to thank our professional staff for their strong dedication and services to the department. The pandemic created a huge turnover on our staff. We welcome our new staff as we bid farewell to those who have chosen to retire or to change jobs.

More than ever, I appreciate and am heartened by the support of our alumni. Their generosity is incredibly valuable to our mission and operation. As we move forward to face the “new normal,” we will continue striving to make the department more diverse, equitable, and friendly to all. Happy reading!

Gang Xiao

Department Chair