As did many young people growing up in the vicinity of Boeing, I entered the University of Washington in Seattle intending to be an engineer. However, the first year of physics taught by the CalTech-trained relativist Philip Peters (1939-1994) struck me as so fundamental, correct and beautiful that I switched to physics before it was time to register for the sophomore year. (Two decades after his passing, a paper by Peters and Mathews is seeing an uptick in citations because it stands at the theoretical foundation of what LIGO's founders got the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics for observing.)
After graduating summa cum laude in 1982, I went to Harvard for graduate school in particle physics, worked under field theorist Sidney Coleman (1937-2007), and received the PhD in 1988. During nearly six years at Harvard and three more each at postdocs at Fermilab and UCLA, I authored and co-authored 18 papers, some of which are "well-known," "very well-known," or even "renowned" according to the Spires classification system. I am one of six co-editors of a book that grew out of those days and was recently published by World Scientific, Lectures of Sidney Coleman on Quantum Field Theory (World Scientific, Apple Books, Amazon Books).
If I ever felt at home in particle theory, I stopped feeling that as the field entered its post-modern period, in which it has become fashionable to write ornate papers motivated principally by esthetics rather than confrontation with experiment. Sensing the next round of explosive development in computing and being proficient in software thanks to my work in lattice gauge theory with Estia Eichten and collaborators, in 1994 I was able to land an entry-level job at Steve Jobs' quixotic startup, NeXT Computer.
In 1997 Apple aquired NeXT, and I spent the next couple of years on the AppKit team under the extremely patient tutelage of Chris Kane and Ali Ozer turning NeXTstep into the operating system that in its latest rebranding is now macOS. I took a much-needed break after we shipped the first release to developers, and then, at the end of 1999, although still not entirely recovered, threw myself into San Francisco's rough-and-tumble web startup scene instead of returning to Cupertino.
There I had the privilege of working with many talented and passionate engineers and entrepreneurs in a variety of problem domains ranging from on-line learning to transportation. As much as I was fueled by the creativity, the fast pace, and the ambitious goals and teamwork in the startup world, a few years ago, I realized that my first love remained teaching, learning, and doing research in physics. My last full-time position in software was at Getaround, today the leader in peer-to-peer car sharing, where I wrote the server API that powers the company's mobile app.
I was fortunate to be able to return to academia at Saint Mary's College of California in 2015 as an Adjunct Professor in the Dept. of Physics & Astronomy. In August of 2016, the astronomer Prof. Ronald P. Olowin (1945-2017), of Abell-Corwin-Olowin fame, and in failing health, encouraged me to take his keys (quite literally), and learn my way around the observatory he had established with a generous gift from Dr. Louis Geissberger and family. Since then I have been avidly developing all aspects of the Department's astronomy offerings that are made possible by the Geissberger Observatory.
In July of 2017, I was promoted to Assistant Professor. Thanks to two new gifts in memory of Prof. Olowin, we are well into an upgrade of virtually all of the astronomy equipment used at Saint Mary's for both teaching and research. With undergraduate researchers Katherine Damiano, Justin Robinson and Ariana Hofelmann, we have been steadily advancing our data-taking capacity using the College's 0.4-meter Schmidt-Cassegrain and other instruments.
In August of 2018, Ariana Hofelmann and I gained acceptance into the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) Follow-Up Observing Program Sub Group 1 (TFOP SG1). In 2019, we will continue to build our data-taking and analysis capabilities, and in fall of 2019, when the satellite turns its four telescopes on the northern hemisphere, we plan to be active contributors to TFOP.
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