School of Humanities and Sciences
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Provost, James and Anna Marie Spilker Professor and Professor in the School of Engineering, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and Professor of Physics
BioPersis Drell, Provost
Drell is a physicist who has served on the Stanford faculty since 2002. She is the James and Anna Marie Spilker Professor in the School of Engineering, a professor of materials science and engineering, and a professor of physics. She is the former dean of the Stanford School of Engineering and the former director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory at Stanford.
Drell received her bachelor’s degree in mathematics and physics from Wellesley College in 1977, followed by a PhD in atomic physics from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1983. She then switched to high-energy experimental physics and worked as a postdoctoral scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. She joined the physics faculty at Cornell University in 1988.
In 2002, Drell joined the Stanford faculty as a professor and director of research at SLAC. In her early years at SLAC, she worked on the construction of the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. In 2005, she became SLAC’s deputy director and was named director two years later. She led the 1,600-employee SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory until 2012. Drell is credited with helping broaden the focus of the laboratory, increasing collaborations between SLAC and the main Stanford campus, and overseeing transformational projects.
During Drell’s tenure as director, SLAC transitioned from being a laboratory dedicated primarily to research in high-energy physics to one that is now seen as a leader in a number of scientific disciplines. In 2010, the laboratory began operations of the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS). LCLS is the world’s most powerful X-ray free electron laser, which is revolutionizing study of the atomic and molecular world. LCLS is used to conduct scientific research and drive applications in energy and environmental sciences, drug development, and materials engineering.
After serving as the director of SLAC, Drell returned to the Stanford faculty, focusing her research on technology development for free electron lasers and particle astrophysics. Drell was named the dean of the Stanford School of Engineering in 2014.
As dean of the School of Engineering, Drell catalyzed a collaborative school-wide process, known as the SoE-Future process, to explore the realms of possibility for the future of the School of Engineering and engineering education and research. The process engaged a broad group of stakeholders to ask in what areas the School of Engineering could make significant world-changing impact, and how the school should be configured to address the major opportunities and challenges of the future.
The process resulted in a set of 10 broad aspirational questions to inspire thought on the school’s potential impact in the next 20 years. The process also resulted in a series of actionable recommendations across three areas – research, education, and culture. Drell’s approach to leading change emphasized the importance of creating conditions to optimize the probability of success.
As dean, Drell placed an emphasis on diversity and inclusion. She focused on increasing the participation of women and underrepresented minorities in engineering. She also sought to ensure a welcoming and inclusive environment for students of all backgrounds in the school.
In addition to her administrative responsibilities, Drell teaches a winter-quarter companion course to introductory physics each year for undergraduate students who had limited exposure to the subject in high school.
Drell is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and is a fellow of the American Physical Society. She has been the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award.
Benjamin Ezekiel Feldman
Assistant Professor of Physics
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsHow do material properties change as a result of interactions among electrons, and what is the nature of the new phases that result? What novel physical phenomena and functionality (e.g., symmetry breaking or topological excitations) can be realized by combining materials and device elements to produce emergent behavior? How can we leverage nontraditional measurement techniques to gain new insight into quantum materials? These are some of the overarching questions we seek to address in our research.
We are interested in a variety of quantum systems, especially those composed of two-dimensional flakes and heterostructures. This class of materials has been shown to exhibit an incredible variability in their properties, with the further benefit that they are highly tunable through gating and applied fields.
Professor of Physics and, by courtesy, of Applied Physics
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsHow do electrons organize themselves on the nanoscale?
We know that electrons are charged particles, and hence repel each other; yet in common metals like copper billions of electrons have plenty of room to maneuver and seem to move independently, taking no notice of each other. Professor Goldhaber-Gordon studies how electrons behave when they are instead confined to tiny structures, such as wires only tens of atoms wide. When constrained this way, electrons cannot easily avoid each other, and interactions strongly affect their organization and flow. The Goldhaber-Gordon group uses advanced fabrication techniques to confine electrons to semiconductor nanostructures, to extend our understanding of quantum mechanics to interacting particles, and to provide the basic science that will shape possible designs for future transistors and energy conversion technologies. The Goldhaber-Gordon group makes measurements using cryogenics, precision electrical measurements, and novel scanning probe techniques that allow direct spatial mapping of electron organization and flow. For some of their measurements of exotic quantum states, they cool electrons to a fiftieth of a degree above absolute zero, the world record for electrons in semiconductor nanostructures.
Associate Professor of Physics
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsWhat physics lies beyond the Standard Model and how can we discover it?
Professor Graham is broadly interested in theoretical physics beyond the Standard Model which often involves cosmology, astrophysics, general relativity, and even atomic physics. The Standard Model leaves many questions unanswered including the nature of dark matter and the origins of the weak scale, the cosmological constant, and the fundamental fermion masses. These clues are a guide to building new theories beyond the Standard Model. He recently proposed a new solution to the hierarchy problem which uses dynamical relaxation in the early universe instead of new physics at the weak scale.
Professor Graham is also interested in inventing novel experiments to discover such new physics, frequently using techniques from astrophysics, condensed matter, and atomic physics. He is a proposer and co-PI of the Cosmic Axion Spin Precession Experiment (CASPEr) and the DM Radio experiment. CASPEr uses nuclear magnetic resonance techniques to search for axion dark matter. DM Radio uses high precision magnetometry and electromagnetic resonators to search for hidden photon and axion dark matter. He has also proposed techniques for gravitational wave detection using atom interferometry.
Current areas of focus:
Theory beyond the Standard Model
Dark matter models and detection
Novel experimental proposals for discovering new physics such as axions and gravitational waves
Understanding results from experiments ranging from the LHC to early universe cosmology
Stanford Professor of Quantum Physics and Professor, by courtesy, of Computer Science
BioProfessor Hayden is a leader in the exciting new field of quantum information science. He has contributed greatly to our understanding of the absolute limits that quantum mechanics places on information processing, and how to exploit quantum effects for computing and other aspects of communication. He has also made some key insights on the relationship between black holes and information theory.
Professor (Research) of Physics
BioHow can we make optimal use of quantum systems (atoms, lasers, and electronics) to test fundamental physics principles, enable precision measurements of space-time and when feasible, develop useful devices, sensors, and instruments?
Professor Hollberg’s research objectives include high precision tests of fundamental physics as well as applications of laser physics and technology. This experimental program in laser/atomic physics focuses on high-resolution spectroscopy of laser-cooled and -trapped atoms, non-linear optical coherence effects in atoms, optical frequency combs, optical/microwave atomic clocks, and high sensitivity trace gas detection. Frequently this involves the study of laser noise and methods to circumvent measurement limitations, up to, and beyond, quantum limited optical detection. Technologies and tools utilized include frequency-stabilized lasers and chip-scale atomic devices. Based in the Hansen Experimental Physics Laboratory (HEPL), this research program has strong, synergistic, collaborative connections to the Stanford Center on Position Navigation and Time (SCPNT). Research directions are inspired by experience that deeper understanding of fundamental science is critical and vital in addressing real-world problems, for example in the environment, energy, and navigation. Amazing new technologies and devices enable experiments that test fundamental principles with high precision and sometimes lead to the development of better instruments and sensors. Ultrasensitive optical detection of atoms, monitoring of trace gases, isotopes, and chemicals can impact many fields. Results from well-designed experiments teach us about the “realities” of nature, guide and inform, occasionally produce new discoveries, frequently surprise, and almost always generate new questions and perspectives.