Webinar

Prof. Stephon Alexander
Brown University & NSBP President

Stephon Alexander is a theoretical physicist, musician, and author whose work is at the interface between cosmology, particle physics, and quantum gravity. He works on the connection between the smallest and largest entities in the universe pushing Einstein’s theory of curved space-time to extremes, beyond the big bang with sub atomic phenomena.

Alexander is a Professor of Physics at Brown University, and the President of the National Society of Black Physicists. He had previous appointments at Stanford University, Imperial College, Penn State, Dartmouth College and Haverford College. Alexander is a specialist in the field of string theory and cosmology, where the physics of superstrings are applied to address longstanding questions in cosmology. In 2001, he co-invented the model of inflation based on higher dimensional hypersurfaces in string theory called D-Branes. In such models the early universe emerged from the destruction of a higher dimensional D-brane which ignites a period of rapid expansion of space often referred to as cosmic inflation.

In his critically acclaimed book, The Jazz of Physics, Alexander revisits the ancient interconnection between music and the evolution of astrophysics and the laws of motion. He explores new ways music, in particular jazz music, mirrors modern physics, such as quantum mechanics, general relativity, and the physics of the early universe. He also discusses ways that innovations in physics have been and can be inspired from "improvisational logic" exemplified in Jazz performance and practice. Alexander is also a professional touring jazz musician.

Prof. S. James Gates, Jr.
Brown University & APS President-Elect

S. James Gates, Jr., APS President-Elect investigates the mathematics of supersymmetry in particle, field, and string theories.  In 2013, he received a National Medal of Science and became the first African-American theoretical physicist elected to the National Academy of Sciences in its one-hundred and fifty-year history. During the period of 2009 - 2017, he was a member of the U.S. President's Council of Advisors on Science & Technology (PCAST) during the Obama administration.

Arlene Modeste Knowles
AIP, TEAM-UP Project Manager

As the American Institute of Physics’ (AIP) TEAM-UP Diversity Task Force Project Manager, Arlene Modeste Knowles successfully guided the TEAM-UP project to the completion of its first phase, which culminated in the first ever AIP Expert Report, The Time is Now: Systemic Changes to Increase African Americans with Bachelor’s Degrees in Physics & Astronomy. This two-year project, which involved a comprehensive research study by TEAM-UP, was aimed at understanding the reasons for the persistent underrepresentation of African Americans in physics and astronomy at the bachelor’s level. Formerly, Ms. Knowles spent more than two decades managing, coordinating, and contributing to diversity programs and projects for the American Physical Society, including the now retired Minority Scholarship Program, the National Mentoring Community, the LGBT+ Climate Report and many others. Currently, Ms. Knowles is overseeing the implementation phase of the TEAM-UP project and taking an active leadership role in several community wide DEI initiatives in the physical sciences.

Prof. Philip W. Phillips
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Professor Philip Phillips received his bachelor's degree from Walla Walla College in 1979, and his Ph.D. from
the University of Washington in 1982. After a Miller Fellowship at Berkeley, he joined the faculty at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1984-1993). Professor Phillips came to the University of Illinois in 1993.

Professor Phillips is a theoretical condensed matter physicist who has an international reputation for his work on transport in disordered and strongly correlated low-dimensional systems. He is the inventor of various models for Bose metals, Mottness, and the random dimer model, which exhibits extended states in one dimension, thereby representing an exception to the localization theorem of Anderson's.

His research focuses sharply on explaining current experimental observations that challenge the standard paradigms of electron transport and magnetism in solid state physics. Departures from paradigms tell us that there is much to learn. Such departures are expected to occur in the presence of strong-electron interactions, disorder, and in the vicinity of zero-temperature quantum critical points. The common question posed by experiments that probe such physics is quite general. Simply, how do strong Coulomb interactions and disorder conspire to mediate zero-temperature states of matter? It is precisely the strongly interacting electron problem or any strongly coupled problem for that matter, such as quark confinement, that represents one of the yet-unconquered frontiers in physics. Understanding the physics of strong coupling is Phillips' primary focus.

Prof. Lisa Randall
Harvard University

Professor Lisa Randall studies theoretical particle physics and cosmology at Harvard University. Her research connects theoretical insights to puzzles in our current understanding of the properties and interactions of matter. She has developed and studied a wide variety of models to address these questions, the most prominent involving extra dimensions of space. 

Randall has also had a public presence through her writing, lectures, and radio and TV appearances. Randall’s books, Warped Passages: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe’s Hidden Dimensions and Knocking on Heaven’s Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and the Modern World were both on the New York Times’ list of 100 Notable Books of the Year. 

Randall is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, was a fellow of the American Physical Society and the recipient of several honorary degrees. She is the recipient of the Klopsteg Award from the AAPT, the Gemant Award from the AIP, and the Lilienfeld and Sakurai Prizes from the APS.

Prof. Mel Sabella
Chicago State University & AAPT Past President

Mel Sabella is the Past President of the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) and a Professor of Physics at Chicago State University, a Predominantly Black Institution on Chicago’s southside. His research and teaching focus on improving STEM education for students underrepresented in physics by identifying and leveraging the resources, strengths, and culture of this community to build inclusive classrooms. He was named an APS Fellow in 2019 and is the co-director of the CSU Learning Assistant (LA) Program and serves on the LA Alliance Leadership Council.

Farrah Simpson
Brown University, NSBP Board Student Representative & Graduate Student

Farrah Simpson is currently pursuing her physics doctoral degree at Brown University. Her research is in Experimental High Energy Physics and focuses on models beyond the Standard Model. She hails from the island of Jamaica and completed her undergraduate degree in Applied Physics at Columbia University in the City of New York. She currently serves as the Student Representative on the National Society of Black Physicists Executive Board.