Director's Letter - Fall 2016

Lars Bildsten.
Photo by Tony Mastres.

I am writing to you this Fall, as we complete construction of KITP’s new Residence, shown above, fully funded by Charlie Munger. We remain on track for an early 2017 opening, and describe, here, the efforts we are making during construction so as to hopefully achieve Platinum in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

We are very proud of the achievements of our postdocs here at KITP. As expected, many departed in Fall 2016 for new positions. Tarun Grover accepted an assistant professor position at UC San Diego, while Matteo Cantiello is departing for the newly established Flatiron Institute in Manhattan where he will be an Associate Research Scientist at the Center for Computational Astrophysics.

Five new postdoctoral fellows arrived in September. Xiao Chen and Chao-Ming Jian are theoretical condensed matter physicists who respectively study entanglement and dynamics of many body quantum systems, and topological phases of matter and quantum information-theoretic studies of correlated matter. Mike McCourt and Yan-Fei Jiang are both astrophysicists; Yan Fei studies magneto-hydrodynamic instabilities in accretion disks, while Mike is focused on gas and plasma dynamics of material around supermassive black holes and large galaxy clusters. Shahriar Shadkoo, who has just arrived from UCLA, is a statistical physicist interested in living matter and morphogenic processes.

After two years of great service to KITP, Deputy Director John Berlinsky departed this September, and will return to Canada in 2017. Mark Bowick of Syracuse University arrived and is off to a running start as our newest Deputy Director. There have also been some staff transitions, with the arrival of Amy Burgard as our new financial manager. Please welcome them next time you are in Kohn Hall!

Walter Kohn, the institute’s first Director, passed away this spring. An article celebrating his life and achievements can be found here. We continue outreach to the community, and here, we describe the Cafe KITP given by Elisabetta Matsumoto, one of our program participants. Our visitors have also been kind enough to describe the science they carried out while here at KITP. Articles describing programs on Olfaction can be found here and the Large Hadron Collider can be found here.

Our programs also strengthen existing collaborations and nucleate new ideas. As an experiment funded by the Kavli Foundation, we have been hosting “Follow-ons” (read more) that allow for collaborating groups of former KITP program participants to return for an intense 1-2 week working period. Since starting in January 2015, this has allowed us to host an additional 150 visitors at KITP, resulting in at least an additional 30 papers in the refereed literature.

I’m pleased to close out this note with the thought that next time I write, we will be housing most of our visitors in the Residence and I will no longer be wearing a hard hat. I also hope to be sharing with you that we have successfully renewed the National Science Foundation’s support for KITP. Growing and diversifying the Institute’s support from multiple sectors has been my charge since becoming director in 2012, and I am pleased to share all we have accomplished in this newsletter.


~ Lars Bildsten, KITP Director
KITP Newsletter, Fall 2016