Director's Letter - Spring 2022

Lars Bildsten.
Photo by Carter Hiyama.

KITP continues to provide scientists from around the world the opportunity to interact again here at Kohn Hall and the Munger Physics Residence. The banner above shows the excellent array of cookies that our staff provide to our visitors daily in Kohn Hall's Gurley courtyard. I'm happy to report that if you are ten minutes late for cookie-time, it's all gone! Life appears to be going back to normal, and the blackboards are full of new ideas every day.

None of this would happen without KITP's staff, who continue to impress all of us with their persistent passion to deliver on KITP's mission and keep science happening. A big change to KITP's operations has been the seamless incorporation of remote program participants via Zoom. Led by KITP staff members Alina Gutierrez and Craig Kunimoto, this has enhanced participation, increased the size of the audience for each talk, and triggered richer discussions. We are now working to ensure this new modality stays with us "forever", as the value is now evident to us and the physics community. It's a positive development that arose during the pandemic.

In addition to our in-person scientific activities, we have also resumed in-person activities for the Santa Barbara public. From a talk about pandemics by former KITP postdoc Richard Neher at the downtown New Vic Theatre to a celebration in Kohn Hall of the life of Jean-Pierre Hebert (KITP's longtime inaugural Artist-in-Residence who passed away in 2021) we continue to welcome back good friends to Kohn Hall who we've not seen for quite a while. We also continue to host our virtual public events, and just this spring had an online Book Talk by Nicole Yunger Halpern entitled: “Quantum Steampunk: The Physics of Yesterday's Tomorrow”. Nicole also wrote a nice piece about her recent visit to KITP, which you can read about here.

On March 11, 2022, we were delighted to host a visit to KITP of Jim and Marilyn Simons to celebrate the renaming of one our most favored convening spaces to the Simons Amphitheater. The plaque in that room clearly states their impact: "Named in honor of Jim and Marilyn Simons and the Simons Foundation for their decades of generous support of the international physics community and their sustained investment in the KITP". As you can see here, we had a wonderful time celebrating together that day!

Our KITP postdocs continue to be very productive and impactful in their research. They are also now returning to in-person work at Kohn Hall. I will update you on their departures and arrivals in the Fall 2022 Newsletter, but in the meanwhile please enjoy the article starting here about Grant Remmen's work connecting scattering amplitudes to Riemann's zeta function. It's really wonderful to behold. Deep work in relations arising from particle scattering has a long tradition at KITP, and here you can read an article about the rise and impact of these connections that sprouted during a program in 2004. As noted in that article, these connections continue to grow and we just completed a program exploring the connections between scattering amplitudes and gravitational wave emission.

The pandemic also gave us time to tackle long overdue projects. One that I am quite proud of is the completion of the Art Catalog for the Munger Residence. I had collected all of the information about the art on display there early on, but had never found the time or had the team to make it happen. Well, due to the remarkable effort of Megan Turley (then KITP's Development Coordinator), we were able to pull this together with the excellent design assistance of Megan Shoemaker (UCSB Graphic Designer). This book allows our visitors to fully appreciate and understand the art that graces the Munger Residence and is a lasting legacy of Megan Turley's time with us here at KITP. Starting a few months back, Megan was promoted to Associate Director of Development at the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education (GGSE), allowing her to continue to support the intellectual life at UCSB through fundraising for GGSE. All of us wish Megan the best in her new position and look forward to introducing you to our new hire for this position, Demi Cain, when we see you here again this summer!



~ Lars Bildsten, KITP Director

KITP 2022 Spring Newsletter