Featured Friend

Featured Friend: Daniel Nash

Daniel on a recent trip with wife Maia to Aspen, CO


Daniel and his wife Maia Kikerpill have been Friends of KITP since 2015, when they moved back to Santa Barbara from the East Coast. They have one daughter, Hannah, who recently graduated from Dartmouth College.

Daniel has a background in particle physics, and actually spent time at KITP when he was a postdoctoral scholar at University of Michigan! He has a B.S. in Physics from Carnegie Mellon University, and received his Ph.D. in Physics from Yale University. Before retiring in 2013, Daniel was a managing director at Morgan Stanley specializing in derivatives for many years. 


How did you first learn of KITP?

In 1990 I came to the ITP to work with Marty [Einhorn]. I was a particle physics postdoc at University of Michigan, and I showed up in Michigan, and Marty left for Santa Barbara! So I followed him out here.

That’s why I love the ITP. I went to Michigan and nobody really cared about my research. I gave a talk, nobody cared. I came to the ITP that February of 1990, and I was the belle of the ball! Everybody came out of the woodwork – everyone in my field showed up at the same time. And for about a week, everybody wanted to come talk to me. For a young researcher, that was wonderful and hugely valuable opportunity. 


How did you come back to KITP? 

After a successful stint working in finance, my wife Maia and I came here on vacation in 2014. I had retired the year before and we were living in New York at the time. We had bought a house in Asheville, NC thinking we would retire there, and then in February it had been snowing every weekend and we thought, “we are so tired of this, let’s go to California!” 

So we started on a vacation for two weeks to California, and we made it to Santa Barbara.  We were walking in the park at the Botanical Garden, which we used to love to come to, and it was 70 degrees, a spectacular day, and we thought, “We should move here!” 

I remember there were a few things like that. Another was talking to Marty, who was still here, who I hadn’t talked to in 30 years, and he was like “You should come back!

I thought we’d spend a couple of years looking for a house. The day before we left, we saw this perfect house – where we are now – and I even said when we walked in the house “this is everything we want!”  They accepted our offer while we were in the airport. 

And then once Marty heard the news he said “Join Friends of KITP!” and we did. 


Tell us a little more about why you think KITP is important… 

The first thing that Lars said to me when I said “I used to be a physicist here, how can I get involved?” he said “Take my class!”  He was super welcoming, super friendly.  His class is wonderful and so I really enjoyed getting to participate, it was fun. 

And I remember that there were a couple of things I learned that I thought, “I didn’t know that – that’s really cool.” 

The exciting thing about Lars’s work in astrophysics is there’s new data all the time. There is constantly new information, “Where did this come from? Why is that going on? We thought we understood that but…”  I wish I was in a field like that – where you had things that are new and happening all the time!

I read a really interesting article comparing dark matter as particle physicists see it and dark matter as astrophysicists see it, and they’re both working on the same problem and they never talk. Unless, they’re at KITP! I think that’s a perfect example of why KITP is good. The author was actually lamenting the sociology of the two groups being very, very different.  


What are you excited about right now?

This could take days! Mostly my new Tai Chi and Kung Fu school (www.masteryun.com). 

As you know, I like physics and I like thinking so I always thought when I retired I would become a physicist. And the KITP was incredibly welcoming so I thought for sure physics is what I would do initially. 

And then, I met Master Yun in the park about three and a half years ago after finding I couldn’t sit in a chair all day, which is what I have been doing for 20 years. And I thought, “I can’t do that, I’m 57 and I will lose my body if I don’t… you know… move!” And I found that when I am working on a math problem or something like that, I get kind of agitated. But when I’m practicing Tai Chi, I feel good. When I do a couple hours of practice, my body feels amazing and my mind is calm.  

And so I’m trying to find enough time in the day to keep doing some intellectual stuff and get all the practicing I want to get in. The truth is that so far I have not succeeded at that other than reading a few textbooks but that’s where the KITP comes in again! I can always just show up at a Chalk Talk or Public Lecture if I need a physics fix and am really grateful to have such a fantastic resource right here in Santa Barbara. 


Interested in nominating a featured Friend?

Email us at: friends@kitp.ucsb.edu!


KITP Featured Friends

Date Featured Previously Featured Friends

March 18, 2019

Michael Brinkenhoff, Article

May 14, 2019

Margaret Gordon, Article

September 16, 2019

Daniel Nash, Article