Letter from the President, 2010-2013

The highlight of my tenure as President was undoubtedly the 50th anniversary of the ACP in 2012, which we celebrated with a summer filled with joyful events. The physicist members plus the indefatigable staff – Jane Kelly, Paula Johnson and Patty Fox – developed a wide range of activities, including a formal ceremony with dignitaries such as the then head of the National Science Foundation, Subra Suresh, (the major funder of the Center), at which the ACP was recognized as a Historic Physics Site by the American Physical Society. The strong support from the Aspen community that the ACP has enjoyed has been — and continues to be — incredibly important; we invited the public to join our celebrations with a series of public lectures on physics by noted speakers and two symposia. Clifford Johnson created a short film that I think captures the special environment that the ACP offers for physics research (the full schedule of events is maintained on the ACP web pages).

Our 50th birthday was not only a time to celebrate our successful past, but also to reflect on how we achieved those successes and how to build upon them, as we look to the future. With budgets for basic research under intense pressure worldwide, we were immensely grateful for the renewal of our grant from the National Science Foundation, providing the bulk of the funds that offset housing costs for our participants. Physics is most certainly an international endeavor but government support for basic research in many countries is not sufficient to allow for many excellent physicists to travel to Aspen. We were therefore immensely grateful that the Simons Foundation, in 2013, awarded funds to the ACP “to support the participation in the Aspen Summer Program of outstanding scientists based in developing countries.”

My first experience of Aspen was in the winter, and I was very happy that while I was president the winter conference series thrived, with seven conferences in each winter 2011-2013 (up from five in each of the preceding three years).

Whether summer or winter, Aspen provides a unique location in which to think, discuss and forge new collaborations (and friends). I am grateful to have played a part in maintaining the ACP as the premier physics center where researchers from all over the world meet.

This essay was written in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Aspen Center for Physics.