As part of an ambitious plan to recruit outstanding theoretical physicists from around the world, the University of Chicago has appointed Dam Thanh Son as University Professor of Physics, effective Sept. 1.
The depth and elegance of Son’s research has demonstrated links between such seemingly unrelated areas of physics as nuclear physics and black holes. His interests also range across atomic, condensed matter and particle physics.
A native of Vietnam, Son comes to the University of Chicago from the University of Washington, where he serves as a professor of physics and a senior fellow in the Institute for Nuclear Theory.
University Professors represent the highest scholarly aspirations of the University of Chicago. They are selected from outside institutions because of their internationally recognized eminence and for their potential for broad impact. Son is the 19th person to hold a University Professorship, and the seventh active faculty member holding that title.
“Today we are proud to announce that Prof. Son will join the University of Chicago faculty as University Professor, which includes appointments in our physics department as well as in two of our richly productive interdisciplinary research institutes — the Enrico Fermi Institute and the James Franck Institute,” said Robert Fefferman, dean of University of Chicago’s Physical Sciences Division.
“He will provide tremendous intellectual leadership that will mark the opening of a new era in the University’s storied tradition of physics research.”
In addition to Son’s appointment and the new physics faculty initiative, the University is also launching a Center for Physical Inquiry. The center is designed to become a focal point of activity for theoretical physicists, providing substantial support for shared postdoctoral fellows, students and academic visitors.
Provost Thomas F. Rosenbaum said the center will serve as a natural structure for bringing the theoretical faculty together under a common umbrella organization, building on the rich tradition of interdisciplinary science represented by the James Franck and Enrico Fermi institutes.
Son said that kind of collaboration was part of the reason he chose to come to University of Chicago.
“The University of Chicago is a world-renowned institution with a long tradition in physics. I feel extremely honored to be at the same place where Enrico Fermi and Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar have worked,” Son said.
“Personally, Chandrasekhar’s famous voyage from India to Europe inspired me as a kid in Vietnam, and Fermi’s insightful lecture notes deeply influenced me as an undergraduate in Moscow. I have had 10 extremely interesting years at the Institute for Nuclear Theory at the University of Washington, and now I am ready for new challenges.”./.