I am currently an Associate Professor of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. I work in the Center for Theoretical Physics, focusing my research on the Large Hadron Collider experiment at CERN. Once upon a time I played tenor sax, but I switched to upright bass when I found out that “String Theory” was going to revolutionize particle physics.
Though I was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, I spent my formative years in York, Maine. My brother, Aaron, and I used to play all sorts of fun games including “wig” which nearly resulted in vital organ loss. I survived through York Middle School despite soldered glasses, a bad hair cut, and one-on-one math tutorials in a janitor's closet. My success was partly due to a love affair with a tenor saxophone.
I went to high school at Phillips Exeter Academy. It was there that I developed my radio personality, Lester Johnson, on 90.5 FM WPEA. I also learned how to rock out on the electric bass through a spiritual encounter with the band/fruit juice known as Nedlog. Oh, and I happened to meet a fine looking Russian-Cuban in a class on Zen Buddhism.
In 2002, I received an Sc.B. in Math/Physics from Brown University. At Brown, I was heavily involved with an upright bass named Else, until I was sucked into an eight-piece 70s funk band named DLicks. Lester spent a few too many hours doing late-night freeform radio at 95.5 WBRU. It was fun while it lasted… my/his sanity, that is.
Now I am engaged in an equally brain warping activity: theoretical physics. I received my Ph.D. in high energy theory at Harvard University, working with Nima Arkani-Hamed to elucidate some of the deep mysteries of the universe.
I then spent a glorious three-and-a-half years in California, doing post-doctorial research as a Miller Fellow at UC Berkeley and LBNL. Sasha and I tied the knot in 2007, and we've been enjoying married life ever since, testing the laws of gravity at every opportunity.
Alas, our time on the left coast was short-lived, and Sasha and I moved (back) to New England in 2010. I am now living the (academic) dream as an Associate Professor in the Center for Theoretical Physics at MIT. Go to my research page to see my attempts to address some of the outstanding questions in fundamental physics, including the nature of dark matter, the apparent weakness of gravity, and the symmetry structure of our universe.
And do drop me a line if you find yourself in the Boston Area.
Sasha managed to finish about three-quarters of a Saturday NYTimes crossword puzzle before she realized that I was proposing to her. (58-Down: Yes.) She received her J.D. from Boston University, passed (!) the California and Massachusetts Bar Exams, and is now a partner at the labor and employment law firm Bello/Welsh.
At Yale, Sasha studied Cognitive Science with a concentration in Artificial Intelligence. She was the musical director (and sang tenor) for the a cappella group Redhot & Blue. She speaks Spanish with a Russian accent, Russian with an American accent, and English with a few glottals added for good measure. Her favorite number is 26.2.
Aaron graduated from Wesleyan University where he majored in something other than physics. He lived the good life in San Francisco, working in the non-profit sector and rocking out on his guitar. Aaron lives on in our memories.
My mom, Alalia, recently completed a tour of Cuba with Voices from the Heart, an all female a cappella group based in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. They sing inspirational songs from around the world. She's kept her day job as a guidance counselor at York High School.
With both of his sons having lived in California, Fred has taken up some decidedly West Coast hobbies: surfing and yoga. He's also a doctor at Kittery Family Practice. Once upon a time, he played harmonica in “The Doc Johnson Blues Band” but now he's working on his jazz piano.
We'll see how long our son Adrian can avoid having his (cute!) pictures posted all over the internet. He is a precocious little preschooler, who would like you to know “that's preposterous” (or “ridiculous”, or “not fair” in the case of withheld chocolate).
Our dog Izzy has also managed to avoid the internet limelight. She has, however, discovered the smörgåsbord along the streets of Cambridge.