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A new generation of Noethers

Four talented physicists have been recruited as the next group of Emmy Noether Visiting Fellows at Perimeter Institute.

From 1908 until her death in 1935, German mathematician Amalie Emmy Noether made landmark contributions to abstract algebra and theoretical physics despite an academic environment that largely excluded women. She worked without pay for seven years, and spent four more lecturing under colleague David Hilbert’s name.

Yet Noether persevered. Her eponymous theorem explaining the connection between symmetry and conservation laws continues to underpin much of modern physics; Albert Einstein called her “the most important woman in the history of mathematics.”

A century later, much has changed – but physics remains a male-dominated field. From the undergraduate level up, less than one in five physicists are women, according to the American Physical Society.

Perimeter Institute is working to help change that. In 2013, the Institute launched the Emmy Noether Visiting Fellows program to support promising early-career women physicists. In the latest round of recruitment, four new Fellows have been appointed: Olalla Castro Alvaredo (City University of London), Emanuela Dimastrogiovanni (Case Western Reserve University), Paula Mellado (Adolfo Ibáñez University), and Yaping Yang (University of Massachusetts, Amherst).

Like the 19 Emmy Noether Visiting Fellows Perimeter has hosted to date, the latest group of Fellows will spend up to a year immersed in Perimeter’s dynamic scientific community while on leaves from their home institutions, pursuing research of immense potential. Here, they will have the chance to interact with researchers spanning the full spectrum of theoretical physics.

“In just a few years, we’ve already been able to connect with so many excellent women physicists,” says Bianca Dittrich, the Perimeter faculty member who leads the program. “We’re excited by the potential of these fellowships to help make us the destination of choice for top women physicists, and to help more women have long, productive careers in the field.”

Perimeter staff work with each Emmy Noether Visiting Fellow to tailor their stay at the Institute to each Fellow’s needs, arranging teaching buyouts with their home institutions, providing nearby accommodations, and helping set up schooling or childcare for those with children.

As the program has developed, its flexibility has been its calling card. If a Fellow’s schedule does not permit them to visit in the year they were recruited, the Institute makes it work for the following year. If one extended visit is not possible, staff arrange for multiple shorter visits.

“We do whatever we can to make these visits productive for the Fellows – and the members of the resident community that they are collaborating with,” explains Dittrich. “We want them to develop long-term collaborations that will help their careers going forward.”

The four new Emmy Noether Visiting Fellows are as follows:

Olalla Castro Alvaredo is a Senior Lecturer in Mathematics at City University of London. She is a theoretical physicist working in quantum field theory (QFT), specializing in the study of integrable 1+1-dimensional QFTs and other closely related theories, such as statistical models, conformal field theories, and integrable quantum spin chains. Castro Alvaredo has also worked on several outreach projects, aiming to promote science among young people and women in particular. She has been a member of the Institute of Physics since 2012.

Emanuela Dimastrogiovanni is an Assistant Professor at Case Western Reserve University. She is a cosmologist whose work involves developing models to describe the origin of cosmic structures and explore the connections between cosmology and particle physics. She also seeks to identify signatures and observables that – within the sensitivity limits of upcoming surveys – will be most effective for probing the particle content of the universe at very high energies.

Paula Mellado is an Associate Professor at Adolfo Ibáñez University in Santiago, Chile, and a Simons Associate of the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy. She is a theoretical condensed matter physicist whose research interests include magnets with competing interactions, frustrated systems, quantum computing, and elasticity theory.

Yaping Yang is a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, whose research interests lie in the areas of representation theory, topology, and algebraic geometry; her work touches upon several branches of mathematics, such as geometric representation theory, quantum groups, and elliptic cohomology theory. In 2016, Yang received an AMS-Simons Travel Grant from the American Mathematical Society and the Simons Foundation. In August 2017, Yang will begin a lecturer position at the University of Melbourne.

– Mike Brown




Institut Périmètre de Physique Théorique

L'Institut Périmètre est le plus grand centre de recherche en physique théorique au monde. Fondé en 1999, cet institut indépendant vise à favoriser les percées dans la compréhension fondamentale de notre univers, des plus infimes particules au cosmos tout entier. Les recherches effectuées à l’Institut Périmètre reposent sur l'idée que la science fondamentale fait progresser le savoir humain et catalyse l'innovation, et que la physique théorique d'aujourd'hui est la technologie de demain. Situé dans la région de Waterloo, cet établissement sans but lucratif met de l'avant un partenariat public-privé unique en son genre avec entre autres les gouvernements de l'Ontario et du Canada. Il facilite la recherche de pointe, forme la prochaine génération de pionniers de la science et communique le pouvoir de la physique grâce à des programmes primés d'éducation et de vulgarisation.




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“We’re excited by the potential of these fellowships to help make us the destination of choice for top women physicists.”


– Bianca Dittrich, Perimeter faculty member