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Brandeis hosts annual Eisenbud Lectures in Math and Physics

Brandeis held their annual Eisenbud Lectures in Mathematics and Physics from March 28 to March 30. Brandeis brought in a professor of physics at Stanford University, Eva Silverstein. The last Eisenbud Lectures were held in the 2018-2019 academic year, featuring Spencer Bloch, a professor in mathematics at the University of Chicago. 

The annual Eisenbud Lectures are sponsored by the mathematics and physics departments at Brandeis. According to a Brandeis blog post, they are a “generous donation by Leonard and Ruth-Jean Eisenbud intended for a yearly set of lectures by an eminent physicist or mathematician working close to the interface of the two subjects.” Leonard and Ruth Eisenbud the parents of David Eisenbud, a well-known mathematician and professor of mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley. 

Eisenbud taught at Brandeis in the mathematics department for 27 years before he joined the staff at UC Berkeley. His father, Leonard Eisenbud, was an American theoretical physicist. The Brandeis Eisenbud Lectures are both named after and endowed by him for his work in nuclear physics. Every year, Brandeis holds these lectures and brings in a prominent physicist or mathematician whose work interweaves the two subjects. 

Eva Silverstein, American theoretical physicist and professor of physics at Stanford University, was selected to lead the Eisenbud lectures this past week. Silverstein received her B.A. in physics from Harvard University and her Ph.D. in physics from Princeton University. Silverstein was a Sloan Fellow, McArthur Fellow, American Physics Society Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences Fellow and a current Simons Investigator. 

According to her profile on Stanford’s faculty page, her research poses questions such as, “what are the basic degrees of freedom and interactions underlying gravitational and particle physics?” and “what is the mechanism behind the initial seeds of structure in the universe, and how can we test it using cosmological observations?” Her primary research focuses on the connections between cosmic inflation and string theory.

During her lecture on Tuesday, March 29 titled “The Accelerating Universe and Rigid Einstein Manifolds,” she discussed her publication, which she referred to as her “pandemic paper” as well as lectured on topics ranging from gravitation, cosmology and string theory. Silverstein provided stimulating content to students and faculty who engaged in the lecture and asked provocative questions. 

Silverstein led two other lectures on Wednesday and Thursday of this past week. On Wednesday she held a discussion titled “The Accelerating Universe and Integrable Deformations of Quantum Field Theories.” On Thursday, she held her third and final lecture on “Optimization and Sampling from Energy-Conserving Hamiltonian Dynamical Systems.”

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