Thursday, December 18, 2008

My Last Day at Bell Labs

After 11 years working at Bell Labs, today was my last day.

For the last 9 of these years I have been the head of a department that has done research on topics ranging from neuroscience to theoretical physics to experiments on quantum computing. During that time I have had some truly exceptional scientists in my department. I wish I could say that I helped them all with their research, but that is far from true. Someone once described my job as being like the sport of curling -- sweeping the ice so that the stone can go in the right direction. The scientists in my department knew better than anyone else what direction they should be going. What they needed from me most, was just removal of various impediments, and good strong representation to the higher authorities. I like to think that I managed to provide this on most occasions.

In trying to write an homage to Bell, I could think of nothing better than simply the names of the people who have reported to me, and where they are now.
  • Loren Pfeiffer, Ken West, and Kirk Baldwin will be leaving Bell for Princeton in Spring of 2009
  • Mike Manfra is a Professor of Physics, Material Sciences and Electrical Engineering at Purdue
  • Bob Willett remains at Bell
  • Sharad Ramanathan is a Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard University
  • Ronen Rapaport is Professor of Physics at Hebrew University
  • Gang Chen remains at Bell
  • Nicolai Zhitenev is a researcher at the National Institute for Science and Technology
  • Girsh Blumberg is a Professor of Physics at Rutgers University
  • Oleg Mitrofanov is a researcher at London Center for Nanotechnology
  • Chris Fuchs is a researcher at the Perimeter Institute
  • Anirvan Sengupta is a Professor of Physics and Biology at Rutgers
  • Boris Shraiman is Permanent Member of Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics at Santa Barbara
  • Michale Fee is a Professor of Neuroscience at MIT
  • Mark Schnitzer is a Professor of Biological Sciences and Applied Physics at Stanford
  • Rafi de Picciotto founded a startup company in Isreal
  • Stephen Van Enk is a professor of Physics at University of Oregon
  • Chandra Varma is a professor of Physics at UC Riverside
  • Phil Platzman is a researcher emeritus at Bell
  • Anton Andreev is a professor of Physics at University of Washington
  • Partha Mitra is a researcher at Cold Spring Harbor
I'm sure I missed some, as I'm reconstructing this list from memory. I'd like to thank all of these above listed people for their support, their friendship, and their great research that made me look good just by being associated with them.

In addition to these members of technical staff there were quite a few excellent post-docs (and it is more likely that I've missed a few here)
  • Alex Punnoose is a professor of Physics at City College of New York
  • David Lubensky is a professor of Physics at University of Michigan
  • Joel Moore is a professor of Physics at UC Berkeley
  • Aris Moustakas is a professor of Applied Physics at University of Athens
  • Alexei Tkachenko is a professor of Physics at University of Michigan
  • Stephan Schmult is a researcher at the Max Planck institute in Stuttgart
  • Richard Hahnloser is a professor of neuroinformatics at ETHZ in Switzerland
  • Luca Marinelli is a researcher at GE
  • Evgenii Naramanov is a professor of Electrical Engineering at Purdue
  • Raissa de Souza is a professor at UC Davis
  • Oana Malis is a professor of EE and Physics at Purdue
Similar thanks to all of these people. There were also some wonderful students (and I'm certainly certainly missing many many more here)
  • Simon Trebst is a researcher at Microsoft Station Q
  • Gunnar Moller is a postdoc at Cambridge
  • Anna Lopatnikova, is a hedge fund manager
  • Yaroslav Tserkovnyak is a Professor of Physics at UCLA
  • Ilya Berdnikov defended his dissertation yesterday at Rutgers and is at a financial firm
  • Nada Petrovic is working on her PhD at UCSB
  • Mara Baraban is working on her PhD at Yale
Of course during my time at Bell I had some great managers too
  • Peter Littlewood, now head of the Cavindish Lab at Cambridge.
  • Don Hamann, now adjunct faculty at Rutgers.
  • Cherry Murray now deputy director at Livermore National Lab
  • Federico Capasso, now a professor at Harvard
  • Dave Bishop. Now CTO of LGS,
  • Alice White, now head of North American research for Alcatel-Lucent
  • Martin Zirngble, now head of physical sciences research for Alcatel-Lucent
I want to thank them all for their support. Some of these people were truly exceptional managers and they all fought very hard for us in times of painful downsizing.

In addition, the other department heads who I worked closely with were also an exceptional bunch.
  • David Tank is a professor of genomics(?) at Princeton
  • Pierre Wiltzius is dean of sciences at UCSB
  • John Rogers is at the Beckman Institute in Urbana
  • Eric Isaacs is now deputy director of sciences at Argonne National Lab
  • Dick Slusher is director of the quantum institute at Georgia Tech
  • Elsa Reichmanis is a professor of chemistry at Georgia Tech
  • Art Ramirez is a research director at LGS
  • Susanne Arney remains a department head at Bell Labs
  • YK Chen remains a department head at Bell Labs
  • John Gates, not sure where he is.

I'd certainly like to thank them all for their help and friendship too. Some of these people were undoubtedly the people I turned to first when things got tough.

Finally there are a bunch of other people who don't fit into any of the above categories because they were outside of my management chain. It was also a pleasure to have scientific (or other) discussions with (and in some cases write papers with) the following people
  • Doug Natelson, now a professor of Physics at Rice
  • Mark Ericsson, now a professor of Physics at UW Madison
  • Don Monroe, now a science journalist
  • Paul Citrin, now teaching high school in NJ
  • Xing Wei, not sure where he is now
  • Claire Gmachl, now a professor of Engineering at Princeton
  • Paul Kolodner, still a researcher at Bell
  • Joanna Aizenberg, now a professor at Harvard
  • Tom Marzetta, still a researcher at Bell
  • David Abusch-Magder is the principal of a school in Chicago
  • Don Tennant, now director of operations of Cornell Nanocenter
  • Sivarama Venkatessan, still a researcher at Bell
  • Gerry Foschini, still a researcher at Bell
  • Tony Novembre, assistant director of Princeton PRISM
  • Harold Hwang, professor of Materials at university of Tokyo
  • Gabi Ernst, works for Bosch in Stuttgart
  • Glen Kowach, now a professor of chemistry at City College of New York
I've probably missed at least dozens more in this category. Then I could start in thanking the support staff (who is, as usual, totally unappreciated by most), the higher management, the people in completely different parts of the company, the team in Ireland, the team in the Netherlands, the team in France, the government gang, the IP team, and the list goes on and on. I apologize to those I have not listed by name here.

At any rate, these people (and the many who I did not list by name) were the people at Bell who worked with me, in one way or another, over the last 11 years and made my experience at Bell truly amazing.

Thank you all!

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