STONY BROOK, NY, MAY 2, 2013 – Leonardo Rastelli, PhD, Associate Professor in the Yang Institute for Theoretical Physics and the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Stony Brook University, has been named a 2013 Guggenheim Fellow by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Often called midcareer awards, the Guggenheim Fellowship is based on distinguished achievement in the past and exceptional promise for the future. He was chosen among a group of 175 scholars, artists, and scientists from nearly 3,000 candidates. Dr. Rastelli’s project chosen for the Guggenheim award is entitled The Superconformal Bootstrap Program.
“I am very honored by this recognition,” Rastelli said. “I am both proud and intimidated to appear in the same list as the illustrious colleagues who received the fellowship before.”
Professor Rastelli explains that the general idea of the “bootstrap” is that “physical theories must obey stringent consistency conditions,” he said. `` "Not anything goes, on the contrary, the rules of the game are very constraining, and in some cases they might even fix the theory uniquely. In collaboration with a very talented group of students and postdocs, I plan to apply the modern bootstrap program to theories that have a high degree of symmetry; they are both conformal – have no intrinsic length scale – and are supersymmetric.”
Supersymmetry is a symmetry that relates bosons and fermions and is a very powerful symmetry – many important discoveries about it were made at Stony Brook. “This approach gives insight into certain aspects of physical theories for which no other computational scheme is available,” he said.
Professor Rastelli received his Laurea from the University of Pisa, Italy, as a student of the Scuola Normale Superiore, in 1996, and his PhD from MIT in 2000. As an MIT graduate student he was awarded the Lockett Award for Excellence in Theoretical Physics. He was a Dicke Fellow and then an Assistant Professor at Princeton University, before joining Stony Brook in 2006. He is a recipient of an Outstanding Junior Investigator Award from the Department of Energy and has published over 50 peer-reviewed articles. His research interests lie at the intersection of string theory and quantum field theory, ranging from foundational and mathematical aspects of string theory to purely field theoretic problems (as in his current work on the conformal bootstrap). He served and continues to serve as the proud mentor of several students and postdocs who have gone on to successful careers in Physics.
Since its establishment in 1925, the Guggenheim Foundation has granted over $306 million in Fellowships to more than 17,500 individuals, among whom are scores of Nobel laureates, poets laureate, winners of Pulitzer Prizes, Fields Medals and of other important, internationally recognized honors.
“These artists and writers, scholars and scientists, represent the best of the best,” Edward Hirsch, president of the Foundation, said of the 175 new Guggenheim fellows. “Since 1925, the Guggenheim Foundation has always bet everything on the individual, and we’re thrilled to continue the tradition with this wonderfully talented and diverse group. It’s an honor to be able to support these individuals to do the work they were meant to do.”