The University of Arizona

Nobel Laureate, Reporter With UA Ties Among Science’s Best

By Rebecca Ruiz McGill, University Communications | July 10, 2012
Nobel Laureate Brian Schmidt visits with emerging researchers during the July 1-6 Lindau Nobel Laureate meeting held in Germany.
Nobel Laureate Brian Schmidt visits with emerging researchers during the July 1-6 Lindau Nobel Laureate meeting held in Germany.

Brian Schmidt, a 2011 Nobel Laureate and 1989 UA graduate in physics and astronomy, and Alaina G. Levine, a 1996 UA graduate of mathematics and 1997 UA graduate of anthropology, attended the annual Lindau Nobel Laureate meeting in Germany last week.

Nobel Laureate Brian Schmidt, a 1989 UA graduate in physics and astronomy, and Alaina G. Levine, a 1996 UA graduate of mathematics and 1997 UA graduate of anthropology, together during the Lindau Nobel Laureate meeting in Germany last week.
Nobel Laureate Brian Schmidt, a 1989 UA graduate in physics and astronomy, and Alaina G. Levine, a 1996 UA graduate of mathematics and 1997 UA graduate of anthropology, together during the Lindau Nobel Laureate meeting in Germany last week.

The first week of July drew together more than two dozen Nobel Laureates, hundreds of young researchers and more than 100 reporters for the annual Lindau Nobel Laureate meeting in Germany – and this year, two University of Arizona alumni participated.

Brian Schmidt, a 2011 Nobel Laureate and 1989 UA graduate in physics and astronomy, and Alaina G. Levine, a 1996 UA graduate of mathematics and 1997 UA graduate of anthropology, attended the prestigious event.

The Lindau Nobel Laureate meeting provides a global forum for the transfer of knowledge among generations of scientists and an international pool of emerging researchers who participate in panel discussions, seminars and various events to discuss scientific topics and present relevant fields of research of the future.

Schmidt served as the plenary speaker and lectured on the standard model of cosmology and its current observational constraints while highlighting future observations that may provide improved insights into understanding the cosmological parameters that govern the evolution of the cosmos on a global scale.

He also led a discussion with the young researchers, as did the other Laureates. A worldwide network of academic partners nominated the young researchers to attend.

Levine earned her admission through a National Association of Science Writers travel fellowship and covered the meeting as a member of the media for the science publication, National Geographic.

As a contributor to National Geographic’s online news initiative, News Watch, Levine writes articles and a blog and has published her work in Science, Nature, Scientific American and Smithsonian, among other publications, while also earning many prestigious fellowships.

She also is president of Quantum Success Solutions, a career consulting, public speaking and leadership consulting business for scientists and engineers.

Each year, the Lindau meetings change scientific focus, and it was fitting that the 62nd Lindau meeting was dedicated to physics, as the highlight was the telecast announcement from the European Organization for Nuclear Research known as CERN of its discovery of a new particle. The new particle may prove to be the elusive Higgs Boson and was discovered in experiments at the Large Hadron Collider.

The UA has been collaborating in the ATLAS experiment, working on the ATLAS detector, one of six detectors that make up the Large Hadron Collider, since the mid-1990s. The UA specifically contributed in its development of new calorimeter technology that was built to withstand never-before-achieved proton collision rates and measure elementary particle position and energy with excellent accuracy.

Levine, who worked at the UA during the initial work on the ATLAS experiment, recalled the excitement of the UA’s involvement in ATLAS while she worked as the director of communications for the UA physics department and later served as the director of special projects for the UA College of Science.

“Covering the meeting solidified my passion for science and scientific inquiry, and I couldn’t have been more proud of the UA's contributions to physics and indeed human knowledge,” she said.

She broke the story on the new particle for National Geographic and relished the opportunity to sit in during the Lindau panel discussion on the discovery with a Nobel Laureate member of CERN and others after the ground-breaking announcement.      

Said Levine: “I was in absolute heaven covering the meeting in Lindau, and I gained a greater appreciation for physics and a greater appreciation for a worldwide appreciation for physics. I am truly grateful for my time at the UA for setting me in the right direction for success.”