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Nobel Prize winner to address CSUB NS&M grads
  May 25, 2006
Mike Stepanovich, 661/654-2456,,
or Jaclyn Loveless, 661/654-2138,

A Nobel Prize-winning physicist will be among the commencement speakers at California State University, Bakersfield as the university celebrates its 36th commencement Friday and Saturday, June 9 and 10, with 1,198 members of the class of 2006 being recognized at four ceremonies.

CSUB's School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics will have David Gross, the Frederick W. Gluck Professor of Theoretical Physics and the director of the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (KITP) at the University of California, Santa Barbara, one of the premier physics institutes in the world, as its commencement speaker Saturday, June 10, at 1 p.m. in the Icardo Center. In 2004 Gross received the Nobel Prize in physics.

Gross grew up in the Washington, D.C., area before moving to Jerusalem, where he attended Hebrew University and received a bachelor's degree in physics. After receiving his doctorate at the University of California, Berkeley in 1966, he became a junior fellow at Harvard University. In 1969 he joined Princeton University and was eventually named the Eugene Higgins Professor of Physics and Thomas Jones Professor of Mathematics. In 1997 he moved to California to become director of KITP.

The institute houses a visiting scholar program and has most recently named Alexander Dzyubenko, a CSUB theoretical physicist, as one of its visiting researchers.

The purpose of the program is to support the research efforts of faculty at American colleges and universities that are not major research institutions. Each KITP scholar receives funds for three round trips and up to six weeks of local expenses to be used over a period of three years.

"The visiting scholar program at the KITP has been a great success," Gross said. "We are delighted to have the opportunity to choose each year seven excellent research physicists, such as Dr. Dzyubenko, who are given the opportunity to visit the KITP for two weeks for three years. These visits have been very beneficial to these scientists to help them stay in touch with developments at the frontier of physics and to continue an active research program."

Dzyubenko is the second recipient of this honor from CSUB. CSUB physics professor Vladmir Gasparyan was named a visiting scholar in 2002-2004.

Gross is one of the founders of Quantum Chromodynamics (QCD), the theory of the strong nuclear force. The 2004 Nobel Prize in physics was awarded jointly to Gross, his former student Frank Wilczek, now at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and David Politzer, now at the California Institute of Technology, for the discovery of asymptotic freedom.

Gross and Wilczek at Princeton, and Politzer working independently at Harvard, showed that the attractive nuclear force between quarks, which binds the atomic nucleus together, becomes very large at large distances explaining the phenomenon of quark confinement. Correspondingly, the attraction grows weaker at short distances. Quarks can be considered "free" once they are extremely close to each other, as in a proton or neutron. This discovery led to the general acceptance of QCD as the correct field theory of the strong nuclear force.

"This Nobel Prize recognizes the efforts not only by us but also the community of high energy physics," Gross has said. "Scientific explorations into fundamental reality are no longer the province of the lone genius such as Galileo or Newton or Einstein, but a collaborative effort by a community of scientists. Hundreds of experimental physicists at the world's accelerator laboratories have designed and run the experiments that gave us early hints about how the strong force operates and then, after we published our theory, proved it. The effort to explore the subtleties of the nuclear force continues today; we still have many implications of the theory to work out."

Gross is also a pioneer in string theory, which attempts to unify all forces of nature including quantum gravity. In the 1980s he led the team that discovered the Heterotic String Theory, which is considered to be the most promising unified string theory and which continues to be central to the development of the theory.

The professor sees how the national shortage of math and science teachers is taking its toll on the field and weighs in on the subject, "This is an extremely important problem that faces our country," Gross stressed. "There are efforts under way in Washington (D.C.) to try to address the shortage, which we hope will have some effect. But we should all be worried, especially since our economy depends more and more on scientifically trained people and our competitors throughout the world, and especially in Asia, are making major investments in science and technology and educating many more scientists than we are."

Gross' achievements are extensive. He was an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow (1970-74) and was elected Fellow of the American Physical Society (1974), Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1985), Member of the National Academy of Sciences (1986), and fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1987). He is the recipient of the J.J. Sakurai Prize of the American Physical Society in 1986, a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship Prize in 1987, the Dirac Medal in 1988, the Oscar Klein Medal from Stockholm University in 1988, the Harvey Prize from Technion – Israel Institute of Technology in 2003, and the European Physical Society Prize in Elementary Particle Physics in 2003.

He also received an honorary doctorate from Montpellier University in France and from Hebrew University in Jerusalem. And in 2004 Gross was selected to receive Frances's highest scientific honor, the Grande Médaille D'Or, for his contributions to the understanding of fundamental physical reality.

Additional commencement ceremonies are as follows:

  • The School of Education holds the first of the commencement ceremonies on Friday at 7 p.m. in the Icardo Center.
  • The School of Humanities and Social Sciences' ceremony begins Saturday at 7:15 a.m. in the Amphitheater.
  • The School of Business and Public Administration's ceremony will be Saturday at 5:45 p.m. in the Icardo Center.

Speakers for the ceremonies are as follows:

  • School of Education, Christine Frazier, associate superintendent for the Kern County Superintendent of Schools.
  • School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Tara-Nicholle Nelson, real estate broker, attorney, and author.
  • School of Business and Public Administration, Raymond Bishop, director of Kern County Airports.

Speakers' biographical sketches

  • Frazier joined the Kern County Superintendent of Schools office in 1996 and is currently the associate superintendent. She has worked in public education more than 25 years. During her tenure she served as a classroom teacher, school principal, assistant superintendent and school district superintendent. In her current position she oversees all divisions and more than 1,500 employees. Many of her assignments involve providing fiscal and management assistance to schools in and outside Kern County. In recent years, she has been part of a state team assigned to develop fiscal recovery plans for large urban school districts throughout the state. A native of Arizona, she obtained her undergraduate degree from Arizona State University and her master's from CSUB. Community activities include serving on the boards of the Boys and Girls Club of Bakersfield and Junior Achievement. Frazier was recently selected by the American Institute for Research's professional judgment panel to conduct a California school funding adequacy study. She was chosen among only 18 other professionals throughout California to participate in this project.
  • Nelson's real estate expertise is providing real estate education and services to niche markets, including single women, investors, and parties involved in legally complex transactions. As a single teen-age mother living in the Central Valley, Nelson completed her bachelor's and master's in psychology at CSUB. In 1998 Nelson moved to the Bay area to attend the UC Berkeley School of Law. After graduation and leaving a diverse law practice, she developed her own specialized real estate practice, which she continues today. She is currently writing "The Single Girls' Homebuying Handbook" and companion workbook.
  • Bishop has been Kern County's director of airports for 11 years. He oversees six general aviation airports and Bakersfield's commercial airport, Meadows Field. On Feb. 27, the new $35 million William M. Thomas Terminal at Meadows Field opened. Pending is a new U.S. Customs Facility and international service offered by Mexicana Airlines to serve Guadalajara and Mexico City, Mexico. Bishop is the winner of the 1997 Kern Council of Government's "Best Leader of 97" award and was selected as the South West Chapter of the American Association of Airport Executives (SWAAAE) as the 2003 "Airport Manager of the Year." Previous to his current post, he served 25 years in the Air Force where he commanded a squadron, group and wing. During Bishop's Air Force career, he was decorated for serving two tours of combat in Vietnam. While in air training command, he instructed in the supersonic T-38, a special fighter lead-in program for international fighter pilots. At the Pentagon, he served as the director of operation's congressional liaison and executive officer for the crisis action team. He attended Armed Forces Staff College and the Air War College while holding the strategic air command chair. When Bishop retired from the Air Force in 1995, he was the commander of the 93rd Bomb Wing, and commanded 23 B52's, 32 KC-135R's and more than 3,000 employees with a payroll of $240 million and an operating budget over $60 million annually. Bishop has a bachelor's of science from the University of Wyoming; a master's in business administration from Webster College, and has course work for a doctorate in public administration from the University of Alabama.