Holiday letter 2021

Dear All:

Another year has flown by; I have now been in AZ over two years — and what a crazy, fastmoving, wonderful, exciting, satisfying, frustrating, surprising time it has been. I have been healthy, triply vaccinated (two Pfizer, one Moderna, no ill effects other than a sore arm) and am part of a trial of a nifty tiny neutralizing antibody detector designed by an immunologist colleague. I know my immune system responds like that of a much younger person, my antibodies are high, and I have resumed traveling.

My labs (collectively called ThermotU) are running well, and the research group is growing. The most exciting development is getting a huge ($13.7 million) NSF grant to create a state-of-the-art multianvil high pressure national facility at ASU, FORCE, the Facility for Open Research in a Compressed Environment. My PhD from years ago at Princeton, Kurt Leinenweber, is the PI, and I am a co-PI and mover and shaker. We are now in the throes of deciding exactly what equipment to get (I was in Germany two weeks ago looking at equipment and visiting labs) and where and how to renovate for it (a complex task with, still, many unknowns). We are recruiting two faculty in the School of Molecular Sciences with connections to the Center for Materials of the Universe (MotU) and should have on-campus interviews soon.

Campus is fully open for classes, seminars, and research. Our new faculty member in SMS, MotU and the thermo lab, Hongwu Xu from Los Alamos, recruited in 2020, is joining us in January. We are submitting several more ig collaborative proposals centered around MotU. So, progress, progress, progress!

Wearing my philanthropy hat, I realized my investments have done very well over fifty years, and I am arranging a bequest to ASU, together with some donations now so I can see the benefits of MotU and Thermochemistry while I am alive. Wearing my professor hat, I am mentoring an array of undergraduates, graduates, postdocs, and junior faculty. The enthusiasm is stupendous.

Wearing my dog lover hat, I am providing a great home for my four — Redi, Winnie and Luna from CA and Sunny, the mutt I adopted here from a shelter in Dec. 2019. I tend to work in the office two or three days a week and at home the rest of the time. The dogs love my schedule, but they hate ASU football games — the fireworks scare them regardless of who wins.

I do a lot of socializing and science by Zoom. COVID has brought some good changes in life and work style that we are not about to give up. On the other hand, I am dog-tired and bored of online conferences and presentations, absolutely sterile.

The past winter was dry, but our summer monsoon was stronger than usual and it brought out fantastic wildflowers even in the low desert, a once in a decade occurrence.

I wish you all a happy holiday season and a more normal new year.