Τhe first woman to hold a research chair at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics
Asimina Arvanitaki is the first woman to hold a research chair at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, after a new joint chair was announced in partnership with the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. She has won the prestigious New Horizons in Physics Prize for 2017, making her the fifth Perimeter Institute Faculty member to earn the award since its inception in 2013. Arvanitaki was recognized for her pioneering work that bridges theory and experiment to forge novel ways of exploring particle physics.
The $8 million Stavros Niarchos Foundation Aristrachus Chair in Theoretical Physics is an $8 million partnership with the foundation and PI and will help build and grow research and training ties between the institute and Greece, according to a release.
“I’ve worked at places like Berkeley, Stanford, I’ve visited CERN every summer, but Perimeter was, I have to say one of the institutions, it’s not the first institution, where I felt like as a researcher my possibilities were endless. If I had an idea in my head and I wanted really to do something, someone would help me achieve that. I feel the environment here is just intoxicating” Arvanitaki said.
She’ll spend her five-year term, furthering her own cutting-edge work and contributing to education and training for young people in Greece. Arvanitaki is a young superstar, on the cutting edge of research in supersymmetry, dark matter, and extra dimensions. She’s also the first female research chair at the Perimeter Institute and, after today, one of the best-funded academics in Canada.
“When I became a grad student in theoretical physics at Stanford University, I think I may have been the only female student at the time in that field” she stated in a recent interview
Arvanitaki joined Perimeter Institute in 2014, after earning an undergraduate degree from the University of Athens and a PhD from Stanford University. Before starting at Perimeter, she was a research associate at the Stanford Institute for Theoretical Physics. Arvanitaki has described her research as broad and interdisciplinary, testing theories that are beyond the Standard Model, including supersymmetry, dark matter, and extra dimensions. Her Chair is named after Aristarchus, an ancient Greek mathematician and astronomer who proposed the first-known model placing the sun at the centre of the solar system.
“All I can say, as someone who comes from a small village in Greece, this is something I never dreamed of,” said Arvanitaki, who becomes the first woman to hold a research chair at Perimeter. “The only thing I can honestly say is thank you. Thank you for the privilege of making me part of the team that tries to help Greece in such a time of need.”
Perimeter Director Neil Turok described Arvanitaki as an exceptional scientist, and an “unusual” particle physicist.
“We recruited Mina precisely because she is a very unusual particle physicist who is literally trying to bring in the next paradigm of theory testing, involving totally original experimental designs which will add to the knowledge that colliders can give us in completely new ways, specially employing highly precise quantum measurement technology,” Turok said.