Prof S. James Gates Jr. (Jim) &mdash John S. Toll Professor and Director of the Center for String & Particle Theory at the University of Maryland — was one of the very first STIAS Fellows. In February 2002 he participated in the second STIAS project on “String Theory and Quantum Gravity – New Developments and Links to Low-energy Physics”.
Since then Jim has been a staunch supporter of STIAS and has visited South Africa on a number of occasions, including as member of the 2004 International Panel who tabled the report on “Shaping the Future of Physics in SA”, participating in the launch of the Wallenberg Research Centre in 2007, and most recently as a lecturer at the first African School of Physics sponsored by CERN and a number of European institutions, and hosted over three weeks by NITheP at the STIAS Wallenberg Research Centre. (The “Shaping the Future” report led, inter alia, to the establishment of the National Institute for Theoretical Physics (NITheP) with its main centre at STIAS and regional centres at the Universities of the Witwatersrand and KwaZulu-Natal). In 2009 Jim Gates had been elected to President Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. Another member of the Council who has ties with Stellenbosch is Dr Shirley Ann Jackson, President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and former Chair of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. She is a patron of the Stellenbosch University “HOPE Project” who gave her whole-hearted support and endorsement of the project during a live transmission at its recent Stellenbosch launch.
On that occasion Dr Jackson said that the HOPE Project reflects the best of South Africa as it is “making a difference into the future.” She also praised the “Virtual Bridge” that has been set up between SU and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, utilising a high-capacity fiber-optic cable and making high capacity information exchange possible: “This bridge of light will also be the bridge of hope.” STIAS and Stellenbosch University are obviously proud that their flags can be flown at a forum as eminent as President’s Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology!
Caption: Prof Jim Gates (back row, fourth from left) and Dr Jackson (front row, second from left) appear with President Obama and other members of PCAST.