My Academic Tree

It is always fun to look for the lives of generations who lived before us. There is a certain feeling that we belong somewhere, in a group of people who carried their personalities, charismas, knowledge through the ages, before our turn comes to do exactly the same thing as they did. And despite the unknown future, the existing foundation built by thousands in the past centuries provides the confidence to carry on with our unimportant lives.

A large and significant portion of my life is academia. It is my job, my hobby, my social life. And it comes with a past. Long time ago, a little less than 20 years ago, I got curious about the scientific past that surrounded me. My PhD advisor, Noémie Benczer-Koller at Rutgers U., has been a lighthouse during stormy research journeys, shining her lights on me and providing safe guidance. She was Chien-Shiung Wu student herself, so she knew about confronting open questions and hard problems in physics. Digging into the past, I discovered several generations of Physics giants in my academic genealogical tree. Their genius popped up, making me feel awe, but giving me at the same time the feeling I belong in an important circle, a circle I need to care about and maintain.

Following an article about how my grandma “Madamme Wu” was left out of the Nobel Prize in 1957 despite her historic experimental proof that parity is not conserved in beta decay, shaking the foundation of symmetry in Physics, I ended up to the Academic Tree website which has records of scientists from various disciplines, showing important mentor-advisee connections at a PhD level. I searched my name and this (partial) figure could be generated with a couple of clicks, which I am now presenting to you with lots of pride hidden in my guts, but enormous humbleness as soon as I realised where I actually stand. Search your own, surprises might be behind the corner.


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