News & Events

Pilch Promoted to Full Professor

Dr. Krzysztof Pilch has been promoted to Full Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. He has contributed much to both the Department and the University. He currently serves on the Departmental Graduate Committee as Chair and on the Qualifying and Screening Exams Committee. He has also worked on the Faculty Committee on Tenure and Privileges Appeals, and the LAS Faculty Council.

Dr. Pilch was born in Wroclaw, Poland. He attended liceum ogólnoksztalcace in Wroclaw, a high school with an extended curriculum in mathematics and science. He doesn't remember a time when physics didn't interest him - he's always been fascinated by the application of mathematics to physics.

From the liceum he went on to the University of Wroclaw where he received his M.S. Theoretical Physics in 1979 and then joined the graduate program there. In 1980, he also started teaching, first as an asystent (lecturer) and then adiunkt (senior lecturer).

Dr. Pilch made his first trip to the United States on his birthday in 1981, shortly before the declaration of marshall law in Poland. For one year he visited the Institute for Theoretical Physics at Stony Brook on an exchange program between SUNY and the University of Wroclaw. "This was a crucial year for my scientific and personal development," he believes.

At the end of his stay, in the summer of 1982, he spent a month in Berkeley and then for two weeks traveled back to the East Coast on a Greyhound bus. He remembers his first encounter with Los Angeles during this trip; "One very hot evening, after spending most of the day on a beach in Santa Barbara I took a bus to Los Angeles. It brought me to the downtown Greyhound Bus depot. I thought of spending a night somewhere nearby, however, after getting there and walking around the block, I immediately boarded the first available bus due East."

While at Stony Brook, he was invited with a group of Polish scholars for dinner at the residence of Dr. John Marburger, who was then-president of SUNY and a former chair of the Department of Physics at USC. "That was probably the first time that I heard about USC," he said.

After one year back in Wroclaw, where he received his Ph.D. in 1983, Dr. Pilch returned to Stony Brook for three years as a postdoctoral fellow and then continued his postdoctoral work at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he also worked as an instructor in Applied Mathematics.

Dr. Pilch joined the faculty at USC as an Assistant Professor in 1989. He was not only attracted to USC, but also by the southern California area, which by then he knew quite well from short visits to Caltech. "However," he said, "the main reason for deciding to come to USC was the dynamic and burgeoning High Energy Physics group comprised of Drs. Bars, Nemeschansky and Romans. They were working on various topics in string theory, which were very close to my own interests. I was also very impressed by the strong support for their area of research from the Department and the College administration. This was something quite unique at that time, which made USC very special."

Dr. Pilch has taught various levels of courses since his arrival at USC. This semester, he is teaching an advanced graduate level course on selected topics in string theory and field theory related to the so-called AdS/CFT correspondence. He finds he is most effective teaching in a small class setting and admires those who can capture attention of an audience two hundred strong.

Krzysztof's research interests are in string theory and related mathematics. Recently, he has been working on the AdS/CFT correspondence, which provides new deep insights into the relation between string theory and quantum field theory. In this work, he has been collaborating with Dr. Warner, another string theorist who joined the Department in 1990.

According to Dr. Pilch, the past few years have been a very exciting period for string theory as a whole field, and for the USC string theory group in particular. In 1995 the group organized Strings `95, the main annual meeting in string theory with close to 300 participants. This meeting, entitled Future Perspectives in String Theory, was a turning point for the field and started what is now called a "second string theory revolution."

In the Fall 1999, string theory groups at Caltech and USC have joined forces and, with a generous support of administrations of both institutions, created the Caltech-USC Center for Theoretical Physics. "This brought research activities in string theory in the Los Angeles area to a new level and made us one of the premier string theory centers in the world."

Krzysztof is married to Marianna Chodorowska-Pilch who is also Polish. She received her Ph.D. from USC in 1998 and is now a visiting lecturer in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. They have a 3 year old daughter, Elena. Marianna and Krzysztof enjoy travelling, entertaining friends and, obviously, spending as much time as possible with Elena. They regularly visit Poland and spend time with their families there.

We congratulate Dr. Pilch on his promotion to Full Professor. His presence enhances the prestige of USC on a worldwide scale and we are honored to have him as part of our superior faculty.

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