September 25, 2000
Assistant Professor of Earth Sciences
Erik Asphaug studies asteroids and comets, focusing on their geologic mysteries and
the collisions and tidal effects that shape their evolution. His research addresses
the potential hazards posed by near-Earth asteroids and the possibility of diverting
them or extracting resources from them. He also explores the roles of comets and
asteroids in the evolution of planets and their satellites (moons) and the giant
impacts (e.g., asteroids hitting planets) that occurred in the early solar system.
Asphaug received his B.A. in mathematics and English from Rice University and his
Ph.D. in planetary sciences from the University of Arizona, Tucson. He was a principal
investigator at the SETI Institute and NASA Ames Research Center before coming to
UCSC in 1998 as an associate researcher in the Institute of Tectonics.
Professor of Physics
Thomas Banks is an expert in theoretical elementary particle physics, cosmology,
and superstring theory. He is affiliated with the Santa Cruz Institute for Particle
Physics (SCIPP). Banks has made important contributions to many of the central theories
of quantum mechanics and particle physics and is one of the leaders in the field
of string cosmology. He made a key observation showing that Stephen Hawking's proposal
that black hole evaporation violates a principle of quantum mechanics was untenable.
With several colleagues, he proposed the first formulation of superstring theory
not based on approximations. Banks earned his Ph.D. in physics from the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology. He was a professor of physics at UCSC from 1986 to 1990
and has now returned to the campus after ten years on the faculty at Rutgers University.