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September 25, 2000

New Faculty

Erik Asphaug
photo of Erik Asphaug, assistant professor of earth sciences
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.

Thomas Banks
photo of Thomas Banks, professor of physics
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.

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