IAS Notes: Judy Lieberman

I remember fondly the two years I spent at IAS working with Steve Adler on the experimental implications of unified field theories of elementary particle interactions. We also tackled a very hard problem that still is unsolved—how to reconcile general relativity with quantum field theory. I especially enjoyed the Institute’s rich, intellectually stimulating environment and many intense discussions with Members across disciplines at lunch or at tea or evening dinners. I have spent my life in elite institutions and it’s fair to say that none has come close to providing the intellectually engaging atmosphere that I cherished at the Institute. Although my work at the Institute was productive (seven research papers came out of it), while there I decided to abandon physics to do work that was more down-to-earth, which could more directly contribute to human well-being. During a walk in the Institute Woods with a friend, I decided that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life alone in an office grappling with a few equations. My decision to go to medical school to become a physician scientist led to a very different life, but it’s also been very gratifying. —Judy Lieberman, Senior Investigator, Immune Disease Institute and Program in Cellular and Molecular Medicine, Children’s Hospital Boston; Professor of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School; Member, School of Natural Sciences, 1974–76