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NSF CAREER awards in particle theory: strings vs phenomenology January 31, 2007

Posted by apetrov in Near Physics, Particle Physics, Physics.

Today I looked at the list of Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) awards given out by the U.S. National Science Foundation (or simply NSF CAREER awards). NSF CAREER is a very prestigious award given to young untenured faculty at US universities, the NSF version of Outstanding Junior Investigator award given by the Department of Energy, Office of Naval Research and so forth. So when a young faculty gets it, it is a big thing for any department — and a university as a whole. One of my colleagues, Gary Shiu, even told me that CAREER award means what it says: you usually get a career at your university. Also known as tenure, he-he…

Anyway, the point of this post is the following. Since those awards were instituted (as a continuation of the former National Young Investigator program at NSF), only 15 were given to particle theorists – the list of those can be found here (it actually lists 21, but some of those awards are in mathematical physics and are relevant for atomic physics or nonlinear phenomena). So with all that discussion in blogosphere about the role of string theory in particle physics (see Peter Woit’s blog and his and Lee Smolin’s books) I wanted to see what the persentage of CAREER awards is going to string theorists. 

Here is the score:

Phemomenolgists: 6.5
String theorists: 8.5

Almost like a chess game, huh? A 0.5 to each is assigned for one award related to string phenomenology. So 57% of all awards went to string theory… obvious conclusion.


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