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Monday, June 28, 2021


Franco Einaudi

Director of the Earth Sciences Division, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

ISSNAF Founder

Ad memoriam

Franco Einaudi (1937-2020) had a distinguished career in the field of Earth Sciences. He was a Professor of Geophysical Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and the Director of the Earth Sciences Division at the NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. He was one of the Founding Members of ISSNAF.

Born in Turin, Italy, on October 31, 1937, Franco Einaudi graduated from the Politecnico di Torino in 1961 and came to the United States a year later to undertake graduate work in physics at Cornell University. After receiving his PhD in 1967, he spent two years as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Toronto; he subsequently spent ten years as a fellow in the Cooperative Institute of Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) in Boulder, Colorado, followed by eight years as a Professor of Geophysical Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Franco never lost his connection to Italy, and in fact brought his family to Rome for a year in 1976, where he served as Director of Research at the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, and to Florence in 1984 for a sabbatical year as a visiting professor at the Osservatorio Astrofisico Arcetri. In 1987, Franco moved to Maryland where he spent 23 years at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. During his last ten years with Nasa he was Director of the Earth Sciences Division.

After his retirement from NASA in 2010, Franco spent the next five years as an unofficial ambassador for NASA, visiting high schools and colleges with a high percentage of minority students to encourage them to pursue careers in Earth Sciences. In recognition of this work, in 2014 he was awarded the American Meteorological Society’s Thomas E. Anderson Award ”for consistent, career-long personal efforts to increase diversity, and for leading institutional changes that will continue to create opportunities for women and under-represented minorities.” The American Meteorological Society has recently published an article in his memory on its Bulletin and allowed ISSNAF to post it.

Click here to read it. 

Monday, May 17, 2021

#weareISSNAF Seminar Series

Giorgio Bellettini

Honorary Professor of Physics (Emeritus), University of Pisa

Guest Scientist, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (FERMILAB)

ISSNAF Founder and Honorary Board Member


Paul Grannis


Consulate General of Italy in Chicago and Italian Cultural Institute in Chicago

Giorgio Bellettini is Honorary Professor of Physics at the University of Pisa, where he retired in 2009, and Guest Scientist at Fermilab. He has made experiments in particle physics at Frascati, at CERN, and since 1980 at Fermilab. Since 1981 he was spokesperson of the Italian groups in the Collider Detector Facility (CDF) and Co-spokesperson of the international CDF Collaboration at the time of the discovery of the top quark. He was Director of the Italian National Laboratories of Frascati, Chairman of the ISR Committee and Member of the Science Policy Committee of CERN.

He is an author of over 850 refereed publications in international science journals, where many important results are reported including the discovery of the increasing with energy total proton-proton cross section at the CERN ISR and the discovery of the top quark at the Fermilab Tevatron.

He is APS Fellow, Commendatore of the Italian Republic, and was honored with the Carlo Matteucci Medal by the Italian Academy of Sciences in 2006.

The Italian Factor at Fermilab

In conversation with Paul Grannis

A very significant outcome of the long-standing collaborative effort of Italians and North American nuclear physicists is the present deep involvement of Italians in the scientific and cultural life of Fermilab. Giorgio Bellettini reflects on a scientific career that started in the sixties, spanned two continents and was marked by a strong collaboration between American and Italian physicists, such as on the CDF experiment at the Fermilab Tevatron collider, where over 100 Italian scientists participated. His deep, constant involvement with Americans shaped many significant events, including two important scientific discoveries. After the end of CDF data-taking ten years ago, the Italian INFN is participating strongly in new world-class experiments at Fermilab and is looking to play an important role in the exploration of neutrino physics, the field where Italians have been making important contributions and on which the Lab is betting for future fundamental discoveries. Additionally, the Cultural Association of Italians at Fermilab, created by Bellettini to enable Italian students to train in the USA and to spread the Italian language, music and culture in the US, is another aspect of his important legacy.

To watch the video, click here.

Monday, June 1, 2020


Roberto Peccei

Professor and ISSNAF Founder

Prof. Alexander Kusenko

Roberto Peccei (1942-2020) was an internationally renowned particle physicist. During his distinguished career at UCLA, he has served as a department Chair (1989-1993), Dean of Physical Sciences (1993-2001), and Vice Chancellor for Research (2000-2010), overseeing a significant expansion of UCLA research efforts and the advent of major institutes on campus.

Roberto Peccei (1942-2020) was a brilliant scientist, a natural leader, a thoughtful colleague, and a special friend. During his distinguished career at UCLA, he has served as a department Chair (1989-1993), Dean of Physical Sciences (1993-2001), and Vice Chancellor for Research (2000-2010), overseeing a significant expansion of UCLA research efforts and the advent of major institutes on campus.

Roberto Peccei was born in Torino, Italy in 1942. He was a son of Aurelio Peccei, an Italian industrialist and philanthropist, who was a member of the anti-fascist movement and the resistance during the World War II, then moved to Argentina to oversee Fiat operations in Latin America, and later founded the Club of Rome with the goal of addressing the multiple crises facing humanity and the planet. Roberto completed his secondary education in Argentina and came to the United States in 1958 as a student. He obtained a B.S. from MIT in 1962, M.S. from NYU in 1964, and a Ph.D. from the MIT Center for Theoretical Physics in 1969. After a postdoctoral appointment at the University of Washington, Dr. Peccei joined the faculty at Stanford University Physics Department (1971-1978), then moved to Max Planck Institute for Physics and Astrophysics in Munich, Germany (1978-1984), and later became the Head of Theory Group at one of the largest European laboratories, DESY in Hamburg (1987-1989). Professor Peccei joined UCLA in 1989, where he conducted research in theoretical physics and served in many administrative positions, including Vice Chancellor for Research. Professor Peccei had a very significant global presence; his service extended well beyond UCLA and included service on many national and international committees on science, as well as the Executive Committee of the Club or Rome.

One of the most famous scientific contributions, and an example of Roberto Peccei’s brilliant thinking is the celebrated Peccei-Quinn symmetry, proposed in collaboration with Helen Quinn. Interactions of elementary particles, as well as the very existence of matter in the universe depend on how different the world would be under the hypothetical action of flipping all particle charges and reflecting the world in a mirror. This mathematical transformation, called “CP” is closely related to flipping the arrow of time. Some physical processes are not invariant with respect to such a transformation, which, remarkably, allows for the dominance of matter over antimatter in the universe. However, if one considers only the strong interactions, which hold the nuclei together, the CP transformation leaves them invariant even though it requires an apparent conspiracy of some seemingly unrelated parameters (the vacuum “theta angle” and a phase coming from the mass parameters of quarks). Peccei and Quinn proposed a brilliant explanation based on a new symmetry of nature. This symmetry implies, in particular, the existence of a new particle which has not yet been discovered, but which has the potential to account for cosmological dark matter, that is, for most of the matter in the universe. Peccei-Quinn symmetry emerges in other areas of physics and has been studied by many scientists in a variety of contexts.

Roberto Peccei’s seminal and groundbreaking contributions have been recognized by numerous prizes and awards. He was particularly happy to receive the J.J. Sakurai Prize for Theoretical Particle Physics awarded by the American Physical Society, of which he was a long-standing member and a Fellow, as well as Chair of Division of Particles and Fields. Roberto Peccei was also elected a Fellow of American Association for the Advancement of Science and a Fellow of Institute of Physics, UK. He was awarded the order of Commendatore in Italy, and a number of honorary professorships and lectureships. In 2016, Roberto Peccei became a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Professor Peccei was a passionate communicator of science, who enjoyed teaching graduate and undergraduate students at UCLA. In recent years, his course on the Physics of Energy served as a source of much needed knowledge and inspiration for his students and colleagues.

The memory of Roberto Peccei will continue to inspire his colleagues, postdocs and students.

Roberto Peccei is survived by his wife Jocelyn and their children Alessandra and Aurelio. In lieu of flowers, the family encourages friends of Roberto to make donations in his honor to UCLA Physics and Astronomy, as well as Parkinson’s Disease research at UCLA.

This memorial is published at UCLA Physics & Astronomy

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

#weareISSNAF Seminar Series

Antonella Nota

European Space Agency Hubble Project Scientist

STScI ESA Office Head

ISSNAF Board Member, Scientific Council Chair


Maria Teresa Cometto


Consulate General of Philadelphia and IIC of New York

Antonella Nota is an astronomer with the European Space Agency, at the Space Telescope Science Institute, where she is the Head of the ESA Office. In this role, she is the senior ESA representative for the team and is responsible for Hubble outreach efforts in Europe, which includes the dissemination of the observatory’s results and communications with the public. She also directs all science policies and scientific communications that support the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) in Europe.

Born in Venice, Italy, Antonella Nota completed her studies at the Institute of Astronomy of the University of Padova, and moved to the US in 1986.  She studies young stellar clusters, in the Milky Way and neighbors, mostly with Hubble and ground-based telescopes, because she is interested to know how stars and clusters form.

She strongly advocates combining art and science to spark the curiosity of the public, which has led to several successful partnerships with artists and curators. For example, in collaboration with German artist Tim Otto Roth, she contributed to “From the Distant Past,” which projected signals from distant galaxies observed by Hubble on the façades of buildings in Venice, Italy, New York City, and Baltimore, Maryland. She has also collaborated with curator and historian Anna Caterina Bellati to produce “Our Place In Space”, a science and art exhibit shown in Venice and Chiavenna, where 10 prominent Italian artists were asked to interpret Hubble images.

Antonella Nota has published more than 200 articles in astronomical journals and books and contributed to numerous press releases and science announcements.  She is a member of the American Astronomical Society (AAS), the International Astronomical Union (IAU) and L’Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti (IVSLA). She joined ISSNAF in 2020.

Exploring the Universe: the 30-year impact of the Hubble Space Telescope on science and society

Refurbished in orbit by astronauts five times, the Hubble Space Telescope (Hubble) is more powerful and innovative than ever. As we celebrate  its  splendid 30 years in orbit, and three decades of scientific discoveries,  Hubble continues its relentless investigation into a broad range of astrophysical objects and phenomena, ranging from our own Solar System to the most distant galaxies, to the distribution of dark matter in galaxies and clusters, from the characterization of the atmospheres of newly discovered exoplanets, to the precise studies of relative motions of nearby stars, to tracing the expansion of the Universe. Working in synergy with other observatories, from the ground and space, Hubble continues to be a prominent presence on the astronomical discovery scene and its observing time is in high community demand.

Not only has Hubble transformed our knowledge of the Universe but it has greatly impacted culture, society and art for three decades. Hubble has broadened the reach of astronomical research, a science that for years was perceived to be reserved to a privileged few, and made it a resource available to all. It has brought the Universe to our houses, and is continuing to inspire generations of students. Hubble has become a presence that belongs to all, the “people’s telescope”. Its beautiful images connect directly with our souls, sparking the big questions that humanity has been pondering in the centuries: where do we come from? Are we alone in are we alone in the Universe? What is our place in space?

To watch the video, click here.