History of the Group

The high energy and gravitational theory program at Brandeis began in the late 1950s.

The prominent senior members of the group were: Stanley Deser, member of the National Academy of Sciences, Dannie Heinemann award-winner and many other honors; Howard Schnitzer, Guggenheim fellow, Sloan Foundation fellow and fellow of the American Physical Society; Marcus Grisaru; Hugh Pendleton; and Silvan Schweber.

A number of students have been trained by the group. Among the most important of these are Kellogg Stelle (Deser) and Larry Abbott, a member of NAS, and Paul Townsend, FRS (Schnitzer).

Postdoctoral fellows played a substantial part in the research activities of the group. A subset of the many postdocs are Mike Duff, Ulf Lindstrom, Dominco Seminara, Peter van Nieuwenhuizen, Andrew Waldron and Richard Woodard (Deser); Burt Ovrut, Dimitra Karabali, Steven Naculich, Rafael Nepomechie and Niclas Wyllard (Schnitzer); and Warren Siegel (Grisaru).


The group has made a number of important contributions. As these cannot all be enumerated, we give a very selected list of highlights.

Among Deser’s many and wide-reaching contributions were the ADM approach to general relativity; the study of the divergences and finiteness in quantum gravity loop expansions (in collaboration with students and postdocs); the discovery of supergravity (in collaboration with B. Zumino); topological massive gravity (with R. Jackiw); and conformal anomalies (with A. Schwimmer).

Schnitzer has a very wide range of interests. Among these were participation in the early development of current algebra, in collaboration with S. Glashow and S. Weinberg; contributions to the development of the eight-fold way, with S. Coleman; the discovery of the Reggeization of elementary particles in gauge theories, with M. Grisaru; effective field theory, with B. Ovrut; gauged WZW models, with D. Karabali; discovery and development of level-rank duality in conformal field theory, with S. Naculich; as well as a number of topics of current interest.

Grisaru was prominent in the extensive development of supersymmetry and supergravity, in collaboration with W. Siegel, M. Rocek, D. Zanon and many others.  Notable is the derivation of the Ward identities of supersymmetric theories, in collaboration with Pendleton, which remains an important result.

Silvan (Sam) Schweber was trained as a theoretical physicist who wrote one of the earliest textbooks on quantum field theory. His interests changed to history of science. Among his many contributions of articles and books, were the history of the early days of quantum electrodynamics, and a biography of Hans Bethe.