April 26, 2023: The Future of Nuclear Deterrence and Arms Control


“The most significant event of the past 60 years is the one that did not happen: the use of a nuclear weapon in conflict.”

Thomas Schelling (1921-2016), Nobel laureate and UMD Distinguished University Professor, in 2006.Click to read Maryland Today's coverage.Click to read Maryland Today's coverage.

After the fall of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in 1991, the Doomsday Clock of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists—which gauges the likelihood of nuclear war—stood at 17 minutes to midnight. Today, that interval is down to 90 seconds, amid hostilities involving heavily-armed countries, the quest of smaller nations to build nuclear weapons, ongoing economic rivalries and increasing nationalism.   

The avoidance of nuclear conflict since the unspeakable destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 has required diligent work by the arms control and nuclear deterrence experts of the world's superpowers.

On Wednesday, April 26, at 4 p.m. in Room 0224 of the Edward St. John building, four physicists who are renowned experts on deterrence and arms control will discuss the current global situation.  

  • Roald Sagdeev, former heard of the USSR space agency IKI and advisor to USSR leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Prof. Sagdeev, a pioneer in plasma physics and controlled nuclear fusion, is the recipient of the American Astronautical Society's Carl Sagan Memorial Award and the American Physical Society's James Clerk Maxwell Prize.  He is UMD Distinguished University Professor Emeritus and member of the National Academy of Sciences.

  • John Holdren, former Director of  the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama on science and technology from 2009-17.  Prof. Holdren is now a Research Professor in Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and Co-Director of the Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program in the School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

  • Frank von Hippel, former Assistant Director for National Security in the OSTP from 1993-95. Prof. Von Hippel is now a Senior Research Physicist and Professor of Public and International Affairs Emeritus with Princeton’s Program on Science & Global Security, which he co-founded.  

  • Richard Garwin, IBM Fellow Emeritus at the Thomas J. Watson Research Center. Garwin was a member of the President’s Science Advisory Committee from 1962-1965 and 1969-1972, and a member of JASON Defense Advisory Group since its inception. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, and the National Academy of Engineering, and is a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Moderating the panel will be Susan Eisenhower, author and expert on international security and arms control.  William E. “Brit” Kirwan, chancellor emeritus of the University System of Maryland, will open the forum.

All are welcome to attend, ask questions, and engage the panel. Questions sent in advance to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. will have first consideration. 

Roald Sagdeev  Roald SagdeevJohn HoldrenJohn HoldrenFrank von HippelFrank von HippelRichard GarwinRichard GarwinSusan EisenhowerSusan Eisenhower


Writeup of the event by the University of Maryland School of Public Policy: https://spp.umd.edu/news/eminent-nuclear-physicists-convene-umd-discuss-future-nuclear-deterrence-and-arms-control

Manuel Franco Sevilla Receives Junior Faculty Award

Manuel Franco Sevilla installs ODMB modules into the CMS detector at CERN. (Photo: Jeff Richman)

Manuel Franco Sevilla has received the 2022 Junior Faculty Award from the Board of Visitors of the College of Computer, Mathematics and Natural Sciences in recognition of his “exceptional accomplishments that have raised the profile and prestige of the college”.

Franco Sevilla is a particle physicist doing research at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider’s beauty (LHCb) experiment, which employs “beauty” (or “b”) hadrons produced in high-energy collisions of protons to study the fundamental laws of our Universe.Manuel Franco Sevilla Manuel Franco Sevilla

His research focuses on measurements that test lepton universality, a fundamental assumption within the Standard Model of particle physics that states that the interactions of all charged leptons (electrons, muons, and taus) differ only because of their different masses. His thesis in 2012 saw the first hints of possible lepton universality violation, and since then, several measurements in experiments across the world have found similar hints. He has covered this topic in multiple international forums and in reviews for Nature and Review of Modern Physics.

Additionally, Franco Sevilla works on the Upstream Tracker (UT), a new silicon tracker that is a crucial part of LHCb’s ongoing upgrade to achieve data taking rates five times larger than previously possible. Together with Professor Hassan Jawahery, he co-led the development and production of the readout electronics for the UT, a total of over 600 main boards and 3,000 ancillary ones. This immense effort included contributions from an electronics engineer, three postdocs, four graduate students and the recruitment and training of a group of 12 undergraduate students who were instrumental during the testing and assembly phases of the project.

Last year Franco Sevilla was named deputy project leader of the UT and spent the second half of 2022 at CERN coordinating the assembly and installation of this subdetector into the LHCb experiment, an effort that involved a team of over 25 engineers, technicians, postdocs, and students as well as other CERN resources such as survey, transportation, or radiation protection teams. Some pictures of theses activities are shown below.

James J. Griffin, 1930-2022

Professor Emeritus James J. Griffin died on December 13, 2022.

Griffin earned his Ph.D. in theoretical physics at Princeton University in 1956 and then accepted a Fulbright Scholarship to the Institute for Theoretical Physics in Copenhagen. Following a National Science Foundation Fellowship at the University of Birmingham and an appointment as a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Wisconsin, he joined UMD as an assistant professor in 1966. He was promoted to associate professor and full professor in 1968 and 1973, respectively. In the 1968-69 academic year, Griffin served as Associate Chair of the UMD Department of Physics and Astronomy.

Griffin studied nuclear structure and heavy ions, and was perhaps best known for his publication, “The statistical model of intermediate structure,” which appeared in Physical Review Letters.  He received a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship to work at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory in 1972-73. In 1975, he received an Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Senior Scientist Fellowship and worked at the Justus Liebig University in Giessen and the Hahn Meitner Institute for Nuclear Research in Berlin.   

During his career, Griffin also enjoyed visiting positions at Los Alamos National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the University of California in Berkeley, and several institutions in France and Germany. He was an invited guest lecturer in Germany, Canada, Poland, China, Israel, Japan, France and Romania. 

A memorial is planned for the spring. If you'd like to be notified when it is scheduled, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Wolfgang Losert Elected AAAS Fellow

Wolfgang Losert  has been elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Wolfgang Losert. Credit: UMD/Lisa Helfert. Wolfgang Losert. Credit: UMD/Lisa Helfert.

In his research, Losert aims to discover emergent dynamic properties of complex systems at the interface of physics and biology. He currently leads a Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative program funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research that transformed our understanding of how cells sense their physical environment. He also serves as co-principal investigator on a Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) initiative center grant from the National Institutes of Health focused on information processing in sensory brain circuits.

Losert actively fosters cross-disciplinary interactions and new research and educational opportunities on campus and beyond. He helped launch and currently co-leads the American Physical Society Group on Data Science. He was part of a trans-university initiative of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (called NEXUS) that developed new science and math courses for biology majors and pre-health care students that are being widely adopted. He led the development of and co-directs the NCI-UMD Partnership for Integrative Cancer Research, which provides UMD faculty members and graduate students the opportunity to tackle pressing problems in cancer research in collaboration with National Cancer Institute experts. 

A Fellow of the American Physical Society, Losert joined UMD in 2000 as an assistant professor and served as an associate dean in CMNS (2014-22) and as interim IPST director (2019-20). He earned his Ph.D. in physics from the City College of the City University of New York in 1998 and his diplom in applied physics from the Technical University of Munich in Germany in 1995.

Also elected from the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences (CMNS) were  mathematician Abba Gumel and computer scientists Mohammad Hajiaghayi  and Dana Nau.

“I join the CMNS community in congratulating Professors Gumel, Hajiaghayi, Losert and Nau on their well-deserved election as AAAS Fellows,” said CMNS Dean Amitabh Varshney. “This is an affirmation of what we already know—that they are each pushing the boundaries in their respective fields and making a significant impact on the grand challenges our society faces today.”

UMD’s 2022 Fellows, seven in total, join a class of 506 new Fellows who have moved their fields forward, paving the way for scientific advances that benefit society. They bring diverse and novelty thinking, innovative approaches and passion that will help solve the world’s most complex problems, according to AAAS’s announcement.

“AAAS is proud to elevate these standout individuals and recognize the many ways in which they’ve advanced scientific excellence, tackled complex societal challenges and pushed boundaries that will reap benefits for years to come,” Sudip S. Parikh, AAAS chief executive officer and executive publisher of the Science family of journals, said in an announcement. 

Distinguished University Professor Ed Ott Retires

Distinguished University Professor Ed Ott retired in December, having served on the UMD faculty for a remarkable and stellar 43 years. Ott is globally known for his pioneering contributions in nonlinear dynamics and chaos theory. 

"Ed has had a magnificient career, exploring and explaining chaos and helping researchers to understand its impact across disciplines," said Physics chair Steve Rolston. 

In recent years, Ott was instrumental in sparking intense activity in applying machine learning to nonlinear dynamics, giving keynote lectures and invited talks in several countries. For the AIP journal Chaos he was asked to co-edit a special 2020 issue: When machine learning meets complex systems: Networks, chaos, and nonlinear dynamics.

Ott, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, is a University of Maryland Distinguished University Professor and holder of the Yuen Sang and Yu Yuen Kit So Endowed Professorship in nonlinear dynamics. He received the 2014 Julius Edgar Lilienfeld Prize of the American Physical Society, and in 2016, with  Celso Grebogi and James A. Yorke, was named a Thomson Reuters Citation Laureate in physics for "...development of a control theory of chaotic systems."

In 2017,  Ott received the Lewis Fry Richardson Medal of the European Geosciences Union for pioneering contributions in the theory of chaos.  Also in 2017, he was selected for the Jürgen Moser Lecture and Award, of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics "... for his extensive and influential contributions to nonlinear dynamics, including seminal work on chaos theory and on the dynamics of physical systems." He was elected a foreign member of the Academia Europaea for his outstanding achievements and international scholarship as a researcher.  

Ott is a Fellow of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, the American Physical Society and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.  He has served as an editor or editorial board member for most renowned journals in his field, including Physica D, Physical Review Letters, Physics of Fluids, Physical Review, Chaos and Dynamics and Stability of Systems.  

Ott received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering at The Cooper Union and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Electrophysics from the Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute, then enjoyed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics of Cambridge University. Upon his return to the U.S., he joined the Electrical Engineering faculty at Cornell. He left Ithaca in 1979 to join the Department of Physics and Department of Electrical Engineering on this campus. He is a member of the Institute for Research in Electronics and Applied Physics (IREAP), and has held appointments at the Naval Research Lab and what is now the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara. 

In addition to more than 500 papers, Ott has written the book "Chaos in Dynamical Systems", and edited "Coping with Chaos,"  a collection of reprints that focuses on how scientists observe, quantify, and control chaos.   He has advised more than 50 doctoral students, starting with Distinguished University Professor Tom Antonsen at Cornell University (1977) and most recently including Amitava Banerjee (2022).