Vaida Endowed Chair Awarded to Lloyd Knox

Knox_Tahoe.jpgThe Michael and Ester Vaida Endowed Chair in Cosmology and Astrophysics has been awarded to Professor Lloyd Knox for a period of five years.  There are 21 endowed chairs across the College of Letters and Science. This is the first one in Physics and Astronomy.

Michael Vaida received a Ph.D. in Computer Science and Computational Physics from UC Davis in 1973. For the last 38 years, Michael has been the head of Vaida Health Data Consultants, a company which provides consulting services in health care areas such as policy analysis, reimbursement systems, market studies, assessment of competitive position and hospital performance evaluation. His wife Ester had a long career with Sutter Womens' Health as a surgery coordinator.  Although Michael did not pursue an academic career he retained a keen interest in Physics, particularly in Cosmology and Astrophysics.  Ester shared his enthusiasm over the years and was instrumental in their decision to make a contribution to the advancement of those fields at UC Davis.

Professor Knox has been a member of the faculty of the Physics and Astronomy Department at UC Davis since 2000.  His research is motivated by an interest in the fundamental laws of nature and a fascination with the cosmos where, based on physical theories developed here on Earth, one is able to make amazingly successful predictions for what was happening at the edge of the observable universe billions of years ago.

His work has been supported by the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the Department of Energy. In 2012, he was elected as a Fellow of the American Physical Society for "...motivating major observations (WMAP and Planck), developed widely-using data analysis tools, providing insightful interpretations of data, and calculating the impact of astrophysical processes on the microwave sky."

Reacting to the award, Professor Knox said, "This is an amazing gift to the department that will continue to support our research, teaching, and service missions for a very long time to come -- for as long as there continues to be a UC Davis!" In addition to supporting his research in cosmology, Professor Knox's plans, submitted as part of the selection process, emphasize building a stronger sense of community in the department. "I want this to be a place where more people feel the kind of support I have felt over the years, where we all respect and care for each other, and where we all feel free to take the kinds of risks that support learning and discovery."

Our departmental community is very grateful to the generosity of Michael and Ester Vaida.  Their gift will make an immense difference to the department, both in advancing research and in the education of our students.