“I like it if I can run uphill and be rewarded with a view of the bay,” says Monika Schleier-Smith. She’s talking about a favorite spot to exercise around Palo Alto, Calif., but the sentiment also applies to her scientific work. A physicist at Stanford, Schleier-Smith, 36, has a reputation for embracing the uphill climb. She’ll push, push, push the smallest details of an experiment until she achieves what others thought near impossible.
Her reward? Seeing large ensembles of atoms do her bidding and interact with one another over distances that are incredibly vast, at least for the quantum realm.
“She tends to persist,” says Harvard physicist Susanne Yelin, who follows Schleier-Smith’s research. She gets results, even though “everything that exists in nature” is working against her experiments.
Undergraduates, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows are mentored in astrophysics, cosmology, particle physics, atomic and laser physics, and condensed matter physics.