Interview with Goran Senjanović

Goran Senjanović is a theoretical physicist at the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP). He is best known for his discovery of the Seesaw mechanism, which is arguably the most popular explanation for the lightness of the neutrinos. Further, he has made many important contributions to left-right symmetric, supersymmetric and unified models.

In this brief interview, he shares his advice tips for students who are interested in theoretical physics and tells us what he would like to change in the physics community. Enjoy!

Physics Insider: What are you currently working on?

Senjanović: My main effort is probing the nature and origin of neutrino mass.

Physics Insider: What was the biggest advance/discovery in your field in the last 20 years?

Senjanović: The discovery of the Higgs boson.

Physics Insider: What was your biggest discovery?

Senjanović: I am one of the fathers of the so-called LR symmetric theory of electro-weak interactions that predicted originally massive neutrinos. The theory is not tested yet, so it cannot be called a discovery at this point . I am also one of the fathers of the so-called seesaw mechanism that has become the main scenario behind the smallness of neutrino mass. It is however yet to be proven.

Physics Insider: What is your advice to a student who wants to make a career in your field?

Senjanović: Main advice: do this only if you cannot help doing it.

Physics Insider: Who are the (5-10) most influential persons in your field?

Senjanović: I do not believe in influential people, only in influential papers. More precisely, I personally am not influenced by anybody.

Physics Insider: What defines a good student (from an advisor’s perspective)?

Senjanović: Obviously someone with a talent for physics. But maybe even more important, to be independent, persistent, capable of deep thought and reflection.

Physics Insider: If some fairy would offer to answer you one question about nature; what would it be?

Senjanović: Whether weak interactions conserve parity at high energies.

Physics Insider: How far do you think are we away from answering this question?

Senjanović: I don’t know.

Physics Insider: If you could give your 20 year old self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Senjanović: To trust my insight and a sense of direction.

Physics Insider: Which books did influence you the most?

Senjanović: That was long time ago, hard to say. I guess Feynman’s Lectures on Physics.

Physics Insider: If you could change one thing in the physics community what would it be?

Senjanović: I would take away the power of decision making from people who do not do original work.

Image by Mirtacea (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons