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Joseph William Serene

April 4, 1947 -- May 1, 2021

Joe and Eileen, Stony Brook, May 1977
Eileen and Joe at Hollow Road, Stony Brook, NY, May 1977.

Eileen, Joe, Peter, Kathy and Jim, Thanksgiving, Princeton, 1984
Eileen, Peter and Joe with Kathy and me, Princeton NJ, Thanksgiving, 1984.

Early years - Stony Brook & Yale

Joe Serene joined the physics faculty of the State University of New York at Stony Brook in Fall of 1976. I was in an office just down the hall from Joe's. It was my second year of graduate studies and I had begun research on the theory of nuclear matter in neutron stars with Gerry Brown, a topic that led me to study pion condensation and BCS pairing in nuclear matter. Joe was one of the first PhDs in theoretical physics from Cornell that was expert on the newly discovered superfluid phases of 3He, which for several reasons turned out to be relevant to understanding aspects of nuclear matter in the interior of neutron stars that were remnants of stellar collapse. Joe was a fountain on knowledge and I began discussing physics with Joe regularly. My research evolved with Joe becoming advisor and collaborator. When Joe left Stony Brook for Yale to join Eileen I had another year to finish my PhD. Joe and I continued working together. I commuted across the Sound on the Port Jefferson Ferry to discuss physics and enjoy the company of Joe and Eileen at Silliman College. Joe arranged an office for me and we started trying to understand signatures of the Bosonic spectrum of superfluid 3He (in modern parlance the Nambu-Goldstone and Higgs modes of 3He). Our first paper on the topic was drafted during a wonderful summer at NORDITA in Copenhagen. Towards the end of that summer Joe reported on our work at a meeting at Cornell and I departed Copenhagen to start my post doc appointment with Phil Anderson at Princeton.

Joe was brilliant, and part of his academic legacy is his work on strong-coupling theory of BCS superfluids, which was initiated by Phil Anderson and Bill Brinkman's insights into pairing in Fermi systems beyond weak-coupling BCS theory. The Anderson-Brinkman feedback mechanism spawned Joe's 1976 paper with Dierk Rainer, published in Physical Review, on the leading-order corrections to BCS theory for strongly correlated Fermi liquids. That work was a tour de force that is foundational in 3He, and strongly correlated Fermi liquids more broadly.

Joe passed away on May 1, 2021. He was a beautiful person who loved the arts as he did the sciences. His career was remarkable in its breadth. He was a dedicated teacher, skilled administrator, wonderful father, husband and friend who taught and led by example. I think Stephen, Joe's younger son, captured Joe's character and philosophy best - ``he was a craftsman.''

28th International Conference on Low Temperature Physics

Priya Sharma, Jim Sauls, Joe Serene, Goteborg, LT28, 2017

Priya Sharma, Jim Sauls and Joe at the International Confererence on Low Temperature Physics, Goteborg, Sweden, August, 2017

Joe, NU After Dinner Speech, Goteborg, 2017

Joe's After Dinner Speech in honor of the Fritz London Memorial Prize in Low Temperature Physics awarded to Bill Halperin and Jim Sauls, Goteborg, 2017

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