Della Pietra Lecture Series: How It Began

 On November 17, 2016, Stony Brook University, and the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics, recognized long-time supporters, the Della Pietra family, by dedicating the Simons Center auditorium the “Della Pietra Family Auditorium.” An event was held to honor the family — brothers Vincent and Stephen Della Pietra, and their wives Barbara Amonson and Pamela Hurst-Della Pietra — and acknowledge their many years of commitment to enhancing the University’s most innovative research and academic programs.

John Morgan, Michael A. Bernstein, Jim Simons, Barbara Amonson, Vincent Della Pietra, Stephen Della Pietra, Pamela Hurst-Della Pietra, Luis Alvarez-Gaume
John Morgan, Michael A. Bernstein, Jim Simons, Barbara Amonson, Vincent Della Pietra, Stephen Della Pietra, Pamela Hurst-Della Pietra, Luis Alvarez-Gaume. Image: Kristy Leibowitz Photography.












The relationship between the Della Pietra family and the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics is a deep one, and began in 2011 with a generous donation to fund the Della Pietra Lecture Series. Physicists themselves, the Della Pietra brothers, along with their families, started the series as means to bring greater awareness of recent and impactful discoveries in Physics and Mathematics to the Long Island community, in particular to high school, undergraduate and graduate students with an interest in the sciences. By attracting world-renowned scientists to the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics, the series enhances the intellectual activity of the Center, and provides an extraordinary opportunity for both the campus and local community to connect with brilliant minds. Each edition of the series consists of three separate lectures geared towards a specific academic audience; a technical talk for advanced faculty, a high school lecture for young students, and a general talk, open to the public. Over the years, the Center has been pleased to welcome many notable speakers such as Brian Greene (Columbia University), John H. Schwarz (California Institute of Technology), Bonnie Bassler (Princeton University), and Nobel Laureates David Gross (Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics), Kip Thorne (Caltech), and Frank Wilczek (MIT) to name just a few.

“We are at the vanguard of new thinking in relation to the nature of the universe, resulting from the collaboration and collisions of ideas between some of the world’s top researchers,” said the Simons Center’s Director Luis Álvarez-Gaumé. “The Della Pietra family gift is a gratifying validation of our work and we intend to continue generating a significant return on their investment in our mission.

”In addition to their steadfast support of the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics, the Della Pietra family has made many impactful contributions to the greater Stony Brook University and has invested more than $10 million across campus, making them one of the University’s top 10 donors of all time. They’ve helped provision the Global Health Institute, the Staller Center for the Arts, the Laurie Center for Pediatric MS, the College of Arts and Sciences Teaching and Education Fund, the Children’s Hospital Task Force, a visiting Professorship in the Department of Music, a family endowed Chair in Biomedical Imaging, and countless student scholarships.

At the dedication event, faculty, staff and Stony Brook University officials enthusiastically came together to pay tribute to this all-too-deserving family. Among the many in attendance were Simons Center Founder James H. Simons, University Provost Michael A. Bernstein, Simons Center Board of Trustees members, and the Center’s newly appointed Director, Luis Álvarez-Gaumé, whose relationship with the Della Pietra brothers has come full circle, beginning many years ago when he was their Academic Advisor at Harvard University. At a time when support of higher education is of utmost importance, the contributions from the Della Pietra family have been invaluable, and this sentiment of appreciation was echoed throughout the evening. “We are humbled by the Della Pietra family’s confidence in Stony Brook. Their philanthropy is invigorating,” said Senior Vice President of University Advancement Dexter A. Bailey, Jr. “The Della Pietra Family Auditorium in the Simons Center is a permanent reminder of our gratitude and the impact the family has had on our campus community.”

Della Pietra Lecture Series from 2011 to present date are now available as a special collection on the Center’s YouTube channel.

For upcoming public lectures, please visit: Public Lectures 



Della Pietra Lecture Series Presents Dr. Eric J Heller (Harvard University), December 4-5 2014

General Public Lecture Thursday December 4 Wine and Cheese Reception: 5:00pm, Simons Center Lobby and Art Gallery Lecture: 5:45pm, Simons Center Auditorium, Room 103 Title: “The Art of Listening. Carefully.” This event is in collaboration with the opening of the ‘Art and the Quantum Moment’ exhibition. For more information please visit: ABSTRACT Waves permeate … Read more

Della Pietra Lecture Series Presents Dr. Frank Wilczek, March 4 – 5, 2014

Public Talk Tuesday March 4 at 5:30pm, Simons Center Auditorium, room 103: Title: “Expanding the Doors of Perception” Abstract: Modern physics has taught us that our unaided senses perceive only an infinitesimal portion of physical reality. Within that theme, Frank Wilczek, PhD, a Nobel Laureate and professor of physics at MIT, will especially emphasize color … Read more

Della Pietra Public Lecture by Martinus Veltman: “The Higgs particle”

Professor Martinus Veltman of the University of Michigan (retired) will present a Della Pietra Lecture entitled “The Higgs Particle” at 5:30 pm on Thursday, January 9, 2014 in Room 103 of the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics. 5:00pm – Wine and Cheese Reception 5:30pm – Public lecture by Martinus Veltman, “The Higgs particle” Professor Veltman together with … Read more

Della Pietra Lecture Series Presents Dr. Stephen Quake (Stanford University), October 17-18, 2013

On Thursday, October 17th and Friday October 18th Dr. Stephen Quake, of Stanford University, will deliver three talks for the Della Pietra Lecture Series at the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics, Stony Brook University.  Lecture 1 (This lecture is geared for high school and undergraduate students) Title:  “Precision Measurement in Biology” by Dr. Stephen Quake Time: Thursday … Read more

Dr. Jon Kleinberg, Cornell University, February 26-27, 2013

What Can Big Data Teach Us About Society and About Ourselves? Jon Kleinberg is the Tisch University Professor in the Departments of Computer Science and Information Science at Cornell University. His research focuses on issues at the interface of networks and information, with an emphasis on the social and information networks that underpin the Web … Read more

Dr. Andrei Linde, Stanford University, March 11-12, 2013

UNIVERSE OR MULTIVERSE?   Andrei Linde studied physics at Moscow State University, was a member at CERN and is currently a Professor of Physics at Stanford University. He is an author of more than 250 papers on particle physics, phase transitions and cosmology. As a founding author of the inflationary universe scenario, he has written … Read more

Della Pietra Lecture Series Presents Dr. Robert Kirshner, October 2-3 2012

Dr. Robert Kirshner, Photo credit: Lynn Barry Hetherington Lecture 1 ‘A Nobel Surprise: The Accelerating Universe’ (This lecture is geared for high school and undergraduate students) Title: “A Nobel Surprise: The Accelerating Universe” by Dr. Robert Kirshner Time: Tuesday October 2nd at 11:00 am Place: Simons Center for Geometry and Physics room 103 [box, type=”download”]Watch … Read more

Dr. Jeffrey Weeks Della Pietra Lectures, May 3-4, 2012

Watch the Videos: SYMMETRY: FOLDING AND UNFOLDING Thursday, May 3rd, 2012 at 2 pm In this hands-on workshop participants will see how every symmetrical pattern has an “unfolded form” and a “folded form” and learn an easy way to name symmetry patterns based on their folded forms. Pre-printed copies of symmetrical patterns will be provided. … Read more