“This is an interesting moment at Columbia following on the opening of the new Northwest Corner Building, and in anticipation of the interdisciplinary Mind, Brain Behavior neuroscience initiative,” said Nicholas Dirks, the Executive Vice President for Arts and Sciences who announced Miller’s appointment on Mar. 1. “Amber will be charged in part with figuring out how to make sure the core departments are fully supported and make sure the newer initiatives feed back with an organic continuity in relation to the departmental needs.”
Since arriving at Columbia in 2002, Miller has served on the Faculty Budget Group, the Space Planning Committee, the Academic Review Committee, and was chair of the Executive Committee of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, preparing her for her new role.
“We are really going to take a good look at the needs and priorities in the basic sciences and get a sense of what we need to do to enhance and improve our ability to get things done around here,” said Miller. “I'm going to try to bring a new kind of leadership to science in Arts and Sciences and work with the senior leadership to make science stronger across Columbia.”
As a researcher, Miller is leading the Columbia team’s E and B Experiment (EBEX), which consists of a 6,000-pound balloon-borne telescope that will be launched into the stratosphere over Antarctica to capture snapshots of the cosmic microwave background, or CMB—light emitted by the hot plasma leftover from the big bang that can still be observed today. Specifically, the telescopecaptures photons, or light particles, that were emitted when the universe was 380,000 years old. Much like a digital camera, the telescope takes photographs, but instead of capturing information in the form of optical light, EBEX “is designed to look at microwaves,” said Miller. The data will be complementary to two of Miller's other projects, QUIET (the Q U Imaging Experiment), a telescope in northern Chile, and the Sunyaev-Zel'dovich Array, telescopes based in Owens Valley, California.
Miller is the recipient of an NSF Career Award, an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship and the Columbia Distinguished Faculty Award. She is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and recently served as the Chief Science Advisor to the NYPD Counterterrorism Bureau.
Four Columbia faculty were awarded Sloan Research Fellowships by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. They are Mark Churchland, assistant professor of neuroscience; Wei Min, assistant professor of chemistry; Simha Sethumadhavan, associate professor of computer science; and Wei Zhang, assistant professor of mathematics.
Alondra Nelson, associate professor of sociology, won the 2012 book award from the Association for Humanist Sociology for Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight Against Medical Discrimination.