jthaler : about

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Jesse Kempner Thaler

The Short of It

I am currently a Miller Fellow in Theoretical Physics at the University of California, Berkeley. Once upon a time I played tenor sax, but I switched to upright bass when I found out that "String Theory" was going to revolutionize particle physics.

The Long of It

Though I was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, I spent my formative years in York, Maine. My brother, Aaron, and I used to play all sorts of fun games including “wig,” which nearly resulted in vital organ loss. I survived through York Middle School despite soldered glasses, a bad hair-cut, and one-on-one math tutorials in a janitor's closet. My success was partly due to a love affair with a tenor saxophone.

I went to high school at Phillips Exeter Academy. It was here that I developed my radio personality, Lester Johnson, on 90.5 FM WPEA. I also learned how to rock out on the electric bass through a spiritual encounter with the band/fruit juice known as Nedlog. Oh, and I happened to meet a fine looking Russian-Cuban in a class on Zen Buddhism.

In 2002, I received an Sc.B. in Math/Physics from Brown University. At Brown, I was heavily involved with an upright bass named Else, until I was sucked into an eight-piece 70s funk band named DLicks. Lester spent a few too many hours doing late-night freeform radio at 95.5 WBRU. It was fun while it lasted... my/his sanity, that is.

Now I am engaged in an equally brain warping activity: theoretical physics. (Oh, and I'm also engaged. Period.) I recently received my Ph.D. in high energy theory at Harvard University, working with Nima Arkani-Hamed to elucidate some of the deep mysteries of the universe. See my research page to see my work on broken symmetries, the hierarchy problem, and the LHC.

I am currently doing post-doctorial research as a Miller Fellow at UC Berkeley. Wedding bells will be ringing soon enough, but in the mean time Sasha and I are soaking up the sun on the West Coast. Do drop me a line if you will be visiting the Bay Area.
The Family


My mom, Alalia, is planning a tour of Croatia with Voices from the Heart, an all female a cappella group based in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. They sing inspirational songs from around the world. She's kept her day job as a guidance counselor at York High School.


Aaron graduated from Wesleyan University where he majored in something other than physics. He is living the good life in San Francisco, working in the non-profit sector and rocking-out on his guitar.

Significant Other

Sasha managed to finish about three-quarters of a Saturday NYTimes crossword puzzle before she realized that I was proposing to her. (58-Down: Yes.) She recently received a J.D. from Boston University, and is studying hard (ha!) for the California Bar Exam. She speaks Spanish with a Russian accent, Russian with an American accent, and English with a few glottals added for good measure.

And The Father

With both of his sons living in California, Fred has taken up some decidedly West Coast hobbies: surfing and yoga. He's also a doctor at Kittery Family Practice. Once upon a time, he played harmonica in “The Doc Johnson Blues Band,” but now he's working on his jazz chromatic.

And The Dog

Walter ist unser totes Deutschen Schäferhund. Er arbeitet noch auf seinem Akzent. Wau Wau.

And The Other Dog

Rico. Suave.

jthaler | resume | this site | links

jesse k thaler