Davoudi Receives Ken Wilson Award

Assistant Professor Zohreh Davoudi has been honored with the 2018 Kenneth G. Wilson Award for Excellence in Lattice Field Theory during the 36th Annual International Symposium on Lattice Field Theory held July 22–28 at Michigan State University. Davoudi was cited for her fundamental contributions to lattice field theory in a finite volume that are essential for performing lattice simulations of complex systems.

The annual award is named after Nobel Laureate Ken Wilson (1936-2013), who founded lattice gauge theory in 1974, permitting such theories to be studied numerically using powerful computers. Established in 2011, the award recognizes outstanding lattice field theorists who are within seven years of completing the Ph.D., and consists of a modest monetary prize and an invitation to give a plenary talk at the next symposium on lattice field theory.

Davoudi’s significant contributions to formulating the path between quantities obtained in numerical simulations of lattice field theory in a finite spacetime and the physical observables have advanced the few-body frontier in lattice field theory. The cited work paved the road towards obtaining important quantities in particle and nuclear physics, such as two and three-body scattering amplitudes, bound-state properties, electromagnetic structure of hadrons and nuclei, coupled-channel scattering and reaction rates.

Davoudi received her Ph.D. in theoretical nuclear physics at the University of Washington, and held a postdoctoral position at the Center for Theoretical Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before joining UMD in 2017. She studies how complex systems of hadrons and nuclei emerge from fundamental interactions of nature using a combination of analytical and computational methods.

zohreh receiving Ken Wilson Lattice AwardPhoto courtesy of Lattice 2018. Christine Davies, University of Glasgow (left) Zohreh Davoudi, University of Maryland (right).

Promotions Effective July, 2018

Michelle Girvan, who was promoted to the rank of Professor, works in the emerging area of network science, which focuses on complex connectivity patterns among interacting units and joins physics with the domains of mathematics, biology, environmental studies, economics, sociology, and psychology, among others. Her analysis of networks helps explain developments in settings as diverse as gene encoding and the nation’s electric grid. Girvan received her Ph.D. in 2004 from Cornell University, and has held appointments at the Santa Fe Institute and the Institute for Advanced Study. She holds a joint appointment in the Institute for Physical Sciences and Technology. In 2017 she received the Richard A. Ferrell Distinguished Faculty Fellowship and was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society.

Min Ouyang, who was promoted to the rank of Professor, is a member of the Center for Nanophysics and Advanced Materials. His experiments at the juncture of physics and chemistry involve creating novel and complex nanomaterials via the bottom-up synthetic strategy and understanding nanoscale physics by using ultrafast and single photon optics, with potential applications ranging from quantum information processing to thermal management fabrics. He received his Ph.D. in 2001 from Harvard University and did postdoctoral work at the University of California in Santa Barbara before joining UMD. Among his honors are an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, an NSF Career Award, an Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award, a Beckman Young Investigator Award and a Scialog Fellowship from the Research Corporation.

Ayush Gupta, who was promoted to the rank of Associate Research Professor, works in physics education research, developing new materials and teaching practices to help students gain greater competence with disciplinary content and practice. He has contributed to the articulation and modeling of the contextual dynamics of core disciplinary practices in STEM such as mathematical sense-making and tinkering. In another thread of work, he has contributed to modeling how cultural practices influence the creation of more/less inclusive experiences for STEM students. His work has also introduced novel models for how engineering students think about ethics and social responsibility, connecting cognitive theories with social theory and ideas from Science and Technology Studies. He received his Ph.D. in electrical engineering from this campus, and is also a Keystone Instructor in the Clark School of Engineering.

Ivan Burenkov has been promoted to Assistant Research Scientist. He received his Ph.D. in 2012 from Moscow State University, and has been a postdoctoral researcher with Adjunct Professor Alan Migdall since 2015. His interests include quantum enhanced measurements for advanced optical communication, bio-medical applications and photon frequency conversion

Nicholas Butch, who was a Rolfe Glover Postdoctoral Fellow in CNAM from 2008-11, was promoted to Adjunct Associate Professor. In addition, three other NIST scientists now have appointments in the department: Thomas Purdy and Michael Zwolak as Adjunct Assistant Professors, and Sergey Polyakov as Adjunct Associate Professor.

Jack Wimberley Received Ph.D Thesis Award

UMD graduate student Jack Wimberley is one of two recipients of the 2018 Ph.D. thesis awards given by the Large Hadron Collider beauty (LHCb) collaboration at CERN. These awards recognize students for excellent theses and additional work over and above the central thesis topic that has made an exceptional contribution to the LHCb.  The LHCb collaboration is made up of about 800 physicists from 79 institutions in 16 countries.  

Wimberley’s work explores a possible discrepancy in the Standard Model illuminated by analyzing the decay of rare particles. It was published in Physical Review Letters and highlighted in the October 13, 2017 CERN Courier.


Physics Graduate Student Zachary Eldredge Awarded ARCS Scholarship

The Achievement Rewards for College Scientists (ARCS) Foundation awarded two students from the University of Maryland’s College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences with $15,000 scholarships for the 2018-2019 school year. This year’s scholars are physics graduate student Zachary Eldredge and chemistry graduate student Matthew Thum.

Erik Blaufuss Wins Provost’s Excellence Award

Research Scientist Erik Blaufuss has received the 2018 Provost’s Excellence Award for Professional Track Faculty in research.  

Blaufuss has served as scientific analysis coordinator of IceCube, an NSF-sponsored scientific instrument in Antarctica in which 5,160 photoreceptors are embedded in a cubic kilometer of crystal-clear ice more than one kilometer below the surface. About 300 times a day, a neutrino speeding through this billion-ton chunk will hit an atom, and the collision will generate a flash of light, from which the neutrino’s direction and energy can be determined. That information reveals the neutrino’s origin and energy.  When IceCube scientists in 2013 determined that about one in every ten thousand of those neutrinos (about a dozen a year) came from distant space outside our galaxy, the new field of neutrino astronomy  was launched. Physics World named this its “Breakthrough of the Year”.

Blaufuss was instrumental in bringing a “multi-messenger” approach to these observations. When IceCube detects an energetic neutrino from distant space, an alert is issued to the world’s radio, optical and gamma-ray telescopes, pointing them in a particular direction toward the particle’s origin.   These alerts have been in operation since April 2016, with more than a dozen issued to date.  On Sept. 22, 2017, one was broadcast by IceCube. Blaufuss’ system rapidly signaled other observatories to aim toward the direction whence the neutrino came.  This event has triggered extensive follow-up by telescopes world-wide, including the identification of a known source from NASA’s Fermi-LAT telescope’s catalog consistent with the neutrino direction. The likely source of the cosmisc neutrinos is a blazar billions of light years away.

Blaufuss earned his PhD in Physics from Louisiana State University in 2000, and joined UMD that same year. Early in his career, he worked on the Super-Kamiokande Experiment in Japan, for which Takaaki Kajita shared the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics. The Super-K collaboration’s experimental data, described in a 1998 paper “Evidence for Oscillation of Atmospheric Neutrinos”, demonstrated that neutrinos change identities. This metamorphosis requires that neutrinos have mass, and changed our understanding of the innermost workings of matter. Shortly after the Nobel, the 2016 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics was awarded to five collaborations studying neutrino oscillations, including Super-K.