Dan Lathrop Named Distinguished Scholar-Teacher

Lathrop smoke cannonProfessor Daniel Lathrop has been named a University of Maryland Distinguished Scholar-Teacher.  He will be recognized during the university’s annual Convocation ceremony on Wed., September 18 at 3 p.m. in the Memorial Chapel. A reception will follow in the Chapel Garden.

The Distinguished Scholar-Teacher Program, established in 1978, honors a small number of faculty members each year who have demonstrated notable success in both scholarship and teaching. Distinguished Scholar-Teachers receive an honorarium of $5,000 to support their professional activities, and make public presentations on a topic within their scholarly discipline. Lathrop will give his lecture on October 29 at 4 p.m. in the PSC lobby.  

An interdisciplinary researcher with additional joint appointments in UMD’s Department of GeologyInstitute for Research in Electronics and Applied Physics, and Institute for Physical Science and Technology, Lathrop studies turbulence—the chaotic motion of fluids such as air or water. Understanding turbulence is crucial to studying phenomena such as the flow of air over an airplane wing, water flowing down a drain or the behavior of Earth’s molten outer core.

Lathrop is particularly interested in Earth’s core, which generates a magnetic field that shields Earth from the sun’s radiation, allowing life to exist. Geological records show that the Earth’s magnetic field has reversed polarity numerous times in the past. When it does so, the magnetic field weakens, leaving the planet unprotected. However, scientists do not understand how Earth’s magnetic field is generated and what causes it to reverse. To investigate this question, Lathrop constructed a 3-meter spinning sphere filled with molten liquid sodium to model Earth’s core.

Lathrop was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2011 and a fellow of the American Physical Society in 2005. He also received a Presidential Early Career Award from the National Science Foundation in 1997.

In addition to his research career, Lathrop is an enthusiastic mentor. Since joining UMD in 1997, he has mentored nine postdoctoral scholars, 19 Ph.D. students, 10 M.S. students, and more than 60 undergraduate and high school students.

“It is rare—and wonderful—to find a teacher and mentor as fully engaged and enthusiastic as is Professor Lathrop,” wrote Steven Rolston, professor and chair of the UMD Department of Physics, in a letter nominating Lathrop for the award. “He provides not only scientific knowledge but his deep-down love of the lab and of learning.”

Lathrop earned his B.A. in physics from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1987 and his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Texas at Austin in 1991.

Distinguished Scholar Teachers in the Department of Physics

EPS to Honor DØ, CDF Collaborations for Top Quark Detection

logo EPS blueThe European Physical Society has announced that the and CDF collaborations will receive the 2019 High Energy and Particle Physics Prize for "the discovery of the top quark and the detailed measurement of its properties".

In 1973, Makoto Kobayashi and Toshihide Maskawa predicted a top and bottom quark to explain CP violation. Four years later, Leon Lederman’s team at Fermilab discovered the bottom quark. But because of the complexity required to find the massive, short-lived (5x10-25 second) top quark, nearly two decades ensued before its confirmation at Fermilab’s Tevatron proton-antiproton collider, home to both DØ and CDF. The Tevatron was the world’s most powerful accelerator before the Large Hadron Collider at CERN opened in 2009.

UMD physicists played important roles in the top quark discovery. In the DØ collaboration, Nick Hadley was co-convenor of the Top Group at the time of detection. Sarah Eno’s precise measurement of the decay width and mass of the electroweak W boson helped predict the mass of the top quark.  Drew Baden devised an analysis technique, called HT, which allowed the experiment to separate the top quark signal for the much more numerous background events. Before coming to Maryland, Greg Sullivan was physics co-convener of the dilepton group for the CDF collaboration, and Kara Hoffman was also a member of the CDF collaboration.

“The top quark remains one of nature’s most interesting particles. It has the mass of a gold atom, but behaves like an elementary particle with a volume at least a billion times smaller than a proton,” said Hadley.

The EPS prize will be formally awarded at the EPS Conference on July 15 in Ghent.

Doug Currie Comments on Lunar Laser Ranging Retroreflector Arrays in Eos

apollo15 lrrrpart hiA portion of the Apollo 15 lunar laser ranging retroreflector array, as placed on the Moon and photographed by D. Scott. Credits: NASA/D. Scott

In an Eos article titled, "Seeing the Light," UMD Physics Research Scientist and Professor Emeritus Doug Currie describes the current retroreflectors installed on the Moon and his proposal to send a new module as part of an upcoming lunar mission. The article details how retroreflectors installed on the Moon during the Apollo 11, 14 and 15 missions are still used today, but that improvements are needed.

Professor Julie McEnery Discusses CTA and Fermi Gamma Ray Space Telescope in SciTech Europa

 CTAPhoto Credit: CTAO/M-A. Besel/IAC (G.P. Diaz)/ESOIn an interview with SciTech Europa, Fermi Project Scientist at the Astroparticle Physics Laboratory, Astrophysics Science Division of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and University of Maryland Adjunct Associate Professor Julie McEnery answers questions about the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) and its impact on astrophysics. She also explores the integration of Fermi Gamma ray Space Telescope and CTA. 

Gaurang Yodh (1928 - 2019)


Gaurang Yodh, a University of Maryland physics professor from 1961-88, died on June 3 at the age of 90. Yodh earned his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago in 1955, working with Herb Anderson and Enrico Fermi. After appointments at Stanford, the Tata Institute and the Carnegie Institute, he joined the UMD physics faculty in 1961. In his long career researching particle physics and cosmic rays, his contributions included developing improved radiation detectors for particle detection and developing ground-based water Cherenkov gamma ray telescopes to study gamma rays and search for sources of cosmic rays.

Yodh was a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the UK Institute of Physics.

He was an extraordinarily accomplished sitar player, and while in College Park offered a course in Indian classical music performance that helped launch the UMD ethnomusicology program. 

While a professor at the University of California, Irvine, Yodh established the Yodh Prize for outstanding achievement in cosmic rays and astroparticle physics. Jordan Goodman, who earned his doctorate under Yodh in 1978, received this award in 2017.