Rutgers University Department of Physics and Astronomy

Richard J. Plano Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award

The Richard J. Plano Outstanding Teaching Assistant (TA) Award is given annually to Rutgers physics TAs who, in the judgment of the physics faculty, have demonstrated outstanding teaching excellence. The award, which includes a cash prize, was endowed in 2000 by Richard J. Plano, who was a professor of physics at Rutgers until his retirement in 1999. The award was greatly augmented by an anonymous donor in 2001. The awards are presented at the Departmental Reception which takes place early in the Fall term every year.

The Richard J. Plano Outstanding TA Award replaced the department's previous Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award , which existed from 1989 through 1999.

A photograph of Prof. Plano is shown above. Click on the picture to see a larger image.

Richard J. Plano (1929-2012)

Biographical sketch contributed by Mohan Kalelkar

Richard J. Plano was born on April 15, 1929 in Merrill, Wisconsin. He won a competitive all-tuition Pepsi-Cola Scholarship, which made it possible for him to attend the University of Chicago, where he received the AB Degree in 1949, the BS in 1951, MS in 1953 and his Ph.D. in 1956. He helped develop the first liquid hydrogen bubble chamber, which he then used for his thesis research into pion-proton scattering.

He joined the faculty of Columbia University, New York, NY in January, 1956 as an instructor and was promoted to assistant professor in 1958. While there he participated in bubble chamber experiments at Nevis Laboratory and Brookhaven National Laboratory which determined the parity of the neutral pion and the spin of the lambda hyperon, revealed the properties of the then mysterious neutral kaon, and produced numerous other results which formed the basis of the now commonly accepted "Standard Model".

In 1960 he joined the Physics Department at Rutgers as an associate professor and quickly founded a strong program in high-energy experimental physics, starting with an advanced facility to analyze bubble chamber photographs. In 1963 he was promoted to full professor and in 1985 to Professor II. His research was supported by the National Science Foundation, which increased his annual support each year for 35 years to a maximum of $315,000.

The NSF support included funding for an automatic device (called PEPR) for scanning and measuring bubble chamber photographs semi-automatically under computer control. An outgrowth of this effort was one of the first powerful time-sharing computer systems, which controlled PEPR, analyzed the resulting data, and was made available to the entire faculty, staff, and graduate student body starting in 1965. This pioneering computing effort gave the department impressive computing power at an early stage in the development of computers. His research using this equipment produced many results of major importance concerning the strong interactions as well as neutrino interactions. Starting in 1985, his major interest turned to electron accelerators and he made major contributions to the SLD detector at Stanford University. During his career, he used the high energy accelerators at the University of Chicago, Nevis Laboratory, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Fermilab, CERN, and Stanford University. More than 200 refereed publications have resulted from these investigations.

He enjoyed teaching at all levels. His major teaching efforts were at the elementary level and in mentoring graduate students; thirteen received the Ph.D. degree under his guidance.

Prof. Plano died on January 8, 2012 after a long illness.

Winners of the Richard J. Plano Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award

2000Sahana Murthy 
2001Rossen RoussevDaibhid O'Maoileidigh  
2002Maxime DionJared Yamaoka 
2003Aaron WarrenJessica Warren Micah Johnson
2004Michael SchneiderElena Loguinova 
2005Ross FadelyNaseem Rangwala 
2006Brian VancilVesselin Marinov 
2007Junya YagiDmitry Hits 
2008Ross FadelySinisa Coh 
2009Manjul ApratimRazvan CherejiAlan Richards
2010Aatish BhatiaCurtis McCullyChelsea Sharon
2011Heather BriggsSimon KnapenMichael Manhart
 Justin MeyersonConor O'MalleyCharles Ruggieri
2012William FlynnElliot HughesCharles Ruggieri
2013David FeldSavvas Kyriacou 
 Arun TadepalliRyan Brennan 
2014Sheehan AhmedBismayan ChakrabartiDavid Kolchmeyer
 Sebastian MacalusoJesse RiveraJonathan Sloane

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This page is maintained by Prof. Mohan Kalelkar.