Rutgers University Department of Physics and Astronomy

Rutgers Physics News

Emil Yuzbashyan, Assistant Professor in our department and a condensed matter theorist, has won a Packard Foundation fellowship. The Packard Foundation awards extremely competitive fellowships to outstanding junior faculty members in science and engineering. Only the most prominent universities in the US are allowed to nominate candidates and the competition is extemely tough. This year, out of the 20 fellowships awarded, only two were given in physics in the entire country (last year, none). This is the very first Packard award not just in our department but in any department at Rutgers.

Related links:

Professor Karin Rabe has won the 2008 David Adler Lectureship Award of the American Physical Society. This award was established to recognize an outstanding contributor in materials physics, who is noted for the quality of his/her research, review articles and lecturing. The citation announcing Karin's award reads:
For research, writings and presentations on the theory of structural phase transitions and for the application of first-principles electronic structure methods to the understanding of technologically important phenomena in ferroelectrics

Junya Yagi and Dmitry Hits were presented the Richard J. Plano Outstanding Teaching Assistant Awards at the recent Department Welcome Reception. This award, which includes a cash prize, is given annually to TAs who in the judgement of the faculty have demonstrated outstanding teaching excellence. Read more about the Plano Outstanding TA Award.

Incoming junior faculty, Saurabh Jha, is a member of the supernova team that was awarded this year's Gruber Prize in Cosmology.
Congratulations to Saurabh!"

Amit Lath and Anton Anastassov were cited in the July 24, 2007 NY Times article about the race for the (Higgs) "God Particle". The article about the "Race for the Higgs Boson" made the front page of the NY Times Online.

Vitaly Podzorov was recently interviewed by Thompson Scientific, which has identified his group's highly cited papers in the forefront of research on Organic Semiconductors.
Read the Interview.
The Essential Science Indicator Thompson Scientific is a resource that enables researchers to conduct ongoing, quantitative analyses of research performance and track trends in science. Covering a multidisciplinary selection of 11,000+ journals from around the world, this in-depth analytical tool offers data for ranking scientists, institutions, countries, and journals.

The Ho-Am Foundation has selected Professor Sang-Wook Cheong to be awarded one of five Ho-Am Foundation prizes this year. Cheong has won the prize for Science with a value of about 200 million won or about $200,000. It is sometimes referred to as the Korean Nobel Prize. The prize was awarded at a ceremony in Korea on June 1. The other areas are Engineering, Medicine, the Arts, and Community Service.

The foundation was set up in memory of the founder of the Samsung Group. The award honors "those who have made outstanding contributions to the development of science and culture and the enhanceof the welfare of mankind." Cheong is being honored for establishing a new paradigm in the field of the physical properties of emergent materials.

Watch the video posted on the Rutgers Center for Emergent Materials website.

The 2007 Graduate School Dissertation prize was won by Craig Fennie. Craig did his research under the supervision of Karin Rabe, and is now a Nicholas Metropolis Fellow at Argonne National Lab. This is the second year in a row the award went to a physics student (last year Jeff Thomas, Jolie Cizewski's student, won).

Lev Ioffe has been awarded fellowship in the American Physical Society "For significant contributions to the theory of spin glasses without quenched disorder, disordered superconductors, high T_c superconductors and the discovery of Josephson networks with topological order parameters."

Joel Lebowitz has been awarded the Planck medal of the German Physical Society for his lifetime achievements. This is the most prestigious prize for theoretical physics awarded by the Society. The list of previous winners is truly impressive.

From the press release (Translated from the German) (Nov.11, 2006):
Max Planck medal goes into the USA
Awards of the German Physical Society

Bad Honnef, 15. November 2006 --- In the coming year, Joel L. Lebowitz, head of the Center for Mathematical Sciences Research at the US-American Rutgers University, is going to receive the Max Planck medal, the highest honor for theoretical physics of the German Physical Society (DPG). Born in former Czechoslovakia, the expert for statistical physics will be honored for his lifetime achievements. The Stern-Gerlach medal ...
It follow sections pertinent to the two medals Section: Max-Planck-Medal 2007 Subtitle: highest DPG honor for theoretical physics Prof. Dr. Joel L. Lebowitz (76), Rutgers University, Center for Mathematical Sciences Research Piscataway, US State of New Jersey it follows the citation:

"for his important contributions to the statistical physics of equilibrium and non-equilibrium systems, in particular his contributions to the theory of phase transitions, the dynamics of infinite systems, and the stationary non-equilibrium states. Furthermore he is going to be honored for his promoting of new directions of this field at its farthest front, and for enthusiastically introducing several generations of scientists to the field."

It follows a brief description of JLL's achievements:
Physics of many particles: Joel Lebowitz, born 1930 in former Czechoslovakia, receives this distinction for his lifetime achievement. Throughout his scientific career Lebowitz has been concerned with fundamental topics of statistical physics. This includes heat transport, magnetism and questions of hydrodynamics. Lebowitz also pondered the phenomenon of the `arrow of time.' This is about the question why time only progresses and why physical processes generally evolve only in one direction. All these works bear on the vast field of statistical physics. Its aim is to deduce macroscopic properties of many particle systems --- such as the pressure of a gas or the magnetization of a solid --- from microscopic (atomic) laws.

... This distinction consists of a gold medal
The award ceremony takes place in March 2007 during the central annual meeting of the DPG in Regensburg

Congratulations to Noemie Koller who is the recipient of the 2006 Distinguished Service Award of the Division of Nuclear Physics of the American Physical Society. She was recognized "For her sustained and exceptional contributions to the Division of Nuclear Physics and to the American Physical Society on behalf of the Division, for her creative promotion of education and the climate for women in nuclear science, and for her vigorous efforts to develop the Division's initial Nuclear Physics brochure and to fund the Bonner Prize." The award was presented at the meeting of the Division in Nashville in October of 2006.

First Light for the Rutgers Fabry Perot Instrument on the SALT Telescope. The Farby-Perot system of the Robert Stobie Spectrograph was used for the first time on September 22, 2006 to acquire on-sky images with the Southern African Large Telecope.
Read more (PDF)

The CDF experiment at Fermilab has measured the oscillation of the Bs meson into Bs-bar. Quoted as a mass difference, the value is Delta_ms = 17.77 +- 0.10 (stat) +- 0.07 (sys) ps-1.

The oscillation is explained by the Standard Model, and the value above is in accordance with it. However, there are many beyond SM models (supersymmetry for instance) that cannot avoid affecting this oscillation. So this result will help narrow the window for new physics. The details are in hep-ex/0609040. Read more at the CDF Web site at FermiLab

Kitta MacPherson of the Newark Star-Ledger had a story this morning:

Note an egregious mistake near the end: "For reasons of physics, the Higgs boson, which has much less mass, would likely be drawn to the heavier b quark in the meson." Oh, don't we wish the Higgs were that light! In fact, the Higgs boson has much MORE mass than the b quark. It is (probably) lighter than twice the top quark mass, so it will want to decay to the LIGHTER b quark. Assuming of course the Higgs is indeed what is responsible for breaking electroweak symmetry.

At this year's Graduate Student Organization sponsored Dept Welcome Reception, the Richard J. Plano Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award was presented to Vesselin Marinov and Brian Vancil.

The NJ Science Teachers Association and the NJ Science Education Leadership Association have selected Dave Maiullo to be awarded the NJAAPT Lifetime Contribution to Physics Education Award at the New Jersey Science Convention Awards Dinner October 11, 2006.

Emil Yuzbashyan has been awarded a prestigious CAREER award from the National Science Foundation. This award, given to the most outstanding young scholars, will provide substantial research support for the next five years.

According to the NSF web site, the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program is a Foundation-wide activity that offers the National Science Foundation's most prestigious awards in support of the early career-development activities of those teacher-scholars who most effectively integrate research and education within the context of the mission of their organization. Such activities should build a firm foundation for a lifetime of integrated contributions to research and education.

Gabe Alba and Hsu-Chang Lu have won First Prize in the 2006 Apparatus Competition of the American Association of Physics Teachers. Their entry was entitled "Bend It Like Bernoulli" and demonstrated how a soccer ball is made to bend around a wall of defenders from a kicker imparting a spin to it.

At the annual Departmental Awards Banquet on April 18, 2006, the following awards were presented:

Society of Physics Students Outstanding Teacher Award: Thomas Devlin
Richard J. Plano Dissertation Prize:Juntai Shen
Richard T. Weidner Physics Prize:Joseph Walsh
Mary Wheeler Wigner Memorial Scholarship:Joseph Wolf
Robert L. Sells Scholarships:Pablo Mosteiro
Javier Sanchez
Herman Y. Carr Scholarships:Anthony Barker
Jack Hanson
Noemie B. Koller Scholarships:Kinga Partyka
Christine Hsieh
Richard J. Plano Summer Research Internships:Stanislav Solomovich
Matthew Calhoun
Summer Research Internship in
Experimental High Energy Physics:
Scott Robinson

Professor Mohan Kalelkar has been selected to receive a Warren I. Susman Award for Excellence in Teaching. This award is Rutgers University's highest honor for outstanding and innovative performance in the classroom by a tenured faculty member. The award is named in memory of Professor Susman, a prominent cultural historian and popular teacher.

On Apr 6, 2006, Sang-Wook Cheong was officially awarded the Donald H. Jacobs Chair in Applied Physics for the period Jan. 1, 2006 to Dec. 31, 2008 during a ceremony at the Board of Governers meeting.

Professor Harry Kojima has been elected as Fellow of the APS for his work in Condensed Matter Physics for experimental discoveries of unusual low-temperature excitations and dynamics in quantum liquids and solids (especially superfluid 3He).

Congratulations go to Aaron Warren and Dr. Jeff Thomas. Aaron has won the Graduate School at New Brunswick award for outstanding teaching by a graduate student. Jeff, a student of Prof. Jolie Cizewski, has won the Graduate School at New Brunswick outstanding dissertation award.

Carlos Badenes, a post-doc in the astronomy group, has been awarded a Chandra Fellowship for 2006. This highly competitive, prestigious fellowship will support Carlos' research on supernovae and their remnants at Rutgers over the next three years.

Physics Support Specialist David Maiullo receives 2005 Excellence in Service Award. David provides access to a large number of physics demonstrations and helps make physics fun for students to learn and faculty to teach.

Professor Emil Yuzbashyan has just been named a Sloan Foundation Research Fellow for 2006. These awards are intended to enhance the careers of the very best young faculty members in specified fields of science. Currently a total of 116 fellowships are awarded annually in seven fields: chemistry, computational and evolutionary molecular biology, computer science, economics, mathematics, neuroscience, and physics.

Rutgers Professor Gabriel Kotliar has been awarded The 2006 Agilent Technologies Europhysics Prize, along with Antoine Georges, Walter Metzner, and Dieter Vollhardt, for the Development and Application of the Dynamical Mean Field Theory.

From the European Physical Society announcement:
The Agilent Technologies' Europhysics Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Condensed Matter Physics is an annual award, funded by donations from the Agilent Technologies' corporate contributions programs to the European Physical Society.
The Europhysics Prize is considered to be one of the most prestigious physics prizes presented in Europe. Eight previous winners have subsequently won Nobel Prizes for their work. Since 1975, the award has been given to leading scientists in nearly every internationally important area of condensed matter physics.
The award is given in recognition of recent work by one or more individuals in the area of physics of condensed matter, particularly work leading to advances in the fields of electronic, electrical and materials engineering, which, in the opinion of the Society's Selection Committee, represent scientific excellence. The Selection Committee consists of five members who are appointed by the Society and includes an Agilent Technologies' representative.
Agilent is proud to continue the tradition of funding the prize, a tradition started by HP in 1975. It includes a substantial cash award. Agilent sponsorship demonstrates its commitment to technical innovation, including fundamental physics.

The 2005 McMillan Award has been given to Rutgers Alumnus, Dr Peter Armitage. Armitage was a physics Major at Rutgers, graduating in 1994. The McMillan award is given annually to a to a young condensed matter physicist (theoretical or experimental) for distinguished accomplishments. Past recipients include many leading figures in condensed matter physics. Peter Armitage has been awarded this year's prize for "his crucial contributions to the field of angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy studies of electron-doped superconductors". High temperature superconductors are known to be doped Mott insulators - the "hole-doped" have been extensively studied throughout the 90s - but it is only recently that it has been possible to carry out detailed photo-emission studies of their close cousins, the electron doped cuprates. Armitage and co-workers at Stanford University were able to characterize the nature of the electronic excitations in neodinium cerium cuprate, and show that the electron-electron interaction effects were weaker than in their hole-doped counterparts. Armitage has been involved in many other areas of spectroscopy, including optical conductivity. Armitage is currently an assistant Professor at John's Hopkins University, on leave at the University of Geneva in Switzerland.

Professor David Vanderbilt is the winner of the 2006 Aneesur Rahman Prize in Computational Physics, one of the major prizes of the American Physical Society. The prize was established in 1992 by the IBM Corporation to recognize and encourage outstanding achievement in computational physics research. The citation reads, "For his conceptual breakthroughs in his development of the ultrasoft pseudopotential and the modern theory of polarization and their impact on first-principles investigations of the properties of materials." The prize will be awarded at the 2006 APS March Meeting in Baltimore.

The 2006 budget request to Congress by the Dept. of Energy highlights the recent measurement of the g-factor of an accelerated radioactive nucleus by Prof. Noemie Koller and her group. It was carried out at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, which is supported by the DOE.

Five current graduate students in the Rutgers Physics Department have been awarded Lucent-Rutgers Fellowships: Ms. Kasturi Basu, Mr. Ilya Berdnikov, Mr. Craig Fennie, Mr. Shitao Lou and Mr. Soonyong Park. These students will soon be matched with mentors at Lucent, giving them opportunities to work in both academic and industrial research environments. Congratulations to Kasturi, Ilya, Craig, Shitao and Soonyong!

Natan Andrei and Bob Bartynski have been recently elected to APS Fellowship. Prof. Andrei's citation: For elucidating the many-body effects of several condensed matter systems, in particular the Kondo model.." and Prof. Bartynski's citation: For pioneering experiments to determine the electronic properties of surfaces, especially for leadership in developing Auger Photoelectron Coincidence Spectroscopy"
More info at

Namjung Hur, a student of Prof. Sang-Wook Cheong, was chosen to to receive a GMAG Outstanding Dissertation in Magnetism awards. This award has three components: an invited talk in an appropriate session at the March 2005 APS Meeting in Los Angeles, a monetary prize to the student, and finances towards travel or other costs of attending the Meeting.

Professor Joel Lebowitz has been awarded the 2004 Nicholson Medal for Humanitarian Service by the APS. The medal will be presented at the March 2005 Meeting of the APS. The citation reads: "For his tireless personal activism, throughout his superb career as a theoretical physicist, to help scientists and defend their human rights in countries around the globe."

Rutgers University Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Philip Furmanski has announced the formation of the Institute for Advanced Materials and Devices at Rutgers University. This Institute is intended to provide a vital link between academic scientific research at Rutgers and the needs of emerging commercial technologies in the areas of advanced materials and devices, and will involve the participation of about 20 faculty from the Department of Physics and Astronomy working together with faculty from other FAS and Engineering departments.

Professor David Langreth receives an honorary Doctorate Honoris Causa from Chalmers University, Gothenberg, Sweden in Theoretical Physics in 2004.

Professor Ted Madey receives an honorary Doctorate Honoris Causa from the University of Wroclaw, Poland in Experimental Physics in 2004.

Professor Gabi Kotliar is among the four physicists selected this year to receive a prestigious and highly competitive Guggenheim Fellowship. Professor Kotliar received the 2003 award for his work in condensed matter theory.

Dr. George Downsbrough (B.S.'31, Ph.D.'36), the second Ph.D. recipient in our department, has contributed $200K towards an endowed fund in the department. The purpose of the fund is to help provide startup monies for new faculty members in Physics and Astronomy, who will be known as "Downsbrough Faculty Research Fellows" during the years that they receive such funds.

A bequest in the amount of $500K from the Van Dyck Trust, set up some years ago in honor of Francis Cuyler Van Dyck, the founder of the Physics Department, passed to the Department of Physics and Astronomy this year. Income from the funds will help supplement graduate fellowships for incoming graduate students who will be known as Francis Van Dyck Fellows.

The relocation in September 2001 of about a half-dozen faculty members into new offices in the NPL signals the completion of a major renovation project begun about 5 years ago. Adjacent to the Serin Physics building, the NPL -- formerly the "Nuclear Physics Laboratory" -- had been underutilized since a Tandem Accelerator was removed more than a decade ago. Now rededicated as the "NANOPHYSICS LABORATORY", the building provides offices and laboratory space for experimental faculty and postdocs associated with the Laboratory for Surface Modification (LSM), as well as other condensed matter laboratories. LSM has extensive state-of-the-art instrumentation in NPL, ranging from ion beam accelerators for determining surface structure and composition, to scanning probe microscopes for atomic-scale surface measurements.

The NSF has funded a major proposal submitted by Gabi Kotliar, David Vanderbilt, Karin Rabe, and Christian Uebing to acquire and install a supercomputer facility consisting of a cluster of roughly 150 tightly-linked high-performance PC's. In addition to its targeted reasearch mission for computational studies of complex materials, the cluster will also be available for broader research and educational purposes.

Dr. Basil Mchunu has arrived from South Africa as the the first Rutgers-SALT graduate fellow in astrophysics. He completed his undergraduate work at the University of Zululand in South Africa. This is a new fellowship program between Rutgers and the Government of South Africa.

Professor Valery Kiryukhin has been named a recipient of an NSF CAREER award. These awards fund junior faculty members who show exceptional promise of excellence in research and education.

Professor Walter Kohn (U.C. Santa Barbara) received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Rutgers University at the University Commencement on May 17, 2001. Kohn is widely acclaimed for his work on density-functional theory that led to the award of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, in addition to a large number of other seminal contributions to condensed matter physics. In connection with his visit, he gave a joint Physics and Chemistry Colloquium and was toasted at a special reception that followed.

Joel Lebowitz has won the 2001 Volterra Award of the Academia Lincea in Rome, and will be giving the Vito Volterra Lecture there this spring.

Herbert Neuberger has been selected as a 2001 Guggenheim US/Canadian Fellow in Physics. The basis for this award is "unusually impressive achievement in the past and exceptional promise for future accomplishment."

Baki Brahmia has won the FAS Award for Distinguished Contributions to Undergraduate Education. Baki will be presented with the award at the FAS Faculty Meeting next week.

Prof. Frank Zimmermann has been awarded the 2001 Board of Trustees Research Fellowship for Scholarly Excellence, given each year to a few Rutgers faculty members at the time of promotion for especially outstanding scholarship and research. The award carries a $2,000 research grant.

Congratulations to Michael Gershenson and Frank Zimmermann, who have been promoted to Associate Professor with Tenure, and to Ron Ransome, who has been promoted to Full Professor, effective July 1, 2001.

Noemie Koller has been selected as the 2001 winner of the Rutgers University Daniel Gorenstein Memorial Award in recognition of her scholarly excellence in experimental nuclear physics research and 40 years of dedicated service, administration, and teaching at Rutgers.

David Merritt has been elected vice-chair of the Division of Dynamical Astronomy (DDA) of the American Astronomical Society (AAS). He wil automatically become chair of the Division after one year.

Valery Kiryukhin as been chosen to receive an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship for 2001. Kirkyukhin's research interests are in the area of experimental studies of novel materials with unusual superconducting and magnetic properties.

An anonymous donor has made a major multi-million dollar gift to the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Rutgers University. These new funds will undoubtedly make a major impact on our programs. Among other things, it will be used for:

Emanuel Diaconescu, a recent Rutgers Ph.D. graduate who did his thesis work under the supervision of Michael Douglas, has been awarded the 2000 U.S. Council of Graduate Schools/University Microfilms International (CGS/UMI) Distinguished Dissertation Award for his thesis "D-branes and Nonperturbative Dynamics in String Theory." This is awarded annually for the best Ph.D. dissertation in the entire country in any field. He is now at the Institute for Advanced Study. Congratulations, Emanuel!

Professor Michael Douglas of the Rutgers Department of Physics and Astronomy, and the New High Energy Theory Center, is a co-winner of the 2000 Sackler Prize in the Physical Sciences, along with Professor Juan Maldacena of Harvard University (a former Rutgers postdoc). The prize is being awarded for their "outstanding contribution to Superstring Theory". This annual prize is awarded to a scientist(s) under the age of 40 in a selected area of the physical sciences. This year, the first year of the award, the topic was High Energy Physics. A distinguished international panel (including Stephen Weinberg) chose Douglas and Maldacena as the high energy theorists under the age of 40 who have made the most outstanding contributions in the world to the field. In future years, other areas of the physical sciences will be selected. The award was administered by Tel Aviv University in Israel, and was presented in Israel on May 22, 2000.

Back to Rutgers Physics Home Page

Please send any comments on this page to

Revised Oct 2, 2007