MIT Physics News Spotlight

Ten from Physics Department Honored by American Physical Society

Prize winners include faculty, students and alumni from all divisions.

Department of Physics
October 20, 2016

The American Physical Society
The American Physical Society

Ten members of the Physics Department are among those recently honored with prizes and Fellowships by the The American Physical Society (APS). The winners include six faculty, three alumni and a former Pappalardo Fellow, representing all divisions within the Department.

As the leading membership organization for physicists from academia, industry and the national laboratories, the APS prizes are highly regarded and showcase critical recognition by peers worldwide.

“I’m delighted to see how many of our faculty, students and alumni have been honored by the APS this year,” said Peter Fisher, head of the Department.

Those honored include:

William Detmold, Assistant Professor of Physics, was elected a Fellow of the APS for his "pioneering work in calculating few-body hadronic systems from first principles using lattice quantum chromodynamics, including the spectrum of the light nuclei and hypernuclei, Bose-condensed multimeson systems, and the first inelastic nuclear reaction.” Affiliated with both the MIT Center for Theoretical Physics and Laboratory for Nuclear Science, Detmold is also a recipient of a U. S. Department of Energy Outstanding Junior Investigator award.

Henriette Elvang, Associate Professor of Physics, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and 2005-2008 MIT Pappalardo Fellow in Physics, received the Maria Goeppert Mayer Award for "discovering new types of black holes in higher dimensions, and giving us a deeper understanding of scattering amplitudes in quantum field theory.” Elvang’s previous honors include a 2010 NSF Career Award; a 2013 Cottrell Scholar Award from the Research Corporation for Science Advancement; and the University of Michigan a 2014 Individual Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education and a 2015 Henry Russell Award.

Yonatan Kahn (PhD ’15), received the J.J. and Noriko Sakurai Dissertation Award in Theoretical Particle Physics for "proposing a novel method to detect dark photons, for developing halo-independent techniques of direct dark matter detection, and for finding a new viable supersymmetric extension of the standard model.” Kahn earned his PhD at MIT under the supervision of Professor Jesse Thaler, and received the Department's 2014 Andrew M. Lockett III Memorial Fund Award. Kahn is currently a postdoctoral research associate at Princeton University.

Daniel Kleppner, Lester Wolfe Professor of Physics Emeritus, was awarded the APS Medal for Exceptional Achievement in Research for his "seminal research setting the direction for modern atomic, molecular, and optical physics, including precision measurements with hydrogen masers, the physics of Rydberg atoms and their quantum chaotic behavior in high fields, cavity quantum electrodynamics, and the production of quantum degenerate atomic gases.” The AMO physics leader is the second winner of the recently-endowed annual award. As well as his pioneering research, Kleppner has been a dedicated mentor and educator, whose many awards and honors include the 2006 National Medal of Science and the 2005 Wolf Prize.

Sekazi Mtingwa (SB ’71), was one of three co-winners of the Robert R. Wilson Prize for Achievement in the Physics of Particle Accelerators for his "detailed, theoretical description of intrabeam scattering, which has empowered major discoveries in a broad range of disciplines by a wide variety of accelerators, including hadron colliders, damping rings/linear colliders, and low emittance synchrotron light sources.” The first African-American scientist to receive a prize from the American Physical Society, Mtingwa was also 2001-2003 MLK, Jr., Visiting Professor at MIT. He is currently a principal partner with Triangle Science, Education & Economic Development in North Carolina.

William Oliver, Professor of the Practice, Physics, and Principal Investigator in the Engineering Quantum Systems Group (MIT) and the Quantum Information and Integrated Nanosystems Group (MIT Lincoln Laboratory), was elected a Fellow of the APS for “pioneering contributions to the physics and associated engineering of robust, reproducible, superconducting quantum systems and high-performance cryogenic control electronics.” Oliver also serves on the U. S. Committee for Superconducting Electronics.

Jonathan Ouellet (PhD ’15, University of California, Berkeley) received the 2017 Dissertation Award in Nuclear Physics for his "outstanding contributions to the search for neutrinoless double beta decay of 130Te, and setting a new limit on its decay half-life, at the Cryogenic Underground Observatory for Rare Events (CUORE) in Gran Sasso, Italy.” Ouellet is currently a postdoctoral associate in the Winslow group at the MIT Laboratory for Nuclear Science. He continues his work on CUORE while expanding his focus to include liquid scintillator-based technologies, joining the KamLAND-Zen experiment and the NuDot R&D effort. Ouellet has also recently begun working on the new cryogenic-based axion dark matter search ABRACADABRA.

Nicholas Rivera (SB ’16) was named co-winner of the LeRoy Apker Award for contributing to "important advances in the field of photonics and exceptional leadership of the Society of Physics Students.” As an undergraduate, Rivera worked under the supervision of Professor Marin Soljacic in the MIT Photonics and Modern Electromagnetics Group. In 2016, he received the Department’s Order of the Lepton Award and Joel Matthew Orloff Awards for Research and Service (co-winner). Rivera is a member of Sigma Pi Sigma and Phi Beta Kappa, and is currently a PhD candidate in MIT’s Department of Physics.

Tracy Slatyer, Jerrold R. Zacharias Career Development Assistant Professor of Physics, received the Henry Primakoff Award for Early-Career Particle Physics for her "innovative theoretical calculations and data analyses of the multi-wavelength sky to probe the nature of dark matter.” A theoretical physicist who works on particle physics, cosmology and astrophysics, Slatyer is also a co-winner of the 2014 Bruno Rossi Prize of the American Astronomical Society.

Xiao-Gang Wen, Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics, was named a co-winner of the Oliver E. Buckley Condensed Matter Physics Prize for his "theories of topological order and its consequences in a broad range of physical systems.” Given annually, the Buckley Prize recognizes outstanding theoretical or experimental contributions to condensed matter physics. Among other honors, Wen is an APS Fellow; Distinguished Moore Scholar at the California Institute of Technology; Newton Chair at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, and Sloan Fellowship recipient.

Martin Zwierlein, Professor of Physics, received the I.I. Rabi Prize in Atomic, Molecular & Optical Physics, for his "seminal studies of ultracold Fermi gases, including precision measurements of the equation of state, the observation of superfluidity, solitons, vortices, and polarons, the realization of a microscope for fermions in a lattice; and the production of chemically stable polar molecules.” Zwierlein was also elected a Fellow of the APS, in recognition of his “groundbreaking experiments with ultracold Fermi gases.” Among other honors, he is a recipient of a 2010 Presidential Early Career Award and a 2010 David and Lucille Packard Fellowship.