APS announces prizewinners for 2016

The American Physical Society (APS) has announced many of its awards for 2016, including major prizes in experimental and theoretical nuclear and particle physics.

The major award in experimental particle physics, the W K H Panofsky Prize, recognises and encourages outstanding achievements in the field. For 2016, it goes to Jonathan Dorfan of Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, David Hitlin of California Institute of Technology, Fumihiko Takasaki of KEK and Stephen Olsen of the Institute for Basic Science. The four physicists are recognised for "leadership in the BaBar and Belle experiments, which established the violation of CP symmetry in B-meson decay, and furthered our understanding of quark mixing and quantum chromodynamics".

The Robert R Wilson Prize for Achievement in the Physics of Particle Accelerators is another award that recognises and encourages outstanding work. Vasili Parkhomchuk of the Budker Institute of Nuclear physics receives the 2016 prize for his "crucial contributions in the proof-of-principle of electron cooling, for leading contribution to the experimental and theoretical development of electron cooling, and for achievement of the planned parameters of coolers for facilities in laboratories around the world".

In the theoretical domain, the J J Sakurai Prize for Theoretical Particle Physics recognises and encourages outstanding achievement in particle theory. The 2016 prize is awarded to Peter Lepage of Cornell University for "inventive applications of quantum field theory to particle physics, particularly in establishing the theory of hadronic exclusive processes, developing non-relativistic effective field theories, and determining Standard Model parameters with lattice gauge theory".

In addition, the Herman Feshbach Prize is for outstanding research in theoretical nuclear physics. Xiangdong Ji of the University of Maryland, College Park, and Shanghai Jiao Tong University, receives the 2016 prize for his "pioneering work in developing tools to characterise the structure of the nucleon within QCD and for showing how its properties can be probed through experiments; this work not only illuminates the nucleon theoretically but also acts as a driver of experimental programmes worldwide".

Gamma-rays and black holes

Also in nuclear physics, the Tom W Bonner Prize is for outstanding experimental research in the field, including the development of a method, technique or device that significantly contributes in a general way to nuclear-physics research. The 2016 prize is awarded to I-yang Lee of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, for "seminal contributions to the field of nuclear structure through the development of advanced gamma-ray detectors as realised in the Gammasphere device, and for pioneering work on gamma-ray energy tracking detectors demonstrated by the Gamma-ray Energy Tracking Array (GRETINA)."

The Dannie Heineman Prize for Mathematical Physics recognises outstanding publications in the field, and for 2016 it goes to two well-known theoreticians from Harvard University. Cumrun Vafa and Andrew Strominger are honoured for "leadership in numerous central developments in string theory, quantum field theory, and quantum geometry; including the interplay between string theory and Calabi-Yau geometry and especially for their elucidation of the origin of black-hole entropy from microscopic states".

Black holes are also cited in the 2016 Maria Goeppert Mayer Award. This award, which is to recognise and enhance outstanding achievement by a woman physicist in the early years of her career, goes to Henriette Elvang of the University of Michigan, for "discovering new types of black holes in higher dimensions, and giving us a deeper understanding of scattering amplitudes in quantum field theory".

In other awards for young people, Stefan Hoeche of SLAC receives the 2016 Henry Primakoff Award for Early-Career Particle Physics for his "innovative techniques of event simulation for high-energy hadron colliders, enabling the comparison of theory and experiment with high precision". The 2016 Dissertation Award in Nuclear Physics, which is to recognise a recent PhD in the field, goes to Chun Shen of McGill University, for his "successful prediction of anisotropic flow in Pb+Pb collisions at the LHC, his elucidation of the ‘direct photon flow puzzle’, and his contributions to the development of a computational tool of viscous fluid dynamics enabling precision studies of relativistic heavy-ion collisions".

Last but not least, particle physics features in the awarding of the 2016 Prize for a Faculty Member for Research in an Undergraduate Institution. Gregory Adkins of Franklin & Marshall College receives the prize for his "highly significant and sustained contributions to quantum electrodynamics calculations, including the physical properties of positronium, and for tireless and profound commitment to involving undergraduates in theoretical physics research".

• For more details, see www.aps.org/programs/honors/new-recipients.cfm.

Benjamin Lee professorship award for Karlheinz Langanke

Karlheinz Langanke, scientific director of GSI (Germany), has been awarded the Benjamin Lee professorship. Awarded by the Asian Pacific Center for Theoretical Physics (APCTP) in Korea, the professorship is given to outstanding theoretical physicists for "groundbreaking research in different areas of theoretical physics". Langanke’s research focuses on nuclear astrophysics, in particular on nuclear reactions in supernovae and on stellar-element synthesis. Langanke is the first European theorist to receive the professorship.

At the award ceremony organised during the annual conference of the Korean Physical Society, Langanke gave a keynote talk on the unique research opportunities offered by the future accelerator facility FAIR at GSI. He also gave a series of lectures on nuclear astrophysics for students at APCTP.

The professorship is awarded in memory of Benjamin Lee, an outstanding Korean theoretical physicist who died tragically young in 1977 in a car accident. The award has been granted annually since 2012.

Breakthrough prize for neutrino oscillations

The 2016 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics, which recognises major insights into the deepest questions of the universe, has been awarded to five teams of researchers "for the fundamental discovery and exploration of neutrino oscillations, revealing a new frontier beyond, and possibly far beyond, the Standard Model of particle physics".

The $3 million award will be shared equally among researchers from five collaborations: the Daya Bay reactor neutrino experiment, led by Yifang Wang, Institute of High Energy Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Kam-Biu Luk, University of California, Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; KamLAND, led by Atsuto Suzuki, Iwate Prefectural University; the KEK to Kamioka (K2K) and Tokai to Kamioka (T2K) long-baseline neutrino experiments, led by Koichiro Nishikawa, KEK; Sudbury Neutrino Observatory, led by Arthur McDonald, Queen’s University; and Super-Kamiokande, led by Takaaki Kajita, Institute for Cosmic Ray Research and Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe, and Yoichiro Suzuki of the Kavli Institute.

The Breakthrough prizes, which include awards in life sciences and mathematics, were founded in 2012 by a group of Silicon Valley innovators to celebrate science and scientists. They were presented at the 3rd Annual Breakthrough Prize Awards Ceremony in Silicon Valley on 8 November, broadcast live on the National Geographic channel.

• For more details, see https://breakthroughprize.org/News/29.

Sandip Trivedi appointed director of TIFR

Sandip Trivedi became the new director of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) in July. TIFR is one of the major institutions for basic-science research in India, with activities that span physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, computer science, interdisciplinary sciences and science education. TIFR scientists are also involved in the CMS experiment at CERN.

Trivedi is a theoretical physicist who has made important contributions to quantum field theory, string theory and cosmology. He has been appointed for a five-year term and succeeds Munstansir Barma.

Krzysztof Kurek appointed new director of NCBJ

Krzysztof Kurek took up the position as the new director-general of the Polish National Centre for Nuclear Research (NCBJ) from 25 October, for a four-year term. His vision for development won the competition that was opened in May by the NCBJ Scientific Council, and he was recommended to the minister of economy as the best candidate.

Kurek graduated from the Technical Physics and Applied Mathematics Faculty of the Warsaw University of Technology in 1980. As associate professor, he worked on the COMPASS experiment at CERN, and since 2013 he has been a member of the Polish team working on the LHCb experiment at the LHC. Kurek is the author or co-author of more than 250 papers published in internationally recognised scientific journals. Before becoming the NCBJ’s new director-general, Kurek was the former head of NCBJ’s PhD studies and former scientific secretary.

Marcela Carena appointed first Fermilab director of international relations

Marcela Carena has been appointed to the newly created role of director of international relations at Fermilab. Her responsibilities include developing a strategy for international engagement, promoting contact and collaboration with global partners, establishing new ties and strengthening existing ones.

The position reflects the new model and scale for international partnership at the heart of the proposed Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility (LBNF) hosted by Fermilab. Plans for the facility and its Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE) incorporate the scientific goals and expertise of the worldwide neutrino-physics community, and the governance model follows the highly successful one adopted by the LHC experiments.

In her new role, Carena, who is head of Fermilab’s Theory Department, will interface with CERN as well as with other scientific organisations and governmental agencies around the world.

• For more information, see news.fnal.gov/?p=23958.

International Cosmic Day at DESY in Zeuthen

Thirteen pupils from a secondary school in Berlin attended the International Cosmic Day at the research centre DESY in Zeuthen. The goal for the day was to measure cosmic particles – "messengers from outer space" – and to work as researchers.

First, they learnt about the new topic in a lecture: that cosmic rays interact in the atmosphere to produce secondary particles, and how these particles can be detected at ground level. Then the experimenting began. The students measured the rate and arrival directions of secondary cosmic particles, and soon realised that the rate depends distinctly on the direction, and more specifically on the zenith angle.

After recording these measurements, they discussed possible explanations. In video calls to other participating groups, the young researchers exchanged ideas about their experimental set-ups and measurement results, experiencing the practical use and value of such exchanges and comparisons. Their common task made the students both partners and competitors, and inspired them to produce the best possible result. The atmosphere was soon identified as the origin of the non-uniform distribution of arrival directions of the secondary particles.

At the end of the day, the students compiled a one-page write-up of their results for a booklet summarising the day’s achievement of all of the groups.