The five faculty members from the University of Wisconsin selected to be fellows of the American Physical Society were unveiled yesterday, highlighting diversity in scientific excellence and the importance of collaborative opportunities.
According to a UW statement, APS, a national professional society, only selects half of one percent of its members for the honor. Of the five selected, three members were from the physics department, as well as one from the astronomy department and one from the department of electrical engineering, the statement said.
Nominations from outside of the physics department are less common, Professor John Booske, chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, said. He added his department sees more honors from their equivalent society — the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
From the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, professor Robert Blick was selected for the broad nature of his research, Booske said, adding that Blick’s investigations span more basic physical questions regarding the more applied aspects of engineering.
Booske said Blick first tackles issues of physics in relation to questions of engineering — a tactic that qualified him for APS fellowship and sets his research apart from that of many other professional peers.
According to Booske, his department does not frequently see faculty members whose research output ends up being regarded as basic physics. However, he attributes the honor to UW’s collaborative opportunities.
“The UW is uniquely more advanced in its extent of collaborative opportunities,” Booske said. “The more we can nurture those collaboration possibilities, the more the top faculty see this location as being an asset that’s hard to walk away from.”
Booske stressed the importance of ensuring all of the unique benefits of the UW College of Engineering are made fully available in order to attract and retain such a successful circle of faculty.
Similar to Blick’s nomination, astronomy professor Alex Lazarian was honored for his contributions to the theory of magnetized turbulence, the UW statement said.
From the department of physics, professors Sridhara Dasu and Mark Eriksson, as well as Senior Scientist Daniel Den Hartog, were also chosen for their contributions to research, the statement said.
According to Professor Robert Joynt, chair of the physics department, his department, which receives the majority of these nominations, “has done very well compared to other Big 10 schools,” adding that the fellows reflect upon the department’s hiring process.
“We try to hire very good, young faculty,” Joynt said. “Our policy has always been to try to search hard for young people who are very promising and to support them through early stages of their careers.”
Joynt said from this pool of eligible faculty members, the department then decides who they believe to be a good candidate for the honor. According to her, “anybody can be nominated.”
However, Booske added as it is less common for nominations to be outside of the physics department, professional peers in a different field make such nominations. The final selection is then submitted to and done by the national committee, Joynt said.
“We are very proud of them,” Joynt concluded.