APS News

Member in the Spotlight: Russell Donnelly

Every Donnelly Has his Day....

The Ninth Couette-Taylor Workshop, held in Boulder, Colorado August 8-10, kicked off its proceedings with a special event dubbed "Donnelly Day," in honor of Russell J. Donnelly of the University of Oregon. A former editor of Physical Review and former long-term officer of the APS Division of Fluid Dynamics, Donnelly, 65, was honored for his significant contributions both to physics research and to the physics enterprise in general through his diverse volunteer activities.

Speakers at the honorary session included Donnelly's first two Ph.D. students and Carlo Barenghi, a former student now teaching applied mathematics at Newcastle upon Tyne in England, who (with Chris Jones) finally solved the problem of the stability of superfluid helium between concentric cylinders, first addressed by Donnelly in 1957. Other speakers included leading theorist Fritz Busse (Bayreuth, Germany); Martin Golubitsky (University of Texas, Houston), an applied mathematician specializing in pattern-formation studies; and Katepalli Sreenivasan (Yale University) and Charles Van Atta (University of California, San Diego), experimentalists specializing in turbulent flows.

In addition, Carl Wiemann of the University of Colorado reported on his group's recent landmark experiment demonstrating Bose-Einstein condensation in dilute rubidium gas. Other sessions held on subsequent days featured such topics as bifurcations and instabilities; turbulence; particle transport and kinematics; patterns and dynamics; geophysical and swirling flows; instability in noncylindrical geometries; and two-phase and compressible flow.

Born in 1930 in Hamilton, Ontario, the son of two elementary school teachers, Donnelly attended McMaster University, graduating in 1951 and 1952 with B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in physics. He completed his Ph.D. at Yale University, where he first met Nobel-Prize-winning theoretical chemist Lars Onsager, who got him interested in both quantized vortices and the field of hydrodynamic stability.

Upon graduating in 1956, Donnelly joined the faculty of the University of Chicago, where he began his experiments in classical fluid mechanics. In 1966, he and his wife Marian, who holds a Ph.D. in architectural history, became faculty members at the University of Oregon, where they have remained ever since. Donnelly continued his research in experimental and theoretical low-temperature physics and fluid mechanics, most recently exploring the use of liquid and gaseous helium to perform ultra-high Reynolds number flow experiments, and ultra-high Rayleigh number Benard convection.

In addition to his teaching and research activities, Donnelly spent more than a decade as a consultant to General Motors and Dupont, and has consulted or served on committees for NASA, the National Science Foundation and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He has organized numerous scientific conferences and was twice elected secretary-treasurer of the DFD, also serving two terms as chair of its executive committee. He also chaired a museum commission to raise funds to build a small science museum and planetarium near the University of Oregon campus.

Russell and Marian Donnelly endowed the APS Lars Onsager Memorial Prize last year in honor of his guidance during Donnelly's early career (see APS NEWS, February 1994). The prize is intended to recognize outstanding research in theoretical statistical physics covering a wide range of physical phenomena. Onsager invented the theory of quantized vortices in superfluid helium, and received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1968 for his discovery of reciprocal relations in thermodynamics. Michael E. Fisher of the University of Maryland received the first Lars Onsager Prize at the 1995 March Meeting in San Jose, CA.

APS encourages the redistribution of the materials included in this newspaper provided that attribution to the source is noted and the materials are not truncated or changed.

Editor: Barrett H. Ripin