APS News

Two Young Physicists Receive DAMOP Thesis Award

Paul A. Vetter and Barry C. Walker were selected as the 1997 recipients of the DAMOP Thesis Award. Sponsored by members and friends of the APS Division of Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics (DAMOP), the award is intended to recognize doctoral thesis research of outstanding quality and achievement in atomic, molecular or optical physics, and to encourage effective written and oral presentation of research results.

Barry C. Walker

State University of New York, Stony Brook

Citation: "For his thesis entitled, 'One- and two-electron ionization of atoms by a strong laser field.'"

Born and raised in Oklahoma, Walker received his B.S. in physics and chemistry from Point Loma Nazarene College in San Diego, California, and his Ph.D. in physics from the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1996. His research expertise is in the experimental study of light matter interactions, specifically investigating atoms and molecules in perturbative "multiphoton" and nonperturbative "strong" optical fields. During his graduate study, he worked as a research assistant at Brookhaven National Laboratory, researching the interactions of atoms with intense laser radiation and two electron ionization dynamics, which formed the basis for his doctoral thesis.

Walker is currently a research assistant at the University of California, San Diego, where he designed and built a unique "hybrid" compressor for terawatt peak power lasers. He intends to continue his investigations of intense field phenomena by extending the field strengths, and is also interested in the time dependence of 50 to 200 eV single photon processes.

Paul A. Vetter
University of Washington

Citation: "For his thesis entitled, 'Precise measurement of parity nonconserving optical rotation in atomic thallium as a test of the electroweak standard model.'"

Vetter received his B.A. in physics at Amherst College in 1990, working on a new technique for highly precise Stark frequency shift measurements in alkali atoms. He received a Ph.D. from the University of Washington at Seattle in 1995. His thesis work was a precise optical rotation measurement of a parity violating atomic transition amplitude in thallium. The parity violating amplitude is about 10-7 times the allowed electromagnetic transition of interest. Measurements of atomic parity violation help to constrain various theoretical extensions to the Standard Electoweak Model and are also uniquely sensitive to internucleon weak interactions.

Today, Vetter is a postdoctoral research fellow at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. His current projects include magneto-optic trapping of radioactive Na21 to improve measurements of fundamental weak interactions in beta decay, and a measurement of the beta-gamma directional correlation in Na22.

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Editor: Barrett H. Ripin