APS News

APS Members Choose Bahcall as New Vice President in 2003 Election

John Bahcall
John Bahcall
APS members have chosen John Bahcall, professor of natural sciences at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, as the next APS vice president in the 2003 general election. He will assume office on January 1, 2004, becoming president elect in 2005 and APS president in 2006. The APS president for 2004 will be Helen Quinn (SLAC).

In other election results, Philip Bucksbaum of the University of Michigan was chosen as chair-elect of the APS Nominating Committee. Evelyn Hu (University of California, Santa Barbara) and Arthur Ramirez (Bell Labs) were elected as general councillors, and Sukekatsu Ushioda of Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan, was elected as international councillor.

Bahcall has been with the Institute of Advanced Study since 1971, having previously been on the physics faculty of the California Institute of Technology. He received his BS from the University of California, Berkeley, his MS from the University of Chicago, and his PhD from Harvard University in 1961, all in physics. In 1964 he and Raymond Davis, Jr. proposed that neutrinos from the sun could be detected with a practical chlorine detector. In the subsequent four decades, Bahcall has refined theoretical predictions and interpretations of solar neutrino experiments.

Bahcall's other areas of expertise include weak interaction theory, models of the galaxy, atomic and nuclear physics applied to astronomical systems, stellar evolution, and quasar emissions. Most recently he has worked on ultra high energy cosmic rays and the time dependence of the fine structure constant. He received the National Medal of Science in 1998 for his theoretical work on solar neutrinos and for his role in the development of the Hubble Space Telescope. He is a past recipient of the Dannie Heineman Prize and the APS Hans Bethe Prize.

In his candidate's statement, Bahcall recalled attending his very first APS meeting in the winter of 1960, which stimulated the concept for one of his first research experiments. He decided to run for APS president because "throughout my career as a physicist, I have benefitted from APS [activities]?and I would enjoy giving something back to the Society." Along with continued outreach activities in education, Bahcall's priorities for the APS include communicating the importance of maintaining the scientific enterprise to Congress and the White House. "The future of our nation depends upon a strong technological base that can only be maintained by increased federal support for the physical sciences," he wrote.

No stranger to Washington, DC, Bahcall lobbied in the 1970s to persuade Congress to reverse then- President Nixon's decision to remove the Hubble Space Telescope from the federal budget. He continues to be involved as a Washington advocate for other scientific projects, and believes that APS members need to work together to promote science funding at national and state levels, with those in academia joining those in industry "to reverse the tragic and dangerous decline of physics research in the private sector."

Bucksbaum is an experimental atomic physicist who earned his BS from Harvard University in 1975 and his MS and PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. After a year at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, he joined the research staff at Bell Labs as a postdoc in 1981, then became a member of the technical staff. He remained there until moving to the University of Michigan as a professor of physics in 1990, where he is currently the Otto LaPorte Collegiate Professor of Physics and director of the NSF Center for Frontiers in Optical Coherent and Ultrafast Science.

His principal research interest is quantum control of atomic and molecular processes using ultrafast and strong optical fields. He is particularly interested in the control of wave packets in atoms and molecules using far infrared, visible, or x-ray pulses. He has served on both the APS Council and Executive Boards and is current editor of the Physical Review's Virtual Journal of Ultrafast Science, as well as divisional associate editor for laser science for Physical Review Letters.

In his candidate's statement, Bucksbaum cited changes in the US technological, educational and research infrastructure, driven by challenges in health, security and the national economy, as evidence of the need for strong scientific advocacy in Washington. As Congress continues to debate immigration and international contacts, security at the national labs, federal funding for basic physics research, and national testing in public schools, among other issues, the APS officers "must be eager and able to articulate the vision and promote the diverse opportunities that physics offers," he wrote.

Hu received a BS in physics from Barnard College in 1969 and her MS and PhD from Columbia University in 1971 and 1975, respectively. She worked at AT&T Bell Laboratories until 1984, when she joined the University of California, Santa Barbara, as professor of electrical and computer engineering. Since 1987 she has held a joint appointment in the materials department. She is currently the scientific co- director of a newly formed California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI), a collaboration between UCSB and UCLA, established by the State of California as one of four California Institutes for Science and Innovation. Her research has focused on the fabrication and characterization of semiconductor heterostructures with critical dimensions at scale lengths of tens and hundreds of nanometers. Most recently these studies have included interaction of quantum dot emission within specially designed semiconductor cavities, such as photonic crystal resonators.

In her candidate's statement, Hu said she decided to run for APS councillor in order to take a more active role in formulating and representing the directions of the APS, since the Council "serves as an important catalyst in developing new opportunities for the cross-fertilization of ideas and research directions that will build on our existing strengths." Her priorities include establishing integrative programs of education and communication, and building "a vital, participatory membership that draws from the broad strengths and enthusiasms of those working in physics."

Ramirez earned his BS in physics from Yale University in 1978 and his PhD in physics, also from Yale, in 1984. He worked at Bell Labs until 2000, moving in 2001 to Los Alamos National Laboratory. He is both leader of the Materials Integration Science Laboratory and co-director of the Institute for Complex Adaptive Matter. He is also a member of the APS Division of Condensed Matter Physics Executive Committee. His research interests in experimental condensed matter include low dimensional magnetism, heavy fermion systems, thermoelectric materials, colossal magnetoresis-tive materials, molecular electronics, and superconductivity in various systems.

"Physics is a discipline that continually seeks to affect change," Ramirez wrote in his candidate's statement. "As a professional society, we must continue to embrace new subject matter while not losing sight of what constitutes physics: quantitative rigor, predictive capacity, and simplicity of models." As general councillor, he hopes to preserve the Society's traditional culture while encouraging new avenues of research, such as molecular science, information science and homeland defense. "The problems before us are as exciting and important as ever," he said. "Physics will thrive in times of upheaval in the scientific landscape, even when such change is not caused by our past successes."

Born in Tokyo, Ushioda earned a BS in physics from Dartmouth College in 1964, and a PhD in 1969 from the University of Pennsylvania. He served on the faculty of the University of California, Irvine until 1985, when he returned to Japan as professor of the Research Institute of Electrical Communication at Tohoku University. He is currently president of the Physical Society of Japan, has worked with IUPAP, and is a member of several national committees concerned with research funding of the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. He has worked in several areas of experimental solid state physics, most recently focusing on the spectroscopy of light emission from the scanning tunneling microscope.

In his candidate's statement, Ushioda expressed his sense of honor at being asked to run for international councillor, which he feels will "give me an opportunity to make some contributions to APS as a physicist with two homelands." Through his work with international scientific organizations, "I have learned that different national societies face many common issues," including science education, funding of major research facilities, and underrepresentation of women. "I believe that solutions to these and other issues will be most effectively achieved by close international coordination and collaboration," he wrote.

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Editor: Alan Chodos
Associate Editor: Jennifer Ouellette