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Five NIST Scientists Win APS Awards

Headshots of NIST 2015 APS award winners

NIST's winners of American Physical Society awards for 2015 are (L-R): Gretchen Campbell, Robert Celotta, Daniel Pierce, Ian Spielman, and John Unguris.

Credit: NIST

Five scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have won major awards from the American Physical Society, the nation's largest professional organization of physicists. A sixth award will go to a University of Maryland (UMD) professor and Fellow of the Joint Quantum Institute (JQI), at which two of the NIST recipients are also Fellows.

"These awards demonstrate not only the value of NIST research, but its breadth," says Willie May, NIST Acting Director and Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology. "To have this many physicists honored in a single year shows that NIST discoveries continue to be at the vanguard of the physical sciences."

John Unguris, Robert J. Celotta and Daniel T. Pierce of NIST's Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology will share the Joseph F. Keithley Award for Advances in Measurement Science, created "to recognize physicists who have been instrumental in the development of measurement techniques or equipment that have impact on the physics community by providing better measurements."

Unguris, Celotta and Pierce were cited "for the invention and development of electron spin sources and detectors, and their application to measurement science." Previous NIST winners of the Keithley Award include Kent Irwin and James Faller.

Ian Spielman of NIST's Quantum Measurement Division won the I.I. Rabi Prize in Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics, awarded "to recognize and encourage outstanding research in Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics by investigators who have held a Ph. D. for 10 years or less."

Spielman was cited for "the development of quantum simulations using ultra-cold atoms, creation of synthetic electromagnetic fields, demonstration of synthetic spin-orbit coupling, and applications to studying new physical systems." Previous winners include Nobel laureates Eric Cornell and Wolfgang Ketterle, as well as UMD's Christopher Monroe and Jun Ye and Deborah Jin of JILA, a partnership between NIST and the University of Colorado.

Gretchen Campbell, also in the Quantum Measurement Division, won the Maria Goeppert Mayer Award, created "to recognize and enhance outstanding achievement by a woman physicist in the early years of her career, and to provide opportunities for her to present these achievements to others through public lectures..."

Campbell was chosen for "her pioneering contributions to the study of superfluidity in atomic-gas Bose-Einstein condensates, realizing atomic analogs to superconducting and superfluid liquid circuitry, including the use of weak links to create the first closed-circuit atomtronic devices." Last year's winner was Ana Maria Rey of JILA.

Spielman and Campbell are also fellows of the Joint Quantum Institute (JQI), a research partnership between NIST and UMD.

A third JQI Fellow, Christopher Monroe, formerly of NIST and now professor of physics at the university, won the Arthur L. Schawlow Prize in Laser Science, awarded "to recognize outstanding contributions to basic research which uses lasers to advance our knowledge of the fundamental physical properties of materials and their interaction with light." Monroe was honored for "pioneering research in the use of lasers to realize the elements of quantum information processing with trapped atomic ions, including demonstrations of remote entanglement for quantum communication protocols and use of frequency combs for high-speed qubit manipulation and entanglement."

Previous winners of the Schawlow prize include Nobel laureates David Wineland, John Hall and William Phillips of NIST, Carl Wieman of JILA, and Steven Chu of Stanford University.

The awards will be presented at the APS March Meeting, held March 2-6, 2015, in San Antonio, Texas.

For more information on the APS awards, see their full list of awards. For more information on JQI and its award recipients, see their news release.

Released November 25, 2014, Updated January 24, 2023