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From the Director: Photon Science Scores a Hat Trick!

(Photo - Kam Moler, Jo Stohr and Z.X. Shen)
Kam Moler, Jo Stöhr and Z.X. Shen.

I've used the title twice before but good things seem to come in threes so it is very appropriate. Three of Stanford and SLAC's photon scientists were recognized in the past week with national awards. We can all be very proud.

It started late last week with word that SIMES Deputy Director and Applied Physics Professor Kam Moler was recipient of the Richtmyer award from the American Association of Physics Teachers. The award is given to a person who has made outstanding contributions to physics and effectively communicated those contributions to physics educators. It takes a special talent to both be a top-notch researcher and to be able to explain your work to a non-scientific audience. The whole field benefits from individuals with such talents and we are very fortunate to have Kam as part of our community.

Then on Wednesday just after noon, I received word that Z. X. Shen, SLAC chief scientist as well as SIMES director and professor in Applied Physics, Physics and Photon Science, had won the 2011 Oliver E. Buckley Prize in Condensed Matter Physics from the American Physical Society. He and two others were recognized "For innovations in angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy, which advanced the understanding of the cuprate superconductors, and transformed the study of strongly-correlated electronic systems." These innovations have created whole new fields of research and it is wonderful to see Z.X.'s seminal contributions recognized in this way.

But the day was not over. Late in the afternoon, Associate Laboratory Director of the Linac Coherent Light Source and Photon Sciences Professor Jo Stöhr received a "belated birthday present" as he called it (his birthday was the day before). He had just received notification that he had won the 2011 Davisson-Germer Prize from the American Physical Society "For the development of soft-X-ray-based spectroscopy and microscopy leading to fundamental contributions to the understanding of chemical bonding, magnetism and dynamics at surfaces and interfaces." Again, Jo was being recognized for seminal contributions to techniques that have opened whole new fields of research.

All of these awardees are selected on the basis of recommendations from peers. And while we do our science for the joy of the science, it is always nice to have our work recognized, especially by colleagues in the field. Please join me in congratulating Kam, ZX and Jo. I won't be at all surprised to see more recognition such as this coming to SLAC scientists in all fields in the months and years to come. However, three in a week is pretty special!!

—Persis Drell
SLAC Today, October 1, 2010