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Physics professors garner top fellowships

Justin Tardiff | Wednesday, March 2, 2005

Being named an honorary fellow of a prestigious scientific society does not require rocket science, but – as three Notre Dame professors found – it does entail extraordinary contributions to the field of physics.Distinguished physics groups the American Physical Society (APS) and the Institute of Physics (IOP) have recognized three Notre Dame professors with honorary fellowships. Ikaros Bigi and Malgorzata Dobrowolska-Furdyna were named APS fellows. Jacek Furdyna, a physics professor, was appointed an honorary fellow of the IOP. According to the APS Web site, the distinction honors those who have furthered the field of physics through either personal research projects or through their contributions to the fusion of physics with technology.Bigi, a professor of theoretical high-energy physics, was recognized for his research ideas that lead to innovative ways to explore physics beyond the standard energy model, according to a University press release.”I consider myself extremely lucky to live at a time when certain thoughts could be thought and certain experimental achievements became possible,” Bigi said of his experience in research. “I am unashamedly a theorist, but what makes physics so truly exciting to me is that it is an empirical science, that in the end experiment has to provide the verdict.”According to Gilroy, the APS honored Dobrowolska-Furdyna for her innovative studies in the role of electron spin in optical transitions in semiconductor compounds.”It is always nice to realize that our work is being noticed,” Dobrowolska-Furdyna said. “This recognition pleases me because it is also a complement to my collaborators and that of course includes all my graduate students. It also pleases me because it increases the visibility of the physics department.”According to the IOP Web site, the United Kingdom-based organization selects fellows based on their “exceptionally important services in the field of physics.”Furdyna, a professor of condensed matter physics was acknowledged for his overall work within the field of physics, according to the Notre Dame press release. Furdyna studies new semiconducting compounds and the subsequent analysis of their physical properties.Bigi and Dobrowolska-Furdyna join the half of one-percent of APS members – including 15 current Notre Dame physicists – who are elected by the society as fellows.Furdyna also enters a highly-selective group. According to IOG bylaws listed on the Institute’s Web site, the total number of fellows may not exceed 30.