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2006: Record Haul

Professors Bass, Beers, Billinge, Donahue, and Voit win CNS faculty awards

April 2006

A record five faculty members of the Department of Physics and Astronomy received awards at the annual College of Natural Science awards ceremony. Professors Megan Donahue and Mark Voit won the CNS Teacher-Scholar award, Professors Tim Beers and Simon Billinge won the CNS Distinguished Faculty award, and Professor Jack Bass won the Meritorious Faculty award.

Teacher-Scholar Award

Megan Donahue

Dr. Megan Donahue has proven herself to be a world-class researcher and teacher at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Megan is co-author of the country's most widely used introductory astronomy textbooks. She won a departmental teaching award last year for her work in the ISP course "Visions of the Universe" and brought infrared clickers (an important new interactive teaching tool) into the classrooms in the Biomedical and Physical Sciences Building. She also has taught a highly successful graduate course in Extra-galactic Astronomy.

In addition, Megan effectively communicates her research results to the general public. She recently authored a cover article in the country's most prestigious popular astronomy magazine. This article has been nominated for an AIP Science Writing Award.

As a scholar, Megan is a leader in the use of distant galaxy clusters to measure fundamental properties of the universe. She was a key player in the discovery of some of the major new evidence that led to current understanding that the total mass content of the universe is not enough to halt its expansion. This led to the discovery that most of the universe consists of dark energy. Her great scientific stature is attested to by her membership on several important national scientific committees.

Her combination of tireless dedication to effectively teach while conducting deeply significant astrophysics research makes Megan Donahue a highly-deserving recipient of the Teacher-Scholar Award.

Mark Voit

Dr. Mark Voit has been an enthusiastic and highly popular teacher at the introductory astronomy level. In recognition of this, he was awarded the 2005 Lorena V. Blinn Endowed Teaching Award from the College of Natural Science. Mark is co-author of one of the country's most-popular introductory astronomy textbooks.

In his previous position at the Hubble Space Telescope Science Institute, Mark gained broad experience in public outreach activities that have prepared him well for the transition into a career at MSU.

Mark taught a graduate course in Radiation Astrophysics last semester. He has a knack for explaining complicated physics issues in a very clear manner that goes straight to the core of the issue. This makes him the sort of theorist that every observational astronomer likes to have nearby. He is an important asset not only for his faculty colleagues, but also for graduate and undergraduate students as they learn in-depth about astrophysics.

Over the past several years, Mark's research has led to important discoveries about the mass-energy content of the Universe and the nature of the evolution of galaxies and galaxy clusters. He has authored a number of high-impact papers about these topics and he recently wrote a widely-read review paper in one of the world's most prestigious physics journals. He is one of the country's best young theoretical astrophysicists.

His truly inspired undergraduate teaching and world-class research makes the College of Natural Science pleased to present Mark Voit with the Teacher-Scholar Award.

Distinguished Faculty Award

Timothy Beers

Timothy C. Beers' scientific vision and pursuit of excellence in research, education and outreach has made him the worldwide leader in the search for the oldest and most chemically primitive stars in the galaxy and the universe. His efforts have led to the identification of more than 2,000 stars with metal abundances less than one percent of the solar value. These stars are providing astronomers and physicists with their best records of the chemical composition of the universe from the time of their formation some 13.5 billion years ago and of the origin and evolution of the chemical elements.

Beers is a co-discoverer of the two most primitive "still shining" stars known and was named 2003 Michigan Scientist of the Year by Impression 5 Science Center. He is also a co-investigator in the $10 million Joint Institute for Nuclear Astrophysics Physics Frontier Center and spearheads its involvement in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.

Beers has proven to be a highly effective instructor at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. His contributions to the Integrative Studies Programs include the development of a planetarium-based laboratory that provides non-science majors with detailed knowledge of the appearance and motion of objects in the night sky. He is a popular and effective public speaker and has used his talent to communicate the excitement of scientific discovery to audiences from the K-12 system, local business groups and MSU alumni. He is a long-time contributor to the Michigan Science Olympiad and the Math, Science and Technology summer program for young and gifted middle school children.

For his outstanding scientific vision and pursuit of excellence in research, education and outreach, the College of Natural Science is pleased to recognize Timothy C. Beers with a Distinguished Faculty Award.

Simon Billinge

Simon J.L. Billinge is one of the leading experimental physicists in the world. He combines sophisticated X-ray and neutron diffraction techniques to study local structure property relationships in a large class of complex solid-state systems. He has made seminal contributions in the area of high temperature superconductors and colossal magneto resistance - two of the most important areas of interest in condensed matter physics during the last 15 years.

In the past several years, Simon has been a world leader in identifying the "nanostructure problem" and has applied total scattering methods combined with computer simulations to solve this fundamental problem. His work influences the entire field of nano- and bio-technology.

As a young scientist, Simon was awarded the Sloan Research Fellowship by Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for his outstanding research contributions and future promise as a researcher. He has exceeded this promise and made significant contributions to the development of interdisciplinary research at MSU.

Simon is an outstanding teacher in undergraduate classes. His enthusiasm, easy-going demeanor, and love for teaching are visible to every student. He was awarded the Thomas H. Osgood Undergraduate Teaching Award for his excellence in teaching. He has also mentored several research associates and graduate students.

Simon's outreach activities and service portfolio is extremely impressive. He has served on a number of national and international committees, and organized several workshops and conferences. He has been extremely active in introducing the concept of nanotechnology in the K-12 community.

For his outstanding research, teaching and outreach activities, the College of Natural Science presents Simon J.L. Billinge with the Distinguished Faculty Award.

Meritorious Faculty Award

Jack Bass

Professor Emeritus Jack Bass received his B.S. from the California Institute of Technology and his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. He joined the MSU Department of Physics as an associate professor in 1964.

Bass is an internationally-recognized expert in the study of electron transport in metals. More recently, his research has emphasized transport in multilayered metallic systems containing ferromagnets which are of direct relevance to future directions in magnetic-memory storage in computers. He has published more than 175 papers in refereed journals and has had continuous grant support from external sources since 1966. The importance of his research is not just recognized by his peers and federal funding agencies, but also by high-tech industry.

A dedicated teacher, Bass has supervised 17 Ph.D. awardees. He has taught a range of undergraduate and graduate courses where he became known as a tough yet fair teacher. Bass has also worked hard at involving students in his research.

A fellow of the American Physical Society, Bass is also a member of the American Association of Physics Teachers, American Association for the Advancement of Science and Sigma Xi. He serves as chairman of the APS' Topical Group on Magnetism and It's Applications and as chairman of the Instrument Advisory Team of Spallation Neutron Source at the Oak Ridge National Lab.

He as the Chairperson of the Department of Physics and Astronomy from 1983 to 1988 during which he hired 19 faculty members and left his mark on the entire university. He received the MSU Distinguished Faculty Award in 1994.

For his outstanding leadership, fairness and professionalism, the College of Natural Science Alumni Association is pleased to present Jack Bass with the 2006 CNS Meritorious Faculty Award.