Honors and awards

Each year, Illinois Physics recognizes student excellence at a special awards banquet. In 2018, the Thirty-Ninth Physics-on-the-Campus Luncheon was held at the Alice Campbell Alumni Center Ballroom on Tuesday, April 24. Many of the awards are made possible through the generous support of our alumni.

Group of people sitting around tables
Physics faculty, staff, students, and students’ families enjoy lunch at the Alice Campbell Alumni Center Ballroom, prior to the student recognition ceremony, on April 24, 2018.
Undergraduates sitting around table and posing for picture
(L-R) Physics undergraduates Jacquelyn Schmidt, Sidney Lower, Spencer Hulsey, and William Helgren visit during the awards banquet. The four were recognized during the ceremony for their leadership roles in the department’s student organizations. Lower and Schmidt are president and vice president respectively of the Society of Physics Students. Hulsey and Helgren are the student coordinators of the Physics Van.
Young woman in semiformal clothing posing with her parents
Physics undergraduate Rachel Smith poses with her parents, Michael and Ruth Smith. Rachel received the Ernest M. Lyman Prize. She was also recognized for her leadership role in the student organization the Society for Women in Physics; Rachel is the 2017/18 president.
Young woman in semiformal clothing posing with her parents
Physics undergraduate Ritika Anandwade poses with her parents, Raj and Sujatha Anandwade, at the 39 th annual student awards banquet. Ritika is a recipient of the 2018 Commonwealth Edison/Beryl Bristow Endowed Award.
Man in suit giving talk at podium
Head of Department and Professor Dale Van Harlingen gives the welcoming address, recognizing student teachers ranked excellent and graduating students.

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Loomis Laboratory has been awarded a third-place prize in the Energy Conservation Incentive Program of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This program, administered by Facilities and Services, both funds and recognizes efforts to reduce energy consumption through facilities upgrades. A plaque commemorating the award will be mounted in the Walnut Hallway. The award comes with a $26,000 prize for additional energy projects.

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  • Biological Physics
  • Quantitative Physics

Dr. Hong-Yan Shih, a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Physics and at the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has been selected for the 2019 Dissertation Award in Statistical and Nonlinear Physics of the American Physical Society (APS). This award recognizes exceptional young scientists who have performed original doctoral thesis work of outstanding scientific quality in the area of statistical and nonlinear physics. Shih will be presented with the award at the APS March Meeting, where she will give an invited talk.

Shih completed her doctoral dissertation titled “Spatial-temporal patterns in evolutionary ecology and fluid turbulence” in 2017 working in Professor Nigel Goldenfeld’s theoretical physics group. It explores “the turbulence of ecosystems and the ecology of turbulence.” In her thesis, Shih reports on three projects at the boundaries of ecology and evolution, analyzed using methods from statistical mechanics, and a fourth project that made a major advance to the important problem of the laminar-turbulent transition of fluids in pipes. This latter problem was first scientifically studied in 1883, and Shih’s contribution arose from an unusual perspective.

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Professor Nadya Mason has been elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS) "for seminal contributions to the understanding of electronic transport in low dimensional conductors, mesoscopic superconducting systems, and topological quantum materials."

Mason is an experimental condensed matter physicist who has earned a reputation for her deep-sighted and thorough lines of attack on the most pressing problems in strongly correlated nanoscale physics.

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Professor and Associate Head for Undergraduate Programs Brian DeMarco has been named a University Scholar by the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The award recognizes faculty who have made significant contributions in their fields of research and teaching, in line with the university’s reputation for leading-edge innovation and excellence. DeMarco is among 12 faculty members in the University of Illinois System to be selected for this honor in 2018.