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Three JQI Fellows Win APS Awards

November 14, 2014

Three Fellows of the Joint Quantum Institute (JQI), a joint research partnership between the University of Maryland (UMD) and 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. The scientists are Ian Spielman and Gretchen Campbell of NIST, and Christopher Monroe of UMD, each honored in a different category.

 “The success of the JQI is a combination of an excellent collaborative environment and excellent scientists.  This unprecedented award of three APS prizes in one year is a demonstration of the scientific impact of research at the JQI, and the awarding of two prizes for early-career work bodes well for the future,” says JQI Co-director and UMD professor Steven Rolston.

“By any measure, this is an extraordinary accomplishment,” said James Olthoff, Director of NIST’s Physical Measurement Laboratory. “Competition for these prestigious honors is intense and worldwide. To have three winners from a single institution is a powerful testament to the quality of the research conducted there, and further evidence of the high rate of return that America receives from NIST’s continuing investment in JQI.”

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 earned his Ph.D. from Caltech in 2004. After an NRC (National Research Council) Postdoctdoctoral fellowship in NISTs Laser Cooling and Trapping group he was hired a physicist in that same group. He currently operates three research laboratories, one on UMDs campus in College Park and two at NIST, Gaithersburg. Spielman’s group has spearheaded innovative, versatile techniques that make neutral ultracold atoms behave unexpectedly, in some cases like charged electrons.

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 . . ..”

After completing a Ph.D. at MIT, Campbell was an NRC Postdoctoral Fellow in Jun Ye’s group at NIST, Boulder. She joined JQI as a Fellow in 2009 and currently runs two laboratories: one at NIST and one at UMD. At NIST, her lab studies superfluidity in an atomtronic circuit. Atomtronics is an emerging technology whereby atoms play the role of information carriers, analogous to electrons in conventional circuitry. Campbell’s lab has led the research progress in this area.

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 UMD alumna and JILA Fellow Ana Maria Rey.

Christopher Monroe, a UMD physics professor 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 completed his Ph.D., under the direction of Carl Wieman in 1992. His career in ion traps began when he was an NRC Postdoctoral Fellow in Dave Wineland’s group at NIST, Boulder. In 2007 he joined JQI, where he currently has five operational ion trapping laboratories. His labs explore a range of physics and ion trap technology. Notably, Monroe’s research group has been a leader in quantum simulations using trapped atomic ions, as well as the development of a modular, scalable architecture for quantum computing.

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