U.S. Department of Energy recognizes FSU high-energy physicist

A faculty member in Florida State University’s department of physics has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) as one of the nation’s top young high-energy physicists.

Assistant Professor Yuri Gershtein has been selected to receive an Outstanding Junior Investigator Award in High Energy Physics for the 2006 fiscal year. The award, given by the DOE’s Office of High Energy Physics, is designed to identify exceptionally talented new high-energy physicists early in their careers, and to assist and facilitate the development of their research programs.

Gershtein was one of only eight scientists from throughout the United States to receive the award this year. In addition to the public recognition, he will receive $60,000 per year in DOE research funds for the next five years – although funding could continue even longer if he is promoted and receives tenure during that time.

"I’m really happy," Gershtein said of receiving the Outstanding Junior Investigator Award. "It is a great honor, and a great opportunity that every unestablished scientist dreams of. I am also very grateful to the FSU High Energy Physics Group, whose advice and support was instrumental in getting my research program started."

Gershtein’s colleague Vasken Hagopian, FSU’s Lannutti Professor of Physics and director of the Pat Thomas Planetarium, described the award as "a very big deal, both for Yuri and for FSU. The Outstanding Junior Investigator Award really lays the groundwork for a young scientist to succeed in a very difficult and competitive field.

"FSU also benefits by having such an outstanding scholar on its faculty," Hagopian said.

"Other DOE award winners this year come from such outstanding facilities as Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the California Institute of Technology and Purdue University. To be included in such an elite group really shows how accomplished our university’s own physics department has become."

The Outstanding Junior Investigator Awards are given out each year in response to proposals submitted to the DOE by scientists. The proposals are subjected to internal and external technical reviews; in addition, an external peer review panel is convened once a year to give advice to the DOE on the relative merits of existing proposals. Following this competitive process, recommendations are made to award funding for a limited number of the most outstanding individuals.

Gershtein was recognized for a proposal he submitted titled "Recovering the Intrinsic Electromagnetic Energy Resolution in CMS." CMS is an acronym for "Compact Muon Solenoid," which is the name of a high-energy physics experiment based at CERN, the world’s largest particle physics laboratory. CERN is located near Geneva, Switzerland.

"My proposal was targeted toward development of analysis algorithms for discovering Higgs boson, the hypothesized particle that is responsible for masses of elementary particles," Gershtein said.

Technology that was developed in response to the demands of high-energy physics has become exceedingly useful to other fields of science, and thus has helped science to advance on a broad front. Cancer therapy, medical and industrial imaging, radiation processing, electronics, measuring instruments, new manufacturing processes and materials, and even the World Wide Web are just some of the many technologies developed as a result of research in particle physics.

To learn more about FSU’s High Energy Physics Program, please visit www.hep.fsu.edu.