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Physics Honors & Highlights



AAAS LogoFellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

AAAS fellows are elected by their peers and recognized for meritorious efforts to advance science or its applications. The UT Physics Department active faculty includes three members who have earned this honor:



APS LogoFellows of the American Physical Society

The APS Fellowship Program was created to recognize members who may have made advances in physics through original research and publication, or made significant innovative contributions in the application of physics to science and technology. They may also have made significant contributions to the teaching of physics or service and participation in the activities of the Society. Fellowship is a distinct honor signifying recognition by one's professional peers. The following UT faculty members are APS Fellows:



See our departmental awards for undergraduates, graduate students, service to our teaching labs and tutoring program, outstanding teaching, and distinguished alumni.


Selected Physics Department Honors & Awards
  • Professor Geoff Greene was awarded the prestigious Tom W. Bonner Prize in Nuclear Physics from the American Physical Society.
  • Our chapter of the SPS was once again named an outstanding chapter by the national organization.
  • Professor Adriana Moreo won a Senior Career Research Award and Dr. Margie Abdelrazek was recognized with the Lecturer Excellence Teaching Award at the annual College of Arts and Sciences honors.
  • Three physics graduate students—Rajesh Ghimire, Adrien Green, Xin Wen—were among the 2020-2021 class of Graduate Advancement, Training and Education (GATE) program awardees. The initiative helps strengthen meritorious, collaborative research between the university and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
  • Casey Morean, Trevor Keen, and Kavish Imam all won awards from the Department of Energy via the Office of Science Graduate Student Research (SCGSR) to support their research. Our graduate students have won 9 SCGSR awards since 2016.
  • At the university’s 2020 Chancellor's Honors, 11 physics students were recognized for Extraordinary Professional Promise, with two more honored for Extraordinary Academic Achievement. Associate Professor Steven Johnston was recognized with an award for Professional Promise in Research and Creative Achievement.
  • Three UT physicists were among the 16 selected nationwide for the American Physical Society (APS) 5 Sigma Physicist Award. The honor recognizes APS members who have been involved with high-impact advocacy activities through the society’s Office of Government Affairs. Associate Professors Nadia Fomin and Christine Nattrass, along with Graduate Student (and May 2020 PhD graduate) Mae Scott, were selected for their advocacy for the Combating Sexual Harassment in Science Act.
  • The UT Graduate Student Senate awards included physics department representatives from the ranks of faculty, staff, and students. Professor and Willis Lincoln Chair of Excellence Cristian Batista was named Graduate Professor of the Year. Joint Faculty Professor Raph Hix was recognized as the Graduate Research Mentor of the Year. Graduate Program Assistant/Student Success Coordinator Chrisanne Romeo was the GSS Staff of the Year honoree. And Grad Student Chloe Sandoval was recognized for Graduate Student Senate Outstanding Contribution.
  • Assistant Professor Jian Liu won an Office of Naval Research (ONR) Young Investigator Award.
  • At the university’s Chancellor’s Honors, Professor Marianne Breinig was awarded the L.R. Hesler Award for exceptional teaching and service. Physics Major Brandon Barker was the university’s Undergraduate Researcher of the Year. Physics Major Kevin Kleiner was named a Top Collegiate Scholar for Arts and Sciences. Four physics students were recognized for Extraordinary Academic Achievement; six were honored for Extraordinary Professional Promise.
  • Assistant Professors Steve Johnston and Jian Liu won prestigious early-career awards from the National Science Foundation through the CAREER Program, bringing the department’s total to seven NSF CAREER honors since 2012.
  • Professor Adriana Moreo was elected a Fellow of the AAAS
  • Professor Kate Jones was elected a Fellow of the APS
  • Professor Soren Sorensen was named a UT Chancellor's Professor
  • Graduate Students Josh Barrow, Philip Dee, and Andrew Lopez won Science Graduate Student Research (SCGSR) awards from the U.S. Department of Energy
  • Graduate Student Jason Bane won a JSA (Jefferson Science Associates) Graduate Fellowship
  • Undergraduates Brandon Barker and Brittney Contreras won scholarships (SPS Leadership and Aysen Tunca Memorial, respectively) from the national Society of Physics Students organization
  • Graduate Students Toby King, Dave McCallister, and Nathan Traynor were recognized at the Graduate Student Senate Awards Ceremony: King was honored for Excellence in Research; McCallister for Excellence in Service; and Traynor for Excellence in Teaching
  • Physics faculty and staff won 11 Chancellor's Honors at the university's annual honors banquet
  • Professor Kate Jones and Associate Professor Haidong Zhou were recognized for excellence in research and creative achievement at the College of Art and Sciences awards ceremony
  • Undergraduate Peyton Nanney was recognized for giving the best student oral presentation at the SESAPS meeting
  • Physics Major Louis Varriano was named a Torchbearer, the highest honor the university bestows on undergraduate students
  • Undergraduate Meg Stuart was one of nine UT students offered prestigious Fulbright U.S. Student Program awards for the 2017–18 academic year
  • Graduate Students Gray Yarbrough, Andrew Mogan, and Ryan Rawl won awards from the DOE Office of Science Graduate Student Research (SCGSR) program
  • Matthew Musgrave (PhD, 2014) won an Infinite Kilometer Award at MIT, where he’s a postdoc with the Laboratory for Nuclear Science
  • Professors Stuart Elston, Robert Grzywacz, and Marianne Breinig were honored at the Arts and Sciences annual Faculty Awards Banquet for excellence in advising, research, and teaching
  • Robert Grzywacz was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society
  • Lucas Platter won an NSF CAREER grant, bringing the department's total to five in five years
  • The physics department won several top honors at the annual Chancellor's Banquet, including Macebearer and the Alexander Prize
  • UT Physicists were among the scientists who won the Breakthrough Awards Fundamental Physics Prize
  • UT's Society of Physics Students won the national Blake Lilly Prize
  • Jesse Buffaloe was recognized for presenting the best undergraduate poster at SESAPS
  • The NovA experiment, which includes leadership from UT Physics, won a DOE Secretary's Award of Excellence
  • Meg Stuart won a Best Presentation award at the Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics
Research



Scientific Leadership
  • The department hosted the (virtual) 2020 Southeastern Section of the American Physical Society (SESAPS) meeting, as well as the 2018 (in-person) meeting. The objective of the Section is the advancement and diffusion of knowledge of physics within the Southeastern region of the United States, including the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. The Section brings together physicists once a year for a November meeting.
  • Professors Geoff Greene and Kate Jones are members of the Department of Energy/National Science Foundation Nuclear Science Advisory Committee (NSAC). Established in 1977, the NSAC provides advice and recommendations on scientific, technical, and programmatic issues relating to the nuclear physics program.
  • Professor Michael Fitzsimmons began 2018 as vice president of the Materials Research Society, taking over as president in 2019 and past president in 2020. With a worldwide membership of more than 14,000, the MRS promotes communication and collaboration among researchers to advance interdisciplinary materials research and technology.
  • UT physicists are directors or co-directors of two UT-Oak Ridge National Laboratory joint institutes: the the Joint Institute for Neutron Sciences (Alan Tennant), and the Joint Institute of Nuclear Physics and Applications (Robert Grzywacz).

A Commitment to Outreach
  • Physics Professor George Siopsis is the Director of UT’s Governor’s Schools for Sciences and Engineering, which serves the top high school students in Tennessee through a four-week non-credit program each summer.
  • Our planetarium provides the lab setting for astronomy students and a powerful outreach tool for the department. Regularly-scheduled observation sessions on the roof of the physics building, along with special events, make our resources available to the public in an approachable, engaging fashion.
  • Our Society of Physics Students is among the most successful in the country, having won outstanding chapter awards every year since 2012 and the national Blake Lilly Prize in 2015 for their outstanding outreach efforts, including work with area schools and for the campus and general public via physics demonstrations and the annual pumpkin drop.

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