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Nuclear & Plasma Sciences Society


One of the most enjoyable duties for volunteers in the IEEE Nuclear and Plasma Science Society is the Awards Committee. The Awards Committee receives solicits and nominations for a number of awards spanning technical excellence to service, and recognizing superlative performance from early career to lifetime achievement. The Awards Committee was impressed with the quality of the nominees, and worked hard to determine the awards recipients among many strong nominations. The NPSS is grateful for the hard work and dedication of the Awards Committee in carrying out this important duty. We are equally grateful to the nominators for putting together the materials to showcase the achievements of their colleagues, the authors of support letters, and most of all the nominees, and regret that we can only honor a subset of nominees who clearly merit recognition.

Our congratulations to all of our 2019 awards recipients!

Merit Award: Paul Lecoq

This year’s NPSS Merit Award recipient is Paul Lecoq. The Merit Award recognizes outstanding technical contributions to the fields of Nuclear and Plasma Sciences. It includes a plaque, a certificate, and a prize of $5,000.

Dr. Lecoq serves as an Invited Professor at CERN. Paul received the Master of Physics (1971) and the Diplôme d’Etudes Approfondies (1972) from the University of Grenoble, the Diplôme d’Ingénieur (1972) from L’Institut National Polytechnique, and the Master of Science in Physics (1973) and the Ph.D. in Physics (1974) from the University of Montreal.

Among Paul’s notable achievements, his work on scintillators has effected transformative change in the approach to radiation detection. Driven by the unmet needs of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), Paul led a team at CERN to develop the new scintillator materials to meet the LHC requirements for calorimetry, particularly the high interaction rates and challenging radiation environment.

Important achievements include leading the team that developed lead tungstate (PWO) scintillators for the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment, including his role in optimization of the PWO material properties and organizing the large scale growth of PWO crystals. To understand the scale of the effort, the CMS calorimeter comprises over 75,000 PWO crystals of a little over 1 cm3 each, totaling 100 tons mass. The CMS calorimeter played a key role in the discovery of the Higgs Boson, which led to the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics. This component of his work alone has resulted in 38 papers related to PWO, whose impact is in part demonstrated by nearly 1,500 citations.

In addition to his roles in leadership and vision in translating the science into application, Dr. Lecoq had a key role in the fundamental science behind it. He assembled and led the team to move from an empirical trial and error model for scintillator materials, to a methodology anchored in fundamental understanding, translated through sounds design principles, and engineered into complex devices. There few who can span that range of expertise successfully. The methodology has resulted in transformation of scintillation science and engineering, leading to an order of magnitude increase in the knowledge generation rate on the scintillators, and consequently a similar acceleration of discovery and implementation of new scintillator materials.

Dr. Lecoq’s work has impact in applications ranging from the aforementioned high energy accelerator physics, to medical imaging technologies including PET, x-ray CT, and planar x-ray, to oil well logging, to hazardous materials detection, to dark matter science. His body of over 1,200 peer-reviewed publications, with over 120,000 citations and an h-index of 160 (Google Scholar) quantifies the major impact of his work.

Citation: For seminal contributions to the field of scintillation science, drawing on the disciplines of radiation detection and measurement, luminescence, solid state physics, and material science.

Richard F. Shea Distinguished Member Award: Dimitris Visvikis

The 2019 recipient of the NPSS Richard F. Shea Award is Dr. Dimitris Visvikis, Director of Research of the National Institute of Health and Medical Sciences, Laboratoire du Traitement de l’Information Médicale. The Richard F. Shea Distinguished Member Award recognizes outstanding contributions through leadership and service to the NPSS and to the fields of Nuclear and Plasma Sciences. The award includes a plaque, a certificate, and a $5,000 prize.

Dr. Visvikis received his Ph.D. from the Institute of Cancer Research, Royal Marsden NHS Trust in 1996, and the Habilitation de diriger la recherché at the Universite Bretagne in 2009.

In leadership and service to the IEEE NPSS, Dr. Visvikis has served as Technical Committee Chair of the NPSS Nuclear Medical Imaging Sciences Committee (NMISC) from 2014-2016. He served as Program Chair for the NPSS Medical Imaging Conference (MIC) Program, 2016 NSS/MIC, Strasbourg, and many NPSS conference organizing committees in many roles over the last two decades.

Perhaps the most significant leadership and service role for Dr. Visvikis was in service to the NPSS in the development of the new NPSS journal held jointly with the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBS), IEEE Transactions on Radiation and Plasma Medical Sciences (TRPMS), as well as serving as its inaugural Editor in Chief. TRPMS provides a unique venue for publication of original research related to radiation and plasma sciences applied to medicine. A particularly unique aspect of TRPMS is to enable dissemination of work in devices physics and engineering related to the topical area, including sources, detectors, systems, and their applications in medicine. As TRPMS continues to move toward indexing in PubMed, this also provides a crucial connection between the development of the science and engineering, and the clinical audience crucial to the translation into practice. The journal is now in its third year, and demonstrating strong performance in attracting quality articles, vetted by a quality editorial team built by Dr. Visvikis, with strong and sustainable editorial policies and practices in place ensuring it will continue to thrive.

Citation: For contributions to and leadership in the IEEE Nuclear and Plasma Sciences Society and the medical sciences community for the establishment of the new NPSS/EMBS journal “IEEE Transactions on Radiation and Plasma Medical Sciences” and for serving as its first Editor-in-Chief.


Early Achievement Award: Matthew Gomez

The 2019 recipient of the IEEE NPSS Early Achievement Award is Matthew Gomez, Principal Member of Technical Staff, Sandia National Laboratories. The Early Achievement Award recognizes outstanding contributions to any of the fields of Nuclear and Plasma Sciences during the first ten years of an individual’s career. The award comprises a plaque, a certificate, and a $3,000 prize.

Dr. Gomez received his Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Michigan in 2011. He subsequently held a number of positions at Sandia National Laboratories, including Senior Member of Technical Staff (2011-2016), Acting Manager of Radiation and Fusion Experiments Department (2016), and Principal Member of Technical Staff (2016-present).

Dr. Gomez leads a team focused on major new physics discoveries in high energy density physics, including inertial confinement fusion, z-pinch x-ray sources, and power flow. He has led over 100 experiments at the Z facility, about half on the new Magnetized Liner Inertial Fusion (MagLIF) concept. The inertial confinement area is currently undergoing a transformation, in which MagLIF is one of the three leading efforts to attain parameter regimes approaching fusion within NNSA. The area has grown in importance and now has dedicated sessions at major conferences, including a magneto-inertial confinement miniconference at the 2018 APS Division of Plasma Physics meeting, and a dedicated session at the 2017 IEEE ICOPS. About ten university programs have now started programs in this space.

Dr. Gomez’s early publication on the frist MagLIF experiments has accumulated over 130 citations since 2014 (M. R. Gomez, S. A. Slutz, A. B. Sefkow et al., “Experimental demonstration of fusion-relevant conditions in magnetized liner inertial fusion,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 113, 155003 (2014)). His pioneering research on the MagLIF program has been reported to broader audiences through Discover Magazine, Physics Viewpoint, Physics World, and Nature News. Overall, the MagLIF component of his research portfolio is demonstrating substantial impact through over 160 citations over 4 years.

Additional, Dr. Gomez has made substantial contributions in the area of power flow in Z, developing a method to monitor plasma formation in the power flow region and correlating that to power loss. This work led to mitigation of power loss, with improved current coupling resulting in record neutron production. His ongoing efforts to address gaps in understanding of the magnetically insulated transmission line (MITL) and convolute regions are a crucial step to developing the next generation of pulsed power drivers, upon which high energy density science depends.

Dr. Gomez has authored or co-authored over 50 publications, with about 700 total citations and an h-index of 13. He is seen as one of the top scientists in the world in his experience group by the senior scientists in the area, both technically and in terms of leadership potential.

Citation: For contributions to magnetically-driven high energy density science and leadership of the experimental demonstration of a magneto-inertial fusion concept with the possibility of scaling to ignition.

Charles K. Birdsall Award: Ahmed Hassanein

The 2019 recipient of the IEEE NPSS Charles K. Birdsall is Ahmed Hassanein, Paul L. Wattelet Chair & Distinguished Professor of Nuclear Engineering, Purdue University. The Birdsall Award recognizes outstanding contributions in computational nuclear and plasma science. It comprises a plaque and a $2,000 prize.

Dr. Hassanein received the Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in 1982. He has served in a number of positions at Argonne National Laboratory, culminating in a term (2000-2007) as Director of the Argonne National Laboratory Fusion Power Program. Subsequently, he was appointed Professor of Nuclear Engineering at Purdue University, where quickly became Director of the Center for Materials Under eXtreme Environoment (CMUXE, 2008-present). He also served as the Head of the Nuclear Engineering Department (2009-2015) at Purdue University.

Dr. Hassanein is among the top experts in computational nuclear and plasma science in the world. He has developed cutting edge tools, including the High Energy Interaction with General Heterogeneous Target Systems (HEIGHTS) package for the simulation of power deposition by intense laser, plasma, and particle beam sources on target materials is a key achievement. HEIGHTS combines diverse multi-physics models including energy deposition, target vapor and plasma formation and transport, magnetohydrodynamic processes, thermal transport, atomic physics, radiation transport, all in the presence of intense electric and magnetic fields.

In addition to the convergence of multi-physics models, Dr. Hassanein’s work addresses the numerical challenges that arise with disparate time and space scales and multi-physics. His work incorporates both innovation in algorithms, and validation to ensure convergence and fidelity. His methods include both Lagrangian and Eulerian treatments, often competitively, for example in computing multi-spectral radiation transport via Monte Carlo methods or via continuum and lines transport.

Applications of Dr. Hassanein’s work include magnetic fusion energy, inertial fusion energy, discharge- and laser-produced plasma sources for extreme ultra-violet lithography, laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy, with applications in high power accelerators and national security.

His most significant contribution is in modeling the effects of high power plasma instabilities on the first wall materials in tokamak magnetic fusion configurations such as ITER. These high power events represent one of the most challenging obstacles to achieving a burning plasma power source. His leadership-class computing multi-physics 3D models led to revelations of design concerns in the complicated geometry of the facing components in the $26B ITER experiment, attracting substantial attention to mitigation.

At the other end of the physical length scale, Dr. Hassanein is also an internationally recognized leader in nanolithography. He and his team have developed methods for modeling extreme ultraviolet lithography sources as tools for engineering the next generation of computer chips. This work leveraged his modeling capabilities for materials interface with high energy plasmas developed in his magnetic fusion facing component efforts.  This work as contributed substantially to the science and engineering of lithography target materials and their optimization. Indeed, his work predicted the failure of dense plasma focus devices funded by the semiconductor industry for next-generation nanolithography, resulting in termination of the effort funded by one of the largest global semiconductor companies.

In the spirit of the Award’s namesake, Charles “Ned” Birdsall, Dr. Hassanein has maintained a focus on student mentoring throughout his career. That continues unabated, with 14 Ph.D. and 8 M.S. student graduated in the last 8 years, remarkably including his tenure as Dept. Head. In the same time interval, he also was recognized as Best Teacher (2012). His innovation and productivity is reflected in his portfolio of more than 500 publications, with nearly 5,000 citations and an h-index of 29, as well as four patents and three more pending. He was elected Fellow of 7 societies, including IEEE, SPIE, AAAS, ANS, OSA, APS, and IOP.

Citation: For contributions to recent innovation in computational plasma physics for applications to magnetic fusion in full 3D simulation of plasma evolution during transient events in ITER Tokamak device.

Magne “Kris” Kristiansen Award: Edl Schamiloglu

The 2019 recipient of the inaugural IEEE Magne “Kris” Kristiansen Award is Edl Schamiloglu, Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Associate Dean for Research and Innovation, School of Engineering, University of New Mexico.  The Kristiansen Award recognizes individuals for outstanding contributions in experimental nuclear and plasma science with preference given to areas within the broadest scope of plasma sciences encompassing the generation of strong pulsed electromagnetic fields including their interaction with plasmas and other pulsed power applications. The award comprises a plaque and a $2,000 prize.

Dr. Schamiloglu received his Ph.D. from Cornell University in 1988. Subsequently, he held a series of faculty appointments in Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) at the University of New Mexico (UNM), becoming Associate Chair and Director of the Graduate Program (2000-2001), Garner-Zemke Professor (2000-present), and Distinguished Professor of ECE (2014-present, the highest title bestowed on faculty members at UNM). From 2015-2017, he served as Director of COSMIAC, the School of Engineering Center focused on aerospace research. In 2017, he was appointed Associate Dean for Research and Innovation for the School of Engineering, to which he added Special Assistant to the Provost for Laboratory Relations as the liaison to the National Laboratories in 2018.

Dr. Schamiloglu has made significant contributions to a number of areas spanning experimental high power microwaves, pulsed power, and plasma physics. He is widely viewed as one of the top HPM researchers in the U.S., with a number of key accomplishments to his credit.

In his early work in 1996, Edl and coworkers provided the experimental data needed to determine that the grid noise damping mechanism in a PIC code simulation of the UNM Backward Wave Oscillator (BWO) was also filtering the physics of the beam-wave interaction. This led to development of the first predictive model for an HPM source ([L.D. Moreland, E. Schamiloglu, R.W. Lemke, A.M. Roitman, S.D. Korovin, and V.V. Rostov, “Enhanced Frequency Agility of High Power Relativistic Backward Wave Oscillators,” IEEE Trans. Plasma Sci., vol. 24, 852-858 (1996)).

Dr. Schamiloglu was among the first to note breakdown limitations in HPM output, which manifested as plasma rings around the output antenna observed to increase in strength with increasing beam voltage, while output power decreased ([E. Schamiloglu, R. Jordan, M.D. Haworth, L.D. Moreland, I.V. Pegel, and A.M. Roitman, “High Power Microwave-Induced TM01 Plasma Ring,” IEEE Trans. Plasma Sci., vol. 24, 6-7 (1996)). This in part supported the case for two decades of high power microwave breakdown work seeking to mitigate this limitation. In another example of pioneering work, Dr. Schamiloglu was the first to propose the use of in-situ laser interferometry to diagnose surface plasma formation due to the HPM increasing start current conditions of the oscillator as the cause of pulse shortening ([C.T. Abdallah, V.S. Soualian, and E. Schamiloglu, “Towards Smart Tubes Using Iterative Learning Control,” IEEE Trans. Plasma Sci., vol. 26, 905-911 (1998)).

Innovations of Dr. Schamiloglu and coworkers include the transparent cathode driven relativistic magnetron, demonstrating an output efficiency increase from 25% to 50% ([M.I. Fuks and E. Schamiloglu, “Rapid Start of Oscillations in a Magnetron with a Transparent Cathode,” Phys. Rev. Lett., vol. 95, 205101-1-4 (2005))., and subsequently to 70% in a magnetron with diffraction output (M.I. Fuks and E. Schamiloglu, “70% Efficient Relativistic Magnetron with Axial Extraction of Radiation Through a Horn Antenna,” IEEE Trans. Plasma Sci., vol. 38, 1302-1312 (2010)). He subsequently replaced the cathode with a virtual cathode injected electron beam, resulting in mitigation of pulse shortening (M.I. Fuks, S. Prasad, and E. Schamiloglu, “Efficient Magnetron with a Virtual Cathode,” IEEE Trans. Plasma Sci. Special Issue on High Power Microwave Generation, vol. 44, 1298-1302 (2016)). He subsequently eliminated axial leakage current by employing the classic magnetic mirror effect, resulting in a record 92% efficiency ([M.I. Fuks and E. Schamiloglu, “Application of a Magnetic Mirror to Increase Total Efficiency in Relativistic Magnetrons,” submitted to Phys. Rev. Lett. (2018)).

Dr. Schamiloglu’s productivity includes a total of $43.5M in total external research and equipment expenditures, as well as coauthorship of six key books including seminal books on high power microwaves, and 150 refereed journal articles. The impact of Dr. Schamiloglu’s work can be measured by over 6,300 citations, and an h-index of 35.

Citation: For contributions to pulsed power-driven high power microwave source research and the interaction of strong pulsed electromagnetic fields with plasmas both internal to and external to these sources.

Glenn F. Knoll Graduate Education Grant: Jun Yeol Won

The recipient of the 2019 Glenn F. Knoll Graduate Education Grant is Jun Yeol Won, of Seoul National University. This grant recognizes outstanding graduate students in the field of nuclear science instrumentation, medical instrumentation, or instrumentation for security applications. The grant is intended to support travel and attendance to conferences, workshops or summer schools, or special research projects. It include a plaque and a $5,000 grant.

Mr. Won graduated from the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Seoul National University, and is now working toward the Ph.D. in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at Seoul National University. He is studying Instrumentation in Nuclear Medicine for 6 years. He has 7 journal articles, and 9 international conference papers, and 5 patents,

Mr. Won’s research is on precision FPGA-based time to digital convertors, with applications to PET data acquisition and signal multiplexing. His work is already having impact, with his multi-channel time-to-digital convertor and comparator-free data acquisition system is now a core component of a time-of-flight PET scanner and MRI compatible brain PET inserts.

Ronald J. Jaszczak Graduate Award: Min Sun Lee

The recipient of the 2019 Ronald J. Jaszczak Award is Min Sun Lee of Stanford University. The Jaszczak Award recognizes and enables an outstanding graduate student enrolled in an accredited Ph.D. curriculum, Post-doctoral Fellow or Ph.D. level Research Associate in the field of nuclear and medical imaging sciences to advance his/her research activities. The award includes a prize of up to $5,000 to support academic and/or research activities.

Dr. Lee received her Ph.D. at Seoul National University in 2018 for investigating PET detector physics, and design, construction, and characterization of detector performance. She received her B.S. in Nuclear Engineering at Seoul National University in 2012. She is now a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Radiology at Stanford University.

She developed improvements in the three-dimensional positioning accuracy of PET detectors in her Ph.D. research. Her novel triangular reflector arrays enabled cost-effective depth of interaction PET detectors. More recently, she proposed an innovative inter-crystal scatter event identification algorithm, which was selected as the finalist in the student competition at the 2017 IEEE NSS/MIC Conference. Another innovation was a novel personal dosimetry technique resulting in significantly reduced dose calculation time.

Her work is represented in fourteen refereed journal publications, and one patent.

NPSS Graduate Scholarship Awards: Daniel Diedda and Samuel Cope

The recipients of the 2019 NPSS Graduate Scholarship Award are Daniel Diedda of Leeds University and Samuel Cope of North Caroline State University. The Graduate Scholarship Award recognizes contributions to the fields of Nuclear and Plasma Sciences by a graduate student in the filds of Nuclear and Plasma Sciences. The scholarship includes a certificate, one year paid membership in the NPSS, and $1,500 prize.

Mr. Diedda was awarded the B.S. in Physics, and the M.S. in Applied Physics at the University of Cagliari, and is currently studying the Ph.D. in Biomedical Imaging at the University of Leeds studying uncertainty quantification in PET/CT and SPECT/CT. His Ph.D. project is “Quantitative PET-MR Image Reconstruction at Ultra Low Radioactive Doses.” He has contributed several algorithms to the open source STIR library, including an implementation of the hybrid and standard kernel method, the PLS prior reconstruction, and the list mode reconstruction. He performed an internship at the Nuclear Medicine Ward at Brotzu Hospital Cagliari in 2011, and a research project in hadron therapy at the LNS-INFN Catania, Italy.

Mr. Cope was awarded the B.S. in Nuclear Engineering  (2016) and M.N.E. (2017) at North Carolina State University (NCSU), and is currently completing the final year for the Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering at NCSU. His research is in radiation safety and nuclear emergency response, primarily focusing on transuranic, including activity analysis in air samples, and rapid discrimination of anthropogenic from transuranic in air samples.  He has worked with field deployable detection suites including PIPS, high-purity germanium, and dual phoswich detectors with liquid scintillation spectroscopy. In 2018, he interned at Oak Ridge National Laboratory working on non-proliferation.

NPSS Women in Engineering Leadership Grant: Marquidia Pacheco

The 2019 recipient of the NPSS Women in Engineering Leadership Grant is Marquidia Pacheco of the National Institute of Nuclear Research, Mexico. The Women in Engineering Leadership Grant provides leading edge professional development for women in mid-level to senior phases of their careers. The recipient receives a certificate and reimbursement of expenses to travel to and participate in the IEEE Women in Engineering International Leadership Conference, up to a maximum of $3,000.

Dr. Pacheco received the Ph.D. in Physics and Engineering of Plasmas from the Centre de Physique des Plasmas et leurs Applications de Toulouse (now LAPLACE) in 2003. She held a series of positions at the Instituto Nacional de investigaciones Nucleares (ININ), and is currently the Project Manager and Supervisor of Engineering and Postgraduate Students. Her contributions to plasma physics include treatment of industrial waste, mitigation of vehicle and industrial exhaust pollutants, and high density energy storage including supercapacitors. Her work includes 6 book chapters, 47 journal articles, and 143 conference papers. She holds 3 patents.

She has mentored two female students who won distinctions of Young Special Prize Techno Sciences 2009 for the project “Synthesis of carbon nanostructures for use as adsorbents during NOx degradation by plasma” and Young Inventors and Innovators of the State of Mexico 2011 for the project “Doped Membranes with Carbon Nanostructures employing magnetron sputtering technique for Environmental Use in the Treatment of Water and Air Pollutants.” In 2011, she co-organized the national forum, Women in Science, Technology and Innovation in Mexico. She also founded Sembrando ConCiencias (Seeding with Sciences) movement to do science outreach to young people, primarily girls.