29 March 2013

Three MagLab scientists tapped for APS honors


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Three MagLab researchers have joined the fellowship ranks of the American Physical Society. They are (drumroll, please): Rufina Alamo, Luis Balicas and Dragana Popovic.

Dragana Popovic.Dragana Popovic.The three were among six Florida State University scholars who recently became APS fellows, an honor bestowed on only one-half of 1 percent of the society’s 50,000 members. The recognition is reserved for those members who have made exceptional contributions to physics.

“Physics is a very demanding profession and the standards tend to be quite high,” said Balicas, a condensed-matter physicist and scholar scientist. “So this recognition gives a feeling of approval from your peers, that you are doing interesting and significant work. It is very welcome.”

“It is exciting,” Popovic agreed. “It’s very nice to be appreciated.”

The news reflects well on the Magnet Lab and FSU, too.

“The single most important hallmark of an excellent research institution is the collective of its talent, the community of its researchers,” said MagLab director Greg Boebinger. “This award recognizes individual expertise and accomplishment, of course, but having so many awardees in a single year is an extra recognition of Florida State University’s growing stature as a research institution.”

Luis Balicas.Luis Balicas.Balicas earned his fellowship in recognition of his “experimental studies of unconventional superconductors, heavy fermion materials and frustrated magnetic systems,” according to his APS citation.

“Basically, we are trying to understand the phenomena of superconductivity,” Balicas said. “We also work with materials that contain rare earth elements (such as lanthanides, scandium and yttrium) and that can act as superconductors, but with unique physical properties.”

Popovic, also an experimental condensed-matter physicist, was honored as a fellow for her “studies of glassy behavior in strongly correlated systems near the metal-insulator transition,” according to the APS. She often works with novel materials, or materials that possess radically improved or new properties.

“The electrical transport properties of many novel materials can be changed dramatically by adding even a small number of electrons,” said Popovic, who has been a MagLab scholar scientist for 16 years. “Understanding and control of the electron motion is crucial for the development of modern technology.”

Rufina Alamo.Rufina Alamo.The MagLab’s third new fellow, Alamo, is a professor of chemical and biomedical engineering at the Florida A&M University-Florida State University College of Engineering. She was chosen based on “her use of well-characterized materials and performance of carefully designed experiments to address structure-property relationships in polyolefins,” according to the APS.

FSU tied for second in the nation for the number of APS fellows elected for 2012. Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California Davis also added six new fellows. In first place was the Los Alamos National Laboratory — where the MagLab also has a prestigious pulsed-field user program, the only high pulsed-magnetic-field user laboratory in the United States.

The National High Magnetic Field Laboratory is the world’s largest and highest-powered magnet facility. Located at Florida State University, the University of Florida and Los Alamos National Laboratory, the interdisciplinary National MagLab hosts scientists from around the world to perform basic research in high magnetic fields, advancing our understanding of materials, energy and life. The lab is funded by the National Science Foundation (DMR-1157490) and the state of Florida. For more information, visit us online at nationalmaglab.org or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest at NationalMagLab.