October 28, 2013

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By Kathryn Kopchik

LEWISBURG, Pa. — Tom Solomon, professor of physics at Bucknell University, has been awarded the 2014 Prize to a Faculty Member for Research in an Undergraduate Institution by the American Physical Society (APS).

The prize was established to honor a physicist whose research in an undergraduate setting has achieved wide recognition and contributed significantly to physics and who has contributed substantially to the professional development of undergraduate physics students.

It consists of $5,000 and a separate $5,000 unrestricted grant for research to the prize recipient's institution as well as a certificate with this citation: "For groundbreaking contributions to chaos and nonlinear dynamics through precise table-top experiments in fluid systems and for outstanding mentoring of undergraduate students at all levels."

The prize will be presented at the APS March 2014 meeting in Denver, Colo., in March, where Solomon will give an invited talk.

"We are conducting experiments to study fluid mixing and the effects of fluid flows on reaction dynamics," said Solomon. "This research has significant applications to a wide range of systems spanning the fields of science and engineering, including the behavior of chemical reactors and medical diagnostic devices (particularly micro-scale "laboratories on a chip"), the spreading of pollution in oceans and the atmosphere, the effects of wind on a spreading forest fire, and possibly the evolution of a disease in a society of moving people."

The award is sponsored by a grant from the Research Corporation, a private foundation for the advancement of science and technology.

"This is a national prize, and a real honor for Tom," said Martin Ligare, chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Bucknell. "He has done outstanding work in his lab at Bucknell, and he is also widely recognized as a fantastic teacher. It's great for the Department and for the University to have faculty of this caliber."

Solomon, who joined the Bucknell faculty in 1993, recently was appointed a Presidential Professor. The recipient of several grants from the National Science Foundation, he is the author of numerous publications, including 19 journal publications co-authored with undergraduates. He has also given invited talks at national and international conferences.

His research involves experimental and numerical studies of deterministic chaos and pattern formation in nonlinear systems. In particular, he is interested in the effects of deterministic chaos on fluid mixing in simple laminar fluid flows. He is also conducting experimental studies of pattern formation in reacting fluid systems.