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Physicist of International Renown Joins ODU and Center for Accelerator Science


Alexander Gurevich, a scholar and researcher recognized internationally for seminal discoveries in condensed matter physics and superconductivity, has joined Old Dominion University as a professor of physics and a member of ODU's Center for Accelerator Science (CAS). Gurevich, previously a researcher at Florida State University's Applied Superconductivity Center since 2006, arrived at ODU in February.

The appointment was announced by Chris Platsoucas, dean of the ODU College of Sciences, who said the hiring is expected to expand research at CAS and the Department of Physics, as well as provide additional educational leadership for the establishment of a concentration in accelerator science as part of the graduate program in physics.

"We believe Dr. Gurevich's work will prove to be highly synergistic to that of our CAS director, Dr. Jean Delayen," Platsoucas said. "Together, these two senior investigators, along with their colleagues at ODU, will substantially increase research grant support."

Gurevich is an expert in the theory of superconductivity, particularly in the significant ways defects in materials can affect the current-carrying capability and magnetic properties of high-performance superconductors. This research focuses on the theoretical understanding of superconductors operating under the extreme conditions imposed by very strong electric currents, magnetic fields and radio-frequency electromagnetic fields.

Results of Gurevich's theoretical work are important in the development of new superconducting materials for applications in powerful high-field magnets and the next generation of particle accelerators.

Noting an increasing demand for accelerator scientists, ODU and the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in Newport News began collaborating in 2007 to form the CAS. The center was formed in 2008, and Delayen was named its director in 2009.

The aim of ODU and Jefferson Lab in launching CAS is to build an important national center that will promote research and education in the fields of accelerator physics and engineering. Jefferson Lab, which is known for its $600 million continuous electron beam accelerator and advanced free electron laser, and is in the midst of a $310 million energy upgrade, expects to hire professionals trained by CAS.

The increased interest internationally in accelerator science is driven by new applications for instruments that accelerate particles up to nearly the speed of light. Most of the world's most powerful accelerators, such as Jefferson Lab's mile-long, circular atom smasher, were built to explore the makeup and structure of matter. In other words, they focus on fundamental science - seeking to discover secrets of the universe.

But accelerator technology also is used in medical imaging and in beam therapies against cancer and other diseases. The door has opened more recently to an even broader array of uses, such as producing cleaner energy, spotting suspicious cargo, cleaning drinking water, mapping proteins and detecting art forgeries.

For these applications to become commonplace, however, accelerators must become smaller and more efficient, and this is where Gurevich's theoretical work has shown great promise.

His publication record and research funding attest to his research accomplishments. He has contributed 138 papers to scientific journals, written two books and four review papers, and been granted one patent. His papers have been published in major scientific journals, including six in the journal Nature and one in Science.

He has received as principal investigator or co-PI about $12 million in peer-reviewed research support from the National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Energy and other federal agencies. Platsoucas said Gurevich currently is well funded and that a substantial part of this funding is expected to be transferred to ODU.

Research and training grant awards have increased in the College of Sciences by 78.2 percent over the last three years, to $20.6 million annually. Platsoucas said the Department of Physics has played a major role in this increase. "Over the last year, research grant awards in the department were increased by 104 percent to $4.28 million," the dean said. "Our target is to substantially increase our research and training grant support in physics. We believe that the recruitment of Dr. Gurevich is critical to achieving this objective."

In 2008, Gurevich was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS) "for significant contributions to the theory of superconductivity, particularly the effect of crystalline defects on critical currents, vortex dynamics and upper critical fields of high-temperature superconductors and MgB2."

Delayen is also an APS Fellow, as are two other faculty members who have key roles at CAS,

Lepsha Vuskovic, professor and eminent scholar, and Geoffrey Krafft, who has the title of Jefferson Lab professor. Altogether, ODU has 14 current faculty members and one recently retired Jefferson Lab professor who are APS Fellows. "This is a very high number of APS Fellows for a university to have and demonstrates the high regard and respect of our physics faculty by their peers throughout the world," Platsoucas said.

This article was posted on: March 4, 2011

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