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Sebastian Kuhn, Old Dominion University professor of physics and eminent scholar, has been elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS), increasing to12 the number of the university's physics faculty members to have been so honored.

With Kuhn's election, the ODU nuclear physics group includes seven APS Fellows. Only four universities in the country have more Fellows on their nuclear physics faculties. ODU has 27 faculty members overall in physics, 12 of whom are in nuclear physics.

Educated in his native Germany, Kuhn has conducted research in nuclear and particle physics at laboratories in several countries. Most recently he has led experiments probing the structure of nucleons-the protons and neutrons that make up the nucleus of the atom-at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center in California and the Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in Newport News. He has been a member of the ODU faculty since 1992.

"We are delighted that a scholar of very high caliber such as that of Dr. Kuhn has been elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society," said Chris Platsoucas, dean of the College of Science. "This is quite extraordinary to have a nuclear physics group that is ranked fifth nationally in number of Fellows."

Platsoucas noted the "highly competitive" nature of the election. No more than one-half of one percent of the APS membership become Fellows each year.

"Dr. Kuhn has made seminal contributions in his field of research and made educational and scholarly contributions to the college and the university. We thank him for all that he has accomplished and wish him many additional successes in the future," the dean added.

Gail Dodge, chair of the Department of Physics and a collaborator in research with Kuhn, said her colleague is "richly deserving of this honor" for his work, including "a suite of high-profile experiments that he initiated and led at Jefferson Lab to study the inner workings of the proton and neutron."

The Department of Energy's Jefferson Lab accelerator propels beams of electrons at close to the speed of light into collisions with targets-protons for example. Huge detectors collect the collision fragments, and by studying the speed, direction and energy of the fragments, scientists can learn more about the fundamental nature of matter. The lab already is the most precise facility of its kind in the world for exploring the subatomic particles known as quarks and gluons, and a planned upgrade is expected to double its accelerator energy over the next decade.

The citation from the APS states that Kuhn was elected a 2007 Fellow "for his leadership on measurements of the nucleon structure functions, in particular in the non-perturbative and valence region."

In a commentary article published two years ago in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Kuhn gave a general description of his work at Jefferson Lab: "It turns out that the mass of all atoms is nearly all due to the energy of the quarks and gluons inside the nucleons. To study this internal energy, we need to probe matter with the best resolution possible, using the most powerful 'electron microscopes' available. The accelerator at Jefferson Lab is the 'brightest' such microscope in the world, and that is why scientists from around the world come here to study the origin of mass."

"I have been very fortunate to work with some of the smartest people in our field, and at the leading U.S. laboratories for hadronic physics research," Kuhn said after learning of his election. (Hadrons are subatomic particles such as quarks held together by the strong nuclear force.) "I am grateful to my colleagues who sponsored me and the members of the national Group for Hadronic Physics who chose me as their nominee for the APS Fellowship."

Kuhn joins these other APS Fellows from the ODU physics department: Charles Hyde, professor; Anatoly Radyushkin, professor and eminent scholar; Mark Havey, professor and eminent scholar; Rocco Schiavilla, professor and eminent scholar; Jay Wallace Van Orden, professor and eminent scholar, Lepsha Vuskovic, professor; Lawrence Weinstein, professor and university professor; Colm Whelan, professor and eminent scholar; and three Jefferson Lab Professors, Bernhard Mecking, Jean Delayen and Geoff Krafft.

This article was posted on: November 30, 2007

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