The American Physical Society has recognized University of Iowa Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy Scott Baalrud with its Thomas H. Stix Award for Outstanding Early Career Contributions to Plasma Physics Research.
Baalrud received the award for “fundamental advances to the kinetic theory of strongly-coupled plasma and plasma sheaths,” according to the American Physical Society website. The award is given to researchers who make outstanding contributions in plasma physics early in their career.
“The award is named for a giant of plasma physics, so it’s an honor to have an award named after Thomas Stix,” Baalrud said.
A plasma is a state of matter where the electrons are separated from the atoms, making them highly electrically conducting. This makes it possible to do certain things in experiments, a laboratory, or an industry, Baalrud said. As a plasma theorist, Baalrud said his research is focused on the fundamental questions about the plasma state of matter.
Baalrud was nominated for the award by Fred Skiff, UI professor and former chair of physics and astronomy. He is humbled to have been selected as the award recipient, Baalrud said. He is especially honored to be among the other prize recipients from the American Physical Society, for whom Baalrud said he has tremendous respect.
In February 2015, Baalrud won a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award from the National Science Foundation, for a project connecting the public to plasma physics. He was the recipient of the 2018 Hershkowitz Early Career Award and Review, as well as early-career awards from the Department of Energy and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research. He was recognized as a 2018-20 Dean’s Scholar by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
“Nobody gets here alone,” Baalrud said. “So I’m incredibly grateful for all the mentorship I’ve received throughout my career.”
Baalrud will be presented the award at the 62nd Annual Meeting of the American Physical Society’s Division of Plasma Physics in November.
—Katie Ann McCarver