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Thursday, Oct. 4, 2007


Berkeley’s Arthur Poskanzer Wins APS Bonner Prize

Arthur Poskanzer, Distinguished Senior Scientist Emeritus with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), has won the American Physical Society’s 2008 Tom W. Bonner Prize “in recognition of his pioneering role in the experimental studies of flow in relativistic heavy ion collisions.” Poskanzer, a current member of Berkeley Lab’s Nuclear Science Division (NSD), is a pioneer in the field of relativistic nuclear collisions and a co-discoverer of collective flow, the phenomenon in which nuclear matter, compressed to a state of high temperature and density, exhibits a fluidic motion.

“This is the first time the Bonner Prize has been awarded for work in relativistic nuclear collisions,” said Poskanzer, who has been a scientist at Berkeley Lab for 41 years. “I hope there will be many more prizes to come in this exciting field.”

The Bonner Prize is awarded by APS’ Division of Nuclear Physics to recognize and encourage outstanding experimental research in nuclear physics. It currently consists of $7,500 and a certificate citing the recipient's contributions. Poskanzer is the fifth Berkeley Lab scientist to win the Bonner Prize since it was established in 1964, and the second in row. Last year’s winner was Stuart Freedman, also a physicist in Berkeley Lab’s Nuclear Science Division.

Poskanzer, 76, earned his undergraduate degree in physics and chemistry from Harvard, his Master’s degree in chemistry at Columbia University, and his Ph.D. in physical chemistry from MIT. After working 9 years as a chemist at Brookhaven National Laboratory, he joined the Berkeley Lab staff in 1966.

Among the many highlights of Poskanzer’s career at Berkeley Lab, in addition to his co-discovery of collective flow of nuclear matter, he was the first scientific director of the Bevalac accelerator, the co-founder of the STAR collaboration at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC), and one of the leading organizers behind SPS heavy ion program at CERN. He was also a co-discoverer of elliptic flow at RHIC, which has proved to be major experimental evidence for the existence of the quark-gluon plasma, an ephemeral state of matter believed to have existed in the first few microseconds after the universe was born. The elliptic flow paper he co-authored was the first from the STAR collaboration and is now a “famous paper” with over 300 citations. He continues today as a member of the STAR collaboration working on methods of data analysis for elliptic flow.

Poskanzer is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has won numerous awards and recognitions throughout his career, including the American Chemical Society Award in Nuclear Chemistry and the U.S. Senior Scientist Alexander von Humboldt Award.


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