Tech Physicist Honored Among Peers As Outstanding Researcher

Regents Professor M. Raymond Flannery of the Georgia Institute of Technology received the 2002 Jesse W. Beams Award for Outstanding Research from the Southeastern Section of the American Physical Society (SESAPS) during a Nov. 1 ceremony in Auburn, Ala.

Professor Flannery, a theoretical physicist in Georgia Tech's School of Physics, is an expert in the theory of atomic and molecular collision processes and is generally regarded as a world leader in his field.

"The Beams Award is considered to be a very prestigious award for outstanding research in physics," said W. Lawrence Croft, the chair of SESAPS, professor and head emeritus with the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Mississippi State University. "It means that Dr. Flannery's peers consider him to be one of the most outstanding research physicists in the Southeast."

This marks the third time a Georgia Tech researcher has been tapped for the Beams Award. The first recipient of that honor was the late Georgia Tech physicist Joseph Ford, who earned the award for 1990. Regents Professor Uzi Landman in the Georgia Tech School of Physics also earned the award for 1999.

Criteria considered in the selection process include "whether this research led to the discovery of new phenomena or states of matter, provided fundamental insights in physics, or involved the development of experimental or theoretical techniques that enabled others to make key advances in physics. It is expected that the contributions of the award recipient should have received the critical acclaim of peers nationally and internationally."

Flannery earned his distinguished 2002 award for his "pioneering, seminal, influential and enduring contribution to atomic and molecular collision physics," Croft said. It consists of a medal and certificate.

The award was established in recognition of the scientific achievements of Jesse Beams, an experimental physicist at the University of Virginia for most of his career. He was one of five scientists appointed by the National Research Council to study uranium fission before the United States entered World War II -- an effort later given the code name of The Manhattan Project.

Beams, who received the National Medal of Science, constructed the world's first electron linear accelerator and developed the magnetic ultracentrifuge. Today the two devices are widely used by researchers in the physical and biological sciences plus medicine and engineering.

Flannery has distinguished himself nationally and internationally with his research. His papers on recombination, electron-excited atom collisions and Rydberg collisions have had tremendous impact and helped define modern understanding of atomic and molecular physics. Flannery currently studies ultracold collisions, especially within his theoretical formulations of Rydberg plasmas and the production of antimatter. His work is supported by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research.

Prior to joining Georgia Tech in 1971, Flannery held academic positions with The Queen's University of Belfast and the Harvard -Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass.

He has attained a long list of honors, including Georgia Tech's Distinguished Professor Award, presented in 1995; the prestigious Will Allis Prize, from the American Physical Society (APS), awarded in 1998 for his study of ionized gases and for developing a theory of three-body recombination; and the illustrious Sir David Bates Prize from the Institute of Physics (IOP), awarded in 2002 "for his distinguished contributions to the field of theoretical atomic physics and for his studies of recombination processes with applications to astrophysics and plasma physics."

Flannery now has garnered key prizes from the APS, SESAPS and IOP -- the main scientific organizations of the worldwide physics community.

He is an honorary member of the Royal Irish Academy and Queen's University -- his alma mater -- bestowed on him in 1998 an honorary D.Sc. degree for his distinction as a scientist. He is a fellow and chartered physicist with the IOP in London and a fellow of the APS.

For more information, contact Regents Professor M. Raymond Flannery, Georgia Tech School of Physics, (404) 894-5263 or ray.flannery@physics.gatech.edu .

Also contact Professor W. Lawrence Croft, chair of the Southeastern Section of the American Physical Society and Head Emeritus of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Mississippi State University, (662) 325 -9451 or croft@ra.msstate.edu .