Arie Bodek, professor of physics and chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, has been appointed as the first George E. Pake Professor of Physics. Bodek has had a distinguished career that began with his contributions to Nobel-winning work while a doctoral student, and continues with his current research into the nature of neutrinos, and with his dedication to teaching.
The Pake professorship is named in honor of George E. Pake, who was a physicist and life trustee of the University of Rochester. The professorship is designed to help faculty guide graduate students’ research while attracting top students in the field of experimental physics.
“No one is more deserving of this honor than Arie,” says Thomas J. LeBlanc, Robert L. and Mary L. Sproull Dean of the Faculty. “He’s the consummate professor; both as a teacher as well as a world-class researcher.”
Since 1970, Bodek has been actively involved in experiments at high-energy particle laboratories around the world. Bodek’s research has revealed details of the structure of protons and neutrons (known as nucleons), which make up the atomic nucleus. One of his most important contributions has been to initiate new experiments and cross-analyzing the results of different kinds of experiments. When two particles collide at very high speeds, they penetrate one another, and their components either scatter like billiard balls or recombine into other particles. By capturing the energetic signature of the particles emerging from the collisions, scientists gather information about the components inside the nucleons and the forces by which those components interact.
Early experiments in which Bodek took part as a graduate student examined the way a beam of electrons—point particles, with no internal structure—interacted with stationary protons. This research revealed the then-surprising fact that protons were made up of another class of point particles, known as quarks. Researchers using current particle accelerators to learn more about quarks can collide one beam of high-speed protons into another, producing many quark-quark interactions at once. To interpret the complex patterns of energetic matter emerging from these collisions, these scientists need to understand how the quarks move and interact within each proton.
Instead of dedicating his career to a single type of particle accelerator, Bodek designed experiments for different laboratories throughout the world. As a result, his analyses have focused on discovering the necessary consistencies and correlations between different kinds of particle data, allowing him to explain how quarks structure themselves inside a proton.
Bodek received his bachelor’s degree and doctorate in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before joining the University in 1977. For his doctorate, he worked with Henry Kendall and Jerome Friedman in experiments that provided evidence for the quark structure of matter. Kendall, Friedman, and Richard E. Taylor later shared the 1990 Nobel Prize in physics for these experiments. Bodek was appointed as an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow, a National Science Foundation-Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Fellow, and a fellow of the American Physical Society. He served as a project director at the Department of Energy and is on the editorial board of the European Physics Journal C. He has been serving as chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy since 1998.
Bodek was awarded the 2004 APS W.K.H. Panofsky Prize in Experimental Particle Physics “for his broad, sustained, and insightful contributions to elucidating the structure of the nucleon, using a wide variety of probes, tools and methods at many laboratories.” That same year, Bodek received the University of Rochester Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching.
He has been highly active in physics education, science outreach activities, and in efforts to increase the number of underrepresented groups in science and engineering. He developed the physics department’s teaching assistant training program in the 1980’s, and co-founded the Pre-College Experience in Physics program for high school girls in 1994. He has also developed several interdisciplinary programs under the Department of Education’s GAANN grants for graduate students, as well as two site projects under the NSF’s Research Experience for Undergraduates program. One of these includes a component providing Research Experience for High School Teachers, following Bodek’s involvement in the department’s PARTICLE program for high school teachers. In 1998, he shared the University of Rochester’s Goergen Award for Distinguished Contributions to Undergraduate Learning in t College, with Priscilla Auchincloss, Lynne H. Orr, and Connie Jones, for the Women in Science and Engineering Program
George E. Pake was a life trustee of the University. In 1970, after serving as vice chancellor, provost, and professor of physics at Washington University in St. Louis, Pake became the first director of the Palo Alto Research Center of Xerox Corporation, where he began exploring the then-new field of computer science. Pake persuaded the company to locate the research center near Stanford University, where he taught physics from 1956 to 1962. He later became Xerox’s vice president for research. He served on the President’s Science Advisory Committee under both Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, and in 1987, he received the National Medal of Science from President Ronald Reagan. Pake died March 4, 2004, at age 79.