Susumu Okubo, professor of physics at the University of Rochester, has been selected to receive the most prestigious prize in his field: the 2005 American Physical Society’s J. J. Sakurai Prize in Theoretical Particle Physics. The annual prize recognizes and encourages outstanding achievement in particle theory, usually for contributions made at an early stage of the recipient’s research career.

“Okubo is one of the most important theoretical particle physicists of his generation,” says Arie Bodek, chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy. “This prize is long overdue. We are proud of Okubo both as a Rochester alumnus and as the third physics and astronomy faculty member to be honored by the American Physical Society in the past five years.”

Okubo was honored for groundbreaking investigations into the patterns and decay rates of subatomic particles made of quarks. The American Physical Society (APS) also selected Okubo for his demonstration that CP violations, a phenomenon where a particle’s “mirror image” does not behave exactly as a mirror image should, permit partial decay rate differences in the two “mirrored” particles. His research provided pivotal aspects of the quark model of matter, upon which the standard model of physics is built today.

Okubo received his bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of Tokyo, Japan in 1952, and his doctorate in physics from the University of Rochester in 1958. After a year of postdoctoral research, he left for the University of Napoli, Italy, and CERN, Switzerland to extend his work in particle physics. He returned to the University of Rochester in 1962 as a senior research associate, and was promoted to full professor in 1964. He is the author of the book, Introduction to Octonian and Other Non-associative Algebras in Physics (Cambridge University Press, 1995). He was awarded a Nishina Prize in 1976 from the Nishina Foundation in Japan for his contributions to particle physics. He was a recipient of Guggenheim and Ford Foundation fellowships, and he is a Fellow of the American Physical Society.

The prize will be presented at the APS April 2005 meeting in Tampa at a special ceremonial session. Okubo has been invited to present a lecture at the meeting on his research. The prize consists of $5,000 and a certificate citing Okubo’s contributions. The prize was endowed in 1984 as a memorial to and in recognition of the accomplishments of J. J. Sakurai by his family and friends.