University of Rochester

Fermilab Awards 'Best Thesis' to Physics Grads Two Years in A Row

June 10, 2002

For the second year in a row, a doctoral student from the University of Rochester has won the Universities Research Administration's (URA) honor for the best doctoral thesis work done at Fermilab in Batavia Ill., a particle physics laboratory housing the world's highest-energy particle accelerator. Only one student in the country can earn the award each year.

"We are very honored that Rochester students have been awarded this national prize two years in a row," says Arie Bodek, chair of physics and astronomy at the University of Rochester. "Graduate students from the 90 URA member universities nationwide submit about 55 doctoral theses on research work done at Fermilab each year, so the competition is very tough."

Un Ki Yang, who earned his doctorate in physics from the University in 2001, performed his research under the supervision of Arie Bodek, chair of physics and astronomy at the University. Yang's thesis focuses on the inner structure of protons and neutrons, the particles that make up the nuclei of atoms. Both are composed of more fundamental particles called quarks and gluons, with the gluons binding the quarks together. Yang contributed to the measurement of the momentum of the quarks and led to a great improvement in the understanding of the way these most basic particles behave inside protons and neutrons.

This is the third award that Yang has received on his work as a graduate student. In 2001, he won the University of Rochester Lobkowicz Prize for best doctoral work in particle physics, and won honorable mention as an "outstanding young researcher" from the American Korean Physics Association.

Last year, the same prize from Fermilab was won by Michael Fitch, who worked with Adrian Melissinos, professor of physics and astronomy at the University. Fitch developed a new technique for positioning the beam of particles for future linear particle accelerators in his thesis.

The president of the URA will present the latest award at Fermilab on June 10 at the Fermilab Users meeting. Yang will receive a certificate of recognition and a check for $3,000.