University of Rochester

Astrophysicist Elected Fellow of the American Physical Society

October 18, 2005

Eric G. Blackman, professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Rochester, has been elected Fellow of the American Physical Society, the world's largest and most prestigious association of physicists. Less than one-half of one percent of the society's 40,000 members becomes fellows each year.

"Eric's research has been consistently of a quality we have all come to respect," says Arie Bodek, chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy. "His work has proven pivotal to the work of so many others in the field that it's very fitting for him to gain this honor."

Blackman, a theoretical astrophysicist, was elected for his contributions to the study of astrophysical plasmas, specifically for the progress he has made in many long-standing and notoriously difficult problems involving the generation and reconnection of astrophysical magnetic fields. These are subjects fundamental and pervasive in astrophysics. Ninety-five percent of the universe is composed of magnetized plasma, and thus Blackman's work has become important for progress in a wide variety of astronomical fields, such as star and planet formation, accretion disks around black holes and neutron stars, and the dynamics of interstellar and intergalactic matter.

The award's inscribed citation reads: For identifying and elucidating fundamental principles of magnetic dynamo theory and for contributions toward understanding magnetic fields in a range of astrophysical plasmas.

Blackman received his bachelor's degree in physics and in mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1990. After completing a postgraduate program at Cambridge University in 1991, he received his doctorate in theoretical astrophysics from Harvard University in 1995. He served as a research fellow at Cambridge University (1995-98) and at the California Institute of Technology (1998-99).

Blackman joined the University of Rochester in 2000, and was promoted to full professor in 2004. He received the 2000-2003 Faculty Development Award in Plasma Physics from the U.S. Department of Energy.

The APS Fellowship Program was created to recognize members who have made advances in knowledge through original research and publication, or made significant and innovative contributions in the application of physics to science and technology, and significant contributions to the teaching of physics or service and participation in the activities of the society.