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Two Rochester researchers named AAAS fellows

January 26, 2022
Side-by-side portraits of Nicholas Bigelow and Michael Scott.Nicholas Bigelow (left) and computer scientist Michael Scott (right) are among the members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science who were elected fellows this year. (University of Rochester photos / J. Adam Fenster)

The world’s largest multidisciplinary scientific society has recognized Nicholas Bigelow and Michael Scott for their distinguished efforts to advance science.

Two University of Rochester faculty members have been elected fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Nicholas Bigelow, the Lee A. DuBridge Professor of Physics and a professor of optics, and Michael Scott, the Arthur Gould Yates Professor of Engineering and also a professor in and chair of the computer science department, are among 564 members of the association recognized this year for their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts on behalf of the advancement of science or its applications.

From cold atoms to quantum insights

Bigelow has helped advance the understanding of quantum physics and quantum optics through his pioneering research on the interactions between light and matter. His lab uses laser light to cool atoms to nearly absolute zero temperatures to better manipulate and study them.

Bigelow’s current projects include creating and manipulating Bose-Einstein condensates—a quantum state of matter made from an atomic gas cooled to temperatures close to absolute zero—and investigating the quantum nature of atom-photon interactions. This research has important applications in areas of quantum mechanics such as quantum computing and sensing. He is also director of the NASA-funded Consortium for Ultracold Atoms in Space and the principal investigator of cold atom experiments running aboard the International Space Station.

Bigelow joined the faculty of the University of Rochester in 1992 and served as chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy from 2008 to 2014.

He has twice received the University’s Society of Physics Students’ Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching (in 1998 and 2006) and has held various positions in University governance and leadership, including serving as chair of the Board on Academic Honesty for the College from 1998 to 2004, chair of the University of Rochester Presidential Search Committee in 2004, cochair of the University’s Middle States Accreditation Committee, and chair of the Faculty Senate.

Bigelow is a fellow of the American Physical Society and of Optica (formerly OSA, or the Optical Society of America).

Systems expert and algorithm cocreator

Scott’s widely cited research focuses primarily on systems software for parallel and distributed computing, including developing new ways to share data among concurrent activities, to automate its movement and placement, and to protect it from accidental loss or corruption.

He is best known as a cocreator of the MCS mutual exclusion lock and as the author of Programming Language Pragmatics, one of the definitive and most widely used textbooks on programming language design and implementation. Several algorithms from Scott’s research group have been incorporated into the standard library of the Java programming language.

He is a fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). In 2006, he shared the Edsger W. Dijkstra Prize in Distributed Computing.

Scott, who joined the faculty in 1985, also chaired the Department of Computer Science from 1996 to 1999, and was interim chair for six months in 2007, and again in 2017. He received the University’s Robert and Pamela Goergen Award for Distinguished Achievement and Artistry in Undergraduate Teaching in 2001, the William H. Riker Award for Graduate Teaching in 2020, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Hajim School of Engineering & Applied Sciences in 2018.

He has played an active role in University governance, including serving as cochair of the Faculty Advisory Committee for the presidential search in 2018.


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Category: Science & Technology