Ronald C. Davidson Award
About the Ronald C. Davidson Award for Plasma Physics
The Ronald C. Davidson Award for Plasma Physics is provided by AIP Publishing in honor of Ronald Davidson’s exceptional contributions as Editor-in-Chief of Physics of Plasmas for 25 years. The annual award of $5,000 is presented in collaboration with the American Physical Society's Division of Plasma Physics and recognizes outstanding plasma physics research by a Physics of Plasmas author.
2022 Ronald C. Davidson Award for Plasma Physics Goes to Ian H. Hutchinson
MELVILLE, NEW YORK, Oct. 17, 2022 — AIP Publishing has selected Ian H. Hutchinson, a professor of nuclear science and engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as the recipient of its 2022 Ronald C. Davidson Award for Plasma Physics for his paper, “Electron holes in phase space: What they are and why they matter.”
The annual award of $5,000 is presented in collaboration with the American Physical Society’s Division of Plasma Physics to recognize outstanding plasma physics research by a Physics of Plasmas author.
“This paper introduces readers to the fascinating nonlinear phenomenon of solitary peaks in the electric potential that sustain themselves by a decrease of the population of trapped electrons called the phase-space hole,” said Michael Mauel, editor-in-chief of Physics of Plasmas. “It is exciting to see highly influential papers like this commended with the Ronald C. Davidson Award.”
Electron holes arise from instabilities that occur in a vast range of plasma environments within nature and the laboratory. They often last for long times, and they take on individual identities as composite objects that move and interact in interesting and sometimes surprising ways.
“I became interested in electron holes because of my efforts to clarify how electric probe measurements of flowing plasmas really work,” said Hutchinson. “My students and I were doing simulations and began observing the formation of electron holes as a central part of the nonlinear behavior of the plasma. Holes turned out to be responsible for much of what happens in the plasma wake of a probe as the plasma flows past it.”
Hutchinson became further intrigued by the substantial literature about electron holes in near-earth space plasmas, measured by satellites, and realized the same type of phenomena he and his students were exploring was also happening here.
Since writing his paper, Hutchinson has spent six fruitful years working on the outstanding challenges identified in the paper. He and collaborator David Malaspina, an assistant professor of astrophysical and planetary sciences at the University of Colorado, analyzed data gathered from two satellites orbiting the moon to look for electron holes.
“My theories predicted that the moon wake should be full of electron holes, and the satellite measurements Malaspina analyzed resoundingly confirmed that prediction,” Hutchinson said. “So now when you look up at night at the moon, think about the solar wind flowing past it, and realize that for a distance of approximately 10 moon radii, streaming out from its dark side, there is a wake full of plasma electron holes.”
Last year, Hutchinson showed holes can move as slowly as the plasma ions — but only if the ion velocity distribution function has two humps, between which the hole velocity lies.
“Some new satellite observations came out almost simultaneously that showed precisely this condition in certain regions of the magnetosphere,” he said. “It is enormously satisfying to be part of the growth of our scientific knowledge by the interaction of theory, simulation, and observation.”
The 2022 Ronald C. Davidson Award for Plasma Physics will be presented to Hutchinson during the 64th Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Plasma Physics.
Alexandre Lazarian Wins 2021 Ronald C. Davidson Award for Plasma Physics
AIP Publishing selects Alexandre Lazarian, professor of astronomy and physics at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, as the winner of the 2021 Ronald C. Davidson Award for Plasma Physics for his paper, “3D turbulent reconnection: Theory, tests, and astrophysical implications.”
Lazarian’s paper and research investigated magnetic reconnection in turbulent plasmas and its numerous astrophysical implications. Magnetic fields are coupled with plasmas, meaning changes in one often lead to changes in the other. Until relatively recently, it was generally accepted this coupling is perfect for highly conductive astrophysical fluids at most scales.
However, in 1999, Lazarian and colleagues proved perfect coupling is not the case in astrophysical scenarios with ubiquitous turbulence. This idea of turbulent reconnection faced significant resistance when it was first proposed. Since then, Lazarian and his team built up compelling theoretical, numerical, and observational evidence in favor of the concept, which they detail in the award-winning publication.
“This recent paper summarizes 20 plus years of the work on turbulent reconnection and includes the work of my friend and colleague, Ethan Vishniac from Johns Hopkins University,” said Lazarian. “During this long period of time, predictions of the theory were confirmed via observations, the mathematical machinery was significantly extended, and we gained a deeper understanding of turbulent reconnection.
“Very importantly, turbulent reconnection has been established as a fundamental process that is an intrinsic part of astrophysical plasma processes.”
Magnetic reconnection can result in large energy releases, like solar flares, and has implications for powerful jets from supermassive black holes and gamma ray bursts, among other phenomena in the universe. Lazarian and his collaborators proved turbulent reconnection is a key element for accelerating energetic particles and enabling star formation.
“This work described the dominant role of turbulence in 3D magnetic reconnection and how turbulence dramatically affects astrophysical processes like those found in star formation,” said Michael Mauel, editor-in-chief of Physics of Plasmas. “I’m very grateful to AIP Publishing for sponsoring this award and for working in association with the APS Division of Plasma Physics to recognize authors of highly influential papers such as this with the Ronald C. Davidson Award.”
The annual award of $5,000 recognizes outstanding research contributions by Physics of Plasmas authors and is presented in partnership with the American Physics Society Division of Plasma Physics. Recipients are determined from a pool of the most highly cited and downloaded articles in the journal’s previous five years.
The 2021 Ronald C. Davidson Award for Plasma Physics will be presented to Lazarian at the 63rd Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Plasma Physics.
John Foster Wins 2020 Ronald C. Davidson Award for Plasma Physics
October 13, 2020 - AIP Publishing selected John Foster, author of “Plasma-based water purification: Challenges and prospects for the future,” as the recipient of the 2020 Ronald C. Davidson Award for Plasma Physics.
Foster’s work was chosen from papers published in Physics of Plasmas, from articles that were the most highly cited and highly downloaded articles from the past five years. The annual award of $5,000 is presented in collaboration with the American Physics Society Division of Plasma Physics and recognizes outstanding plasma physics research by a Physics of Plasmas author.
“AIP Publishing and Physics of Plasmas are delighted to present John Foster with the 2020 Ronald C. Davidson Award for Plasmas Physics,” said Jason Wilde, chief publishing officer at AIP Publishing. “This award, now in its fifth year, is in honor of the exceptional contributions of the late Ron Davidson, the long-time editor-in-chief of Physics of Plasmas.”
Foster’s 2017 paper focused on freshwater scarcity and how plasma-based water purification could assist in the removal of micropollutants in both drinking water and wastewater. Foster said he is concerned about the threat of chemical pollutants that can accumulate in the body and ultimately impact human health.
“While the interaction of plasma with liquid water poses a range of yet unresolved science questions, it is this very interaction that is key to unlocking the potential of bringing to bear the power of plasmas for the removal of contaminants in water,” he said. “My group and colleagues researching this subject around the world remain committed to the pursuit of plasma-based solutions to a host of environmental problems. I express thanks for this award on behalf of myself and the many researchers around the world operating in this field.”
Foster, a professor of nuclear engineering and radiological sciences at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, was recently named an associate fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics for his work on spacecraft propulsion.
This year’s award selection committee, consisting of Joel Dahlin, representing the APS-DPP, and Kurt Becker, Michael Desjarlais, Lorin Matthews, and Barrett Rogers, from the Physics of Plasmas Editorial Board, reviewed the top cited articles and nominated several authors from across the topical focus areas of Physics of Plasmas. The final selection was made by vote of the full Editorial Board.
The presentation of the 2020 Ronald C. Davidson Award for Plasma Physics will be presented to Foster during the online Zoom Physics of Plasmas Reception in honor of authors and invited speakers at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 10 as part of this year’s 62nd Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Plasma Physics.
Dr. Joel Dahlin Wins 2019 Ronald C. Davidson Award for Plasma PhysicsSeptember 27, 2019 - AIP Publishing is pleased to announce that the winner of the 2019 Ronald C. Davidson Award for Plasma Physics is Joel T. Dahlin, a fellow of the NASA Postdoctoral Program at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), administered for NASA by the Universities Space Research Association (USRA). AIP Publishing sponsors the award in collaboration with the American Physical Society’s Division of Plasma Physics (APS-DPP), to recognize one researcher each year whose outstanding work has been published in the journal, Physics of Plasmas.
“AIP Publishing and Physics of Plasmas are delighted to award Joel T. Dahlin the 2019 Ronald C. Davidson Award for Plasmas Physics,” said Jason Wilde, chief publishing officer at AIP Publishing. “Now in its fourth year, this award is in honor of the late Ron Davidson, the long-time Editor-in-Chief of Physics of Plasmas.”
Dr. Dahlin is being honored for his article, “The mechanisms of electron heating and acceleration during magnetic reconnection,” which was selected from the most highly cited and most highly downloaded articles published in Physics of Plasmas during the past five years. His co-authors are Dr. James Drake, Distinguished University Professor at the University of Maryland, and Dr. Marc Swisdak, of the Institute for Research in Electronics and Applied Physics at the University of Maryland.
“It is a great honor to be recognized with an award bearing Ron Davidson’s name, given his broad and influential contributions to the field of plasma physics. Since my co-authors and I published our work, it has been exciting and deeply gratifying to see how other researchers have used and built on the ideas we laid out,” commented Dr. Dahlin.
The paper explored the mechanisms for electron acceleration caused by collision-less magnetic reconnection in plasma with a magnetic guide field sufficient for adiabatic electron motion. In a follow-up paper, “Electron acceleration in three-dimensional magnetic reconnection with a guide field,” Physics of Plasmas 22, 100704 (2015), Dahlin and his co-authors showed a dramatic enhancement of energetic electron production in 3D systems where stochastic magnetic fields enable continuous access to volume-filling acceleration regions.
According to Spiro K. Antiochos, Ph.D., Senior Scientist, Space Weather at NASA GSFC, “Joel Dahlin’s results on particle acceleration during magnetic reconnection, especially on the effects of a guide field, may well be the key to finally understanding two decades-old major puzzles in the plasma physics of solar flares: How are flares so efficient at accelerating electrons, and why does the acceleration occur only during the early, impulsive phase of a flare?”
This year’s award selection committee, consisting of Daniel Clark, Ph.D. (National Ignition Facility, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, representing the APS-DPP, and the award’s 2018 recipient) and Elena Belova, Ph.D. (Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory), Robert Merlino, Ph.D. (University of Iowa), Abhijit Sen, Ph.D. (Institute for Plasma Research), and Fulvio Zonca, Ph.D. (ENEA Frascati Research Center) from the Physics of Plasmas Editorial Board, reviewed the top-cited articles and nominated several authors from across the topical focus areas of Physics of Plasmas. The final selection was made by vote of the full Editorial Board.
Dr. Dahlin will be presented with the Ronald C. Davidson Award for Plasma Physics on Tuesday, October 22 (5:30 pm EDT) at the reception for Physics of Plasmas authors and invited speakers during the 61st Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Plasma Physics (in the Waterway Room on the First Floor Level of the Tower Building, Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina).
Daniel S. Clark Wins 2018 Ronald C. Davidson Award for Plasma Physics
Washington, D.C., November 1, 2018 - AIP Publishing has announced its selection of Daniel S. Clark, a physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and leader of the National Ignition Facility’s (NIF) Capsule Modeling Working Group within the inertial confinement fusion (ICF) Program, as the winner of the 2018 Ronald C. Davidson Award for Plasma Physics.
The annual award is presented by AIP Publishing in collaboration with the American Physical Society (APS) Division of Plasma Physics, to recognize outstanding plasma physics research by an author published in the journal Physics of Plasmas.
"AIP Publishing and Physics of Plasmas are delighted to award Daniel S. Clark the 2018 Ronald C. Davidson Award for Plasmas Physics," said Jason Wilde, chief publishing officer at AIP Publishing. "Now in its third year, this award is in honor of the late Ron Davidson, the founding Editor-in-Chief of Physics of Plasmas who served for 25 years."
Reprinted with permission from
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory,
“Clark wins Davidson Award for Plasma Physics”
The Physics of Plasmas editorial board selected Clark from among “the most highly cited and top downloaded articles from Physics of Plasmas during the past five years.” His paper, “Detailed implosion modeling of deuterium-tritium layered experiments on the National Ignition Facility,” Physics of Plasmas 20, 056318 (2013), reported state-of-the-art, high-resolution 3D modeling of National Ignition Campaign implosions, that continues to guide implosion design today, with its detailed incorporation of all known sources of hydrodynamic perturbation and drive asymmetry. The paper was co-authored with Denise Hinkel, Dave Eder, Ogden Jones, Steve Haan, Bruce Hammel, Marty Marinak, Jose Milovich, Harry Robey, Larry Suter, and Richard Town.
The scientific challenge of ignition within the laboratory was “irresistible” for Clark, who joined the LLNL straight out of graduate school. “The paper was written at the beginning of the national ignition campaign, and things weren’t going as expected,” said Clark. “It was an attempt to see if we could explain what was happening.”
The paper recognized by this award didn’t succeed on its own in modeling the data, but it led to the development of models with a predictive capability, which Clark and colleagues published in two subsequent papers: “Radiation hydrodynamics modeling of the highest compression inertial confinement fusion ignition experiment from the National Ignition Campaign,” Physics of Plasmas 22, 022703 (2015) and “Three-dimensional simulations of low foot and high foot implosion experiments on the National Ignition Facility,” Physics of Plasmas 23, 056302 (2016).
“We were advancing the frontier in modeling and in how we understood these implosions,” said Clark, explaining that the model has “continued to evolve,” improving in fidelity as they add in more effects.
Clark said he was “surprised” when he got the call about the award, describing Ronald Davidson as a “titan of plasma physics,” whom he had the privilege to learn from in graduate school. “It’s awesome to get recognized by something that bears his name,” said Clark, who has agreed to write a prospectus article for Physics of Plasmas.
Michael Keidar 2017 Recipient of the Ronald C. Davidson Award for Plasma Physics
Washington, D.C., October 17, 2017 - AIP Publishing has announced its selection of Michael Keidar, A. James Clark professor of engineering at the School of Engineering and Applied Science at George Washington University, as the winner of the 2017 Ronald C. Davidson Award for Plasma Physics. The annual award is presented in collaboration with the American Physical Society (APS) Division of Plasma Physics, to recognize outstanding plasma physics research by aPhysics of Plasmasauthor.
"AIP Publishing and Physics of Plasmas are delighted to announce Michael Keidar as the recipient of the 2017 Ronald C. Davidson Award for Plasmas Physics," said Jason Wilde, chief publishing officer at AIP Publishing. "Dr. Keidar was selected for his article on cold plasma application in cancer therapy and has been invited to speak at the 59th Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Plasma Physics in October. Now in its second year, this award is in honor of the late Ron Davidson, the founding Editor-in-Chief of Physics of Plasmas who served for 25 years. We congratulate Dr. Keidar on receiving the Ronald C. Davison Award.”
As decided by the Physics of Plasmas Editorial Board, Michael Keidar was selected from among “the most highly cited and top downloaded articles from Physics of Plasmas during the past five years.” His paper, “Cold atmospheric plasma in cancer therapy,” Phys. Plasmas, 20, 057101 (2013), was co-authored with Alex Shashurin, Olga Volotskova, Mary Ann Stepp, Priya Srinivasan, Anthony Sandler and Barry Trink. Keidar and his colleagues demonstrated progress in the creation of cold plasmas and their applications to cancer therapy procedures.
Keidar, however, did not start out with the intention of influencing medicine with his research. “My initial plasma physics interest was associated with plasma propulsion, [the] ability of plasma-based engines to efficiently propel satellites in space,” Keidar said. "Professor Isak Beilis introduced me to the physics of vacuum arc discharge."
The late Ronald C. Davison's work on rigid-rotor equilibria helped guide Keidar's initial study. "His Physics of Fluids (1976) paper had significant impact on my own approach to this problem," he said.
Because atmospheric plasma jets are highly non-equilibrium with ion temperature close to room temperature, Keidar and his team began testing the response of living cells to the plasma treatment. “We were able to see several effects without damage to the tissue and one of these effects was decrease of cells migration,” Keidar said. “This triggered our interest as potential way to affect cancer metastasis using a gentle plasma treatment.”
Keidar was recently acknowledged by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), receiving the AIAA 2017 Engineer of the Year Award. He was recognized for his contributions to the applications of electric propulsion, specifically micro-propulsion of small satellites. He was also awarded AIAA’s National Capital Section Engineer of the Year, in May 2016, for his engineering of space propulsion systems using micro-cathode arc thrusters. “I’m deeply humbled by being selected as a recipient of the Davidson Award," Keidar said. "I can only hope that my contribution to plasma physics and specifically to the plasma medicine is worthy of Ron Davidson’s great plasma physics legacy."
Gregory Howes Inaugural Recipient of the Ronald C. Davidson Award for Plasma Physics
WASHINGTON, D.C., October 25, 2016 – AIP Publishing has announced that Gregory Howes, an associate professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Iowa, is the winner of the inaugural 2016 Ronald C. Davidson Award for Plasma Physics. The award will be presented annually in collaboration with the American Physical Society (APS) Division of Plasma Physics, recognizing outstanding plasma physics research by a Physics of Plasmas author.
"We at AIP Publishing and Physics of Plasmas are delighted to announce Gregory Howes as the recipient of the Inaugural Ron Davidson Award," said Jason Wilde, Chief Publishing Officer at AIP Publishing. "This award was created in the name of Ron Davidson, who as founding Editor-in-Chief of Physics of Plasmas for 25 years was a 'father figure' to the plasma physics community."
As voted on by the Physics of Plasmas Editorial Board, Gregory Howes was selected from a short list of the most impactful papers, representing all topical focus areas in Physics of Plasmas during the past five years. His paper titled “A weakened cascade model for turbulence in astrophysical plasmas,” Phys. Plasmas, 18, 102305 (2011), was co-authored with Jason TenBarge and William Dorland at the University of Maryland. Howes and his collaborators were the first group to run supercomputer simulations of the kinetic turbulence in solar wind.
Howes had predicted what the turbulent energy spectrum should look like at the small scale where electrons dissipate the turbulence. His simulations, however, did not reconcile with his prediction and he assumed there was an error in the in the simulation. A year later, spacecraft measurements of the turbulence in the solar wind were published, experimentally validating the simulation model.
“I thought long and hard about what must be happening, and that led me to the weakened cascade model,” Howes explained. “The missing element was that one cannot assume that turbulent interactions are strictly local — when turbulence is being dissipated, nonlocal interactions play an increasingly important role, and that effect explained both the simulations and observations.”
Plasma physics first drew Howes’ interest with the promise of harnessing nuclear fusion as the energy source of the future. Ultimately, however, he found the nuclear fusion program held less appeal for him than the quest to answer fundamental questions about the universe using plasma physics as a lens. “Although the entire community of plasma physicists makes essential contributions to the progress of our field, it seems that a single researcher in plasma astrophysics can have a much larger impact on the field,” Howes said.
Howes was recognized in 2010 by President Obama as one of 94 researchers who received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the United States government to science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers. He is deeply humbled by the Davidson Award. “I am extremely honored to win the inaugural Ron Davidson award,” Howes said. “His broad impact on the field of plasma physics is something to which all young scientists aspire, and I hope that my contributions to our field are worthy of his legacy.”
The award, which includes a cash prize of $5,000, will be presented to Gregory Howes on Wednesday, November 2, 2016 during the APS Division of Plasma Physics Banquet and Reception by John Haynes, Chief Executive Officer of AIP Publishing, and Ronald Davidson Jr., the son of the late Ronald C. Davidson.