Eugene Parker Wins 2018 APS Medal for Exceptional Achievement in Research

COLLEGE PARK, MD, August 17, 2017 — Eugene N. Parker, Professor Emeritus of the University of Chicago, will be awarded the 2018 American Physical Society’s Medal for Exceptional Achievement in Research. The medal recognizes contributions of the highest level that advance our knowledge and understanding of the physical universe in all its facets, and is presented along with a $50,000 prize. Parker will receive the medal at a ceremony to be held February 1, 2018 at the Willard Hotel in Washington D.C.

The 2018 medal citation honors Parker, "In recognition of many fundamental contributions to space physics, plasma physics, solar physics and astrophysics for over 60 years."

"Gene Parker has a wonderful and exceptional record of seminal contributions to solar, space, and astrophysics over the many years of his distinguished career,” said Roger Falcone, chair of the 2018 APS Medal selection committee. “His work is rooted in a deep understanding of plasma physics, and he has applied this knowledge to modeling and predicting many important phenomena that have been confirmed by observations. It is remarkable to see so many effects that bear his name. I am particularly pleased that he continues to publish new ideas, and communicate this exciting area of physics to both scientific and lay audiences. It is truly a joy that APS has chosen to reward our prolific Professor Parker with the 2018 APS Medal for Exceptional Achievement in Research."

Throughout his career, Eugene Parker has investigated a variety of problems, mostly in the dynamics of magnetized fluids and collisionless plasmas. He discovered the fundamental role of cyclonic turbulence in the generation of magnetic fields, in the context of Earth and the Sun. He established the transonic solutions, representing the solar corona and solar wind and the heliosphere. He established the powerful, dynamical role of cosmic rays in the magnetic field of the galaxy. He proved the theorem that, in an infinitely conducting fluid, the equilibrium of an interlaced magnetic field line topology contains internal tangential discontinuities (current sheets), suggesting it is nanoflares that heat the solar X-ray emitting filaments.

Parker is a member of the American Physical Society, the American Geophysical Union, and the American Astronomical Society. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1967 and has received numerous honors and awards over the years. These include the 1968 American Geophysical Union John Adam Fleming Award; the National Academy of Sciences 1969 Henryk Arctowski Medal; an honorary doctorate of science from Michigan State University in 1975; the California Institute of Technology’s 1980 Distinguished Alumnus Award; the United States 1989 National Medal of Science; the Astronomische Gesellschaft 1990 Karl Schwarzschild Medal; the Association pour le Développement International de l’Observatoire de Nice 1997 (ADION) Medal; the American Physical Society’s 2003 James Clerk Maxwell Prize; Royal Astronomical Society’s 1992 Gold Medal; and the European Physical Society’s 2012 Hannes Alfvén Prize, among many others.

"I am delighted that APS is honoring Eugene Parker for his exceptional research contributions in the areas of solar physics, plasma astrophysics, and space physics," said APS Chief Executive Officer Kate Kirby. "Focusing on our nearest star, Gene has taken on the incredibly difficult task of elucidating many of its complexities and has provided the world with new and better understanding of the sun.”

The APS Medal for Exceptional Achievement in Research is the largest Society prize to recognize the achievements of researchers from across all fields of physics. The medal is funded by a generous endowment from entrepreneur Jay Jones.

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The American Physical Society is a non-profit membership organization working to advance and diffuse the knowledge of physics through its outstanding research journals, scientific meetings, and education, outreach, advocacy, and international activities. APS represents over 54,000 members, including physicists in academia, national laboratories, and industry in the United States and throughout the world. Society offices are located in College Park, MD (Headquarters), Ridge, NY, and Washington, D.C.