Six ORNL researchers elected fellows of the American Physical Society

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Oct. 25, 2016 — Six researchers from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory have been elected fellows of the American Physical Society (APS).

The APS is one of the largest physics organizations in the world with more than 51,000 members in academia, government and industry. Fellows of the APS are recognized for their exceptional contributions to the physics enterprise in outstanding research, applications and leadership in or service to physics and physics education.

John Galambos, director of the Spallation Neutron Source Second Target Station Project Office, was cited by the APS Division of Physics of Beams for "outstanding leadership and vision in the design, commissioning and effective operation of high power hadron accelerators."

Galambos has been involved in the design, construction, commissioning and operation of the Spallation Neutron Source, a DOE Office of Science User Facility, since 1996 and led the Source Engineering and Design Analysis group and Accelerator Physics, Beam Instrumentation and Ion Source group until 2015.

Robert Grzywacz, physicist and director of the University of Tennessee (UT)-ORNL-Vanderbilt University Joint Institute for Nuclear Physics and Applications, was elected by the APS Division of Nuclear Physics for the "pioneering use of digital signal processing for decay studies of exotic nuclei to identify extremely short-lived proton emitters and, through its unique triggering capabilities, to discover super-allowed alpha decay."

Grzywacz is also a physics professor at UT and helped develop the data acquisition technology used to confirm the existence of element 117, Tennessine.

Ho Nyung Lee, distinguished scientist and leader of the Thin Films and Nanostructures group in ORNL's Materials Science and Technology Division, was recommended by the APS Division of Materials Physics for "pioneering contributions in achieving atomic-scale growth control in pulsed laser deposition, and for significant advances towards discovery of functional oxide materials by epitaxial design of thin films and heterostructures."

Lee is also an associate fellow of the Korean Academy of Science and Technology and an adjunct professor at UT and at POSTECH in South Korea.

Satoshi Okamoto, a researcher in ORNL's Materials Science and Technology Division, was elected by the APS Division of Condensed Matter Physics for "contributions to the theory of interacting electrons in solids, including foundational work on orbital waves and on correlated-electron superlattices."

Okamoto studies novel properties of strongly-correlated electron systems in bulk or heterostructures, such as unconventional superconductivity, magnetism, topological insulators and charge and spin transport. He is a member of ORNL's Complex Collective Materials Phenomena team and has worked as a visiting scientist for the Center for Emergent Matter Science at Riken, the Japanese Institute of Physical and Chemical Research.

Athena Safa Sefat, a researcher in ORNL's Materials Science and Technology Division, was recognized by the APS Division of Materials Physics for "major contributions in developing new and pure iron-based superconducting crystals, and advancing the understanding of structure-composition-property relations on multi-length scales in high temperature superconductors and antiferromagnets."

Sefat researches energy-related correlated materials, investigating the relationship between atomic structures and physical properties. She was an ORNL Wigner Fellow in 2008, a DOE Early Career Award winner in 2010 and was named a high-cited researcher in the top one percent of condensed matter physicists by Thompson Reuters in 2014.

Donald Spong, a distinguished research staff member and plasma physicist in ORNL's Fusion & Materials for Nuclear Systems Division, was honored by the APS Division of Plasma Physics for "insightful analysis of energetic particle instabilities and confinement in general 3-D toroidal configurations and contributions to the physics optimization of stellarators."

Spong has more than 40 years of research experience in the physics of energetic particle populations in toroidal fusion plasmas, stellarator optimization, plasma transport in 3-D configurations and plasma kinetic stability simulation methods. He is the deputy leader of the Energetic Particle Physics group of the ITER International Tokamak Physics Activity.

Each researcher will receive their fellowship award at their respective division's annual meeting and will be featured in the December issue of APS News.

UT-Battelle manages ORNL for the DOE's Office of Science. The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit


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