Eric Hudson of UCLA Receives Prestigious Cottrell Scholar Award for Science Research and Teaching
Tucson, AZ – April 12, 2012 – Research Corporation for Science Advancement (RCSA), America’s oldest foundation devoted exclusively to science, announced today that it is honoring Eric Hudson, assistant professor of physics and astronomy, UCLA, with a prestigious academic award, the Cottrell Scholar Award. The Award, one of 11 issued nationally this year, recognizes leaders in integrating science teaching and research at America’s top research universities. Each recipient receives a $75,000 grant and admission to an exclusive community of scholars, the Cottrell Scholars Collaborative.
This year’s awards are made as RCSA celebrates the 100th anniversary of its founding by Frederick Gardner Cottrell, for whom the awards are named. The awards, instituted in 1994, honor Cottrell, a scientist, inventor and philanthropist. Cottrell was a science visionary, whose invention of the electrostatic precipitator was an early environmental innovation that reduced pollution from smokestacks. Cottrell founded what is now RCSA to provide support for scientific research and experimentation at scholarly institutions.
“RCSA has named Hudson a 2012 Cottrell Scholar, based on his innovative research as well as his passion for teaching,” said James M. Gentile, RCSA president and CEO.
Hudson’s research is focused on investigating a possible role for ultra-cold physics in the new science of quantum computing, a process that, if perfected, would make use of phenomena such as superposition and entanglement that occur in the subatomic realm. In quantum physics, superposition allows a subatomic particle to exist in all of its theoretically possible configurations simultaneously. Superposition collapses when the particle is measured, giving rise to only one of its many possible states. Entanglement occurs when comingled particles such as photons, the smallest bit of light, are separated and subsequently appear to share information over distances at faster-than-light speed.
As an early-career teacher, Hudson was responsible for beginning UCLA’s first course on atomic, molecular and optical physics (AMO). He has also won an undergraduate teaching award for his work.
Hudson received the Cottrell Scholar Award (CSA) based on his peer-reviewed proposal that included both research and teaching projects.
For his CSA research project Hudson proposes to create a new type of atomic clock, which he calls “the solid-state nuclear optical clock.” It is based on measuring atomic oscillations of a particular isotope of the element thorium. An “isotope” is material that contains the same number of protons but a varying number of neutrons in the nucleus, or center, of its atoms. (Protons and neutrons are the building blocks of atomic nuclei). Hudson maintains that his new clock will be more precise and stable than traditional atomic clocks, and may offer new ways to miniaturize atomic-clock technology, perhaps giving rise to a “tabletop” model. This, he adds, could lead to advances in data routing security, high-resolution radar and improved global positioning technology.
Meanwhile, Hudson’s CSA education project involves developing a new, more effective course in quantum mechanics to promote critical thinking skills for a greater diversity of students, including minorities and women. Quantum mechanics is the study of the behavior of particles and forces in the subatomic realm. He will base the new course on a series of experiments that have become possible in the classroom because of recent developments in optical (light-based) technology that makes them inexpensive and relatively easy to perform.
The Cottrell Scholars program owes its origins to RCSA’s concern with the apparent separation of teaching and research in Ph.D. institutions.
“Rather than being communities of university-scholars, universities are often perceived as collections of specialists,” RCSA’s Gentile said. “We seek to reinforce the growing awareness that these two functions are complementary rather than wholly or partially exclusive.”
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About Research Corporation for Science Advancement – Research Corporation for Science Advancement (www.rescorp.org) – formerly known as Research Corporation – was founded in 1912 and is the second-oldest foundation in the United States (after the Carnegie Corporation) and the oldest foundation devoted wholly to science. Research Corporation is a leading advocate for the sciences and a major funder of scientific innovation and of research in America’s colleges and universities. Follow updates from RCSA on Facebook and Twitter.