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Physics professor honored for diversifying the field through mentorship

Dec 20, 2023

Indiana University faculty member Charles Horowitz received the American Physical Society’s Division of Nuclear Physics Mentoring Award at the organization’s Nov. 30 meeting in Hawaii.

Horowitz was honored for his “selfless mentorship and support of students and postdocs over four decades, and outstanding mentorship of early-career scientists from historically underrepresented groups in physics.” The annual award recognizes Division of Nuclear Physics members who have had an exceptional impact as mentors of nuclear scientists and students through teaching or research.

Charles Horowitz, emeritus professor of physics in the College of Arts and Sciences Charles Horowitz, emeritus professor of physics in the College of Arts and Sciences

Now an emeritus professor in the College of Arts and Sciences at IU Bloomington, Horowitz has been with the university since 1987 and has mentored more than a dozen graduate students pursuing master’s and doctoral degrees in physics. Alongside Horowitz, several students gained valuable research experience studying nuclear theory topics like gravitational waves, dense matter and nuclear pasta.

“For a long time, I’ve worked with some good young people,” Horowitz said. “Many postdocs have worked with me over the years. Then they’ve gone on to permanent positions.”

Jorge Morales, one of Horowitz’s most recent and likely last doctoral students, advocated for Horowitz to receive the award through a written submission. They were introduced through the American Physical Society’s Bridge Program at IU.

The Bridge Program is designed to enhance diversity in physics graduate education by increasing the number of advanced degrees awarded to students from underrepresented communities. According to data from the American Physical Society, on average less than 15 percent of master’s degrees and 10 percent of doctoral degrees in the U.S. from 2017 to 2021 were awarded to Black, Hispanic or Indigenous students.

Additionally, the program pairs students with faculty mentors to build and strengthen their professional networks and explore new career paths. At IU, the program provides students with an individualized course of study, enabling them to bridge the gap between undergraduate and graduate degrees.

“Because of the excellent mentorship of Professor Horowitz, I have been able to master many fields within and outside of nuclear astrophysics, tackle many research problems and access a broad network,” Morales said.

Morales received his bachelor’s degree in physics in Puerto Rico, where he grew up. In 2019, he applied and was accepted to the Bridge Program at IU. Starting a graduate program in Indiana required him to work on his English fluency and adapt to cultural differences. Morales said Horowitz always made a point to be patient and ask questions to ensure both understood each other.

As Morales became more fluent in English, he gave graduate-level lectures under Horowitz’s instruction. With the help of some of Horowitz’s connections in the physics field, Morales is studying gravitational physics in Germany at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics.

“The project that Jorge is working on involves theoretical work with me, and experimental and observational work with the Germans,” Horowitz said. “It’s tremendously motivating to interact with good young people.”


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