Three IU faculty named American Physical Society fellows

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Three Indiana University professors have been elected as fellows of the American Physical Society, the pre-eminent organization of physicists in the United States.

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James A. Musser. Photo by Hillary Demmon, IU Communications

The 2017 IU fellows are James A. Musser and Gerardo Ortiz, professors in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences' Department of Physics, and Zhe-Yu Jeff Ou, a professor of physics in the School of Science at IUPUI. Musser is also associate dean for natural and mathematical sciences and research in the College of Arts and Sciences.

The American Physical Society is a nonprofit organization that strives to advance and diffuse the knowledge of physics. The number of fellows elected each year is less than 1 percent of membership. Each fellow is elected upon recognition of their peers. 

Election to the society recognizes outstanding contributions to physics. The society's citations of the IU fellows reads as follows:

  • Musser -- For sustained scientific leadership and observational discoveries in the fields of astroparticle and neutrino physics: underground, on balloons and at beam lines.
  • Ortiz -- For wide-ranging contributions to theoretical and computational many-body quantum physics including simulation methods, exact methods for quantum lattice models, superconductivity and entanglement.
  • Ou –  For pioneering work and contributions in multiphoton interference, quantum entanglement of continuous variables and generation of narrow-band two-photon sources of light; and for work on precision phase measurement in quantum metrology and on quantum amplification.
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Gerardo Ortiz. Photo by Eric Rudd, IU Communications

A physicist whose work focuses on experimental neutrino physics and particle astrophysics, Musser has led work on implementing an experimental program to address central questions in neutrino physics using the NOvA long-baseline neutrino oscillation detector.

He also leads a particle astrophysics program, which involves measuring cosmic ray radioactive isotopes to determine the timescale for the confinement of cosmic rays in the galaxy. Musser previously served as the chair of the IU Bloomington Department of Physics from 2000 to 2007 and was the director of the IU Cyclotron Facility for three years.

Musser holds a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, and a bachelor's degree in physics from the University of Arizona.

A theoretical physicist, Ortiz focuses his research on condensed matter and quantum information science. His primary research interest is the physics of strongly coupled systems, one of today's most active research areas in condensed matter, which includes "frontier topics" such as high-temperature superconductivity and topological quantum matter. His research is also unveiling the physical limits and principles behind the construction of quantum simulators and quantum computers.

He is a former Oppenheimer fellow at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and has been affiliated with the Institute for Quantum Computing in Waterloo, Canada, since 2006. He was named a recipient of the IU Trustees Teaching Award in 2017.

Ortiz holds a Ph.D. from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and a master's degree in physics from the Instituto Balseiro in Argentina.

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Zhe-Yu Jeff Ou. Photo by Candace Gwaltney, School of Science at IUPUI

Ou has conducted pioneering theoretical and experimental research in quantum optics and other aspects of the burgeoning field of quantum information and communication. Quantum communication uses photons -- or units of light -- to carry and process information rapidly and securely. Once perfected, the technology could revolutionize modern communication, since information transfer based on quantum physics would be extremely secure and travel faster than current forms of communication.

Quantum communication research could also support work related to identifying gravitational waves emanating from deep space and developing highly sensitive biomedical imaging technology.

Ou holds a Ph.D. from the University of Rochester and a bachelor's in physics from Beijing University.

The fellows will receive their certificates at the annual meetings of their elected units. Ortiz was nominated by the Division of Condensed Matter Physics, which meets March 5 to 9 in Los Angeles. Musser was nominated by the Division of Astrophysics, which meets April 14 to 17 in Columbus, Ohio. Ou was nominated by the Division of Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics, which meets June 5 to 9 in Sacramento, Calif.

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