Physicist Homer Neal to give Henry Russel Lecture Tuesday


An internationally known high-energy physicist whose U-M group was involved in the discovery of the Higgs boson will give the Henry Russel Lecture Tuesday.

Homer A. Neal, the Samuel A. Goudsmit Distinguished University Professor of Physics, will discuss various national science policy issues confronting the country. The Henry Russel Lecture is one of the university’s highest honors for a senior member of its active faculty.

Homer Neal

Neal is an interim president emeritus, vice president emeritus for research, and a professor of physics, LSA. He is currently president-elect of the American Physical Society, and in January 2016 he will become president of the 52,000-member professional society.

In addition to his work on the Higgs boson discovery and other research projects at CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics, he was also instrumental in the DZERO collaboration that in 1995 announced the discovery of the top quark.

Neal has long been a champion of science education and policy. While serving on the National Science Board, he was an early advocate for improvements in undergraduate science education and research experience, and today it’s the national norm in STEM disciplines for students to obtain lab experience while pursuing bachelor’s degrees.

He co-authored a science policy textbook called “Beyond Sputnik” that is used in courses at several institutions. And through his post at the American Physical Society, he works to improve relationships among scientists, federal agencies and industry. He has delivered testimony to Congress on numerous occasions, on matters ranging from the funding of national laboratories to the state of science education.

“Science faces many challenges today,” Neal wrote a statement when he was elected as an officer at the American Physical Society. “The public and many individuals in government do not fully understand the importance of supporting science nor the need to recruit new talent even through times of national budget stringency.”

U-M leaders selected Neal as the Henry Russel Lecturer as recognition for his work both in and out of the research lab.

In addition, at the lecture, four faculty members will receive the Henry Russel Award — one of the highest honors the university bestows upon junior faculty.

The award recipients are:

• Henriette Dina-Maria Elvang, associate professor of physics, LSA.

• Kristin P. Kuster, assistant professor of music, School of Music, Theatre & Dance.

• SangHyun Lee, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, College of Engineering.

• Brian J. Zikmund-Fisher, assistant professor of health behavior and health education, School of Public Health, and research assistant professor of internal medicine, Medical School.

The lecture is at 4 p.m. in the Rackham Amphitheater.


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