Physics phenom: Mikhail Voloshin wins prestigious Sakurai Prize

Professor Mikhail Voloshin was awarded the 2001 J.J. Sakurai Prize for Theoretical Particle Physics, becoming the third faculty member from the University's Theoretical Physics Institute (TPI) to receive the prestigious honor in the last two years. Voloshin's colleagues, professors Arkady Vainshtein and Mikhail Shifman, received the 1999 prize.

Voloshin's areas of expertise include gauge theory of fundamental interactions, phenomenology of elementary particles, and nonperturbative methods in particle physics. He shares the award with Nathan Isgur, chief scientist at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, and Mark Wise, a professor at California Institute of Technology. They were honored for the construction of the heavy quark mass expansion and the discovery of the heavy quark symmetry in quantum chromodynamics, which led to a quantitative theory of the decays of c- and b-flavored hadrons.

Awarded annually, the Sakurai prize recognizes researchers who have made outstanding contributions to particle physics. Family and friends of the late Jun John Sakurai endowed the prize in 1984 as a memorial to the noted physicist.

Winner of the 1970 International Physics Olympiad, Voloshin earned his M.S. in physics from Moscow Physics and Technology Institute in 1976. The following year he received his Ph.D. from Moscow's Institute of Theoretical and Experimental Physics.

Voloshin received the Academy of Sciences of the USSR medal and award in physics in 1983 and became a Fellow of the American Physical Society in 1997. He joined the University in 1990 as TPI's associate director and is especially proud of his role in the institute's success.

"We are quite visible both in the high-energy physics and condensed matter physics communities" he says. "Workshops organized by TPI have gained high popularity among experts in these fields. Very well-known people are eager to come to the University for our events"

Voloshin is encouraged by the prospects for TPI's future. "By continuing in this mode, we'll be in great shape" he says. "It's evolution, not revolution!"