Sau Named UMD Co-Director of JQI

Associate Professor Jay Sau has been appointed the newest University of Maryland Co-Director of JQI. He assumed the role on January 1, 2022.

“JQI has been a key part of my research environment since I started as a postdoc at Maryland in 2009,” says Sau, who is also a member of the Condensed Matter Theory Center. “I am glad to have the opportunity to help preserve and strengthen our research environment.”Jay Sau is now the UMD co-director of JQI. (Credit: Moutusi Sau)Jay Sau is now the UMD co-director of JQI. (Credit: Moutusi Sau)

Sau followed his first position at UMD with a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University, before returning to UMD as an assistant professor in 2013. During his time at UMD, he has performed extensive theoretical research into the phenomena that arise when many quantum particles interact, particularly phenomena that can be understood through the mathematics of topology. Sau and his collaborators at UMD have developed tools that are laying a foundation for quantum technologies, hopefully including topological quantum computers.

Previously, Sau has been a co-organizer of both the JQI seminar series and the physics colloquium series, and he has been participating in expanding the quantum research group at UMD. He is taking over the role of UMD Co-Director from JQI Fellow Fred Wellstood, who has held the position since 2017.

“I’ve enjoyed working with Fred as Co-Directors over the past four years" says Gretchen Campbell, the current NIST Co-Director of JQI. "He has worked tirelessly to help keep the JQI running during these challenging times, including spearheading the recent renewal of the JQI grant.  Moving forward, I am looking forward to working with Jay. He is a great colleague, and I appreciate his willingness to take over the role of Co-Director.”

Original story by Bailey Bedford:

Michael E. Fisher, 1931-2021

Michael Ellis Fisher, an eminent scientist whose interests spanned condensed matter theory, statistical mechanics, chemistry, mathematics and bioscience, died on November 26, 2021 at age 90.

Born in Trinidad, Fisher received his Ph.D. in 1957 at King’s College, London. He worked there as a lecturer, reader and professor until accepting an appointment at Cornell University.  He was the Horace White Professor of Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics at Cornell University until joining the University of Maryland in 1987. At UMD, he was jointly appointed in the Institute for Physical Sciences and Technology and the Department of Physics, and was a University System of Maryland Regents Professor, a Distinguished University Professor and Distinguished Scholar-Teacher.

Fisher was a Fellow of the Royal Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Physical Society. He was a Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Sciences. Among his many awards were the Irving Langmuir Prize in Chemical Physics, the Boltzmann Medal in Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics and the Hildebrand Award of the American Chemical Society. Fisher received the inaugural American Physical Society Lars Onsager Prize for statistical physics in 1995.

Known both for his attention to detail and for his broad approach to understanding the world, Fisher was commended by the Wolf Prize in Physics committee in 1980 “for bringing together, and teaching a common language to, chemists and physicists working on diverse problems of phase transitions.”   

Fisher retired in 2012, and a two-day UMD symposium honored his many achievements. In 2015, he was a special guest at the Conversations with Icons in Science conference in Port of Spain, Trinidad.


A memorial has not yet been announced.
The IPST remembrance is posted here:



Sankar Das Sarma Named Highly Cited Researcher

Sankar Das Sarma has again been included on Clarivate Analytics list of Highly Cited Researchers, a compilation of influential names in science.

Das Sarma is the Richard E. Prange Chair of Physics, the Director of the Condensed Matter Theory Center and a Fellow of the Joint Quantum Institute

After receiving his Ph.D. from Brown University in 1979—studying under UMD alumnusSankar Das SarmaSankar Das Sarma John Quinn (Ph.D., '58)—Das Sarma joined the UMD faculty in 1982. He was named a Distinguished University Professor in 1995, and in 2008 received the Kirwan Faculty Research Prize for his groundbreaking work in topological quantum computing.

In 2013, Das Sarma received the CMNS Distinguished Faculty Award in recognition of his stellar career. In 2020, a paper he co-wrote was included in Physical Review B's list of the "milestone" papers published in its first 50 years of existence. 

Das Sarma has been included in all previous listings of highly-cited researchers: 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2001.

College Park Professor Chris Monroe also appeared on the list.

Jim Glanz to Give Milchberg Lecture on Nov. 16

Jim Glanz, a New York Times reporter who holds a Ph.D. in Astrophysical Sciences from Princeton University, will give the second Irving and Renee Milchberg Endowed Lecture on Tuesday, Nov. 16 at 4 p.m. in room 1412 of the Toll Physics Building. His talk, The Public Relations Machine in Science: A Self-Inflicted Wound?  is free and open to the public, with refreshments served at 3:30 p.m. 

Glanz' writing career began at Research and Development, before he moved to Science magazine in 1995. In 1998, he broke the story of the discovery of dark energy and the accelerating expansion of the universe, describing the findings of Adam Riess, Brian Schmidt and Saul Perlmutter, who were awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize in physics for this work.Jim GlanzJim Glanz

Glanz joined the New York Times in 1999 as a science reporter.  After the September 11, 2001 attacks, he wrote extensively on the design, construction and collapse of the World Trade Center twin towers. He received the Excellence in Journalism Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2002. Pieces he wrote with fellow Times reporter Eric Lipton about the towers were part of the "Nation Challenged" package that won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 2002.

Now a reporter on the Investigations desk, he helps untangle and explain a wide range of natural and technological complexities, such as the splitting of an Italian bridge that killed 43 people, the collapse of a Mexico City Metro overpass that killed 26, various aspects of COVID mutations and transmission, design decisions on the ill-fated Boeing 737 Max, and the dispersal of hundreds of tons of lead over Paris when Notre Dame Cathedral burned. 

The Irving and Renee Milchberg Endowed Lectureship was established by Prof. Howard Milchberg and his wife Rena, to remember Howard's parents, who survived the Holocaust and the distortions of truth that accompanied and facilitated it.  Milchberg’s mother and father, who died in 2017 and 2014, respectively, never received formal education, but Milchberg describes them as “remarkably open-minded and tolerant” and as “wide-ranging thinkers and skeptics.” 

This is the second Milchberg lecture; the first lecture was given in 2019 by Susan Eisenhower.  

For further information:



Nicholas Chant, 1941-2021

Nick Chant, a nuclear physicist at UMD for 35 years, died earlier this month in Minnesota, where he moved after his 2007 retirement.

A native of England, Chant attended Downing College Cambridge for his B.A. and M.A., and earned his D.Phil. at Lincoln College Oxford in 1966. 

He then accepted an appointment as a Research Fellow in the Nuclear Physics Lab in Oxford. In 1968, he moved to the University of Washington, followed by two years at the University of Minnesota, before joining UMD in 1972 as an assistant professor. In this department, he held several key roles, serving as Associate Chair for Facilities and Personnel as well as Associate Chair for Graduate Studies. 

Chant researched electro-weak studies of the nucleon, quasi-free knockout reactions using strongly interactng projectiles, and spin dependence in direct nuclear reactions.  He was the author of a program for computing knockout, transfer, and other reactions, and assisted researchers in many other laboratories to interpret similar reactions by teaching them to use the program or by adding features tailored to their needs.

While serving as Associate Chair for Graduate Education, Chant overhauled admission procedures and was an active advisor of first and second year graduate students.  In 2007, he received the department's George A. Snow Award, which recognizes an individual who helps to advance the representation of women in the field of physics.

A memorial has not yet been scheduled.