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UW-Madison’s Zweibel wins 2016 Maxwell Prize for Plasma Physics

July 20, 2016 By Terry Devitt

University of Wisconsin–Madison astrophysicist Ellen Gould Zweibel has won the American Physical Society’s 2016 James Clerk Maxwell Prize for Plasma Physics.

The prize citation recognizes Zweibel for “seminal research on the energetics, stability and dynamics of astrophysical plasmas, including those related to stars and galaxies, and for leadership in linking plasma and other astrophysical phenomena.”

Ellen Zweibel

Ellen Zweibel

The annual Maxwell Prize is presented for outstanding contributions to the advancement and diffusion of the knowledge of properties of highly ionized gases of natural or laboratory origin. The prize was established in 1975 in honor of the Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell and is sponsored by General Atomics. Zweibel will receive $10,000 and a travel allowance to attend the 58th Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Plasma Physics in San Jose, California, where the prize will be presented.

Zweibel graduated from the University of Chicago in 1973 with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and from Princeton University in 1977 with a Ph.D. in astrophysical sciences. She is the chair of the UW–Madison Department of Astronomy as well as the William L. Kraushaar Professor of Astronomy and Physics and Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor. She was a founding member and is a past director of the Center for Magnetic Self-Organization, a Physics Frontier Center funded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Zweibel has a broad research program in plasma astrophysics that spans the study of the sun and stars; the formation, evolution and structure of galaxies; and the physics of galaxy clusters.