Williams Physics Professor Wins Undergraduate Research Prize

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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Protik "Tiku" Majumder, professor of physics and director of the Williams Science Center, has been awarded the 2017 American Physical Society (APS) Prize for a Faculty Member for Research at an Undergraduate Institution.

The prize honors a physicist whose research in an undergraduate setting has achieved wide recognition and contributed significantly to the professional development of physics students. Majumder is being recognized for the contributions of his research and for his "sustained, inspirational mentorship of undergraduate researchers."

"I am honored to receive this award, and I thank my department for nominating me," Majumder said. "The success of my research program at Williams owes a lot to this institution—which values and supports ambitious research goals—as well as to the many colleagues who set such high standards as teacher/scholars and, perhaps most of all, to the amazing undergraduates who have been my partners in the lab."

In his laboratory, Majumder and his students pursue precise measurements of atomic structure in Group IIIA atoms. Majumder's lab has produced two student winners of the APS’ LeRoy Apker Award, the nation’s top prize for undergraduate research in physics.

"We are all thrilled to see Tiku receive this well-deserved recognition," said David Tucker-Smith, professor and chair of the physics department. "On top of being an accomplished experimental atomic physicist, highly regarded in his field, Tiku continues to be an outstanding mentor of research students. His record of impacting the many Williams students who have worked with him in significant and long-lasting ways really is remarkable."

Majumder is the third Williams physics professor to win the prize, which comes with a $5,000 award for the recipient and $5,000 for the recipient's institution. Stuart Crampton, Barclay Jermain Professor of Natural Philosophy, Emeritus, received the award in 1989, and Barclay Jermain Professor of Natural Philosophy Professor William Wootters received it in 2007.

"I've had the wonderful  opportunity to introduce many Williams students to research, and then watch them grow into junior colleagues who have helped guide our work forward," Majumder said. "We've puzzled through experimental challenges together, charted our way from experimental design to data analysis, attended conferences, and co-authored papers together. It's been particularly rewarding to work with students so closely here, and then continue to connect with many who are now grad students, postdocs, and career scientists around the country."

Majumder has been teaching at Williams since 1994 and has taught courses throughout the physics curriculum, including "Introductory Quantum Mechanics," "Sound, Light, and Perception" and "Electricity and Magnetism." He received his B.S. from Yale University and his Ph.D. from Harvard University. Before coming to Williams he held postdoctoral research associate and research assistant professor positions at the University of Washington. Since 1998, he has received over $1.5 million in funding from the National Science Foundation for his research. In addition to his teaching and research activities, Majumder has served as the Director of the Science Center at Williams for the past six years.

The APS is a nonprofit membership organization working to advance and diffuse the knowledge of physics throughout its outstanding research journals, scientific meetings, and education, outreach, advocacy, and international activities. APS represents over 51,000 members, including physicists in academia, national laboratories, and industry in the U.S. and throughout the world.


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