Two Rochester researchers named AAAS grantees : NewsCenter

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January 26, 2022

Nicholas Bigelow (left) and computer scientist Michael Scott (right) are among the members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science who were elected fellows this year. (Photos by University of Rochester / J. Adam Window)


The world’s largest multidisciplinary scientific society has recognized Nicholas Bigelow and Michael Scott for their outstanding efforts in advancing science.

Two University of Rochester faculty members have been elected Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Nicholas Bigelow, Lee A. DuBridge Professor of Physics and Optics, and Michael Scott, Arthur Gould Yates Professor of Engineering and also Professor and Chair of the Department of Computer Science, are among the 564 members of the association who recognized this year for their scientifically or socially outstanding efforts to advance science or its applications.

From Cold Atoms to Quantum Insights

Bigelow helped advance the understanding of quantum physics and quantum optics through his pioneering research into the interactions between light and matter. His lab uses laser light to cool atoms to near absolute zero temperatures for better manipulation and study.

Bigelow’s current projects include creating and manipulating Bose-Einstein condensates – a quantum state of matter consisting of an atomic gas cooled to temperatures near absolute zero – and studying the quantum nature of atomic-photon interactions. This research has important applications in areas of quantum mechanics such as quantum computing and sensing. He is also director of the NASA-funded Consortium for Ultracold Atoms in Space and the principal investigator of cold atom experiments conducted aboard the International Space Station.

Bigelow joined the faculty of the University of Rochester in 1992 and served as Chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy from 2008 to 2014.

He has twice received the Society of Physics Students’ Award from the University of Physics for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching (1998 and 2006) and has held various positions of leadership and leadership at the University, including serving as Chair of the Board on Academic from 1998 to 2006 Honesty for the College 2004, 2004 Chair of the University of Rochester Presidential Search Committee, Co-Chair of the University’s Middle States Accreditation Committee and Chair of the Faculty Senate.

Bigelow is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and of Optica (formerly OSA or Optical Society of America).

Systems expert and co-creator of algorithms

Scott’s much-cited research focuses primarily on systems software for parallel and distributed computing, including developing new ways to exchange data during concurrent activities, automating its movement and placement, and protecting it from accidental loss or damage.

He is best known as the co-creator of the MCS Mutual Exclusion Lock and as the author of Programming language pragmatics, one of the authoritative and most widely used textbooks on the design and implementation of programming languages. Several algorithms from Scott’s research group have made their way into the standard library of the Java programming language.

He is a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). In 2006 he received the Edsger W. Dijkstra Prize in Distributed Computing.

Scott, who joined the faculty in 1985, also headed the Department of Computer Science from 1996 to 1999 and served as interim chair for six months in 2007 and again in 2017. He received the University’s Robert and Pamela Goergen Award for Distinguished Achievement and Artistry in Undergraduate Teaching in 2001, the William H. Riker Award for Graduate Teaching in 2020, and the Hajim School of Engineering & Applied Sciences Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018 .

He has played an active role in university leadership, including serving as co-chair of the faculty advisory board for the 2018 presidential search.


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Image of the word NOTHING in large type but appearing to disappear.The ultimate vacuum chamber creates nothing

Nicholas Bigelow’s lab conducts experiments using a “Box of Nothing,” an ultimate vacuum chamber that allows researchers to interact with and manipulate atoms. But is nothing possible at all? How have scientists, philosophers, and mathematicians thought about the concept of nothingness throughout history and up to now?

tags: Arts and Sciences, Distinction, Department of Computer Science, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Department of Optics, Michael Scott, Nicholas Bigelow

category: Science & Technology

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