Pilar López Sancho receives the Winter 2021 EPS Emmy Noether Distinction

  • The European Physical Society has awarded the Winter 2021 EPS Emmy Noether Distinction for Women in Physics to María Pilar López Sancho, Research Professor at the Instituto de Ciencias de Materiales de Madrid (ICMM):

“For her contributions to the understanding of the electronic structure of low-dimensional materials and in recognition of her continuous, tireless and successful actions for the empowerment of women in physics.”

Pilar López Sancho works in the Department of Theoretical Condensed Matter Physics at ICMM. She obtained her PhD from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid in 1979, and went on to work for CSIC at what is today the ICMM, where she remained till today. A theoretical physicist working in the field of condensed matter systems, Pilar made her first important contributions by developing a new and fast method for the calculation of bulk- and surface electronic Green’s functions and transfer matrices. It is a remarkable feat that this work remains of high actual value, being used by many groups around the world, and enjoying higher citations today than ever before, placing Pilar’s publications solidly in the “evergreen” class, and demonstrating Pilar’s insight and acuity for choosing relevant problems.

Pilar López Sancho went on to work to apply her methods to metallic interfaces and dilute magnetic semiconductors. However, her most significant contributions are on the electronic structure and transport properties of low-dimensional carbon systems. Pilar thus performed groundbreaking work on the effect of the Coulomb- and spin-orbit interaction on electronic localisation and spin-dependent transport in carbon nanotubes. Highly noticed and much-cited more recent work by Pilar concerned the induction of localised states and magnetism by different types of topological defects in graphene, and the effects of the spin-orbit interaction on electronic transport in single-layer and multilayer transition metal dichalcogenides.

Alongside this very successful scientific career, María Pilar López Sancho has pursued what can be called an impressive “second career” as a never-tiring advocate for women in physics. Starting from the mid nineteen-nineties, Pilar has been continuously active for the defence of women in physics, at all levels. In 2001, she is the co-founder of the Association of Women in Research and Technology AMIT, of which she becomes the President from 2009 to 2013. AMIT, a member organisation of the European Platform of Women Scientists, has grown to be a powerful association of women in all scientific disciplines and at all stages of their careers, and has more than 1000 members. Pilar is also the founder of the Women in Physics Group of the RSEF (GEMF) and was its Chair from 2002-2018.

In her institution, the CSIC, Pilar was at the origin of and lent priceless support to the creation of the CSIC Gender Equality Distinction. She has been delegate president of the Women and Science Commission of CSIC, the first institutional commission of this type created in Spain. Pilar has taken responsibilities in the Commission for Equality – launched to implement the plan of the General Spanish State Administration.

Pilar López Sancho performed large-scale research on position of women in science, published more than 30 articles, books, and conference papers on the topic, and presented dozens of lectures. As a recognised international expert on the matter, she has served on the Evaluation Committee for projects and grants financed by the European Commission in the programs “Monitoring Progress Towards Gender Equality (FP6)” (2005-2007) and “Meta-Analysis of Gender and Science Research” (FP7) (2008-2010). During the period 2015-2017, she was the Spanish Deputy in the Helsinki Group for Research and Innovation.

Source: European Physical Society

More information:

  • Winter 2021 EPS Emmy Noether Distinction – Award Ceremony
  • ICMM’s Pilar López-Sancho, awarded with Winter 2021 EPS Emmy Noether Distinction for Women in Physics – ICMM News
  • Pilar López-Sancho – perfil en AMIT
  • La investigadora del CSIC Pilar López-Sancho gana la distinción Winter 2021 EPS Emmy Noether para mujeres en Físicas – CSIC News
  • Pilar López Sancho : “Al principio pensé que el problema de las mujeres en ciencia se arreglaba en dos años” – EL PAÍS

Regina Rameika, 2022 Panofsky Prize in Experimental Particle Physics

  • Prof. Regina Rameika from FERMILAB has received the 2022 W.K.H. Panofsky Prize in Experimental Physics “For the first direct observation of the tau neutrino through its charged-current interactions in an emulsion detector.

Regina Abby Rameika is an experimental particle physicist and Distinguished Scientist at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. Rameika received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Rutgers University in 1976 and her Ph.D. from Rutgers in 1982. Rameika spent her early career studying hyperon polarization and magnetic moments. In the early 1990’s she turned her research interests to neutrino physics, playing leading roles in the development of the Fermilab neutrino program. She played a leading role in the design of the Neutrinos at the Main Injector (NuMI) program and in the proposal, design, execution and analysis of the DONUT experiment. In addition to DONUT, Rameika worked on the MINOS and NOvA experiments. In 2006 she co-lead a community study on next-generation long-baseline experiments. Her detector work centers on development of liquid argon time projection chambers. She was the project manager for the MicroBooNE detector which began operation in 2015. Following this she led a team producing the components for the protoDUNE detector at the CERN neutrino platform which operated in 2018 – 2019. The success of protoDUNE set the stage for the final design of the first detector module for the DUNE experiment which is to be installed at the Long Baseline Neutrino Facility (LBNF) at the Stanford Underground Research Facility in Lead, South Dakota. In April 2021, Rameika was elected as co-spokesperson of DUNE. Rameika is a fellow of the American Physical Society.

Prof. Rameika has been recently named associate director for High Energy Physics at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science. In this role, she will oversee all high-energy physics research activities in the United States at both national laboratories as well as universities.

Source: American Physical Society and Fermilab


Maryna Viazovsk becomes second woman to win prestigious Fields Medal

Ukrainian mathematician Maryna Viazovsk is one of four winners of The Fields Medal 2022, as a means of recognizing outstanding mathematical achievement for both existing work and the promise of future success.

Viazovska, who is based at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), is the second woman ever to earn the award.

The sphere packing problem

Sphere packing finds practical application in the stacking of cannonballs. /Wikimedia Commons.

Viazovsk received the award for her solution of the sphere packing problem, finding the arrangement of spheres that can take up the largest portion of a volume, in eight dimensions.

In a three-dimensional space, the most efficient way to pack spheres is the pyramid arrangement, akin to how oranges are packed on trays in a grocer’s shop (proving this mathematically was extremely hard and was the subject of a tour-de-force paper in the 1990s). But in four or more dimensions, very little is known, says Henry Cohn, a mathematician at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. “It’s this horrific gap in our knowledge — almost embarrassing,” said Cohn in an address following the Fields Medal announcement. Viazovska introduced new techniques into the problem that came from number theory and the theory of symmetries in eight dimensions. “Given how poor our understanding is in other dimensions, it’s really miraculous that Maryna was able to get this exactly,” Cohn added. More recently, Cohn worked with Viazovska and others to extend the result to 24-dimensional space.

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