Jure Zupan Receives 2014 Young Investigator Award

With the discovery of the Higgs boson particle in July 2012, the science media has taken a greater interest in the work of physicists, including UC assistant professor Jure Zupan.

“Professor Zupan has written several important papers on the Higgs physics since its discovery,” says UC physics professor Rohana Wijewardhana. “One of them has helped establish that the discovered particle is indeed the Higgs, rather than a Higgs imposter.”

For Zupan’s work with the Higgs boson and his continued contributions to particle physics (particularly in the areas of dark matter and quarks), the UC chapter of Sigma Xi has honored Zupan with the 2014 Young Investigator Award. This award recognizes a junior faculty member, currently in his/her early career, for distinguished research accomplishments in a science or engineering field.

As a particle physics phenomenologist, Zupan works on the theory side of physics. Unlike the physicists who oversee the particle collision experiments – such as the experiments conducted in the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland – Zupan’s work involves trying to interpret the results from these experiments while also making predictions of what phenomena could appear in future experiments. The predictions of the theoretical physics community are very important, as they inform what data will be recorded during future experiments. 

“There’s been very rapid experimental and theoretical progress in quite a few areas of particle physics right now,” he said. “It’s a very exciting time to be working in this field.”

And Zupan is at the top of his field. “Jure [Zupan] is one of the top ten particle physics phenomenologists of his generation,” says Alex Kagan, fellow UC physics professor. Wijewardhana adds, “Since coming to the University of Cincinnati, Professor Zupan has made many well-recognized contributions to the areas of particle physics and astrophysics. He has been one of the most prolific particle theorists in the world.” Furthermore, the U.S. National Science Foundation recently recognized Zupan with a prestigious Early Career Award for his proposal “Dark Matter and Flavor.”

Zupan said he was very honored – and very happy – to learn that he was the 2014 Young Investigator Award recipient. “The winner from last year was very impressive, so I was quite pleasantly surprised,” Zupan says. “It’s nice to be recognized by a community larger than your own specialized field.”

The award certificate and $500 honorarium were presented at a spring Sigma Xi meeting. As part of the award, Zupan will present a lecture on his research during a fall Sigma Xi meeting.

Sigma Xi also presented their 2014 Grants-in-Aid-of-Research Award to four graduate students:

  • Jinyoung Choi, biological sciences, advisor: Daniel Buchholz
  • Erika Freimuth, geology, advisor: Aaron Diefendorf
  • Rachel Gilbert, biological sciences, advisor: George Uetz
  • Matthew Vrazo, geology, advisor: Carlton Brett

The Young Investigator Award and the Grants-in-Aid-of-Research Award were funded by the UC chapter of Sigma Xi, the UC Office of Research, and The Graduate School.

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