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SBU Distinguished Professor And Internationally Renowned Nuclear Physicist Elected To The National Academy Of Sciences

May 18, 2009 - 4:58:01 PM

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STONY BROOK, N.Y., May 18, 2009 — Barbara V. Jacak, (pronounced yacht-sock) Distinguished Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy at Stony Brook University, has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in recognition of her distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.

Dr. Jacak is an internationally renowned nuclear physicist who uses heavy ion collisions for fundamental studies of hot, dense nuclear matter. After carrying out important experiments at accelerator
Barbara Jacak
  laboratories in the United States and Europe, she has been a leading member of the collaboration that built and operates the PHENIX detector at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at Brookhaven National Laboratory. Since joining Stony Brook as a Professor of Physics in 1997, Dr. Jacak has led the Stony Brook PHENIX Group, and in December 2006 was elected as spokesperson by the more than 500 scientists involved in the PHENIX Collaboration. Their co-discovery of the perfect liquid and its apparently strongly coupled behavior was hailed as the top physics story of 2005 by the American Institute of Physics.

"Election to the National Academy is an incredible honor for me,” says Dr. Jacak.

“Perhaps more importantly, it brings recognition to the exciting physics we are doing at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider. Our experiments creating the hottest, densest matter in existence since a microsecond after the Big Bang have taken us on a fantastic voyage. The discovery that a plasma of quarks and gluons behaves like a liquid instead of a gas was a real surprise. Now we are using the big collider at Brookhaven to figure out just how this remarkable matter works." 

The Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at Brookhaven National Laboratory is a world-class scientific research facility primarily funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science. Hundreds of physicists from around the world use RHIC to study what the universe may have looked like in the first few moments after its creation. What physicists learn from these collisions may help us understand more about why the physical world works the way it does, from the smallest subatomic particles, all the way to neutron stars.

PHENIX, the Pioneering High Energy Nuclear Interaction eXperiment, is an exploratory experiment for the investigation of high energy collisions of heavy ions and protons. PHENIX is designed specifically to measure direct probes of the collisions such as electrons, muons, and photons. Its twin goals are to discover and study a new state of matter called the quark gluon plasma, and to determine how the component quarks and gluons carry the spin of the proton. PHENIX is the largest of the four experiments that have taken data at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider. The PHENIX website is
Jacak and the PHENIX detector
Dr. Jacak resides in Setauket, NY. She is the spokesperson for the PHENIX collaboration at BNL, and her rank at Stony Brook as a Distinguished Professor is the University's highest faculty designation.

The National Academy of Science is a private organization of scientists and engineers dedicated to the furtherance of science and its use for the general welfare. It was established in 1863 by a congressional act of incorporation signed by Abraham Lincoln that calls upon the Academy to act as an official adviser to the federal government, upon request, in any matter of science or technology.  The website is

Links to Dr. Jacak’s Experiments

Links to two papers with over 500 citations
1) A summary of the physics conclusions from the first three years of RHIC running (691 citations as of May 1, 2009)–

2) The paper announcing the discovery of jet quenching at RHIC; the first single result from RHIC to reach 500 citations –

Additional research publications by Barbara V. Jacak can be viewed at:


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