Physicist is first woman to receive Beams Medal from regional section of American Physical Society

Beate Schmittmann

Beate Schmittmann

BLACKSBURG, Va., Nov. 23, 2010 – Beate Schmittmann, professor and chair of the Physics Department in the College of Science is the first woman to receive the Jesse Wakefield Beams Research Award and Medal of the Southeastern Section of the American Physical Society (APS).

According to the citation, Schmittmann was recognized for her “deep and pervasive contributions to nonequilibrium statistical mechanics and its applications and for inspiring world-class research in the southeastern United States.” She is the first woman to receive the award since it was first presented in 1973.

Schmittmann’s field of research is theoretical condensed matter physics. She joined the Virginia Tech faculty in 1991, received tenure in 1994, and was named chair of the department in 2006. She was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society in 2004.

The award is named for Jesse Wakefield Beams, a physicist who received his Ph.D. from and spent most of his career at the University of Virginia. Beams served as president of the APS in 1958 and received the National Medal of Science in 1967. The award honors those whose research has led to the discovery of new phenomena and who have earned the critical acclaim of their peers nationally and internationally.

The College of Science at Virginia Tech gives students a comprehensive foundation in the scientific method. Outstanding faculty members teach courses and conduct research in biological sciences, chemistry, economics, geosciences, mathematics, physics, psychology, and statistics. The college offers programs in cutting-edge areas including, among others, those in energy and the environment, developmental science across the lifespan, infectious diseases, computational science, nanoscience, and neuroscience. The College of Science is dedicated to fostering a research-intensive environment that promotes scientific inquiry and outreach.

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