Arthur M. Poskanzer
Fellow: Awarded 1970
Field of Study: Chemistry
Competition: US & Canada
Arthur Poskanzer, Distinguished Senior Scientist Emeritus with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), won the American Physical Society’s 2008 Tom W. Bonner Prize “in recognition of his pioneering role in the experimental studies of flow in relativistic heavy ion collisions.” Mr. Poskanzer, who has been a scientist at Berkeley Lab for forty-three years, is a member of the Nuclear Science Division. He is a pioneer in the field of relativistic nuclear collisions and a co-discoverer of collective flow, the phenomenon in which nuclear matter, compressed to a state of high temperature and density, exhibits a fluidic motion.
Mr. Poskanzer earned his undergraduate degree in physics and chemistry from Harvard, and his Master’s degree in chemistry at Columbia University, and his Ph.D. in physical chemistry from MIT. After working nine years as a chemist at Brookhaven National Laboratory, he joined the Berkeley Lab staff in 1966.
Among the many highlights of Mr. Poskanzer’s career at Berkeley Lab, in addition to his co-discovery of collective nuclear flow, he was the first scientific director of the Bevalac accelerator, the co-founder of the STAR collaboration at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC), and one of the leading organizers behind SPS heavy ion program at CERN. He was also a co-discoverer of elliptic flow at RHIC, which has proved to be major experimental evidence for the existence of the quark-gluon plasma, an ephemeral state of matter believed to have existed in the first few microseconds after the universe was born. He continues today as a member of the STAR collaboration working on methods of data analysis for elliptic flow.
Arthur Poskanzer is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has won numerous awards and recognitions throughout his career, including the American Chemical Society Award in Nuclear Chemistry and the U.S. Senior Scientist Alexander von Humboldt Award.