Santa Cruz, CA, October 6, 2004--The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded the 2004 E. O. Lawrence Award in Physics to Claire Max, a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Max, who is deputy director of the Center for Adaptive Optics at UCSC and holds a joint appointment at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (Livermore, CA), received the award for her contributions to the theory of laser guide star adaptive optics and its application in ground-based astronomy. Adaptive optics sharpens the vision of telescopes by correcting for the blurring effects of the atmosphere.
The E. O. Lawrence Award is given in seven categories to honor scientists and engineers for exceptional contributions in the field of atomic energy, broadly defined. The awards were established in 1959 in memory of the pioneering physicist Ernest Orlando Lawrence, inventor of the cyclotron. Three of the seven winners this year are UC faculty and five are affiliated with the national laboratories managed by UC.
The awards will be presented in a ceremony in Washington, D.C., on November 8. Each recipient receives a gold medal, a citation, and $50,000. "We are all enriched by the contributions these researchers have made, ranging from engines with no moving parts to better ways to see the stars," said Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham.
Max has made important contributions to the separate fields of plasma physics and astrophysics, and she is a central figure in the field of adaptive optics for ground-based telescopes. Her work on laser guide stars for adaptive optics has led to an ongoing revolution in ground-based astronomy.