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Faculty Recognition Award
Fred C. Adams

Well-known cosmologist Michael Turner once said about Fred C. Adams: “When it comes to physics, Fred is one of the best natural athletes I’ve ever seen.” Adams is renowned for an intellect almost as awe-inspiring as the stars, galaxies and black holes that he studies.

Adams, a member of the physics department faculty since 1991, is a world-leading theorist on star and planet formation. His ideas have influenced a generation of thinkers.

Adams was the first to compute accurate spectra of the planet-forming disks around newborn stars. In collaboration with observational astronomers, he produced several important papers on the identification, classification and mass determination of circumstellar disks and protostellar objects.

His expertise, however, spans a wider range. He has made significant contributions to many astrophysical areas, from the beginning of the universe—the inflationary epoch during its first 10-35 seconds—to its far future. He wrote the definitive review article that chronicles the long-term fate and evolution of astrophysical objects. Adams also studies black holes, from the microscopic virtual black holes that induce proton decay to the formation of supermassive black holes in galactic centers.

Known as a captivating lecturer, Adams’ courses are filled with graduate and undergraduate students eager to see him in action. Twice he has received the LS&A Excellence in Education Award.

Adams has served as associate chair for graduate education in physics since 1997. He has revamped the department’s qualifying exam, actively recruited women and minorities, and initiated an interview process to attract the best physics students from China.

With a gift for explaining complex, abstract phenomena in everyday language, Adams fortifies public understanding of the cosmos. His first book, “The Five Ages of the Universe” (The Free Press 1999), co-authored with Greg Laughlin, has been translated into eight languages. His second book, “Origins of Existence” (The Free Press 2002), is now available. Among many honors, Adams has received the Helen B. Warner Prize from the American Astronomical Society and the National Science Foundation Young Investigator Award.



Michael A. Savageau
Lawrence Sklar
Kensell D. Wise
Robert E. Lewis
Don B. Clewell
Andrew F. Nagy
Jeffrey R. Parsons
Julia Adams
Richard D. Woods
Fred C. Adams
Photios G. Ioannou

 

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