Brookhaven physicist wins prestigious prize

October 23, 2001

UPTON, NY -- William Marciano, a theoretical physicist at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory, has been named a winner of the J. J. Sakurai Prize for Theoretical Particle Physics for 2002. Marciano will share the $5,000 prize, awarded by the American Physical Society (APS), with Alberto Sirlin of New York University, who was Marciano's thesis advisor and has been a research collaborator for more than 20 years. Marciano and Sirlin will receive the award at an April 2002 meeting of the APS in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The award recognizes the scientists' "pioneering work" on calculations necessary for testing the consistency of the Standard Model, the physics theory that seeks to explain interactions between all known particles. "Marciano and Sirlin are the leading experts in this field," said Brookhaven physicist Sally Dawson, who nominated the pair for the prize.

A recent example of the utility of these calculations is Brookhaven's own "muon g-2" experiment, which last year reported a possible deviation from predictions of the Standard Model. The award selection committee also noted Marciano and Sirlin's precision calculations of masses of particles known as "W" and "Z" bosons, which are essential to determining the mass of the yet-to-be-discovered Higgs boson, a particle thought to be the source of all mass.

"I am particularly gratified to be receiving this award with Sirlin, whose pioneering research on this subject extends back to his own student days," Marciano said. "I was fortunate to work with him at a time when his unique expertise in quantum calculations became a strong underpinning for elementary particle physics."

The J. J. Sakurai Prize was endowed in 1984 by the family and friends of Jun John Sakurai as a memorial to and in recognition of the accomplishments of this renowned theoretical physicist. Sakurai was born in Japan in 1933. He came to the U.S. in 1949 as a high-school student, went on to Harvard and Cornell University, where he earned his Ph.D. in 1958, and then taught at the University of Chicago and later at the University of California at Los Angeles, where he remained until his death in 1982. His theories encouraged particle physicists to examine major ideas in diverse ways and to seek out new theories that crossed distinct genres of physics research.

The prize is intended to reward and encourage outstanding achievement in particle theory, and is normally awarded for theoretical contributions made at an early stage of the recipient's career. The list of past recipients reads like a "who's who" of the high-energy physics community. "It's quite an honor to be added to this distinguished group," Marciano said.

Marciano received his Ph.D. in physics from New York University in 1974. After six years at Rockefeller University, he became an associate professor at Northwestern University. He first came to Brookhaven as a research collaborator in 1978, then joined the Physics Department as a physicist in 1981, when he was also granted tenure. He was promoted to senior physicist in 1986, and led the Physics Department's High-Energy Theory Group from 1987 to 1998.

For the past 12 years, he has also been an adjunct professor at Yale University. He has served on the High-Energy Physics Advisory Panel to the U.S. Department of Energy; various panels on the future of high-energy physics; and physics and scientific advisory boards at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, Fermi National Laboratory, the Superconducting Supercollider, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and Brookhaven National Laboratory. He was also recently awarded a 2001 Research Award by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in Germany.
For a link to the APS web site announcing this year's prizes and awards, go to:

The U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory ( conducts research in the physical, biomedical, and environmental sciences, as well as in energy technologies. Brookhaven also builds and operates major facilities available to university, industrial, and government scientists. The Laboratory is managed by Brookhaven Science Associates, a limited liability company founded by Stony Brook University and Battelle, a nonprofit applied science and technology organization.

Note to local editors: William Marciano lives in the Village of Belle Terre, New York.

DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory

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