By Sally Harris
Spectrum Volume 21 Issue 15 - December 10, 1998
Mark Pitt, assistant professor of physics, has received the National Science Foundation's CAREER award.
"The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program is a Foundation-wide activity that supports junior faculty members within the context of their overall career development.," according to the NSF literature. "It combines in a single program the support of research and education of the highest quality and in the broadest sense. This premier program emphasizes the importance the foundation places on the early development of academic careers dedicated to stimulating the discovery process in which the excitement of research is enhanced by inspired teaching and enthusiastic learning."
Pitt will receive an estimated $352,000 over four years to support his program of research and teaching activities. The award was based on his research titled "Parity-Violating Electron Scattering and Rare Kaon Decay."
Pitt's research is done at high-energy electron accelerators, often referred to as atom smashers. The work is carried out at the MIT-Bates Linear Accelerator in Middleton, Mass., and the recently opened Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in Newport News. He uses the high-energy electron beams to learn more about the underlying structure of the fundamental constituents of matter, the proton and neutron. In particular, one of his experiments is aimed at determining how the particles that make up the proton, called quarks, contribute to its magnetism. The proton's magnetism is what makes the lifesaving diagnostic medical technique known as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) possible.
The teaching aspect of his proposal includes the development and incorporation of learning modules using mathematical symbolic manipulation software into several physics classes at the advanced undergraduate level. Post-doctoral fellows and graduate students will contribute actively to the research projects funded by the award.