Wim Leemans wins AAC 2012 Prize

We are pleased to announce that the third AAC Prize was awarded to Dr. Wim Leemans of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) "for outstanding contributions to the science and technology of laser-plasma accelerators". The AAC Prize comprises a monetary award of $6,000, a plaque, and a certificate (pictured below). This prize is made possible by a generous donation from Bergoz Instrumentation of Saint Genis Pouilly, France, manufacturers of electronic instruments to measure fast pulses, DC and AC currents, and the properties of beams from high energy particle accelerators non-destructively. The first AAC Prize was awarded to Professor Chan Joshi of UCLA at the AAC 2008 meeting, which Wim Leemans chaired. The second AAC Prize was awarded at the AAC 2010 meeting to Dr. Robert Palmer of Brookhaven National Laboratory. Chan Joshi and Julien Bergoz presented this year's prize to Dr. Leemans at the AAC 2012 banquet on Wednesday, June 13.

Lawrence Berkeley Lab's Wim Leemans, winner of the 2012 Advanced Accelerator Concepts Prize.

Leemans, a native of Belgium, is the founder and head of the Laser Optical Systems Integrated Studies (LOASIS) Program at LBNL, which focuses on the science and technology of advanced accelerators based on lasers and plasmas, and has a staff of over 30 scientists, post-docs, students and technicians. Leemans launched LOASIS in 1995, just 4 years after joining LBNL following his PhD work at UCLA under Chan Joshi's supervision. Less than a decade later, Wim and his colleagues demonstrated quasi-monoenergetic electron acceleration in a plasma-channel-guided laser-driven accelerator [Geddes et al., Nature 431, 538 (2004)], selected as one of the top 10 discoveries of 2004 by the journal Nature. Two years later, Wim and his group pushed the accelerated energy to 1 GeV while retaining high beam quality [Leemans et al., Nature Physics 2, 696 (2006)], a record that continues to set the gold standard for the field up to the present day.

Starting in 2007, Leemans spearheaded the Berkeley Lab Laser Accelerator (BELLA) project, a frontier effort to produce high quality 10 GeV electron beams within a meter-scale plasma by combining a petawatt laser, plasma channel technology and advanced injection techniques. In a recent widely cited article [Physics Today 62, 44 (2009)], Leemans and LBNL colleague Eric Esarey laid out a vision for a future collider based on laser-plasma accelerators similar to those they are developing through the DOE-funded BELLA project.

In addition to his pioneering work on laser-plasma accelerators, Leemans has also made important contributions to the physics and technology of radiation sources and diagnostics, including the development of femtosecond x-ray sources [Schoenlein, Leemans et al., Science 274, 236 (1996)], intense terahertz sources [Leemans et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 91, 074802 (2003)] and incoherent and coherent optical transition radiation [Lin et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 108, 094801 (2012)].

Beyond his research accomplishments, Wim stands out as a leader in the advanced accelerator field. In addition to chairing the 2008 AAC Workshop, he led the International Committee for Future Accelerators (ICFA) panel on Advanced and Novel Accelerators for 7 years. Through his service on the International Committee for Ultra-Intense Lasers (ICUIL), Wim chaired a task force on the development of future laser technology for accelerators, and organized two international workshops on this topic that resulted in a white paper published in the ICFA Beam Dynamics Newsletter in 2011.

Plaque presented to Wim Leemans as part of the AAC 2012 Prize.

Leemans' previous awards include the 1992 Simon Ramo Award of the American Physical Society for Outstanding Doctoral Research in Plasma Physics, the 1996 Klaus Halbach Award for X-ray Instrumentation (with Robert Schoenlein), the 2005 US Particle Accelerator School Prize for Achievement in Accelerator Physics and Technology, the 2009 E. O. Lawrence Award from the U. S. Department of Energy for his work with laser-plasma accelerators, and the 2010 J. M. Dawson Award of the American Physical Society for Excellence in Plasma Physics Research (with Eric Esarey, Cameron Geddes, Simon Hooker, Carl Schroeder and Csaba Toth).

Poster-size certificate presented to Wim Leemans as part of the AAC 2012 Prize.

Rules and Eligibility

The Prize Selection Committee selects one (and only one) winner of the prize. Nominations are comprised of a letter by the nominator, which should include the information listed below, accompanied by the nominee's CV and list of publications. Up to three additional support letters can be added. Nominations are sent electronically to the Chair of the Prize Selection Committee, who distributes them to the committee members. The information included in the nomination letter is the name, title and affiliation of the candidate, a brief (one line) citation describing the achievement for which the award is sought, and the list of relevant publications describing this work. The listed publications must have appeared in journals or widely-available conference proceedings, and should be appended to the nomination package. Note: Contributions to the upcoming AAC2012 Workshop cannot serve as primary sources, as these proceedings would not have been published at the time of the committee deliberations.

Deadline for Nominations: 5:00pm Eastern Standard Time, April 13, 2012

Nominations as described above are sent electronically to the Chair of the AAC2012 Prize Selection Committee, Ilan Ben-Zvi. The committee members for the AAC2012 prize are:

Ilan Ben-Zvi (chair)
Chan Joshi
Dave Sutter
Wei Gai
Bob Palmer