Experimental Physicist Named Woman Physicist of the Month

American Physical Society honors UC Riverside’s Ann Heinson

Ann Heinson, a research physicist at the University of California, Riverside, has received the Woman Physicist of the Month award for July 2012 from the American Physical Society’s Committee on the Status of Women.  Open to research physicists, students, teachers or any woman doing physics-related work, the award recognizes “female physicists who have positively impacted other individuals’ lives and careers.”

Photo shows Ann Heinson.

Ann Heinson is a research physicist in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Photo credit: A. Heinson, UC Riverside.

“I am delighted to have been selected as one of these women of the month role models,” said Heinson, who joined the Department of Physics and Astronomy in 1992.  “I have spent my career as a researcher and not as a professor, so this shows young women there is more than one route to being able to do physics research.”

Heinson, an experimental high-energy physicist, has made significant contributions to top quark physics and, in particular, to the search for and observation of single top quark production. In 1995, she established the DZero Single Top Group and led it for many years.

High-energy physics focuses on what makes up the world, and what holds it together. Its Standard Model is a comprehensive theory that explains the interactions between all fundamental elementary particles. The top quark is the Standard Model’s heaviest particle (it has the same mass as a gold atom) and one of the fundamental building blocks of nature. Nearly 200 times heavier than a proton in an atom’s nucleus, it is point-like and has no size.

“Working as an experimental high-energy physicist has been a very exciting and satisfying occupation and I am deeply grateful to have had the opportunity to have been able to do this,” Heinson said. “It is a privilege to know you are one of the first people to find out something new about how the universe works, and to be able to write and talk about it to share that knowledge publicly.”

Heinson’s other awards and honors include being named in 2008 a fellow of the American Physical Society; and in 2010 a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  She received the UC Riverside Distinguished Researcher Award for Non-Senate Faculty in 2002.

In 1997, she co-authored a paper on single top quark physics that provided the conceptual underpinning for the decade-long work that followed.  That paper, together with her leadership of the DZero Single Top Group, established her position as the foremost experimental physicist in single top quark physics.

The American Physical Society’s Committee on the Status of Women in Physics started the Woman Physicist of the Month award program to build a public database of successful women in physics research. It encourages young women to enter and stay in the field by profiling successful role models in many areas of research and stages of their careers.

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Ann Heinson
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E-mail: ann.heinson@ucr.edu

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