UH Manoa Physics Ranks with Ivy League Universities

Physics Professor Receives Prestigious National Award

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Posted: Oct 16, 2002

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) High Energy Physics Division has awarded Peter Gorham, an associate professor of physics at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, the Outstanding Junior Investigator award - moving UH into the ranks of universities such as Harvard, MIT, Cornell, and Johns Hopkins University.

"I was very pleasantly surprised to receive the award," Gorham said. "Very few are given each year, so it is quite exciting for us to have our research recognized this way."

Steve Olsen, principal investigator of the UH High Energy Physics Group, recognizes the significance of Gorham‘s award. "This is an important milestone for physics at UH," Olsen said. "Of the 80 or so applicants each year, usually only about six awards are made and these almost always go to highly promoted faculty at MIT, Harvard, Princeton and the like. Our goal for the UH high energy physics group is to achieve parity with our counterparts at these elite places and Peter‘s award is a significant recognition of our progress."

The DOE's Outstanding Junior Investigator Program in High Energy Physics was started in 1978 to identify talented new high energy physicists and assist them in their research. Awards granted help to maintain the vitality of research at universities and assure continued excellence in teaching physics.

Gorham's research involving high energy neutrinos is on the verge of introducing a "most extreme form of astronomy, pushing beyond the edges" of what we already know. High energy neutrinos, he explains, originate from cosmic sources throughout the universe.

Gorham is the principal investigator of a research team that has confirmed an early 60s proposal by Russian scientist Gurgen Askaryan known as the Askaryan effect, a method of observing neutrinos, which are normally very difficult to detect. He received his bachelor‘s degree in physics from UC Irvine, and a master‘s degree and doctorate in physics from UH Mānoa.