January 26, 2022


Nicholas Bigelow (left) and computer scientist Michael Scott (right) are among members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science who were elected fellows this year. (Photos University of Rochester / J. Adam Fenster)


The world’s largest multidisciplinary scientific society has recognized Nicholas Bigelow and Michael Scott for their outstanding efforts to advance science.

Two faculty members from the University of Rochester have been elected Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Nicholas Bigelow, Lee A. DuBridge Professor of Physics and Professor of Optics, and Michael Scott, Arthur Gould Yates Professor of Engineering and also Professor and Chair of the Computer Science Department, are among the association’s 564 members. year for their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts in favor of the advancement of science or its applications.

From cold atoms to quantum knowledge

Bigelow contributed to advancing the understanding of quantum physics and quantum optics through his pioneering research into the interactions between light and matter. His lab uses laser light to cool atoms to near-zero temperatures to better manipulate and study them.

Bigelow’s current projects include creating and manipulating Bose-Einstein condensates – a quantum state of matter made from atomic gas cooled to temperatures near absolute zero – and studying the quantum nature of atom-photon interactions. This research has important applications in areas of quantum mechanics such as quantum computing and sensing. He is also director of the NASA-funded Consortium for Ultracold Atoms in Space and principal investigator of cold atom experiments aboard the International Space Station.

Bigelow joined the faculty at the University of Rochester in 1992 and served as chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy from 2008 to 2014.

He has twice received the University’s Society of Physics Students’ Excellence in Teaching Award for Undergraduate Teaching (in 1998 and 2006) and has held various positions in University governance and leadership, including as Chairman of the College’s Academic Honesty Board from 1998 to 2004, Chairman of the University of Rochester Presidential Research Committee in 2004, Co-Chairman of the Middle Eastern States Accreditation Committee of the ‘University and President of the Faculty Senate.

Bigelow is a member of the American Physical Society and Optica (formerly OSA, or Optical Society of America).

System expert and co-creator of algorithms

Scott’s widely cited research focuses primarily on systems software for parallel and distributed computing, including the development of new ways to share data between concurrent activities, automate its movement and placement, and protect it. against accidental loss or corruption.

He is best known as the co-creator of the MCS mutual exclusion lock and as the author of Pragmatics of programming languages, one of the definitive and most widely used textbooks on the design and implementation of programming languages. Several algorithms from Scott’s research group have been incorporated into the standard library of the Java programming language.

He is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). In 2006, he shared the Edsger W. Dijkstra Prize in Distributed Computing.

Scott, who joined the faculty in 1985, also chaired the Computer Science Department from 1996 to 1999 and served as interim chair for six months in 2007 and again in 2017. He received the Robert and Pamela Goergen Award from the University for his outstanding achievements and artistic talent. in Undergraduate Teaching in 2001, the William H. Riker Award for Higher Education in 2020, and the Hajim School of Engineering & Applied Sciences Achievement Award in 2018.

He has played an active role in the governance of the University, including serving as Co-Chair of the Faculty Advisory Committee for Presidential Research in 2018.


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Keywords: Arts and Sciences, Awards, Department of Computer Science, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Institute of Optics, Michael Scott, Nicholas Bigelow

Category: Scientific technology